2020 Lord Mayor's Australia Day Awards

The 2020 Lord Mayor's Australia Day Awards recognised Brisbane’s unsung heroes. The awards pay tribute to the people in our community who have gone above and beyond to help improve the lives of others and enhance our city. 

2020 Lord Mayor's Australia Day Award winners

Winner profiles

Citizen of the Year - Seamus Sullivan

Seamus has contributed to the Brisbane community in many different ways over the past 30 years including assisting those in personal crisis, providing foster care and promoting and sharing the Irish culture in Brisbane. Never one to seek recognition or accolades, Seamus has been driven by a desire to help others no matter what their circumstances.

According to his peers, Seamus willingly helps anyone who approaches him for assistance and continuously offers his support to Brisbane residents facing difficult situations such as alcohol and substance abuse, death of loved ones or domestic violence. Seamus and his wife often provide foster care to children in need. By giving up his own personal time and resources, Seamus’ actions have helped restore dignity and esteem in many individuals and families across Brisbane, positively shaping their futures.

Seamus is a founding member of the Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland, which provides support, care and assistance to the Irish Australian community in Queensland. He was also instrumental in introducing Gaelic football to the state nearly 40 years ago, serving as the President of the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of Australasia for the same amount of time.

After the devastating Brisbane floods in early 2011, Seamus led the resurgence of the Gaelic football fields in Willawong. Despite the fields and clubhouse being ravaged by the floods, the games recommenced by mid-2011.

Seamus has also been a key driver of the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade through his role as President of the St Patrick’s Day Parade Association, ensuring the event is celebrated by the people of Brisbane for many years to come. Seamus’ work on the parade, along with his involvement in Gaelic football, has introduced many people throughout Brisbane to the vibrant Irish culture.

“One day when I finally grow up, I would like to come close to the legacy that Seamus is largely unaware he has created.” - Nominator

Senior Citizen of the Year - Paul Dickie

Paul has been an outstanding member of the community, having dedicated more than 18 years of service to ensure Brisbane children undergoing treatment for their illnesses or disabilities have access to high-quality and meaningful education. Paul is currently the Chairperson of the Hospital School Advisory Council and was formerly the President of the Royal Children’s Hospital School Advisory Council.

As Chairperson, Paul has been tirelessly working with parent and student groups such as Parents and Citizens’ Associations across Brisbane, Catholic School Parents Queensland, Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network and the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association to ensure a holistic approach to caring for children’s individual needs. Paul has given his time freely to advocate to all levels of government for fair and equitable access to education and resources while positively contributing to policy formulation and delivery. He continually strives to promote the work and achievements of the hospital school staff to help improve public awareness and highlight the needs of the school.

Paul led the Hospital School Advisory Council through the amalgamation of the Royal Children’s Hospital with the Mater Children’s Hospital. During this time, he supported parents and children in both hospitals, while enabling them to see the benefits and opportunities of a combined Hospital School.

Paul is also a volunteer tutor in conversational English at ARMIA House, Sunnybank. He has a keen interest in mental health and supporting those in remote areas and continues to serve as an inspiration to all.

“He is the voice of the parents and does this all in his own time, unpaid, just for the love of it.” - Nominator

Young Citizen of the Year - Cody Schaeffer

Cody is best known as ‘The Code’ on radio station Hit105 Brisbane. Behind the scenes, Cody goes above and beyond, waking early each day to drive all over Brisbane to charity events and schools to give back and bring joy to people who need it most. He turned his day job as a radio presenter into something that could truly benefit the community.

Cody has also invested a considerable amount of time and energy in assisting Rotary youth camps which help prepare young people between the ages of 14-18 for life after school. The camp equips students to succeed in the real world by providing them with personal and professional skills to manage a budget and develop an effective resume. The youth camp has had such a positive impact that Cody has formed his own camp called ‘Camp Borderline’ in partnership with ‘Dolly’s Dream’ to support even more young people across South East Queensland.

In addition to his work with youth camps, Cody is a volunteer Brisbane Greeter and has participated in the CO-LAB youth road safety program with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. Cody was the only representative, from the CO-LAB program, to be invited to the 2019 National Road Safety Summit where he worked with business owners, car manufacturers, social media representatives and government officials from across the country to develop plans for better road safety awareness in Australia.

“Cody stands out for his personality, enthusiasm, and for being an amazing influencer among the youth.”  - Nominator

Australia Day Sports Award - Jeffrey Stewart

Jeff has been a dedicated volunteer, since 2004, with Special Olympics Queensland and Special Olympics Australia. Thanks to his outstanding contribution and commitment, many people with an intellectual impairment in our community have been able to participate in soccer and bocce at club-level, as well as represent Queensland nationally and Australia at the Special Olympics World Games.

As a volunteer coach, Jeff goes much further than overseeing weekly club training. He liaises between athletes and the Special Olympics organisations in the lead up to state, national and international competitions. As head coach, he cares about how the athletes are coping and feeling. When competing overseas, Jeff organises cultural excursions to ensure the athletes have positive experiences.

The success of the athletes is the outcome of many years of Jeff’s determination and commitment to the mission of the Special Olympics. Jeff’s fellow coaches and officials hold him in high esteem.

“Jeff is totally committed to enhancing the lives of the athletes who may never had otherwise been exposed to such opportunities. He is well deserving of recognition that he would never seek.”  - Nominator

Australia Day Cultural/Arts Award - Harmony Woollett

Harmony’s passion for music led her to found Ignite Choir in 2004 to fulfil the needs of Ignatians Musical Society members who were unable to be involved in full-scale performances. Harmony combines her talents as a violinist and vocal coach along with her background as a classroom music teacher to bring the community together through the power of music.

Ignite Choir often welcomes people from all walks of life, with no previous experience. It caters to a range of community interests and covers a wide repertoire of styles such as classical to pop and jazz. The choir continues to grow its profile and engagement every year with more than 100 members participating as performers in the organisation.

Harmony and the choir have given individuals a sense of purpose and meaning. The Ignite Choir performs at local community concerts and fetes as well as the Brisbane Sings event. It has also collaborated with the Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra. Harmony is being recognised for using her professional talents in music to benefit many people in the community.

“Harmony puts her heart and soul into building a community of everyday musicians.” – Nominator

Community Event of the Year - Jacaranda Festival

Hosted and organised by the Mandalay Progress Association, the Jacaranda Festival has evolved to be an outstanding event for the Brisbane community, drawing people from all over the city to celebrate the beautiful and iconic trees.

The festival has been very effective in continuing to raise awareness for the preservation of Jacarandas, best known for lining Brisbane streets in a haze of velvety purple blooms. The festival also highlights the importance of hosting events in beautiful parks and helps promote physical activity, mental health and liveability for residents.

In 2019, the community festival included a jumping castle, magician, petting zoo, food stalls and local band, the Rusty Bullets. The Jacaranda Festival brought hundreds of people together during a wonderful spring weekend in Biambi Yumba Park in Fig Tree Pocket. The festival is an excellent example of how a handful of dedicated and motivated volunteers can work together to build strong community ties and develop positive sustainability outcomes for residents.

“At its very core, the event embodies the vibrant spirit of the local community.” – Nominator

Green Heart Award - Gerald Dunford

Gerry, as he is fondly known, commenced his long and dedicated commitment to creek rehabilitation and forest restoration when he joined Men of the Trees (MOTT), in 1993 as a volunteer, to help establish MOTT’s native plant nursery at The Gap.

At age 87, Gerry has not only planted, weeded and tirelessly maintained scores of planting sites every week, he has also helped drive the organisation’s vehicle, carrying essential machinery. Gerry is MOTT’s incumbent inventor with a knack for solving technical and operational problems, building tools and developing new methods of work. Gerry has also greatly contributed to the natural environment in other ways, with his membership and financial support of environmental organisations.

In addition, Gerry worked for years with St Vincent de Paul and the church he attends, where he continues to garden and help save trees. Many birds, insects and other creatures now sing and reside in the trees along the creeks, parks and bushland Gerry has helped to restore. The community is much safer and happier due to Gerry’s generous support and contribution.

“Caring seems to be the key Gerry is struck in.” – Nominator

Australia Day Achievement Awards

Janelle Bodman

Janelle is an outstanding leader in the community, having dedicated more than 20 years to the Toowong Rotary club, and was instrumental in developing the ‘Junior Rotarian Awards’. The awards aim to foster citizenship and community values in the leaders of tomorrow and also promote leadership, confidence, self-worth, knowledge, cross-cultural awareness, diversity and inclusion.

Janelle has played a key role in shaping bright and competent young luminaries while demonstrating the importance of giving back to the local community. Not only does she help organise and run the awards, she invests a considerable amount of time and energy compiling the books and certificates. It is her attention to detail for all tasks great and small which make the awards so successful. Janelle’s reputation as a dedicated and committed volunteer is inspiring to many.

John Child

John has been an active member of the Australian Speak Easy Association which supports people of all ages and backgrounds to overcome stuttering. For more than 36 years, John has volunteered his time to visit a multitude of organisations, groups and university institutions to assist those who have been affected by this debilitating condition. He also works to educate practitioners with the skills and tools necessary to manage patients with this condition.

John is fondly described as extremely enthusiastic, helpful, well-liked and always prepared to go the extra mile. This made John such an asset at the Association where he served on the committee and as President and Treasurer. Even in his retirement, he actively attends all meetings, participates in events and activities, and continues to equip students with techniques to overcome speech impediments. Although he has suffered a speech impediment himself, he has not let this deter him from being an outgoing and active member of the community who continually works to make a difference to other people’s lives.

Marie D’Alton

Marie is a glowing example of a dedicated and proactive member of Brisbane City Council’s 50+ Seniors Program. Over the past 21 years, Marie has organised and conducted the weekly 50+ ballroom dance program. By activating the body through dance, Marie has demonstrated years of commitment to helping seniors be healthy.

Marie’s unwavering commitment to help seniors is inspirational. Every week Marie welcomes everybody, from beginners to advanced dancers, to the dance program. Throughout the past 21 years, dances were never cancelled unless there were exceptional circumstances. On these occasions, she would always organise another person to run them. Not even thunderstorms could deter Marie from her commitment. In 2017, when high winds and torrential rains hit the city, Marie was there for anyone who dared to brave the weather. While no brave soul turned up for dancing that day, Marie was ready if they had. With Marie, the show must go on, rain, hail or shine.

Peter and Peta Davis

Peter and Peta have completed 28 seasons of running Greater Brisbane Junior Tennis (GBJT) and have now commenced their 29th season or 15th year as volunteers in the organising, managing and weekly running of the tennis fixtures and tournaments.

Peter and Peta have focused on developing sportsmanship and self-improvement for young players. This focus helps to enhance the players’ social skills and allows them to learn how to win with humility and lose with dignity, all important aspects of improving self-esteem and self-worth.

The duo has also created opportunities for children with a disability to play and be part of the GBJT tennis club and community. Along with other players with disabilities, they ensured a young legally blind boy could be embraced by his team mates and opponents alike in the tournament.

Peter and Peta continue to volunteer and offer their services to GBJT because they believe in the important role GBJT plays in the community and the opportunity it creates for children and parents to enjoy a healthy sport in a safe and enjoyable environment.

James Devereaux

James has lived with his family in Fig Tree Pocket for more than 40 years. When James moved to the area, Fig Tree Pocket was still scrub, so he and some of his neighbours took it upon themselves to look after what is now referred to as Biambi Yumba Park. Taking the initiative, the group began regularly mowing, slashing and trimming the grass.

In 1974, following the disastrous floods, James was instrumental in setting up the Mandalay Progress Association. Formed as a platform for local flood-affected residents to look after and support each other, the association has since helped cement a special bond within the community. As well as being one of the founding members, James was also a committee member for many years. James continues to advocate for better planning in and around the Biambi Yumba Park area, Fig Tree Pocket and Brisbane as a whole.

Brien Hands

Brien has been a volunteer laryngectomy support visitor since 2006. Laryngectomy, a procedure which removes the larynx that houses the vocal cords, has significant impacts on people who require it.

Brien is currently the sole laryngectomy support visitor in Brisbane. He supports patients living throughout Queensland with the use of telehealth technology based in the Speech Pathology Department at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Brien is always willing to travel to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Hospital to visit patients and their families, often with very little notice. Brien strives to assist patient rehabilitation by providing them with accurate information before and after their laryngectomy operation. His calm, reassuring manner offers patients and their families hope that they will adjust to the significant changes expected after surgery.

Brien also voluntarily assists with the education of speech pathology students in the specialty area of laryngectomy. He has been actively involved in the annual training of speech pathologists across Australia and has been integral in the development of numerous training and educational videos and photos.

Brien’s consistent contribution to the support, education and research around patients undergoing a laryngectomy procedure has been outstanding. He carries out his work on a purely volunteer basis and is always willing to lend a hand.

Jennifer Maguire

Jennifer has been a Lions Club member in her community for the past 26 years. In addition to helping her community, Jennifer has focused her attention, over the past five years, on the youth of Brisbane and Queensland. An initiative Jennifer is deeply involved in is the Lions Club Australia’s Lions Youth of the Year competition. The competition is focused specifically on young people about to enter employment or higher education and is designed to encourage, foster and develop leadership skills in conjunction with other citizenship qualities in our youth.

According to her peers, Jennifer is a kind, generous and natural leader. She gives her time freely, has a big heart and will help anyone who needs assistance. Jennifer recently stepped down as the Calamvale Lions Club President after seven years, and has now taken on both the Secretary and Treasurer roles at the club. She is also an active member of the District Q1 Cabinet team, having served in many executive positions. Jennifer’s willingness to unselfishly step up when needed is what makes her an outstanding member of the Brisbane community.

Viet Tran OAM

Viet’s service to the community has spanned more than four decades. He has played a significant role in the Brisbane community, working to promote multiculturalism and harmony between different ethnic groups, through his service to the Vietnamese Community in Queensland. Viet has worked in community radio as a broadcaster at 4EB and founded and co-chaired the Vietnamese Forum for Multiculturalism. He has also served as a member of the Queensland Police Service Ethnic Advisory Board to identify and develop solutions to tackle social issues within the community.

These days, Viet is busier than ever, having raised more than $25,000 for farmers as part of the Western Queensland Drought Relief efforts. Viet has also helped organise a fundraising dinner for the PA Research Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Princess Alexandra Hospital. The event raised $22,600 to go towards world-class research into various deadly and debilitating diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, liver disease, arthritis and kidney disease.

Viet has worked tirelessly throughout the years to make Brisbane a better, more socially cohesive place to live. He has the unique ability to help people from all walks of life experiencing hardship. Viet’s sustained efforts to contribute to a range of causes and fundraising efforts is exemplary.

Previous winners

Read about the 2019 Lord Mayor's Australia Day Award winners.

More information

For more information, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

Last updated:24 January 2020