These are Australia's biggest heroes and villains of 2017

Whether it's the Commander in Tweet slouching towards nuclear war with South Korea on social media, the global aftermath of the disgrace of super-producer Harvey Weinstein or the Australian parliament falling apart inexorably as a cornucopia of dual citizens are uncovered, 2017 has been one helluva year. Particularly when it came to calling out the toxic behaviour perpetrated – and perpetuated – by men.

Looking to our own blokes, while the #metoo campaign has uncovered bad behaviour in our backyard and stroppy tennis players have brought dishonour to our door, there have thankfully been plenty of dead set legends too.

In a year where men were under the microscope, these were the heroes and villains:

The Heroes

Dr G Yunupingu

We lost one of Australia's most instantly recognisable voices this year when Dr G Yunupingu died at the age of 46. The Yolngu man captured imaginations worldwide singing in the Aboriginal languages of Gumatj, Galpu and Djambarrpuynu, as well as playing multiple instruments including an upside down guitar. Born blind on Elcho Island, his vision will never be forgotten.

Samuel Johnson

It's been a year of incredible highs and lows for Johnson who won the Gold Logie for his portrayal of music icon Molly Meldrum and was named Victoria's Australian of the Year 2018, but also endured the death of beloved sister Connie after her long fight with breast cancer. The tireless pair raised well over $7 million for cancer research through their charity Love Your Sister.

Dean Smith  

So many voices fought with honour to achieve marriage equality in Australia, but ultimately we settled on recognising West Australian Senator Dean Smith. The architect of the bill that finally made it happen, Smith is both a gay man and a Christian and he championed that the legislation, "must be about advancing the hopes and dreams of all citizens no matter their sexuality, ethnicity or religion."


Dave Hughes

Equal pay for women was thrust front and centre this year, particularly given Lisa Wilkinson's stunning departure from Channel Nine's Today Show. Men need to step up to the plate on this, and as such we commend comedian and presenter Dave Hughes, an all round nice guy, for taking a pay cut to match radio co-host Kate Langbroek as soon as the 40 per cent disparity between them came to light.

Jordon Steele-John

Swapping into the senate as a replacement for the Green's former co-deputy leader Scott Ludlam, claimed by the ongoing citizenship saga, 23-year-old Steele-John will be a breath of fresh air in the Upper House. Speaking up for up young people, so rarely represented in our political game, the wheelchair user is also a proud disability rights advocate, with the senate chamber finally accessible.

Garth Davis

Filmmaker Davis' debut feature Lion breathed cinematic life into the incredible true story of Saroo Brierley. An Indian boy accidentally separated from his family and ultimately adopted by a Tasmanian couple, he went on an impossible quest to find his biological mum. Starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, Davis' beautiful movie roared to fifth place in the all-time best Australian box office.

Wally Elnour

Every once in awhile someone appears on screen and instantly emanates star power. That's the case with Elnour, the charismatic lead of hit SBS crime drama Sunshine. Born in South Sudan and migrating to Melbourne with his family when he was five, he fell into acting accidentally, having pursued a career in professional basketball. A revelation, we hope the change sticks.

Alan Mackay-Sim

Biomedical scientist Professor Emeritus Mackay-Sim was named Australian of the Year for his pioneering stem cell research, which paved the way to successful regeneration of damaged spinal cords. He has used this platform to promote investment in scientific research, and particularly supporting young scientists, noting, "Researchers need a long view, much longer than the political horizon."

Clancy Overell and Errol Parker

It's increasingly hard to cut through the news cycle noise, but one pair of Australian journalists are making themselves heard loud and clear. With almost half a million Facebook followers, The Betoota Advocate editors Overell and Parker are both pant-wettingly hilarious and seriously smart. Their insightful satirical poking even scored an interview with the Prime Minister this year.  

Dustin Martin

Of all the sporting triumphs this year, 'Dusty' Martin's has been the most compelling. Richmond thumped the Adelaide Crows to secure Grand Final glory for the Tigers after 37 years in the wilderness, securing Dusty the Norm Smith medal. He then went on to be honoured with both the Brownlow and Richmond's Jack Dyer medals for best and fairest player. What a champion.

The Villains

Don Burke

Whatever the veracity of the many accusations of sexual harassment levelled at and firmly denied by the former Burke's Backyard presenter, his confession that, "I terrified people. I was a tough boss, I was a bear with a sore head. Maybe I bullied people," during an interview with A Current Affair's Tracy Grimshaw was more than enough to earn his spot on this list. As was his howled down self-diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome.

Kirin J. Callinan

Given the ongoing international conversation about sexual harassment, it beggars belief that pop star Callinan decided it was a good idea to indecently expose himself in front of a phalanx of journalists, not to mention unsuspecting bystanders, while wearing a mini-kilt on the ARIA red carpet. Talk about tone-deaf grossness, we're not entirely convinced by his busy musical style either.

George Calombaris

Restaurateur and MasterChef judge was far from a winner this year. The revelation that his Made Establishment group underpaid employees by as much as $2.6 million was a shock further compounded by his assault of a 19-year-old Sydney FC supporter at the A-League grand final the following month. Leading to a fine and a conviction, Calombaris needs to lift his game in 2018.

Sam Dastyari

In a rare dishonour, Labor Senator Dastyari finds himself on our worst list for the second year running, pretty much for the same reason as last time. Having already been busted for dodgy dealings over foreign donations and forced from cabinet, he finds himself covering up new moves that wouldn't pass the pub test, turfed from yet another leadership role. Fool me twice…

Patriot Blue hecklers

Dastyari might be in hot water again, but he didn't deserve the appalling racial slurs hurled at him in a pub by members of far-right, Romper Stomper-inspired group Patriot Blue. Their abusive behaviour was both despicable and thoroughly stupid, recording themselves on camera. Their idiocy also captured the brilliance of Dastyari's colleague Tim Watts shutting them down in true Aussie style.

Stuart Laundy

The vagaries of reality TV editing by behind-the-scenes producers mean it's all-too easy to be labelled a villain hated by the nation. However, hospitality industry millionaire Laundy had two bad strikes against his name. For one thing, he was still technically married while competing for actress and model Sophie Monk's hand on The Bachelorette. Second, we were all rooting for Apollo.

Tony Abbott

"There will be no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping," declared former Prime Minister Abbott when unceremoniously dumped in favour of Turnbull. As with Rudd, he's been a gutter sniper ever since. A vociferous No campaigner, his attempt to claim ownership over Yes' success is outrageous, particularly given he failed to vote after his electorate Warringah voted 75 per cent in favour.

Bernard Tomic

If Dusty captured the nation's hearts with his excellent game and attitude, stroppy tennis player Tomic did the exact opposite. Feigning injury at Wimbledon then ungratefully declaring he found the game boring, he was subsequently fined. Shedding sponsors and slumping to 142nd place globally, legend Pat Cash says it's time he earned his stripes minus a wild card.

Ange Postecoglou

Socceroos boss Postecoglou has always had a fraught relationship with the press, but enjoyed a certain degree of popularity with the fans. He also delivered in a big way this year, getting us to next year's World Cup in Russia. Which is why it's all the more frustrating that he inexplicably decided to walk away from it all, leaving us without a top coach with less than one year to go.

Red Symons

Symonds was unceremoniously dumped from his ABC radio breakfast slot this month without so much as an explanation. Normally we'd suggest that was pretty poor form. However, given his gobsmackingly racist/bizarre interview with fellow journalist and It's Not a Race podcast host Beverly Wang earlier this year, we reckon he was long overdue stepping away from the mic.

Check out the gallery above to see the year's best and worst men.

Have we left anyone out? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.