As Australia Day fast approaches, the music community is welcoming the news that two of their own will be in the running to take out one of Australia’s most prestigious accolades.

Northern Territory Indigenous music label Skinnyfish Music’s founders Michael Hohnen and Mark Grose were announced as NT finalists in the 2013 Australian of the Year award, coinciding with the news that the bassist for Queensland-based rock act The Medics has also reached the state finalist stage for the Young Australian of the Year category.

Skinnyfish Music, which is based in Darwin, has been instrumental over the past 14 years in mentoring bands and artists through initiatives based around self promotion and business development. Founders Hohnen and Grose have both set out to connect remote, often isolated communities with popular  music markets as well as placing particular emphasis on preserving Indigenous language and artistic culture.

Speaking to The Music Network about his nomination, Grose said: “Music is the key to unlocking potential. It has the power to motivate a new generation to pursue careers that offer economic independence, benefit individuals, their families and the communities of remote Northern Australia.”

His partner, Hohnen, later welcomed the news of their nomination, saying “it’s an honor that our contribution is now acknowledged.”“Music is the key to unlocking potential…”

Skinnyfish Music work with artists such as Saltwater, Dewayne Everettsmith, Nabarlek, and Gurrumul, who performed for the Queen, at her Diamond Jubilee earlier this year, and even US President Barack Obama.

Also flying the flag for Australian music, The Medics’ bassist Charles Thomas has reached the Queensland state finals for Young Australian of the Year, with the indie rocker’s nomination chiefly due to his advocacy for an anti-bullying campaign.

Charles recently took part in a 400 kilometre cycle from Townsville to Cairns, preaching the anti-bullying word and dropping in at schools along the way to spread his heartfelt message.

His campaign, titled Trip To The North, set out to educate and equip young Queenslanders to counteract the effects of bullying, and also arm them with tips to build self esteem, well-being, and all round confidence.

The nominations have been welcomed by Australian music fans nationwide, with many excited at the prospect of some much deserved recognition for our community leaders.

The Medics have experienced an overwhelming breakthrough year, taking out numerous titles including New Talent of the Year and Album of the Year for their debut Foundations ​earlier this year ​at the National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMA). Also taking home some silverware on the night was Skinnyfish associate Gurrumul Yunupingu, who took Artist of the Year for the second consecutive year.

The news is the latest in what has been a successful year for indigenous music acts, including iconic rock outfit  Yothu Yindi, who will also be recognised for their historical contribution to Australian music with their induction into the ARIA hall of fame for the 2012 ARIA Awards ceremony later this month.

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