2017 Australia Day Awards

The 2017 Lord Mayor's Australia Day Awards recognised Brisbane's unsung heroes and paid tribute to the special people in our community who have gone above and beyond to help improve the lives of others and contribute to the city's vision of a diverse, friendly and strong community.

2017 Lord Mayor's Australia Day Award winners

Winner profiles

Citizen of the Year - Eric Kozij

For almost 40 years, Eric has been making a difference in the lives of Centenary residents through his generous volunteering and dedication to the community.

Throughout this time, Eric has given selflessly to his community via an extensive network of community organisations including the Jindalee Apex Club, Jamboree Kindergarten and Preschool, Jindalee State School, Jindalee Scouts, Centenary Community Connections, Rotary International and the Australian Pituitary Foundation.

Many would say that Eric’s most recognised and beloved contribution started 37 years ago, when he launched the Centenary Project Santa Sleigh. Eric continues to maintain the Santa Sleigh and, each year, the Sleigh visits more than 5000 homes in the western suburbs of Brisbane as well as local schools, Christmas breakups and Christmas carols. It has been a highpoint for Eric to see children from many years ago, now parents themselves, bringing their children to see Santa.

This tradition has brought not only joy and smiles to the faces of the local children, but has also raised funds for many charities. Donations raised via the Santa Sleigh have been distributed to the Royal Children’s Hospital, Blue Care, Zoe’s Place, the Salvation Army and the Rotary Tree of Joy.

Eric also gives his free time volunteering for the Australian Pituitary Foundation, a charity he is passionate about, where he helps administer the activities of the foundation as well as sending out the organisation’s national newsletter.

“Over many years Eric’s passion, contributions and commitment to make a difference to the lives of Centenary residents and others is unquestionable. He is a quiet, unassuming man who just gets on with the job by himself or as part of a team.”
– Nominator

Senior Citizen of the Year - Diana Moore

Diana is an outstanding community leader who has been involved with community netball clubs for the past 30 years. She has served as President of the Downey Park Netball Association since 2009 as well as President of the Canon Rebels.

Diana has been responsible for the expansion of the Downey Park Netball Association, which currently has more than 3500 members. She has been involved in the amalgamation of the junior and senior divisions, which has ensured continuity for players, and supported regeneration of the clubs. Through this process, Diana has developed strong relationships with local school communities.

During the development of a new clubhouse supporting Victor Park and Downey Park, Diana played a vital role in securing funding, planning and overseeing a number of projects, including lighting upgrades and hard court developments. Completed in November 2016, the clubhouse development has taken three years and was made possible through Diana’s tireless involvement and commitment to securing more than $750,000 in funding from the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council.

In her capacity as President of the Canon Rebels, Diana attended all training sessions and Saturday games. Diana made it her priority to know all players in the club, personally thanking coaches, managers and umpires for their efforts each week. Diana has been instrumental in forming a club that is known for fair play and friendliness, with umpires that are fair and reliable, and a club that caters for competitive as well as social players.

“Diana leads by example – being fair and consistent in all her dealings and gives those around her an opportunity to lead and demonstrate their strengths.”
– Nominator

Young Citizen of the Year - Emma Betts

Emma is a passionate and determined young woman who continues to care for the welfare of others, despite her own daily struggles with Stage 4 melanoma cancer.

Emma’s story of giving selflessly began a couple of years before her melanoma diagnosis. Following high school, Emma started volunteering for a youth-run aid and development organisation called Oaktree. This saw her travel to East Timor to work with young people with a disability in a rehabilitation centre and, at only 18 years of age, Emma became the youngest State Director of Oaktree.

During her time in East Timor, it was at a chance meeting with a complete stranger who pointed out a suspicious mole on her shoulder, that changed her life. After returning to Australia, a biopsy revealed melanoma.

Since her diagnosis, Emma has been in the small percentage of patients where the melanoma has spread. In spite of her illness, Emma devotes her time to raising awareness about sun safety, especially in young people. Through sharing her story, Emma assisted the Cancer Council of Queensland in raising more than $700,000 for cancer research and support services – the most successful tax appeal campaign to date.

In the last two years, Emma has also personally fundraised more than $100,000 for the Melanoma Institute of Australia, primarily through her annual event, ‘Through the Looking Glass’. As an ambassador of the Brisbane Melanoma March, Emma continues to raise awareness and funds and is often seen speaking at Brisbane schools emphasising sun safety to students.

Not one to be defeated by adversity, Emma has shown unwavering courage in not only facing her own battle with illness, but in choosing to share her very personal story with others who otherwise may suffer in silence. Emma chronicles her story through her blog ‘Dear Melanoma’ as a way to not only talk openly and honestly about dealing with life as a 25-year-old with a terminal diagnosis, but also to raise awareness, teach and comfort others.

“She embodies every quality that a deserving recipient of such an honourable accolade would possess.”
– Nominator

Corporate Citizen of the Year - Bloomberg Incorporation Ltd

Success in business for Scott Collins, Director of Bloomberg Incorporation Ltd, has meant having a greater capacity to give back to the community. Scott has been a quiet, dedicated and long-standing corporate supporter of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust for almost two decades.

Not one for the spotlight, Scott may be mistaken for one of Santa’s most prolific elves, gifting in excess of 60,000 toys over a period of 17 years to the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust at Christmas, helping bring joy to children and families suffering hardship. Scott has personally sourced, purchased and donated a shipping container full of toys for every Christmas Appeal since 1999.

The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust then passes on this generosity to more than 30 local charitable organisations. Charities that have received toys include Micah Projects, Aunties & Uncles (QLD), Carinity Youth Orana, Montrose Access, Picabeen Community Association and Koobara Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Resource Centre, among many others. Scott’s generosity brings joy to the lives of children who may otherwise go without at Christmas.

“Scott is quite a remarkable man - dedicated, generous, humble and very giving of his time.”
– Nominator

Community Event of the Year - Nundah Village Street Festival and Art Show

The Nundah Village Street Festival and Art Show, organised by the Nundah District Development Association, has been giving a voice to local schools, community groups and businesses for the past 15 years.

The Festival, which is a highlight on the local calendar, attracts up to 10,000 local residents and plays host to a range of entertainment, including live bands, street performers and acts from local schools. In addition, visitors to the Festival can enjoy competitions, street stalls, an outdoor movie, children’s rides, charity markets and an art show. The Festival also provides an opportunity for community groups and not-for-profit organisations to be profiled to the wider community – helping raise awareness and funds.

“The Nundah Village Street Festival and Art Show is a fantastic day that involves the whole community and has something for everyone.”
– Nominator

Australia Day Cultural/Arts Award - Jane Ahlstrand

Jane has long had a passion for all things Balinese, particularly Balinese dance, and has made an impressive contribution to Brisbane’s cultural scene. Jane shares her knowledge and skills of Balinese culture with many different groups on a voluntary basis. Many of the groups and students that Jane assists are from disadvantaged or refugee backgrounds and her teaching not only increases their skills, but helps them to feel confident and part of the broader community. Often, Jane assists with far more than dance instruction, regularly driving students to and from venues as well as spending hours preparing the dancers in full regalia.

In a perfect demonstration of multiculturalism, Jane not only assists the Balinese community, she also collaborates with groups from diverse backgrounds, including Korean and Indian community festivals. Through her instruction and performances, Jane shares the Balinese culture and brings joy to audiences at hospitals, schools, universities and cultural events.

“Jane is committed to promoting multiculturalism through the arts and she does so with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”
– Nominator

Australia Day Sports Award - Elisabeth Ewen

As a Swimming Coach, Elisabeth, fondly known as Liz, has made a remarkable contribution to the Special Olympics and people with intellectual disabilities for the past 22 years. Liz has held a range of roles with the Special Olympics, from Swim Coach to Technical Swimming Delegate to Head Aquatic Coach for both the Queensland and Australian Teams.

Recently, Liz identified a decline in young swimmers with intellectual disabilities joining her programs. Liz therefore volunteered to help coordinate the pilot program of the 'Michael Phelps IM Learn to Swim Program' which nurtures babies, toddlers and young children with disabilities. Liz has expanded the program by mentoring other teachers and coordinating the expansion of the program throughout Queensland, including sourcing appropriate venues and coaches.

For more than 20 years, Liz has made an enormous impact on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and their families, through her outstanding selfless commitment and drive, to make a difference and to create equal opportunities for all.

“Liz is an inspiration of the highest quality to athletes, families and coaches in Special Olympics. She is a very humble person who doesn’t seek or expect accolades.”
– Nominator

Lord Mayor's Green Heart Award: Individual - Lyn Cole

For many years, Lyn has tirelessly given her time to nurturing and rehabilitating Brisbane’s natural environment and has contributed to the environmental health of Brisbane in a variety of ways. She is an active member of Birds Queensland and participates in regular bird counts, guides bird walks and participates in special projects.

In her role as local Glossy Black-Cockatoo Conservancy Convenor, Lyn promotes awareness about the protection of this threatened bird, through talks to local schools and groups, and also participates in data collection and assessment of suitable habitat conditions. Lyn is a past President of the Hut Environmental and Community Association, where she was responsible for the refurbishment of the Hut, giving talks to school classes and promoting environmental values.

In 2004, along with her husband Phil, Lyn formed the ‘Wandering Weeders’, a group of like-minded locals undertaking working bees twice weekly at Mount Coot-tha. As a member of the Cubberla-Witton Catchment Network, Lyn frequently conducts highly popular bird walks in different parts of the catchments of Brisbane’s inner west, to assess bird populations and advise on habitat status and appropriate habitat creation for birds and other animals.

“Lyn’s passion is contagious and under her guidance, the provision of healthy habitats for native wildlife is easily made available by bush carers as well as birders and other naturalists.”
– Nominator

Lord Mayor's Green Heart Award: Organisation - Save Our Waterways Now

Save Our Waterways Now (SOWN) is a perfect example of a local group giving back to the community at a grassroots level. SOWN, established in the late 1990s, aims to restore the habitats and waterways in Brisbane’s north and west. SOWN’s activities include rehabilitating waterways, increasing community awareness on the understanding of creek life and management, protecting sensitive areas from damage and misuse, and expanding community access to waterways in the region.

In 2011, SOWN, in conjunction with Habitat Brisbane and the GEO Group, introduced bush care to the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. Through this arrangement, the Correctional Centre has been responsible for distributing more than 60,000 plants into the creek’s rehabilitation program, helping to boost the vibrancy of the creek and also providing valuable environmental education to prisoners at the centre.

Australia Day Achievement Awards

Michael Bischa

Since 1985, Michael has made an outstanding contribution to the development of young people, through his continuous voluntary service as a Sea Scout Leader at the Pamphlett-Tennyson Sea Scout Group. He has assisted hundreds of Scouts and Leaders gain skills and knowledge that promote good citizenship, which makes Brisbane an even better place to be.

As a dedicated volunteer, Michael not only leads the Tarcoola Sea Scout Troop every week, but also regularly assists leaders in other groups. He has led water-based activities at many major events, including the Australian Scout Jamborees, and has dedicated many weekends and holidays to running sailing camps.

Michael continues to assist with the maintenance of the craft, the trailers that carry the boats, and the building in which they are stored. During the 2011 Brisbane floods, both the Pamphlett Scout and the Tennyson Scout Dens were inundated with water, suffering huge losses and damage. Michael persevered and helped in the repair of the Scout Dens, exemplifying how he regularly goes well beyond the call of duty.

Robert Briton

For more than 20 years, Robert (Bob) has played a major role in the development of making his community a happier and better place to live, through his voluntary work at the Rotary Club of Forest Lake.

Bob has been a Club Director of Rotary since its inauguration and has served in many positions, including Club President, Treasurer and Secretary. Furthermore, he is also the Liaison Officer for Rotary International Peace Fellowship and a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow award. He is a tireless worker and organiser of citizenship ceremonies and organises sausage sizzles to raise funds for various causes.

Bob has also been a volunteer worker at the annual Multicultural and Dragon Boat Festival in Forest Lake and has been heavily involved in the Community Christmas Carols and Project Love & Care. At the Forest Lake Community Hall Open Day, Bob worked with Rotary members to provide free food for all visitors. He has also volunteered in organising art shows to promote local artists and raise money for charities, as well as volunteering at a winter soup van to feed the homeless. Bob is a local identity who is known for getting things done.

Carmel Donley

Carmel is a long-standing and active member of both the Toombul Croquet Club (TCC) and the Croquet Association Queensland (CAQ), having volunteered for more than 34 years.

Carmel served as Chairman of the Brisbane North Region for four years before entering the position as Secretary for the CAQ for a further four years. Carmel then went onto serve as State President for two years. Looking for a new challenge, Carmel committed herself to the role of State Events Manager, a position she held for 11 years until her retirement, organising a multitude of fundraising events.

For the past four years, Carmel has been serving as Secretary for the TCC and, prior to this, had served as the Assistant Secretary for many years. Carmel is still very active within the CAQ, representing Toombul via her involvement in the CAQ, focusing on development and promotions. Carmel is well deserving of this achievement award for her tireless effort and dedication.

John Holland

Since late 2005, John has been the voluntary curator of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR) Military Memorial Museum at Wacol. In 1990, he was also one of the founding members of the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia Queensland Inc.

John selflessly gives his time to the NGVR Military Memorial Museum with the aim to fulfil the objectives of the association, which includes bringing together returned ex-servicemen, promoting and encouraging a close relationship with the people of New Guinea, offering scholarships, awards, annual prizes and bursaries to members of the Australian Army and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, and preserving the memory, records and artefacts of those who have served.

When the Military Museum was first granted premises in 2005, it was a former Army Head Quarters, which had fallen into disrepair. The condition of the lease was to refurbish the structure into a museum for an official opening in February 2006. Under John’s supervision, a small group of committed volunteers completed the refurbishments. Nowadays, John spends most days preparing the premises and conducting tours for pensioner groups and schools.

John’s passion to have the displays presented in the best possible way, along with his friendly and humorous presentations, make any visit to the museum a memorable occasion.

Phillip Hoy

Phillip is a dedicated and selfless volunteer giving his time to various charities and community-based associations. He has served for six years as Treasurer of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Kenmore, St Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Conference, President of the SVDP South West Regional Council for four years, and both long-serving Treasurer and committed volunteer for the Greater Brisbane Junior Tennis Association Inc.

In his service to SVDP, Phillip has been a tireless worker in addressing the needs of the poor and disadvantaged. Not only is Phillip involved in providing immediate support in the form of food and vouchers, Phillip regularly assists neighbouring SVDP conferences, including the Inala Family Support Centre and the Goodna SVDP, by providing food items collected from Foodbank on a weekly basis.

Phillip’s commitment to the disadvantaged was demonstrated in the 2011 Brisbane floods, when he drove around the affected areas in Kenmore, Fig Tree Pocket, Bellbowrie, Moggill, Goodna and Ipswich, checking on local residents and assisting them with access to funding and other assistance provided by SVDP and the Government.

For more than 15 years, Phillip has been a volunteer for the Greater Brisbane Junior Tennis Association, including being Treasurer for 13 years. As a parent and volunteer, Phillip has helped players and parents feel welcome with a particular focus on encouraging and promoting cultural diversity of both player and parent groups. Phillip has played an integral role in the week to week organisation and running of the fixture program, including grading days, weekly fixtures, final day presentations, BBQs, trophies, awards and raffles.

Raymond Kelly

Raymond (Ray), a conscientious environmental volunteer, is a founding member of the Cubberla-Witton Catchments Network, with a passion for recording and analysing rainfall, water quality and changes in the creeks of Brisbane’s inner west. For more than 25 years, Ray has maintained excellent scientific records of the local waterways as well as implementing training standards to establish best practice for a team of volunteers.

Ray has also maintained photographic records of runoff generated from rainfall events in the catchments, as well as vegetation and soil changes which have occurred. Not only does he use this data to report back to various local catchment groups, he has also provided public presentations on the meaning and importance of these studies.

Ray has been instrumental in guiding and mentoring members of catchment groups to undertake water quality assessments. As a result of Ray’s encouragement and coaching, several members of the group have undertaken training in water sampling and testing as a component of a Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management. Through Ray’s dedication to the environment, he has made a major contribution to the safe urbanisation of our waterways.

Margaret McEntyre

For more than 30 years, Margaret has been a hardworking and diligent member of the Mt Gravatt Show Society (MGSS) serving in a number of voluntary roles, including Treasurer for over 10 years. Margaret initially joined the MGSS in 1974 as a way to instil a strong sense of community in her young son. This is a bug he definitely caught, as he now also serves in senior voluntary positions at the MGSS.

Margaret continues her community involvement with the show by assisting in the management and running of the annual shows, and even organising the various displays and events when they are short on volunteers.

Like many volunteers, Margaret has never sought recognition or reward for her efforts, preferring to silently go about her work without accolade. She is a true volunteer dedicated to just doing what is needed to be done.

James Mackay

For more than 10 years, James has provided grass roots assistance to residents of the St Lucia community, including organising, packing and delivering Christmas hampers to the disadvantaged and raising matters of concern with the relevant authorities on behalf of local residents.

James is a diligent and committed volunteer to a variety of community organisations, including serving for four years as President of the St Lucia Community Association (SLCA), Past President of the South Brisbane Sailing Club and Past Vice President of the Kenmore Bears Football Club.

As President of the SLCA, James has made a lasting contribution to the St Lucia community. He has been responsible for organising many large-scale community meetings to raise awareness of issues affecting the local area. James has also attended stakeholder meetings as the SLCA representative, set up and maintained the SLCA website, and encouraged community participation in various local matters of concern.

James is highly regarded as an outstanding, humble volunteer for the St Lucia community and one to whom residents can turn to for assistance on any matter.

Benedikte Palings

Benedikte (Bernie) is the Co-founder of the charity Signal Flare and is a selfless volunteer who supports the homeless and most marginalised members of the community.

Known for her big heart and even bigger smile, Bernie holds Homeless BBQs every eight weeks, giving 400-1000 people who are homeless and disadvantaged free food, clothes, toiletries and toys. Bernie spends many hours bringing these events together, including arranging permission for the use of parks, designing and handing out flyers and even being the first person onsite to set up the event.

Bernie’s passion to help the homeless goes well beyond these events, as she can often be seen visiting the city looking for people to buy lunch for, just so she can sit and chat with them about what it would take for them to get back on their feet. Bernie has shown so much love in helping the homeless and those in desperate situations.

Beverley Sotiriou

Over the past nine years, Beverley (Bev) has been instrumental in supporting the Mater Chicks in Pink, who support women being treated for breast cancer, through a variety of ever growing fundraising events at Racecourse Road, Ascot.

Bev was passionately driven to support the Mater Chicks in Pink after the painful loss of a good friend who endured a 10 year battle with breast cancer, as well as her friend’s daughter also suffering from this dreadful disease. As the owner of Lido Café, Bev rallied the support of local businesses to help this worthy cause.

What started with a few pink balloons on trees in Racecourse Road during Breast Cancer Month in October, turned into organised events such as breakfasts, lunches, dinners, sausage sizzles, market stalls and now the famous Adopt-a-Tree with pink ribbons and bows for Breast Cancer month. With each year that passes, more and more businesses are becoming involved and are donating to the fundraising campaign.

To date, Bev has raised more than $80,000 and her determination continues. She is already planning events for this year to make the 10th anniversary the most successful yet.

Gillies House

For more than 40 years Gillies House, run by the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland, has provided accommodation in a home-like environment that is safe and supportive for men recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. Residents are able to stay for up to nine months, during which time they are assisted in transitioning from treatment for addiction to successful reintegration into society.

The emphasis of the Gillies House program is on building resilience, recovery skills, relapse prevention, emotional regulation and the development of a healthy structured activity schedule. To date, Gillies House has helped hundreds of men to get their lives back on track, providing practical support and a listening ear to those who have hit ‘rock bottom’.

Under the guidance of the dedicated management committee, Gillies House has improved the lives of many men who have gone onto lead productive and valued lives in the Brisbane community.

Philip Vincent

Philip’s (Phil’s) love of community is evident in everything, whether he is volunteering for the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Moggill Pony Club, or the McIntyre Centre - Riding for the Disabled.

Phil regularly visits retirement villages as a guest speaker, raising awareness of the United Nations Children’s Fund. He also volunteers at the Moggill Pony Club as a Chief Instructor, where he spends hours preparing lesson plans, teaching children how to ride and spending many hours out in the paddock sharing his knowledge with many children and adults to help them become better riders.

Phil has expanded his volunteering skills to help the McIntyre Centre - Riding for the Disabled. Phil is one of the centre’s senior coaches and, throughout the year, he works with a number of children with a disability to help them access life-changing programs, delivering physical, social and intellectual benefits that not only improve the lives of each rider, but also their families and the broader community.

For the past seven years, Phil has willingly volunteered his time and energy to help play a vital role in making one of the centre’s major fundraising events – the McIntyre Centre Dressage Day, a huge success each year.

Phil is the ultimate volunteer – always giving, willing, patient and very modest.

Alex Wright

Alex became interested in volunteering for the community about 15 years ago when he first became involved with the Mansfield Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) and has never looked back.

In 2001, Alex commenced as Chairman of the Mansfield NHW and since then he has continued to look for ways to keep the program relevant. He has achieved this through the group’s inaugural Mansfield Day, held at the Mt Gravatt Eagles Rugby League ground. This event, although in its infancy, has shown early signs of growth in the years to come.

Alex has also been heavily involved in the Volunteers in Policing program, with him personally volunteering more than 3500 hours since 2009. In this role, Alex volunteers with local police to not only help reduce crime, but also to enhance community safety and support victims of crime.

In addition, Alex is also serving in his second year as Treasurer of the Mt Gravatt Bowls Club. Alex is always generous with his time and giving of advice to all in the local area regarding police and community matters.

The 501st Legion Redback Garrison

The Redback Garrison is the Queensland branch of the 501st Legion, the world’s largest costuming club. The Queensland membership is made up of 160 people who own costumes from Star Wars movies, specifically, the costumes of the ‘bad guys’. This is reflected in the club motto “Bad Guys Doing Good”.

The club charges no membership fees and is open to anyone over the age of 18 years who own a movie quality Star Wars costume. All costumes are self-funded, with members attending hundreds of events each year in Brisbane and throughout Queensland. During appearances, members raise funds for an extensive list of local charities and causes. Some of the charities they support include Act for Kids, Cancer Council, Shave for a Cure, RSPCA, The Pyjama Foundation and Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as many local schools.

Since its formation in 2007, the Redback Garrison of the 501st Legion has raised more than $500,000 for local charities.

The club members also regularly visit the children’s wards at local hospitals, as well as participating in many charity events such as Relay for Life, Bridge to Brisbane, MS Moonlight Walk and the Brisbane Special Children’s Christmas Party.

The club is made up of members from all walks of life, brought together by their love of Star Wars, their desire to serve the local community and to bring a smile to people’s faces.

More information

For more information, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

Last updated: 1 September 2020