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

2023 Recipients have been announced. 

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

Australia Day Awards 2023 Recipients

  • Ginger Maryland, for her promotion of Maryborough events, clubs, activities and op shops through her self-funded Shopfront Showcase project, and for her contribution to the community.

    Ginger has generated extensive media coverage for her colourful displays in vacant CBD shopfronts. She also produced an illustrated brochure outlining local places to take children for active outings; and wrote articles about Maryborough attractions for a national RV magazine.

    Ginger appeared in a range of media outlets, including national television, when she proposed a Redhead event for Maryborough. She supports many festivals such as the Mary Poppins Festival, STEAMfesta, FraserPop, Relish, and Open Gardens, by creating window displays, and dressing according to the theme.

    Ginger has been an innovative Program Officer for the Maryborough Combined Probus Club for the last two years.

    Ginger conducts large-scale swap events of clothing and bric a brac, and donates surplus items to local charities.

    In association with another resident and her local councillor, Ginger proposed a Butchulla word (“Nara”, meaning “Hello”) for an unnamed street in Tinana. This was unanimously approved by Council, and is now known as Nara Drive.

    Ginger has a strong work ethic, and is a very caring and inspirational citizen who works enthusiastically for her beloved Maryborough.

  • Miss Emmily Lingard, nominated for excelling at school and in sport, while also working as mentor for young athletes and volunteering to support children with disabilities.

    Emmily represented the Hervey Bay district in seven sports and was a Wide Bay representative in four sports, serving as captain of the athletics team and vice-captain of the netball team.

    She is a patrolling member of Hervey Bay Surf Life Saving Club and mentors younger children at the surf club and swim club. She was under 17 surf club captain and was named the club’s 2021/22 Youth Competitor of the year.

    Emmily also volunteered and worked as a support worker for children with disabilities, and was instrumental in the ‘Big Sister’ program at her school, assisting younger students.

    Emilly was the Fraser Coast Anglican College school captain and a college prefect last year and is soon to start her university studies in the field of nursing/midwifery.

  • Recipients, Mr and Mrs John and Sue Erbacher have dedicated five decades of work to researching, documenting and preserving the local history of Hervey Bay and K’gari (Fraser Island).

    They have jointly written over 40 books on the history of the area as well as environmental books describing how different ecosystems operate and the lives of birds, insects and marine life.

    Sue and John also donate a significant amount of time volunteering at the Salvation Army and are involved in numerous activities to raise funds to help the less fortunate.

  • Mr Rhys Canham, nominated for his performances, guidance and leadership in many aspects of local theatre both on and off the stage.

    Rhys has played both leading and ensemble roles in various productions by Macabre Theatre and Flame Studios, including the 2022 original production of Rose Glasses, which he directed and helped write the script.

    Rhys was a member of the troupe that performed at Fraser Shores Retirement Village Variety Shows and Condy Park Kindergarten’s Teddy Bears Picnic.

    He assists with everything from warmups to promotional photography and videography, through to set and prop production. Rhys also gives back as a Youth Tutor for both Junior and Senior drama classes.

  • Dr Vernon Harris, is recognised for his work in zoology in universities in the United Kingdom, Africa and Australia and in particular for discovering 40 new species of copepods, a marine species previously unknown to science that he collected from New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

    Conducting his research from a private laboratory set up in the bedroom of his Hervey Bay retirement villa, Dr Harris uses a microscope to examine, illustrate and record species of the little-known creatures that measure between 1 to 2 millimetres in length.

    Considered the world’s leading expert on copepods, Dr Harris has made his discoveries since he retired from his university academic career almost three decades ago.

    Dr Harris continues to contribute to global understanding of the tiny, translucent marine invertebrates, preparing manuscripts for publication in international academic journals and sending specimens to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

    Dr Harris also established the Lucy Harris Bursary for the University of Sunshine Coast’s Fraser Coast campus through a $10,000 donation in honour of his late wife Lucy and her long, distinguished international career as a nurse.

    This is an example of his extraordinary generosity of spirit, enthusiasm for learning and willingness to encourage a new generation of learners.

  • Mr Charlie Morris, is reconised for showing innovation through the introduction and development of the Hervey Bay State High School’s Farmbot, an automated farm that plants seeds, waters and eliminate weeds using a cartesian plane robotic arm. 

    Charlie saw the project through from start to finish, and did system fault finding and addressed sensoring issues during testing.

    Other projects Charlie has been involved include experimenting with different levels of chemicals to produce an increase in thrust for multi stage rockets and the Bin Bot, an automated rubbish bin which travels autonomously around the school collecting rubbish off students.

    Charlie has a passion for STEM and using it to solve real world problems, while he also assists his STEM teacher to create curriculum projects for junior students.

  • Miss Annette Clifford is recognised for her role with the Fraser Coast 8 Ball Association in coaching young, enthusiastic pool players, representing Queensland and competing in many local, state and national tournaments.

    Annette helps with a weekly juniors’ program and has also facilitated a ‘ladies’ night’ at the pool hall, working hard to create a safe space for all.

    Annette is generous with her knowledge and time, and shares all aspects of the sport she loves with new and emerging players.

  • Mr Jaden Hardy, excelling in his chosen sport of scooter riding, and for his advice and support for others learning the sport.

    Jaden has had significant representative success and is currently ranked first in Queensland Under 16 and placed first in Australasia Under 16.

    He competed in the Junior World Titles in Arizona in the USA, where he placed 5th, a massive accomplishment considering there is no longer an indoor skate park locally.

    Jaden has progressed enormously with his riding and loves to help local riders repair their scooters and learn how to do new tricks.

    With his positive attitude, consistency and dedication to his sport, Jaden has built up a significant fan base in Hervey Bay.

  • Mrs Jenny Elliott is regognised for decades of volunteering service to a range of local organisations and events.

    Jenny has been a secretary of the Gallipoli to Armistice Committee since 2014 and has been president of the Maryborough Military Airport Museum Association since it formed in 2016.

    She took leading coordinator roles in the Fraser Coast Technology Challenge, initiated the development of an event to bring the steampunk concept to Maryborough as Timless Mary and then Steamfesta.

    Jenny has helped organized street parties, volunteered with sports organisations and lodged more than 20 successful grant applications.

    She was active in the Central State School and Maryborough High P & Cs, becoming President of both.

    Jenny is an outstanding community worker and volunteer who has contributed countless hours to help make the Fraser Coast a great place to live, work and play.

  • No nominations received.

  • The Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre is recognised for providing programs and support to the most disadvantaged and isolated people in the community.

    Over the past year, the centre has developed a greater understanding of the ongoing and emerging community needs through a strong focus on partnerships with children, family and youth; legal and tenancy advice; aged and disability care; multicultural services and social innovation services.

    The centre has over 350 volunteers and donates 15,000 volunteer hours a year offering support such as transport for the elderly, playgroups for young families, youth mentoring, and English classes for multicultural groups. The centre’s Comfort Kitchen has delivered more than 3800 meals while they have also provided hundreds of care packages and toiletry packs to assist the homeless.

    The centre supports a culture of innovation in the community through their pitch nights. The pitch nights are run twice a year to support community members who have a great idea to solve a community challenge.

    A value for money review with Neighbourhood Centres Queensland revealed every $1 given to the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre turns into a $14 impact.

  • The Mobility Scooter/Wheelchair Convoy is a unique and inclusive event that promotes the safe use of mobility scooters, while also providing a social opportunity for people with mobility issues. 

    The convoy is organised by the Hervey Bay Safe Scooter Committee, which is made up of representatives from many aspects of the community concerned with mobility scooter safety.

    The convoy broke the Australian record in 2021 and gained local, state and national media coverage as they attempted to break the World Record for the number of mobility scooters in convoy last year.

    While the convoy narrowly fell short of breaking the record, the day was still a great success with participants decorating themselves and their vehicles, Rotary providing breakfast, more than 50 volunteers helping to marshal the course and register participants, live bands playing and hundreds of spectators lining the course.

    The Safe Scooter Committee have vowed to attempt to break the world record again this year.

Australia Day Awards 2023 Nominations

  • Mrs Bobbie Walsh for outstanding nursing care, professionalism, and community service. Bobbie has served the community for 24 years as an early childhood educator, disability support worker, nurse, St John Ambulance volunteer and first aid trainer.

    Mrs Josie Raco for her work and support of people with a disability. Josie’s disability support business has grown strongly over the past two years, with Josie starting the Rising Star program to help people with a disability learn skills to gain employment, run their own business or be in a supervised independent living home.

    Mr Geoffrey Herbert for displaying outstanding courage and community service as the Tinana Rural Fire Brigade treasurer and for helping coordinate rural fire volunteers during the 2022 floods. Despite struggles with his own physical health, Geoff has helped save many lives and continues to put the needs of others above his own.

    Mr Shane Bradbury for his work promoting men’s mental health wellbeing via the Men’s Walk and Talk Group he founded, which provides an opportunity for men to get together to walk, talk and support each other. Shane is known as Hervey Bay’s “Manbassador” with 170 men completing a total of 1789 walks since the group began in September 2021.

    Ms Olwen Schubert for her decades of community service, including setting up a support group for parents who have lost a child to suicide, a group she has been a part of for more than 30 years. Now in her 80s, Olwen also still volunteers with several other senior support and social services in Hervey Bay.

    Ms Billie Rustin for her work to improve facilities in and around River Heads through her volunteer role as the River Heads Progress Association President over the past 13 years. Billie has spent countless hours lobbying governments, applying for grants, supporting projects and running events for the benefit of her local community in River Heads.

    Mrs Tara Duerkop for her work at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre assisting the most vulnerable in our community. Tara assists the homeless, the hungry, disadvantaged youth, seniors, people with a disability, the financially vulnerable and survivors of domestic violence, always going the extra mile for those she helps.

    Ms Alnet Vinni for leadership at school and service to the community through various fundraising events and participation in the Fraser Coast Malaylee Association. Alnet has been both a senior and junior school captain, representing her school in a range of important forums.

  • Mr Lachlan Tinney for his role and volunteer efforts with the Wide Bay Burnett QMI 5th Light Horse Regiment Hervey Bay Troop. At just 15 years of age, Lachlan has already attended numerous ceremonies and parades, displaying outstanding horsemanship, poise, and professionalism, helping make the community feel they are back in time looking at a soldier going to war.

    Mr Toby Robinson for his volunteer efforts supporting community groups to spread kindness and make the Fraser Coast a better place. Toby spends many hours supporting groups who provide food, blankets and pillows to assist the homeless, and he buys flowers and chocolates weekly to give to people he thinks need some joy in their day.

    Mrs Brittany Robinson for her work supporting the local community with her “pay it forward” initiative offering customers the opportunity to buy coffees for vulnerable people, by volunteering her barista skills at community events, and helping develop the Park’d event showcasing local talent and businesses.

    Mr Erik Svensson for his community service and leadership. Erik is involved in both the Emergency Services Cadets and the Australian Air Force Cadets, volunteering at numerous community events and ceremonies. Erik has received many academic awards, is a College Ambassador at school and is part of the ‘Nourish’ club who cook meals for families doing it tough.

    Mr Pearce Booth for his role as a youth Indigenous leader, excelling in sport and helping to rescue and rehome local sea green turtles. Pearce is a proud young Butchulla man who helped establish an inaugural Cultural Day at his school, worked on shield murals, and delivered ‘Welcome to Country’ presentations. Pearce is also an emerging player in the Queensland Reds Rugby Union development team.

  • Mrs Raquel Lem for her efforts bringing the Bush to Bay handmade markets to the Fraser Coast. Raquel brings wonderful artisans together in one place to showcase beautiful and creative works, helping build up small businesses and create community connections.

  • Miss Georgia Cassidy for her involvement and achievements in a wide range of art forms including stage acting, musical theatre, improvisation and live theatre. Georgia is an active member of multiple theatre communities, taking part in many productions in 2022, and she volunteers as a Youth Drama Tutor to coach and support the next generation of young actors.

  • One nomination - Recipient Dr Vernon Harris

  • Ms Alnet Vinni for her academic achievements and leadership at her school where she had the top results in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, and was a school captain. Alnet’s passion for science has seen her become a science ambassador of the University of Queensland and be awarded the Central Queensland University Associate Vice President Award.

    Mr Joshua Reid for excelling in STEM studies and volunteering his time and expertise to fix computer issues for the elderly.  Through his school-based traineeship, Josh provided assistance to hundreds of primary school students, introducing concepts such as coding and virtual reality technologies.

  • One nomination - Recipient Annette Clifford

  • Mr Connor Smith for his sporting achievements in speedway racing, karts and jet boat racing, and for mentoring younger children in his chosen sports. Connor is the youngest person in Australia to lead the V8 superboat championship in his division and loves to talk to spectators and newcomers to his sports.

    Mr Jasiah Parsons for his leadership role with the Hervey Bay Seagulls and his participation in many significant community events. Jasiah was selected in the Queensland under 12’s Indigenous team and regularly steps up to play in higher age divisions.

    Mr Oscar Schoff for his sporting achievements in cycling, being selected for the Queensland Junior Road team and consistently making it on the podium for numerous events across the state. Oscar is also a talented basketball player, taking out most valuable player awards for his teams.

    Mr Millar McDonnell for excelling in mountain bike riding, with several strong results in the Rocky Trail Queensland Superflow Mountain Bike Series and other state and national tournaments. Millar enjoys bicycle riding of any kind: road, dirt, jumper and mountain biking.

    Ms Teya Rufus for her achievements in BMX riding where she competes at an international level, while also mentoring young riders and helping out with track work.  Teya is first in Australia and Queensland for Under 16 girls, was first in the Oceania Championship for Under 16 girls and is ranked fourth in the world for Under 16 girls.

    Mr Xavier Metcalfe for excelling in swimming, where he has qualified for 10 events in the Australian Age Championships and continues to be a role model for the Fraser Coast Swim Club’s younger swimmers. Xavier’s drive and commitment has seen him become part of the Swimming Queensland talent identification squad and performance pathways program.

  • Mr Thomas Mackinnon for his work as a men’s mental health advocate. With the help of his peers, Tom created Shednight Fraser Coast as a safe, supportive space for men to share their stories.  Tom also supports men online, responding to website queries and maintaining a Facebook presence.

    Mr Paul Swindells for his decade of service to the Maryborough Sporting Car Club as both President and Vice President. Paul has helped organize many big events and helped secure upgrades to the Maryborough Speedway, ensuring money is being spent with local businesses.

    Mrs Ann McCrea known as Lyn, for her years of community service, in particular with the Maryborough Pensioners organization. Lyn has also chaired the local Queensland Cancer Fund Relay for Life for many years, helping raise record funds.

    Mrs Margaret Harris for her decades of volunteering service, in particular as a visiting companion at Baycrest Nursing Home and Retirement Village, and with the RSL Welfare Group supporting veterans.

    Mr Neil Benson for his years of volunteering with the State Emergency Service. Over the years, Neil has assisted local, regional and Brisbane residents following natural disasters, and he played an important role supporting the local community during the 2022 floods. Neil has an overwhelming passion to help others and always makes himself available when called upon.

    Mr Steven Case for his efforts to grow the Fraser Coast Cycling Club and for tirelessly working with all levels of the community, government and cycling bodies to advance the sport, improve facilities and organize events.

    Ms Maria Ruttiman for her years volunteering with the Hervey Bay City Bridge Club, of which she is a life member. Maria has held many positions in the club over the years, including President, has taught many new players, directs regularly, and helps get the kitchen and room ready. Maria is a quiet achiever who gets in and does the job with no fanfare.

    Mrs Samantha Thompson for her volunteer work organizing the Carols in the Country in Tiaro and the Tiaro Christmas Lights competition.

    Mrs Lorna Hardy for her work volunteering at the Tinana Christian Church over the past decade with outreach programs, as an administrative assistant, roster co-ordinator, hospitality volunteer, pop-in playtime volunteer, and the multi-cultural dinner and concert assistant co-ordinator. Lorna is involved with everything at the church and does it with her whole heart and with great joy.

  • No nominations received.

  • Home Assist Community Services for their support of the elderly and for ensuring the needs of our ageing population are met, with the organization being one of only four providers in Australia to receive Home Care Package Accreditation.

    Fraser Coast Happy Hearts for improving the lives of many people in the region, particularly the homeless, domestic abuse victims and people who are struggling financially. During the 2022 floods, Happy Hearts helped many flood victims with emergency supplies and to replace household items.

    LifeChurch for helping feed the homeless and always having their doors open to help those in need. LifeChurch’s FoodBasket initiative supports families and individuals on low incomes by providing everyday food items and household staples well below retail prices.

    The Rapid Relief Team for catering thousands of free meals to emergency workers and locals impacted by the 2022 floods. The team would set up and be fully operational within hours to ensure the community was cared for in a time of need. The team showed that a hot meal, fresh coffee and a smiling face goes a long way in challenging times.

    The Wide Bay and Burnett QMI 5th Light Horse Regiment Hervey Bay Troop for attending ceremonies and events which bring awareness to and educate the community about what occurred in World War I, helping show the public the importance of the sacrifice made by our nation’s soldiers.

    The Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum for being custodians of the region’s history through the museum and the production of local history books, for providing a fantastic visitor experience that has been recognized through numerous awards, and for their involvement in several local community events.

    The Men’s Walk and Talk Hervey Bay Group for actively promoting men’s mental health wellbeing by providing an opportunity for men to regularly get together to walk, talk and support each other. The group has now hosted 139 walks and had 170 men complete a total of 1789 walks – that’s 9400km of walking, talking and supporting each other.

    St Paul’s Anglican Church for supporting and giving back to the community through a range of fundraising events. The church also promotes more diverse forms of accessing worship services through the use of technology to build safer, inclusive and affirming communities.

    Fraser Coast Support for their work supporting people with disabilities and going above and beyond to support their clients. The organization will provide help and assistance to anyone in need, with the manager also supporting the local wheelchair basketball team.

  • The Fraser Coast Dementia Alliance for two projects launched during Dementia Awareness Week in September. The ‘These Hands’ exhibition included a series of photographs of the hands of community members who are living with or caring for someone with dementia. The Dementia Friendly Community Checklist aims to increase awareness of what it means to be a dementia friendly community and the benefits this may have for a local business or community organization.

    Mary Buddies for their annual Christmas appeal held in partnership with Blue Care to deliver gifts to our elderly citizens at Christmas. Mary Buddies is a group of students at Maryborough State High School who meet one day a week during school terms. They also have a walkers’ group to engage students and ensure they are never alone, and have established a kindness room for new students.