Media Release
Sydney Awards recognise decades of achievement, lifting up millions across the city and around the world
16 September, 2021

Media contact

Matt Levinson

The winners of the first ever Sydney Awards have been announced in a special Committee for Sydney online ceremony today.

Designed to celebrate the people who help make Sydney the greatest city in the world, the awards are broken into six categories:

  • Global Sydney Award, Culture – Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, outgoing Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Liz Ann secured the financial future of the museum, changed the way Indigenous art is shown around the world, and dramatically increased the museum’s relevance across the city, making MCA the world’s most visited modern art museum. Supported by Investment NSW.
  • Global Sydney Award, Business – Scott Farquhar & Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founders and Co-CEOs, Atlassian. From bootstrapping their startup on credit cards, they’ve built a global company, serving millions of users, and driving the growth of Sydney’s tech sector. They are also passionate about sustainability and leading on the road to greener future. Supported by Investment NSW.
  • City Visionary Award – Romilly Madew AO, former CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia, and now CEO of Infrastructure Australia. A green building gamechanger, Romilly has been recognised for her pragmatic approach in establishing Australia as a leader on sustainability. Supported by Mirvac Design.
  • Western Sydney Champion – Usman Iftikhar, Co-founder and CEO, Catalysr. Getting passed over for job after job was the inspiration for Usman’s pre-accelerator, which has since supported 520 migrapreneurs, or high-performing migrant and refugee entrepreneurs, to launch 175 enterprises. Supported by DXC Technology.
  • Unsung Hero Award – Maha Krayem Abdo OAM, founder and CEO, Muslim Women Australia. A strong advocate for the rights of women and particularly Muslim women, Maha is a powerful champion for a unified Sydney, and although she’s well known in certain circles, when you look at the impact she’s had on the city, she’s the essence of unsung. Supported by Coles.
  • Emerging Leader Award – Emily McDaniel, Curator, Writer and Educator and incoming Director, First Nations at the Powerhouse Museum. One of those people we should all watch, Emily’s influence is seen in major public art commissions such as the City of Sydney’s Yananurala harbour walk, in the way people connect with Country, and even in the way the city’s cultural leaders speak about Aboriginal culture.

The eminent judging panel for the inaugural Sydney Awards includes:

  • Ann Sherry AO, Chair UNICEF Australia and Enero, Director NAB and Sydney Airport
  • Mike Baird AO, CEO HammondCare, former NSW Premier
  • Wesley Enoch AM, former Sydney Festival Artistic Director and Indigenous Chair – Creative Industries QUT
  • Sara Mansour, Co-founder and Artistic Director, Bankstown Poetry Slam, and lawyer
  • Cameron Adams, co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Canva
  • Brian Tyson, Managing Partner, SEC Newgate Australia, and Global Deputy CEO SEC Newgate, S.p.A; CFS Director

Gabriel Metcalf, CEO of the Committee for Sydney, said: “We think it’s important to lift our heads up, look around, take a breath and remember how much there is that is great about Sydney. In spite of the lockdown, this is a celebration of life in Sydney.

“There is a simple idea at the core of these awards that what makes Sydney special is not just the physical beauty or the economic power, it’s also the people. Now more than ever, we need to celebrate the people who make our city special.”

The Sydney Awards are supported by major partner SEC Newgate Australia, and award sponsors Investment NSW, Mirvac Design, DXC Technology and Coles.

Brian Tyson, Managing Partner of SEC Newgate Australia, said: “As we face this pandemic, we need to stay positive and to do that we need to be inspired – that makes the timing of this year’s awards even more meaningful.

“These awards have been designed to acknowledge the achievement, innovation, commitment and passion of our greatest Sydneysiders.

“I think it’s long overdue as an opportunity to recognise our business, cultural and community leaders, whose efforts are integral to making this city one of the great cities of the world.”

For additional content, find video interviews and other footage, and photos of the award winners.