THE new Australian of the Year, Ita Buttrose, will now battle ageist attitudes in society and focus on dementia.
The 71-year-old publishing icon was named at a ceremony in Canberra last night for her groundbreaking media achievements and tireless health advocacy, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard calling her a smart, classy and courageous woman.
Honoured alongside Ms Buttrose was palliative care specialist Ian Maddocks, the 2013 Senior Australian of the Year, and Afghan refugee turned community worker Akram Azimi, the new Young Australian on the Year.
Indigenous leader Shane Phillips was named the 2013 Local Hero for his community leadership.
Meanwhile, Victorian woman Anne Leadbeater has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her leadership in the aftermath of the devastating 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, but says the award also belongs to a many great others.
"I feel very humbled that my efforts have been acknowledged given that there were so many remarkable people doing so many amazing things both on and after Black Saturday," she told AAP.
Mrs Leadbeater had being living in Kinglake for more than 20 years when the Black Saturday bushfires caused a level of destruction she calls "almost incomprehensible".
She was one of the first to rally community members and organise support after the fires had destroyed the homes of many of her friends and family.
"I got the impression that perhaps no-one was really sure what was going on in terms of recovery," she told the bushfires royal commission.At the time, Mrs Leadbeater worked at the Murrindindi Shire council as a community facilitator.