They may be years away from being contenders for the Australian of the Year Awards but primary school students around Australia are getting some inspiring lessons in how they can make a difference in their community.
As part of this year's 20th anniversary of the Local Hero category of the Australian of the Year Awards, previous recipients of the honour will be sharing their stories with children at schools participating in the long-running "Aussie of the Month" program.
Endorsed by the education department in every state and territory, the Aussie of the Month prize for students celebrates personal endeavour, achievement and contribution to the community.
With the start of the 2023 school year, Local Hero award recipients will be visiting schools to share their stories and present certificates and or congratulating winners via online video presentations.
Karlie Brand, chief executive of the National Australia Day Council, said as more schools joined the almost 1400 already involved in the Aussie of the Month program, "virtual school visits" would give regional and remote children equal access to such award-winning community champions as Western Australian geoscientist Suzy Urbaniak, Northern Territory police officer Erica Gibson and Queensland charity founder Juliette Wright.
"Australia's Local Heroes can inspire us all, but the impact they have on young people is particularly profound," Ms Brand said.
"We know how critical positive role modelling is to help young people strive to achieve their dreams and we are delighted that our Australian of the Year Local Heroes are stepping in to celebrate the success of our community-focused youth."
The Aussie of the Month award, which has been running for more than 20 years, is offered free to all K-12 schools but has a focus on the "civics and citizenship" curriculum taught in primary years.
Children nominated by classmates or teachers are recognised at their school assembly and are presented with a certificate, lapel pin, stationery prize and bookmark.
"The program recognises that no effort is too small and the difference a student can make to their community is powerful," Ms Brand said.
The National Australia Day Council, which runs the Australian of the Year Awards, partners with the Department of Home Affairs, non-profit Auspire and Pilot Pen Australia to deliver the program.
Anne Leo, assistant secretary of the Citizenship Program Delivery Branch at the Department of Home Affairs, said the department was proud to support the Local Hero category in the Australian of the Year Awards and the Aussie of the Month program because both recognised and celebrated "the positive social and cultural impact of community participation and active citizenship".
"Active citizenship is about getting involved in your local community and displaying values such as respect, inclusion and helping others," she said.
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