Bill Ryan Activism Award

Bill Ryan passed away in December 2019, and is very missed. His civility, spirit, and determination were an inspiration to so many.  His long history of engaging in non-violent, direct action was centred in his conviction that civil disobedience and the freedom to protest should be an essential feature of democratic society.  A veteran of the Second World War, and the Kokoda campaign, Bill advocated for an end to the Vietnam War and took part in the anti-apartheid protests in the 1960s and 1970s.

In his later years Bill was legally blind, but continued to campaign for action on climate change, attending protests until a week before his death, at 97 years of age.  Multiple arrests did not deter him. 

“I will be gone by the time climate change is in full swing”, he said, “but I am taking action for my grandchildren, great grandchildren and all future generations.” 

This award has been established in Bill Ryan’s name as a tribute to a much loved and remarkable man and to honour those who share his spirit of non-violent direct action for the benefit of the environment. 

Awarded for: Peaceful environmental activism that inspires others to take action for a better future for the planet.

Eligibility:  An individual or small group who has elevated community awareness and confronted public apathy.  A demonstration of courage, creativity and / or persistence over a length of time is particularly desirable.  Nominees must reside in NSW, and preference will be given to those living in the Sutherland Shire.

Recognition:  Presentation of certificate at our AGM and $1000 donated to an environmental charity or program of the winner’s choosing.  Publication on our website and Facebook page and general media.

Nomination:  A short nomination form can be submitted by anyone. Both self-nominations and nominations for another person are welcomed.  

Process: Award nominations announced via social media / the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre website and newsletter as well as general Media Release. 

Judging: The judging panel will be comprised of three members of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, including one member from the Board. 

Inaugural winner of the Bill Ryan Activism Award 2020 – Veronica Hester

We’re delighted to announce the inaugural winner of the Bill Ryan Activism Award – Shire teenager, Veronica Hester.

Veronica is a remarkable young woman who has had a remarkable year. Not only has she tackled HSC during a pandemic, she has actively helped to organise school strike for climate actions, working with others to organise a national climate strike on September 25, with an action outside Scott Morrison’s electoral office.

The students asked the Federal government to not hand billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money to the gas industry. She has also recently joined a class action to halt expansion of Whitehaven’s NSW Vickery coal mine because of the harm this mine will cause young people by exacerbating climate change.

“I am honoured to be linked to Bill’s gentle but committed approach to activism,” Veronica said. “I am yet to decide where to allocate the prize money, but it’s certain to be related to climate change as this was Bill’s passion.”

“Young people are facing an uncertain economic future, including job insecurity stemming from the pandemic.

Climate change is only going to exacerbate the stress on our economy. I’m hopeful that Mr Morrison will use the upcoming budget to invest in long term jobs and clean energy, rather than push ahead with his plans to subsidise fossil fuels, and in particular the gas industry.”

Read more about the class action:


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