2015 Australia Day Awards

The 2015 Lord Mayor's Australia Day Awards recognised those individuals who significantly improve the lives of individuals and the community and contribute to the city's vision of a diverse, friendly and strong community.

2015 Lord Mayor's Australia Day Awards winners

Winner profiles

Citizen of the Year - Rod Chiapello

Rod Chiapello has provided ongoing and selfless support to many different areas of the Brisbane community over many years.

As a dedicated and active member of the Bracken Ridge Lions Club, Rod provides continuing assistance and hands-on support to his local community. In addition, as the patron of the Bracken Ridge Little Athletics, he plays a vital role in encouraging children of all abilities to develop positive attitudes to a healthy lifestyle.

Rod also supports the Backyard Bonanza, a family-focused festival held in Bracken Ridge which gives local community groups the opportunity to raise funds and awareness. His contributions to this event have included the donation of prizes and the provision of catering.

In addition to this, Rod donates both financially and personally to the annual Bracken Ridge Citizenship Ceremony, by donating items for gift bags that are provided to all new citizens attending the event each January. Other donations to this event include the citizens' celebration cake and helium tanks to fill the balloons. Rod also volunteers his time before, during and after the event.

Rod is always ready to support local community members and organisations in need. He was quick to provide assistance after the 2011 floods, offering meals to families in need.

In 2013, Rod supported an employee who was in hospital with severe burns following a tragic house fire, donating money and goods while arranging accommodation at the Ronald McDonald House. Rod is an example of how one person can make such a difference to many.

“Rod's continued support and generous assistance is invaluable and greatly appreciated, as it benefits both the residents of the Bracken Ridge Ward and the greater Brisbane community.”
– Nominator.

Senior Citizen of the Year - Rose Kefford

Rose Kefford is an outstanding example of how volunteering can have a positive impact on the greater community.

Rose has been a member of the Wynnum Scope Club for more than 19 years and currently holds the position as President. Rose drives the Scope Club and supports the local community by fundraising and encouraging members to engage with each other at social activities.

During her life, Rose has always supported multiple charities. Rose volunteers weekly at Riding for the Disabled at Burpengary, where she is known as the 'Post' as she is always on the offside of the horse, ready to support the child when mounting from the ramps. Rose also volunteers as an Earth Angel at Angel Flight's head office in Brisbane. She provides weekly administration support and meets Angel Flight passengers who are receiving medical treatment, at the Brisbane Airport. She also drives them to and from their appointments.

Pet Therapy is one of Rose's great loves. Rose often takes her dog Suzie to aged care facilities, bringing enormous joy to the residents. Suzie is dressed in a little red scarf and has her bag of treats ready to give the residents.

Rose's involvement in local charities and organisations is widespread and includes organisations such as Arad, Aussie Helpers, Meals on Wheels, Mantle Housing for Adults with Mental Disabilities, Mater Cord Blood Bank, Rosies Friend from the Streets, Young Mums and Young Care.

Rose is an example of someone who has literally spent a lifetime dedicated to improving the lives of less fortunate members of the community.

"Anyone who knows or comes in contact with Rose instantly feels at ease with her and her funny quirky ways. She is a real 'doer'."
- Nominator.

Young Citizen of the Year - Kamania Butler

Kamania has a genuine personal interest in assisting the youth of her local community.

As a key member of the Headspace Youth Reference Group - Inala, Kamania dedicates her time to assisting young people with mental health issues, as well as raising awareness among her peers of mental health wellness. Kamania joined Headspace in late 2012 and her involvement includes attending local events and meetings while providing feedback about the centre and its services to ensure they are suitable for youth clients.

Kamania has been an active member of the Headspace National Reference Group as a national youth representative where she provides feedback, advice and information to the national Headspace office to improve service delivery and consistency across the country.

Following the January 2011 flood event, Kamania commenced volunteering with the Yeronga Community Centre by assisting at community events. On school holidays she assists with the delivery of group meetings held at the centre.

Kamania also takes time to volunteer with several other community groups including Access Community Settlement Services and works in consultation with the Multicultural Youth Queensland's Youth Council.

In 2014, Kamania devised the concept of a national mental health day at her school. Kamania was responsible for the planning and delivery of information sessions from multiple mental health support groups for students in years 8 to 12. Kamania undertakes all of her volunteering without seeking accolade or acknowledgement.

"Kamania has worked quietly, conscientiously and consistently over the last three years in the area of youth community service. her passion is matched by her energy and commitment, and she is an outstanding example of a truly committed and engaged young person."
- Nominator.

Community Event of the Year - Cerebral Palsy League's Picnic in the Park

Picnic in the Park is Cerebral Palsy League’s (CPL) annual signature event, which aims to raise awareness and celebrate the achievements of people with a physical disability, as well as marking the start of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Week.

Picnic in the Park is a large-scale event that is truly accessible and inclusive to all members of the community, regardless of their ability. The entire event, including the entertainment, rides and catering has been designed to equally cater for the needs of people with and without a disability.

More than 6500 people attended the 2014 Picnic in the Park, held at Roma Street Parkland. Entry is free and features live music, children’s entertainment, the latest technology and support programs available in the disability sector. All proceeds from the Picnic in the Park go towards supporting CPL clients by assisting them to reach their goals and live the life they choose.

“CPL does such an amazing job every single day. We are so proud to be part of all of the fun and entertainment at Picnic in the Park – something very close to our hearts.
- Event Sponsor.

Australia Day Sports Award - Dragons Rowing Club Para Coaching Team

The Dragons Rowing Club offers a Para Rowing program for people with physical disabilities and limitations, including paraplegia, quadriplegia, blindness, visual impairment, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. The Dragons Rowing Club has a Para Rowing Coach and eight volunteers who ensure that people with disabilities can benefit from the experience of being in a team and competing in sporting competitions. The support volunteers transport boats, lift rowers, rowing boats and coaching boats into the water. They also coach and ensure the safety of the rowers from the tide, pleasure crafts and CityCats on the Hamilton Reach of the Brisbane River.

This unsung volunteer team donate their time from 5-10am on most days of the week. Without the commitment of this team, rowers with a disability could not experience the pleasure of being released from their wheelchairs and row among the able-bodied rowers in the club. Each of the rowers train hard and proudly compete in intra-club regattas.

“The Para Rowing Coaching team are patient, enthusiastic, energetic and fantastic in volunteering their time, expertise, strength and knowledge to support people with a disability to row on the Brisbane River.”

Corpoprate Citizen of the Year - Brookfield Multiplex

Each year, Brookfield Multiplex provides extremely generous assistance to community groups in Brisbane.

In the wake of the 2011 floods, 600 junior league, soccer, cricket and softball members across two clubs – the Karalee Tornadoes and Northern Suburbs League - were left without clubhouses after the floodwater reached the second storey of their buildings, destroying their canteens.

Brookfield Multiplex rebuilt the bottom floor of the Northern Surburbs clubhouse, including undertaking a $70,000 renovation to the canteen, showers and toilets. At the Karalee Tornadoes, Brookfield Multiplex converted a demountable lunch shed into a fully functional canteen in a matter of weeks following the flood, to ensure the club’s only source of fundraising was operational.

Another post-flood project was the rebuilding of the Bellbowrie Kindergarten. The Kindergarten was completely devastated by flood waters and the internal area required all new services, walls, doors, a kitchen, office facilities, flooring and amenities. The outside playground areas were also completely rebuilt in this process. These works were completed in a matter of weeks, ensuring the kids could return to normal classes prior to second term.

One of the more recent examples is the construction and completion of the Indooroopilly Men’s Shed. The men’s shed was constructed in Keating Park, Indooroopilly, and would have cost more than $150,000 to build, however, it was provided by Brookfield Multiplex at no charge to the city or community.

Brookfield Multiplex is to be commended for giving back to the community in which it works by delivering community projects of significance.

Australia Day Cultural/Arts Award - Rita West

The Brisbane City Pops Orchestra, formally known as the St Lucia Orchestra, was formed in 1973 and is one of the oldest community orchestras here in Brisbane, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013.

Rita has been a vital member of the first violin section for more than 35 years and during this time has served in almost every executive position including president. As ‘keeper of the keys,’ Rita is usually the first person to arrive and unlock the rehearsal hall on Monday evenings, and is one of the last to leave.

The orchestra programs a minimum of eight concerts throughout the year and Rita, as the Events Manager, is responsible for organising and scheduling performance dates, while booking venues. She also ensures prospective guest artists are available and receive their appropriate contracts. Rita obtains relevant publicity for each concert and services the needs of all of the orchestra committee members.

With more than 35 years of dedication to the success of the Brisbane City Pops Orchestra, Rita has made a significant contribution to the cultural and arts communities in Brisbane.

“For more than a decade now, Rita’s unflagging enthusiasm and conscientious commitment to a myriad of responsibilities as the Events Manager and Vice-President of the Brisbane City Pops Orchestra, have been a driving force behind the orchestra."
- Nominator.

Lord Mayor's Green Heart Award (Individual) - Saba Burns

Saba Burns has single-handedly and selflessly transformed the neighbourhood bushland along Ithaca Creek. Over many years, Saba has gradually worked her way along the creek and roadside to rejuvenate a large area of bush on Coopers Camp Road. Saba has cut back, mulched and replanted what was weed, rubbish and vines, to create areas of beautiful native grasses, plants, healthy trees and magnificent views of the local creek.

Saba has undertaken this work by herself with minimal assistance from others. The result is a greater sense of community pride in the area and, as a result, the bush is brimming with plants and grasses. The kerbside is green and clean, and the trees are alive with colour and wildlife.

“We now have a fabulous outlook onto a truly Australian bush scene right in the heart of Brisbane, and that is thanks to the hard work of one person – Saba!
- Nominator.

Lord Mayor's Green Heart Award (Organisation) - Moggill Creek Catchment Group

Moggill Creek Catchment Group (MCCG) – a local committee group comprising of 530 members, was formed in 1998 following the completion of the Moggill Creek Catchment Study. The Moggill Creek catchment is large and differs to many others in that much of it is located on private property. Over the years, the group has worked hard to engage with local property owners to advise and assist them with the rehabilitation of their land. Education is a large component of the work they do both with landowners and children at schools.

One of the initiatives of the MCCG is the Kids Day at the Cottage an event which always attracts approximately 300 participants to learn about and experience native wildlife firsthand, including an annual platypus survey. Members conduct the survey in the early hours of the morning and keep ongoing records on species numbers. The MCCG members are qualified to perform water testing and do so on a regular basis in various locations along the creek.

The many highly skilled committee members whose capacity to work effectively has contributed greatly to the success of the Moggill Creek Catchment Group.

Australia Day Achievement Awards

Dr Mohamad Abdalla

Dr Mohamad Abdalla has made a significant contribution to the peace and stability of Brisbane and the wider community as a leader of the Muslim community. Dr Abdalla prays each week at the Kuraby Mosque, preaches for peace and stability, and proactively acts as a positive bridge between the Muslim community and the wider Brisbane community. Dr Abdalla is an Associate Professor at the School of Humanities, Griffith University and the Founding Director of Griffith Islamic Research Unit (Qld Node) of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies Australia (NCEIS). Through NCEIS, Dr Abdalla has provided a forum where scholars, intellectuals and students can present their insights, concerns, reflections and aspirations on Islamic and Muslim issues, with a view to contributing to a more sustainable, pluralistic Australian society.

Lawrence O'Connell

Lawrence O'Connell selflessly gives his time to better the community. Lawrence is a longstanding volunteer in two Brisbane organisations. Lawrence has been volunteering with Flexi Care Inc. over many years. In 2000, he was the president and promoted flexible, caring services, while ensuring a quality lifestyle for senior citizens. Lawrence made sure that Flexi Care Inc. prospered and grew by applying for government funding, writing local grant submissions and managing the organisations operational expenses. His personal interest continues today in helping assist aged people stay in their homes.

Lawrence has volunteered with the Sunnybank Neighbourhood Watch Sector 9 Committee for many years where he is the area coordinator. His role involves liaising with the Upper Mt Gravatt Police, overseeing the editing of monthly newsletters and distributing crime reports and material on safety issues to local residents.

Lawrence is an example of how volunteering your time and expertise can have a positive impact in the wider community. 

Elijah Buol

Elijah Buol came to Australia in 2002 as an unaccompanied minor from South Sedan. Elijah participates and contributes significantly to the growing cultural diversity in Brisbane.

Elijah has contributed to Youth Emergency Services, Reclink Australia Inc, Southside Mental Health Collaborative Committee, Redcliffe Community Association and the Australian Red Cross Family Support Program. Since graduating from high school in 2005, Elijah has focussed on helping people from African communities, particularly young people, to settle into Australia. Elijah has passionately worked to bridge the gaps and understanding between African Australian youth and the Queensland Police Service. Elijah is also an active member across a number of organisations including the QPASTT (Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma), Queensland Police and Federation of African Communities Council of Australia (FACCA) and is the current Vice President for Youth Affairs Network of Queensland (YANQ). 

Wade Core

Wade Core has worked tirelessly in a voluntary capacity at the Carina Junior Rugby League Football Club (JRLFC), giving his time willingly for more than three decades.

Wade has been a volunteer coach for many of the junior rugby league players at Carina JRLFC and has served in a variety of administrative and leadership roles over the years including chairman and vice-president. Wade’s ongoing contribution to the club involves a number of roles including the team coach, junior modified game referee and management committee member.

Wade has been actively involved in the Carina Leagues Club for many years and has undertaken several roles including chairman, treasurer, vice-chairman and director. Each year the Carina Leagues Club provides approximately $1 million in financial and in-kind support to various sporting groups, schools and sporting clubs associated with the Clem Jones Centre. Wade has played an integral part in the ongoing success of the Clem Jones Centre.

Robert Standfast

Robert Standfast is a long-serving volunteer in the Banyo community and has been involved with many organisations since the 1970s including treasurer for the Banyo Kindergarten and president for the North Brisbane Horticultural Society. Robert also provided life service to the North District Youth Club Incorporated (NDYCI), where he is still actively engaged, providing janitorial services and providing an on-call service for late entry of the premises. Until recently, Robert was also an active member of the Ballet Theatre of Queensland, providing maintenance and the management of janitorial services.

Robert also provided janitorial services to the Nudgee Primary State School for 29 years. During his time at the school he assisted with financial support to families in need. Robert is constantly helping the community including ‘handy-man’ support to the Returned Service League (RSL) and janitorial services to the elderly in his street. Robert is an active member of the Banyo RSL sub-branch where he maintains the local memorial wall and he runs the Remembrance Day and Anzac Day functions.

Jutta Godwin

Jutta Godwin is dedicated to protecting biodiversity through community education, awareness building and on-ground activities through her volunteer services.

Jutta is the President of the Cubberla Witton Catchments Network Inc. (CWCN). Jutta has been a driving force, taking the CWCN from a small organisation focused on providing moral support to bushcare groups in Cubberla and Witton catchments, to an organisation that has taken on the responsibility for the entire inner-west catchments.

Jutta has been responsible for initiating numerous successful public events including a recycling festival, a number of conferences including fungi and soils conferences, numerous workshops on various species, family fun days and national tree day plantings in support of many bushcare sites.

Jutta also leads the involvement of the CWCN in strategic environmental planning. Her dedication is an example of how an individual can promote biodiversity and protect Brisbane’s natural assets.

Gabrielle Henderson

Gabrielle Henderson has contributed to the local Brisbane community for many years and instigated the establishment of the Mt Ommaney Library Embroiderers’ Club nearly a decade ago. She continues as the convenor/facilitator to this day.

The club provides an opportunity for people from a range of cultural backgrounds, ages, abilities and disabilities to come together to expand their skills and social networks.

Gabrielle has also been a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild Queensland since 1991 and has undertaken many roles and responsibilities including president, committee member, mentor, exhibitor, advocate, fundraiser and valued tutor. Gabrielle helped develop the standards of work for the proficiency certificate. She has raised the profile of embroidery in the community as a whole and works selflessly to encourage and improve the lives of individuals and contributes to the city’s vision of a diverse, friendly and strong community.

Ed Hirche

Ed Hirche is a dedicated committee member with the Queensland Wind and Brass (QWAB) ensemble, volunteering for over two decades. The QWAB is the only non-auditioning A-grade concert band of its type in Australia, making it an all-inclusive band, open to all adults. The band has been in operation for more than 25 years and Ed was at the very first planning meeting. He has since been integral to the band since its inception. Ed has remained the only constant committee member and despite life’s ups and downs, he has never missed a committee meeting in 25 years. Much of the success of the QWAB can be contributed to Ed’s long-term involvement by being a constant source of support to the music community in Brisbane. He also contributes to the enjoyment, social outlet and cultural life of the QWAB.

Voula James

Voula James has made a lasting contribution to the cultural framework of the city. At 23, Voula migrated to Australia from Greece and was unable to speak English. In 1972, Voula relocated to Brisbane where she joined the Greek Orthodox Church of Mount Gravatt Ladies Auxiliary Committee, and her time was devoted to cooking traditional Greek delicacies at local events for fundraising.

In 1995, Voula started to run cooking classes for younger generations. The classes provided support for many women. Voula devoted many hours to organising the classes. Voula co-authored a cookbook to help raise funds for her local parish. The cookbook was first published in 1997 and thousands of copies of it have been sold all over Australia. The profits from the book have been donated to the church, which provides support services for the sick, elderly and disadvantaged.

In 1997, Voula helped establish a group to support the ageing community and was the president for 12 years. Voula continues to assist the group by helping to prepare a weekly morning tea for more than 100 attendees, and she also provides transport for those unable to drive. Voula’s dedication and commitment demonstrates her unwavering passion for helping others.

Ann George

Ann George has assisted children who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care, whether in a short-term emergency placement or for longer care, and collects items to give to the children. In 2005, Project Love and Care was started by Ann in her home and over the years the volume of children needing assistance has grown, and so too has Ann’s capacity to find donations and willing volunteers to assist in the packing of kits for children. The age and gender appropriate kits contain basic toiletries that the children can hold on to and call their own.

Ann is a humble lady, never seeking accolades for the tireless work she has undertaken.

Tie-Jun Li

Tie-Jun Li has enriched the lives of the Asian communities in Brisbane through the development of Cantonese Opera, and has also contributed to the overall development of Brisbane as a multicultural city.

Tie-Jun is the Founder, Principal and Lecturer of Tie-Jun Li Cantonese Opera Institute, and the Founder and President of Queensland Cantonese Opera Association in Brisbane. Since 1994, Tie-Jun has organised monthly Cantonese Opera mini-concerts at various community halls. The concerts are free and are open to all with a free afternoon tea provided. This concert is a good place for meeting friends, socialising with peers and practicing cultural values. Tie-Jun’s Queensland Cantonese Opera Association (QCOA) also organises the annual Mother’s Day Cantonese Opera Concert and Dinner Party.

Tie-Jun started the first Cantonese opera singing class in 1992, after migrating to Brisbane. Tie-Jun further established the QCOA in 1998, for the purposes of introducing, developing, and preserving the Chinese traditional performing arts in Brisbane. The QCOA has gone on to participate in many fundraising events such as local and international natural disaster appeals and has also fundraised for the Royal Brisbane Hospital Research Foundation’s medical research.

Graham Blair

Graham Blair has been instrumental for many years in the raising of significant funds to support families whose children have suffered very severe brain injury through trauma or birth defect. Graham contributes by donating his preserves which have now become sought after far beyond Brisbane, to raise funds for this worthy cause. Each month, Graham’s preserves have been sold at a stall outside the Mater Children’s Hospital and at various shopping centres and malls. Graham also donates his preserves to the Bicare (Brain Injured Children’s Aftercare Recovery Endeavours Inc.) thrift shop in Bardon. Graham has never sought recognition or presented an invoice for his expenses for the preparation of his goods, nor any other personal expenses. Over many years he has contributed significantly to this very worthy cause.

Last updated: 1 September 2020