Australia Day is expected to be a good day for Indigenous rights lawyer Professor Larissa Behrendt, who is the favourite to win Australian of the Year for 2011.
According to bookmaker Sportsbet Australia, the New South Wales academic and author is expected to take out the Australian of the Year Award which is to be announced at a ceremony outside Parliament House on 25 January.
Sportsbet has Professor Behrendt at $2.50 followed by Victoria finalist Simon McKeon, a leading social entrepreneur, and Tasmania finalist Deborah De Williams, a breast cancer campaigner, at $6.
As the New South Wales Australian of the Year, Behrendt has been recognised for her passionate and articulate advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
A Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman, Behrendt decided to become a lawyer at age 11 after her Indigenous father found his mother's removal certificate, which revealed the NSW sheep station from which she had been taken by the government.
She is currently a professor of law and director of research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney.
The author of several books on Indigenous legal issues, Behrendt's first novel Home won the 2002 David Uniapon Award and a Commonwealth Writer's Prize in 2005, while her latest novel Legacy won a Victorian Premier's Literary Award.