Australia Day 2023

Australia Day Awards

The annual Australia Day Awards are an opportunity for our community to recognise outstanding local heroes and high achievers from all walks of life.

Nominations for the 2023 Fraser Coast Australia Day Awards opened on 29 August and closed on 5 December 2022. 

Awards Ceremony

In 2023, two events are planned to celebrate the achievements of those nominated:

Nominees Recognition Ceremony - 19 January 2023 at Hervey Bay Regional Gallery
Australia Day Awards Presentation - 26 January 2023 at Brolga Theatre

2023 Australia Day Awards categories

  • Citizen of the Year
  • Young Citizen of the Year 
  • Community Group or Organisation of the Year 
  • Community Project or Event of the Year 
  • Volunteer of the Year Award
  • Young Volunteer of the Year 
  • Cultural Award of the Year 
  • Young Cultural Award of the Year 
  • Sportsperson of the Year Award 
  • Young Sportsperson of the Year Award 
  • STEM Award of the Year 
  • Young STEM Award of the Year 

Australia Day Awards 2022 Recipients

  • Fraser Coast Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award recipient Bob Wicks reckons the award is just as much for his wife Narelle as it is for him.

    The pair have been a powerhouse in the Fraser Coast business and sporting community for more than 30 years.

    Bob’s Tyres (Maryborough and Hervey Bay) has been synonymous with sport, of many kinds, and fundraising efforts for sports, community events, facilities, and charities.

    While probably best known for their works in the Hervey Bay Surf Club and Seagulls Rugby League Club, they have been involved soccer, scuba diving and helping build the Roy Rufus Artificial Reef off the eastern side of Big Woody Island.

  • Sara Diana Faraj has received numerous academic achievements, awards for business management, marine science and sports and medals for her efforts on the soccer field.

    She has received the Four Lions Youth of the Year speaker award, bronze award for cultural contribution and a community participation award.

    Sara is the President of Zonta Hervey Bay and has set the record as the youngest Zonta president in the world.

    She has taken on the role of supporting the voice of our local youth and hosts forums where youth can have their voices heard and come together to brainstorm ideas.

    Not only has she been a peer support leader, but she has been a House Committee member, community culture cafe volunteer, Environmental Committee member, St Vincent De Paul sleep out leader, Sports event volunteer, volunteer singer and volunteer debating coach.

  • Desiree McGann noticed a missing link between local studio dance styles and QCAA Dance Curriculum taught in schools.

    In 2007 she founded LAD Studio (La Danza Studio), the first Contemporary/Lyrical classes linked to the QCAA Dance Curriculum in the area.

    She assisted students from numerous schools to achieve high results in Performing Arts.

    In 2020 Desiree implemented the new QCAA Dance Syllabus at Riverside Christian College and provided the contemporary/lyrical and expressive link to the community through the Studio.

    Desiree commenced Boy Tap Classes (The LADS) in 2008. Today it has the largest group of male dancers in the Fraser Coast region at La Danza Studio with 16 boys ranging from 6-20 years old.

    Desiree was the winner of the 2015 Best Choreographer – Lyn Dahl Award for her work in the Brolga Production of Hairspray.

    For her leadership and teaching innovation she was finalist for the 2019 Fraser Coast Education Alliance University of the Sunshine Coast, Educator of the Year Award and in 2012 was the Stated finalist Queensland College of Teachers Excellence in Teaching Award.

    For the past six years Desiree has been Head of Faculty for Creative Industries (Drama, Music, Dance, Film, Visual Arts) & LOTE at Riverside Christian College.

    She is the Head of Dance Department at the College and led her Department to National Award winning level in Wakakirri Story-Dance Secondary schools (2017, 2018, 2019).

    She is the Director, Teacher and Founder of La Danza Studio since 2007 with currently 95 dance students registered, with multiple competition awards won in the past 5 years.

  • Jasmin Corby endeavours to represent her indigenous heritage through her furnishing work.

    Her work has been showcased at the Hervey Bay High School and has inspired students to incorporate their own cultural heritage into their own work.

    Jasmin has been a part of the Girls Academy within Hervey Bay State High School where has mentored young females to take on roles within furnishing studies and other areas of the school.

  • Captain Perry McNeil is an Airline Pilot, a Qualified Maths and Science Teacher, and a Military Officer (Aust. Army Captain ARes.).

    Between flights, he teaches Mathematics, Science, and Applied Engineering (STEM) at Fraser Coast high schools.

    Recently he was on contract to teach the Gifted and Talented Years 7 to 12 in Aerospace Drone Technology.

    Perry is a Qualified Military Drone Instructor and Veteran, recently working with the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment as a Captain in the Army Reserve.

    He teaches Applied Engineering and owns McNeil Aviation at Hervey Bay Airport, a technology enterprise that builds aircraft and has won several Aviation Awards for their aircraft builds.

    As a Qualified Flight Instructor, he has guided youth in Aviation, Aerospace, and Engineering Technologies.

    He is a Technical Counsellor for the Sports Aircraft Association of Australia and a licensed Flight Engineer, volunteering to give his time and guidance to those involved on the Fraser Coast in the aerospace and sport flying industry and the building of kit aircraft.

  • Jacob Donnelly completed a two-year Certificate III in Information Digital Media and Technology.

    He completed his Dell Certification to become a qualified Dell Technician and is able to undertake repairs of school laptops.

    Last year he was the recipient of the ADF Innovators Award for STEM and, the Rhys Burnet Memorial Challenge and a Gold Arts and Culture Achievement.

    Jacob spends his spare time repairing laptops for the college, operating the audio/visual equipment for  school assemblies (presentations, sound and lighting), and helping troubleshoot and solve problems for students and staff.

  • Jeffrey Morris spends hours organising the race calendar for the Hervey Bay Triathlon Club the club race calendar, co-ordinating the club’s social media pages, successfully obtaining grants for equipment and events.

    He helps run up to seven club events each year and as Event Director of the Hervey Bay 100, Jeff is the driving force behind the large-scale multisport event affectionately known as “the Hundy”.

    Jeff volunteers between 10 to 20 hours per week most months on the Hundy and spends days on end ensuring that the Hundy runs smoothly over the week of the event each November.

    Jeff has spent many years on the club’s management board and last year retired as president to take on the Vice-president position.

  • Hunter Murdoch coached the U12 runners up team and represented Maryborough Magic in basketball at regional and state U16 championships.

    He was select for the Basketball Queensland Future Development program attending a state development camp for the top 40, U14 male players in the State.

    Hunter was further selected for the Queensland Basketball team in the Australian Primary School Championships in 2020.

    He is also a skilled soccer player and in 2019 was invited to England as part of the West Ham United Academy elite tour. His team were grand final winners in 2020 and 2021 where Hunter received Player of the Final Award in 2020.

    Hunter played his first season of Rugby League last year and was awarded 'best back' for his team.

    He is an extraordinary young athlete and already a mature and exceptional role model for younger athletes.

  • Noela Da Forno has dedicated 29 years of hard work to the Aldershot Community Association.

    She was the treasurer for 20 years and ran the Community Centre kitchen for 16 years.

    Noela was a founding member of the ADCA which raises money through raffles, roadside stalls and garage sales.

    She also volunteers on the Disaster Committee. In 2001 the association, with the support of council, purchased an unused shop, which became the community hall, where weekly socials were held.

    Noela truly is the heart and soul of the Aldershot community, and her selfless commitment shines through. The whole community is very grateful for her efforts.

  • Lewis Akaveka has volunteered at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre and the Neighbourhood Hive helping with Open Day, the Band and Burger Night for Year 12 students and a Culture Cafe event.

    During the school holidays, he assisted with cleaning and painting the Neighbourhood Hive to get it prepared for its opening.

    In October last year Lewis won the Community Choice award at the Fraser Coast Social Plan Pitch Night for a project to facilitate cooking classes for young adults leaving home.

    The classes will begin in January 2022.

    In 2017, Lewis co-ordinated an event to raise money for Tonga following the devastation of the islands by a cyclone. These funds were used to provide food and other essential supplies as well as new doors on a youth centre in Nuku'alofa.

    Lewis lead the organisation of the fundraising event including menu and entertainment planning.

    He also negotiated with organisations in Tonga to direct the funds to where they were most needed.

    While some of his volunteer work has been hands-on and involved getting hot and dirty Lewis is always willing to help.

    He has also assisted with the Hervey Bay Sunrise Rotary Club's book sales - mainly by moving boxes of books between venues.

  • Lupton Park Community Garden (LPCG) is a self-funded, not for profit, community-based organisation, designed to provide a range of sustainable, environmental, social and educational benefits to the community.

    LPCG reuses donated garden items and items from the Recycling Centre diverting waste from landfill and maintains a free community library. LPCG is a working garden and offers members the opportunity to volunteer around 3,000 hours each year.

    LPCG is an important part of the community providing educational, health and social benefits and are regularly approached by disability support agencies for participants to work in the garden.

    They are working on extending the range of bush tucker plants to promote knowledge of indigenous culture within the community.

    The pandemic has highlighted the importance of LPCG.

    Being able to attend the garden and socialise while following COVID restrictions has been a valuable outlet for members, reducing feelings of isolation, particularly for those who live alone or are new to the area.

  • Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) program is offered to every high school student on the Fraser Coast.

    The program runs for a week with students from different schools attending daily.

    The program is designed by Road Safety Education and gives students a unique opportunity to set road safety goals and build strategies through six highly engaging workshops.

    The aim behind the program is to reduce road crashes and trauma through practical demonstrations, real life narratives, videos and interactive role plays.

    The program is run by volunteers from the four local Rotary Clubs and the Maryborough Ladies Probus Club.

    Last year 147 volunteers participated at the two events staged at the Maryborough Showgrounds.

    The RYDA program contributes to lower road fatalities and has a huge social and financial community benefit.

Australia Day Awards 2022 Nominations

  • Vika Acaveka for her continued support of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse community through volunteering her time at the Neighbourhood Centre.

    Bobbie Walsh for her ongoing commitment to the youth of our community, including 12 years volunteering over 3,000hrs a year.

    Lesley Brand for her time and dedication as a member of Brooweena District Rural Fire Brigade since its inception in 1990. During this time, she has been instrumental in obtaining state of the art facilities.

    Yvette Beattie, for being a kind, selfless and caring member of our community who has gone above and beyond to assist those who have been experiencing hardship.

    Darryl Stewart, for representing the community in several group settings and his dedication as chairman of the Tiaro & District Chamber of Commerce for the last 13 years.

    Guy Meredith, for his countless hours of volunteering in the community as the Wide Bay representative/facilitator for the not for profit organisation helping to raise awareness for mental health.

    Dr Ajith Thampi, for his voluntary work coaching under 6 year old kids this soccer season, volunteering time on a national level at Emergency Medicine Council and additionally working with FCMA to conduct many events for the vast benefit to residents in the regions.

    Graham Wode, for his voluntary service efforts to improve community flood warning systems and general city improvements.

  • Toby Robinson, for his service to the homeless. Toby looks for ways can make a difference and always shares what he has. He regularly donates food he buys with his pocket money to the Bless Box, homeless support groups, or directly to homeless people on the Fraser Coast.

    Jessica Stocks, was born with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and has channelled her artistic skills into becoming a tattoo artist. Jessica’s soft and nurturing nature ensures her clients leave feeling supported and empowered with their new art.

    Aidan Albert, for his volunteer work with community programs and events. Aidan was the 2020 Australia Air League Hervey Bay Squadron Cadet of the Year of the Year and was recently promoted to non-commissioned officer leading cadet. He has played Hervey Bay district basketball and won awards for refereeing games. He also serves as an altar boy.

    Robson Flocchini, for inspiring young people to talk and take action on youth issues. Robson is a positive and influential role model who promotes leadership, model behaviour and a can-do attitude. He was a youth member of parliament for Maryborough in 2020 and creator of the youth forum. In May he participated in the Darkness to Daylight and ran over 110km to raise $2700 for domestic and family violence victims. Robson was selected to co-host the Fraser Coast Youth Forum.

  • Anita Rose Vella, for her ongoing commitment and passion towards music and her students. Anita works extremely hard and at the end of each year she organises a fabulous concert involving all of her students. Her musical excellence is an inspiration to all.

    Jon Vea Vea, for his dedication to music and the community. Jon volunteers at many local organisations and is a strong advocate and support for young musicians trying to break into the industry. He is well known for being selfless, humble and always having time for others.

  • There was only one nomination.

  • Johanthan Vallance, for providing innovation and vision in relation to STEM curriculum and being instrumental in organising STEM extracurricular projects. These projects include the school Wind Farm, the FarmBot project and a Cadence monitor. He has used his engineering knowledge to provide direction and leadership within these projects.

    Dr Vernon Harris, for his long and significant contribution in zoology research and to the study of the world's marine invertebrates. His area of research focusses on understanding the important role of tiny marine organisms called Copepods.

    He has personally identified dozens of species of Copepods previously unknown to science, many of them collected from the waters around Hervey Bay.

  • Bailey Sawtell’s website work was submitted to the Premier’s Coding Challenge and he received an academic award for Digital Technology.

    He received a Gold Academic Achievement award, a Bronze Arts and Culture Award and the USQ Rise and Shine award for his leadership, academic achievement, and participation in College events.

    Bailey also created a website designed for parents to help keep their children safe online.

    Detroit Sippel, has shown a commitment to STEM in classwork and extra curriculum activities. He worked on the development and installation of his school’s Farmbot; a cadence device for Human powered vehicles. He uses his knowledge and skills to assist others in lunchtime STEM activities.

    Indi Birch and Talia Hill, worked together on the Premier’s Coding Challenge to create a website called “Mental Help 4 Me”. In their own time they learnt HTML and CSS skills to design the website.

    Indi received a Gold Arts and Culture award and a Silver Academic Achievement Award and Talia received a Gold Academic Achievement Award.

    Ava Wilchek and Sykla Birch, helped run lessons using the VR devices for Science Week. They ran VR activities for their school Open Day and volunteer to help with Orientation Day, Taster Day and Open Evenings.

    They received an Outstanding Diligence award for year 9, a Gold Arts and Culture Achievement Award and a Gold Academic Achievement award.

    Ava was Technology Leader in 2021 and Skyla is Technology Leader in 2022.

  • Brian Harrington, for his dedication to athlete engagement and promotion of healthy mind and body as a coach for local, regional, state and national school triathlon championships. Brian also voluntarily coaches two junior athletes to National level competition and several others to regional and state level.

  • Angus Holland, competed in his first ever Australia Bull Riding Championships in Rockhampton and qualified in the top five to compete in the professional bull riding (PBR). He was the Australian Under 12 Mini Bull Riding Champion Runner Up and the only child under 12 from Queensland. Angus was Top 10 in Australia in each 2020 event. He qualified to compete at the world finals in Oklahoma but couldn’t attend due to COVID-19.

    Ethan Parry, is currently in the process of having his 100m time and long jump distance recorded as an Oceania record holder. He is the fastest man with Down syndrome in Australia and made the state team. At the 2020 all schools competition he gained gold in 100m, Shotput and long jump.

    Teya Rufus, is a positive role model in the Maryborough BMX community and is Under 15 Girls and Junior Women Super Class BMX State Champion. She was the recipient of Junior Rider of the Year. Teya qualified for the BMX World Championships and is currently being coached by Australian Coach and former Olympian; is part of the Australian Talented Athlete Program and volunteers at the local BMX track.

    Harry Schoff was selected in the Queensland Under 17 Road Cycling Team. He has also been selected into the Central Queensland Sports Academy.

  • Brian Taylor for his tireless and instrumental work for the Historical Village. Brian was instrumental in the Village’s inclusion in the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame. He developed several interactive displays, developed and maintains the website, social media and designed and produced the Museum’s brochure.

    Mark Jeppesen, Mark holds several volunteer roles for Maryborough Softball and umpires several games each week. He has been a member of the group’s Board for over 16 years and writes grant applications, purchases equipment and assists with junior training. Mark also helps the other Maryborough clubs with grant writing and is the Grants Officer and a member of the Finance Committee for Maryborough Hockey.

    Ivan Mayfield, for his understated yet powerful community-building skills and abilities. Ivan balances his affable nature with a keen sense of social welfare especially for the aged and ageing. Ivan helps save lives through the blood bank where has notched up more than 114 donations. For many years Ivan has volunteered with Hervey Bay Disability Assistance Inc, assisting in a range of roles.

    Lex Cowell, for always putting his hand up to help out and volunteering with the Fraser Coast Agriculture Society, the Maryborough District Antique Motor Club and his involvement with the Boys Brigade as a Captain through the Baptist Church.

    Jim Murphy, for going above and beyond in volunteering at Meals on Wheels for the past five years. Jim has passionately given his heart and soul to organising the volunteers and operations of Meals on Wheels, working five days a week even though he was only required to assist on three, only having two weeks break himself, to ensure that those in need in the community were well looked after.

    Darryl Morrison, for his substantial volunteering efforts at the Maryborough Visitors Centre and as a member of the not-for-profit Lupton Park Community Gardens (LPCG). Through his leadership and inspiration LPCG is a well-managed organisation which benefits to the Community.

    Steve Case, for his efforts re-invigorating the Fraser Coast Cycling Club as president. It is now a thriving and energetic club with weekly races held at various locations across the region. Steve has been instrumental in obtaining the club a room at the Fraser Coast Sports and Recreation Precinct as well as developing a strong Mission Statement and five-year plan.

    Dr Ajith Thampi, for volunteering his time to coach under-6 soccer, as president of the Fraser Coast Malayalee Association which is a non-profit culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) organisation. He has been instrumental in organising community events for Fraser Coast residents.

  • Kaine Beattie, for always being the first to volunteer his time to help out with fundraising, activities at the beach, patrolling, and training to ensure that Surf Life Saving continues on providing their services to the community.

    Aidan Albert, for his extensive volunteering at the Fraser Coast Malayalee Association. FCMA held a sports festival during which Aidan volunteered to help prepare food, move equipment, and helped referee a few events.

  • Independent Riders Workshops Inc: For volunteering their time to provide programs and workshops suitable to at risk and disengaged youth, disability and inclusion, mental health, and domestic violence support. The workshops allow participants to learn new skills and build confidence.

    Hervey Bay Historical Village & Museum: For their tireless efforts in collecting and preserving our local history for future generations and promoting the region and its history to visitors and locals through community events.

    Hervey Bay Rocks: For volunteering their time to run local rock hunt competitions, events and rock painting in schools and at the Neighbourhood Hive to teach and spread kindness. The group often give up their weekends hold events and include local businesses to sponsor the prizes.

    Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum: for the tremendous and unwavering support the band of more than 100 volunteers put into the museum and Maryborough’s history.

    Burrum District Community Centre Assn Inc: Volunteers at the centre give at least 6,500 hours annually and raise more than of $90,000 a year. BDCCAI runs the Howard Country markets each month which attracts thousands to the town.

    They operate the Howard District Community Centre, run a teenage youth group, is the community co-ordination centre for disasters, manages hall hire of the centre, operates an unofficial visitor information centre, and various other events.

    Home Assist Community Services: For their reliable support of all social, cultural and community groups, in particular their work in helping frail aged and disabled consumers to remain in their own home. Their organisation has assisted more than 300,000 individuals since they opened in 1999.

    Fraser Coast Malayalee Association: For their dedicated efforts in organising a variety of social events for the general public to exchange cultural values, celebrate diversity and promote harmony during the pandemic.

    Fraser Coast Disability Services: For bringing independence, joy, and a sense of purpose to people in the community who have a disability, through teaching life skills to help with gaining employment.

    Hervey Bay Quilters: For their support across the community through the donation of quilts, trauma dolls and care packages for women. They volunteer their time to create quality, comforting pieces for patients undergoing cancer treatment, are victims of crime, or who have suffered a great loss.

    Maryborough City Whistlestop Inc: For their hard work keeping the Mary Ann running and the Whistlestop Railway Museum open five days a week. Every Wednesday, volunteers work at the Goods Shed housing steam trains Mary Ann and 299 and are great ambassadors for the Fraser Coast. They assist with school and disability groups and make each person’s ride an enjoyable one.

  • Fraser Coast Toy Run: For their efforts to harness community and businesses support to raise funds for community organisations. The Toy Run provides presents to children in need on the Fraser Coast.

    Howard District Community Centre Markets: Organised by volunteers the market creates the biggest trading day of the month for retailers involved. The market volunteers raise funds which are used to run community groups and projects.

    FCMA Blood Donation Drive: For organising a blood donation drive that was uniquely conducted which inspired others to become donors and help save more lives.

    Pilot school protect learning system - Flooding and Fire hazard awareness: For increasing understanding of the impact of flooding on community and society, bringing the community together to reduce the impact of possible disasters by better understanding preparation, response, and recovery.

    Good Vibes Kombi: For contributing many social benefits to the Fraser Coast Community in 2020 and 2021 by creating an initiative to uplift the spirits of residents and tourists.

    FCMA Badminton Tournament: For volunteering their time to organise, co-ordinate and run an event that brought together residents and visitors. The event raised community comradery and visitors spoke highly of the event and Fraser Coast.