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30 Years of WHO: 10 Australian Icons Reflect on the Past Three Decades & Look to the Future

Here's to another 30!
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As WHO celebrates 30 years, our favourite stars reflect on a changing world, what inspires them for the future, and we look at the stories that shaped us.

Dylan Alcott- Australian of the Year

He became the first para-athlete to be awarded Tennis Australia’s prestigious Newcombe Medal, and the first man in any form of the sport to win a Golden Slam in a calendar year, yet Dylan Alcott, 31, admits to WHO that he wasn’t always proud of himself. “I used to hate myself so much,” he says. “I got bullied about my disability and took 28 years to fully feel worthy of love and support.”

Dylan Alcott
(Credit: Instagram)

His words are surprising, as the confident athlete and motivational speaker has dazzled the globe with his accomplishments to date, not only through his sport but now in trying to change perceptions around people with disabilities through his consulting firm, Get Skilled. He has also recently partnered with Grant Burge Wines for the Leave Your Mark campaign, where two dollars from select bottles of wine sold goes to his foundation to help young Australians with disability achieve their dreams. “It’s because of people with disability who came before me and broke down barriers that I can be myself,” he says.

What have you got better at with age?

Being vulnerable. When I am struggling, talking about it or getting help.

How have you seen people’s attitudes to disability change over time?

Twenty years ago, it was brutal. There was no ability for most people to listen to lived experience.

What would you like to see with regard to that in the next 30 years?

The next five years would be better. I want people to go to workplaces and see people with disabilities, people with disabilities at festivals and when you travel.

Melissa Doyle
(Credit: Instagram)

Melissa Doyle- The Storyteller

Journalist Melissa Doyle has shared some incredible stories on TV, radio and in print over the course of her 30-year career. She’s always believed in the importance of giving people a voice. Now, in between her work and keeping her household together, Doyle has written Fifteen Seconds of Brave. Here, she reveals why she feels it’s important for courage to be recognised.

The release of your book also coincides with WHO’s 30th birthday. Do you have a favourite memory of the magazine?

I did a cool photo shoot when I turned 40. It was a bit daring! I love WHO. You know, we’re all multifaceted and to me that’s been the beauty of this mag. WHO covers all the things we’re interested in, in life. We want to read about all the important things going on in the world and just as equally want a fabulous recipe I can cook up for dinner, and also what jackets are in season. I think that’s what you have done really well!

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Dr Chris Brown & Julia Morris- Bringing the Laughs

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! duo Julia Morris and Dr Chris Brown are one of TV’s most enduring – and hilarious! – double acts. Here, they share what they remember of their 30th birthdays…

What did you both do to celebrate your 30th birthdays?

Brown: Lunch with some mates at a restaurant in Bondi. Bondi Vet had just started and they filmed it. They got in for about two minutes and they said, “There’s nothing we can use.” They turned the cameras off before the entrées, I think. “Your mates are hilarious, but there is nothing we can use so we’ll just call it quits now.” 

Morris: Mine was on Parliament Hill in London. I lived in Highgate for eight years. Somehow, somewhere, we found a KFC, went up on the top of the hill with a bucket and stayed there well into the evening.

When you think of WHO, what do you think?

Morris: It’s always been an informative mag, long before Instagram and social media came along – not just to the stars, but to decent stories.

Brown: I like the mag’s intriguing angle, that you focus not just on looks but on character, too!

Candace Warner
(Credit: Instagram)

Candice Warner- Resilience Champion

At just 14, she was Australia’s youngest professional ironwoman, a fearless competitor who always believed the bigger the wave, the sweeter the victory. Candice Warner is now 37, happily married to cricketing great Dave Warner and a loving mum to three girls – Ivy, 8, Indi, 6, and Isla, 3.

After suffering years of vile abuse from an army of gutless trolls, Candice has found her voice and admits to WHO that freefalling to rock bottom has made her even more determined to lead the way for others, especially her own girls.

What are the major changes in the world in the past 30 years?

There’s been a shift away from old-fashioned family values – especially the importance of manners, which seems to have all but disappeared from society. Dave and I are proud of our working-class roots – we insist on sitting down at the dinner table every night as a family, just as we did as kids.

What is your greatest hope for your daughters in the next 30 years?

I want them to always know that feeling compromised is not OK. To look in the mirror and be proud of the remarkable people they’ve become.

You were 7 when WHO first hit shelves. How much has the media changed?

Social media has flipped the world on its head – I hope when I’m older that magazines like WHO are still championing women like me, who dared to dream.

Anthony Callea
(Credit: Instagram)

Anthony Callea & Tim Campbell- Marriage Equality Champions

Tim Campbell and Anthony Callea have been happily married since 2014. ARIA Award-winner Callea releases his eighth studio album, Forty Love, on October 21 and says he has “never been more proud to put my name to something”. For Campbell, life is just as busy travelling around the country with his band and hosting events.

How did you celebrate your 30ths?

Callea I’m slightly vain – it was my first venture into Botox. I may have gone overboard. Tim can’t remember his because he’s that old.

Campbell I organised a room in a pub. You’re about to witness a divorce here – the birthday cake that I had was a pile of Krispy Kreme doughnuts with a microwave next to it so you could heat them up!

What would you change in the next 30 years?

Campbell Education around climate change.

Callea The extinction of COVID … and mullets!

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Rob Mills- Mental Health Ambassador

When you look at Rob Mills now, it’s easy to forget how far he has come from his Australian Idol days. The singer/songwriter is not only an actor and television host, but manages to find time in his busy schedule to fly the flag for mental health charity R U OK?, which he has been championing for almost a decade.

Your role has been an important one with R U OK? hasn’t it?

R U OK? Day only happens one day a year, so my role is to keep people checking in on their mates and also yourself. It’s that old adage of “put your own oxygen mask on first before you help others” – you need to make sure that you’re in a good space to have these kinds of conversations.

Can you believe WHO is turning 30?

You’ve always taken the time to get to know the people of note. I’ve always found WHO to be a lovely publication! I’ve always been treated very, very well. I’ve never said this about any other magazine so … that’s actually quite truthful. Well done, guys. Happy birthday!

What would you like to see change in Australia over the next 30 years?

To have a much better understanding and integration with our Indigenous heritage. I would love that. So many great stories and practices. And hopefully for me and Georgie it’s a couple of kids, but that’s a little way off yet!

Maria Thattil
(Credit: Instagram)

Maria Thattil- Inclusivity Advocate

Over the past couple of years, Maria Thattil has proven she is a completely multifaceted talent. From modelling – she was Miss Universe Australia in 2020 – to presenting, public speaking and writing, this 29-year-old has many strings to her bow. Now, the psychology graduate is throwing herself into neuro coaching (to help people change their thought patterns), as well as social activism. Thattil is particularly passionate about speaking out on inclusivity, too.

How do you like to get your message out?

Visibility and inclusivity are so important. When I was little, I never dreamt I’d see someone like me as Miss Universe Australia. Times are changing though, and I think WHO has been willing to evolve with the change and be a really active participant in it. One of my favourite stories I’ve done has been with WHO. I’d just come back from Miss Universe and did an interview with the mag. The headline was Role Model. The feature wasn’t on how I looked, it was on the work that I did. It was so meaningful. My dad bought every mag on the stand. You brought my family so much joy!

What would you like to see change in the next 30 years?

The inequality that the LGBTQIA+ community face. This means so much to me, because my brother and I are queer ourselves. Things might look different, but until we see legislation change over the world, we still have a way to go.

Miranda Tapsell
(Credit: Instagram)

Miranda Tapsell- Iconic Australian Actress

Miranda Tapsell is one of our most in-demand talents. Whether that be on screens in Top End Wedding or The Sapphires, or voicing thorny devil Zoe in Back to the Outback and Wanda in Kangaroo Beach, hosting Audible podcast, Debutante: Race, Resistance and Girl Power or most recently fronting Audible’s new ‘Home of Storytelling’ campaign, which highlights the platform’s ongoing continued investment in local talent.

While downtime is in short supply these days for Tapsell – especially now she’s a mum to 10-month-old daughter Grace Birri-Pa Purnarrika, who she shares with husband James Colley – she does try to find time for a break.

“My mum was a bit of a fan of flicking through the pages of a magazine when I was little and growing up in Jabiru, in Arnhem Land. It was sort of Mum’s little treat to get a copy of WHO magazine,” she says, remembering a time when AFL player, reality TV star and politician Warwick Capper graced the pages.

“I love magazines, too. I always pick up WHO at the airport!”

Next up, the 34-year-old will star in a Stan original holiday movie, Christmas Ransom, opposite Matt Okine.

Sophie Dillman
(Credit: Instagram)

Sophie Dillman- Body confidence advocate

Sophie Dillman is Home And Away’s golden girl. Not only is she a talent on-screen and undoubted fan favourite, the 30-year-old is also a body confidence advocate, too. “Exercise is something I do for my mental health,” Dillman told WHO recently. “I love the feeling of endorphins pumping through my body. After a great session I feel accomplished, relaxed and more focused.”

Ever since she’s been in the public eye, social media has grown to become a huge part of life in the spotlight, but Dillman doesn’t let it overwhelm her or dictate her life. “I love feeling strong and pushing myself to be my best,” she explained. “Those are the types of women that I enjoy following online. I don’t believe in diets. If you want a cookie, have a cookie! I am determined that my future children won’t grow up feeling the pressure to be a certain size. Growing up is hard enough, we need to give ourselves a break.”

In her own 30th year, the actress has even more milestones coming her way. This year marks her fifth on the Aussie soap, while her character Ziggy is expecting her first child with Dean, played by her real-life boyfriend, Patrick O’Connor.

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