Australia Day Ambassador Program

The Australia Day Ambassador Program captures the true spirit of Australia Day by encouraging communities across Queensland to come together and celebrate this important national day. The 2018 program sent 31 accomplished and inspiring Queenslanders from diverse fields and backgrounds to 27 local council celebrations throughout the state.


The Ambassador program started in New South Wales in 1990 with only nine Ambassadors and is now delivered in every state and territory throughout Australia. Since its inception in Queensland in 2005, the program has sent more than 300 Ambassadors to local Australia Day festivities statewide.


Australia Day activities in Queensland are proudly supported by the Queensland Government in partnership with the Australian Government through the National Australia Day Council.


For more information please contact Events Coordination, Department of the Premier and Cabinet via email  or telephone 07 3003 9200.


2018 Australia Day Ambassadors

Josh Arnold

Host: Cloncurry Shire Council

Josh Arnold

Josh Arnold is a prolific songwriter, music producer and film maker who has been creating projects for schools, communities and various organisations throughout regional Australia under the banner of his production company Small Town Culture.


To date there have been more than 90 school songs, 10 town anthems and 150 music videos produced, all featured on the Small Town Culture YouTube channel.


In 2016, Josh was presented with the Social Justice Award by the Social Justice Commission of the Toowoomba Diocese for his work on the Walk Together Toowoomba project.


Tasman Bain

Host: Goondiwindi Regional Council

Tasman Bain

Tasman Bain is the Co-Founder and Deputy Director of Meri Toksave, a youth-led gender-based violence prevention non-government organisation (NGO) in Papua New Guinea. Tasman is also Chair of the Australian Red Cross Queensland Youth Advisory Committee, a White Ribbon Ambassador and an Emerging Voices Fellow of the Queensland Council of Social Service.


Driven by a sense of service and justice, Tasman was honoured to be recognised as a Queensland finalist for the 2016 Young Australian of the Year Award, a 2016 National Youth Week Champion and a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.


Dr Tim Baker

Host: Blackall-Tambo Regional Council

Tim Baker

Dr Tim Baker is an internationally recognised consultant and author. He is managing director of WINNERS-at-WORK Pty Ltd, which specialises in organisational performance and leadership development.


In 2013, Tim was voted one of the 50 most talented global training and development leaders by the World Human Resources Congress. Tim has consulted to Boeing, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Unilever, Singapore Airlines, Queensland and Victoria Police and many others.


Tim has conducted more than 2500 seminars, workshops, keynote addresses and coaching programs to more than 45,000 executives in 11 countries across 21 industries.


Stephen Baxter

Host: Somerset Regional Council

Steve Baxter


Tech start-up investor Steve Baxter is a proud Queenslander, born in the remote town of Cloncurry and raised in Emerald in the state’s central highlands. He left school at 15 and joined the Army, enlisting in its apprenticeship program. There, he became a technician working in the field of electronics, telecoms and guided weapon systems.


Since 2010 he has become a major early stage investor in start-ups, leading to the founding of Brisbane tech start-up co-working space River City Labs, underwriting the Start-up Catalyst and River Pitch programs.


In October 2017 Steve took on the role of Queensland Chief Entrepreneur; a year-long engagement with the Queensland Government to contribute to and promote the importance of entrepreneurship and investment within Queensland.

Major Jim Campbell

Host: Carpentaria Shire Council

Jim Campbell

Major Jim Campbell DFC (Ret) is the Foundation Member, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Pilot of the first community search, rescue and medical evacuation helicopter service in Queensland.


Signing up for the Australian Army at 15 years old, Jim’s 25 year career as a helicopter pilot and flight instructor included an extensive career taking him all over the world from Malaysia to the United States, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and throughout Australia.


Jim has received many honours for his contribution to Queensland including being the first recipient in the Vietnam War in 1966 of the Distinguished Flying Cross for Gallantry and Bravery first, The Fischer Community Australia Day Award (2001), Prime Minister’s Centenary Medal (2003), Queensland Senior Australian of the Year finalist (2005), and Life Membership of RACQ Careflight Queensland (2013).


Sara Carrigan OAM

Host: Toowoomba Regional Council

Sara Carrigan


Cyclist Sara Carrigan has a long list of sporting successes that include winning a Gold Medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, being a Commonwealth Games medallist, two-time National Champion, World Cup winner, 12-time Australian Championship medallist, Australian representative at eight World Championships, two Olympic Games and two Commonwealth Games, three-time Australian Female Road Cyclist of the Year, recipient of the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) and being inducted into the Gold Coast, Cycling Australia & QLD Sporting Hall of Fame.


Sara now coaches and is involved in the organisation of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.


Justine Christerson

Host: McKinlay Shire Council

Justine Christerson


Since Justine Christerson and her family moved to Brisbane four years ago, she has been assisting rural patients who travel to Brisbane or regional hospitals for medical treatment, with home cooked meals, gift cards, information about services, toiletry packs, care packs for children and most importantly friendship, support and understanding.


Justine was one of Queensland’s Local Hero finalists for the 2016 Australian of the Year Awards, runner up in 2015 for the Heritage Bank volunteer of the year and nominated in 2015 for a Pride of Australia medal and Australian of the Year.


John Coutis

Host: Torres Shire Council

John Coutis

John ‘JC’ Coutis is an exceptional man. He believes that our lives can be brilliant regardless of the talents and gifts we are born with. He himself, born with a severe disability that rendered his legs useless, John defied medical opinion by refusing to die.


John has spoken to over six million people internationally. As a family man, husband and father, the Coutis’ profile is strong, both in the community and in business. In October 2004, John and his family, joined with notable Australian sporting greats and put together a charity walk from Ipswich to the Gold Coast (124 kilometres). They raised almost $40,000 for three charities that are very close to their hearts; Hydrocephalus, Amputee (Limb Kids) and Fibromyalgia.


Emeritus Professor Kenneth Donald AO

Host: Barcaldine Regional Council

Ken Donald







Emeritus Professor Ken Donald AO has had a lengthy and illustrious career of more than 40 years in medical practice, health policy and medical education.


His academic contributions have consisted of more than 90 published journal articles and textbooks demonstrating his ongoing commitment to the development of research and education across a number of fields including pathology, social and preventive medicine and veterans’ health. Ken considers his work with AIDS control and veteran's health his greatest achievements.


Ken was honoured as a Queensland Great in 2012. Today, he continues his commitment to medical education by working at the Griffith University School of Medicine.


David Edwards

Host: Western Downs Regional Council

David Edwards





David moved to the Atherton Tablelands for schooling, where he started cycling in 2006, joined the local club and after slowly making his way through the ranks, started winning state and national titles.


In 2013 and 2014, he lived and raced in France for the development squad of French professional team AG2R then went on to perform solidly at the National Championships and win the under 23 Oceania Championships in Toowoomba.


In 2015, David went to the Rio Paralympics as a pilot for a vision impaired athlete. Alongside tandem partner Kieren Modra, David won the National and World Championships (in Adelaide and Italy respectively) before winning bronze in the Tandem Time Trial at Rio in 2016.


Wayne Gerard

Host: Logan City Council

Wayne Gerard

Wayne is a passionate entrepreneur and a champion of Australia's growing startup ecosystem.


In 2012, Wayne co-founded RedEye, one of Australia's fastest growing startups, and the first software business to make engineering data truly mobile.

Wayne plays an active role in the development of Australia's startup ecosystem as a Director of StartupAUS, the national advocacy body for technology startups, and in advisory roles with the Queensland Government.

Mona Hecke

Host: Winton Shire Council

Mona Hecke

An empowering health expert dedicated to helping others fully embrace and honour their health potential, Mona Hecke brings a dynamic and motivational message delivered with humour, passion and inspiration.


Mona is the face behind the brand Aussie Health Girl, sharing her message about plant based nutrition, the importance of the gut microbiome and the valuable lessons everybody can learn about how to live the long life they deserve with energy, passion and vitality.  Mona is dedicated to educating, empowering and encouraging everyone to rise to their full health potential and leave a lasting legacy of abundant health for generations to come.


Gail Ker OAM

Host: Flinders Shire Council

Gail Ker








A nationally lauded and award winning visionary, Gail Ker OAM is the Chief Executive Officer of Access Community Services Ltd where, she leads more than 300 staff to create social, cultural and economic experiences and opportunities that transform the lives of individuals and communities globally.


Informed and working at the cutting edge of policy and sector engagement, Gail’s knowledge is actively sought by politicians, industry leaders and research bodies alike, nationally and internationally. She has several prestigious board appointments and her standing has been recognised with numerous honours, most recently as an Ambassador for Peace – 2016 Women’s Federation of World Peace.


Jay Larkins

Host: Etheridge Shire Council

Jay Larkins

After Jay Larkins’ son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, he became passionate about Paralympic football and sport in general for those in the community with a disability. Jay established the Brisbane Paralympic Football Program (BPFP) in 2006 and now has programs in other areas of Brisbane and the Gold Coast.


As the head coach of BPFP, Jay has many highly qualified volunteers including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and school teachers. BPFP has been endorsed by Football Queensland and has received wonderful support from across the state.


Professor Peter Leggat AM

Host: Toowoomba Regional Council

Peter Leggat






Tropical Diseases, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville.


After graduating from the University of Queensland Medical School, Peter entered full-time military service as a doctor-soldier in the Australian Army and completed training in tropical medicine, while posted to the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.


He maintained a link with the Army Reserve for many years, serving in East Timor in 2000 and promoted through the ranks to Colonel. In 2002, he was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study in the USA, which rekindled a keen interest in aerospace medicine.


Annette McFarlane

Host: Sunshine Coast Council

Annette McFarlane

Annette McFarlane has been helping us green and beautify our gardens and suburbs via her Saturday morning, ABC Radio gardening talkback program for more than 26 years.


Annette is a senior lecturer in horticulture, author of five books and garden feature writer for the Queensland Sunday Mail. She is well known to Sunshine Coast residents through her regular appearances at The Queensland Garden Expo.


Dr Robert McGregor

Host: Barcaldine Regional Council 

Robert McGregor






Dr Robert (Bob) McGregor is honoured to have been entrusted by the Ipswich community to care for their children for over 40 years. In response, he has taken on a leadership role in developing community programs aimed at enhancing people's lives and welfare.


He has set up a very successful community association and edited its monthly newsletter for five years, organised a local bush care group for 20 years and convened the hugely successful Heritage Ipswich 100 Bike Ride raising over $1 million for charity over the past 15 years.


Bob was Queensland's 2014 Senior Australian of the Year.


Annabel McKay

Host: Scenic Rim Regional Council

Annabel McKay








Born at 26 weeks gestation, Annabel suffers from a profound, bilateral, sensory neural hearing loss. Being so premature, Annabel used swimming as a form of physiotherapy. This developed into a love for the sport and led her to represent Queensland for many years of her schooling life.


In 2013, Annabel was the sole recipient of the Australian Graduation Nurse of the Year. She was also awarded The Pride of Australia Medal for Care and Compassion in 2013 and an Australian of the Year nomination in 2014 and 2015.


Ross McKinnon AM

Host: Boulia Shire Council

Ross McKinnon







Ross McKinnon AM is the retired Curator-in-Charge of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha. Internationally regarded as one of the world’s leading sub-tropical botanic gardens, it features significant plant collections including the world’s largest representative collection of Australian native rainforest plants.


He is Patron, Life or Honorary Member of 32 horticultural organisations.


In 2014, Ross celebrated 42 years of service with the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the last 32 years as Curator-in-Charge.


Matthew Nagas

Host: Hinchinbrook Shire Council

Matthew Nagas

Matthew Nagas has an extensive record of promoting awareness, recognition and support for Australian South Sea Islanders in the Bundaberg district and has been a committed member of the Bundaberg and District South Sea Islander Action Group for the past 25 years.


In his role with Bundaberg and District South Sea Islander Action Group, Matthew played a central part in assisting the action group to host the Wantok Conference in 2012, bringing together Australian South Sea Islanders from across Australia as well as Chiefs and family members from the ancestral islands of Australian South Sea Islanders.


Taj Pabari

Host: Longreach Regional Council

Taj Pabari






Taj Pabari is living proof that anyone with determination and passion can change the world. Taj Pabari is an eighteen-year-old inventor, social entrepreneur and educational pioneer passionate about inspiring children to discover and embrace the world of creativity through business and entrepreneurship.


Taj made his official entrepreneurial debut at the age of 11, when he founded his first business, an electronic blogging site for children, by children. Three hundred articles later, the site was sold and was an inspiration behind starting his next venture. In late 2014, Taj founded a social enterprise called, Fiftysix Creations: Australia's Largest Entrepreneurship School Workshop Provider.


He is also the 2017 Queensland Young Australian of the Year.


Daphne Pirie AO MBE

Host: City of Gold Coast

Daphne Pirie











Daphne Pirie AO MBE is an inspirational sportswoman and administrator who has worked tirelessly for more than 60 years to promote and further the cause of women in sport.


Considered one of Australia’s most successful female athletes, Daphne’s sporting career spanned some 40 years, when she achieved success in track and field, hockey and golf.


Daphne has devoted her life to promoting women in sport and, as the founding President of Womensport Queensland, had the clear vision of encouraging female athletes and communicating their outstanding achievements.


In 2012 she was named a Queensland Great.


Madeline Price

Host: Lockyer Valley Regional Council

Madeline Price








Founder and Director of the One Woman Project, Madeline Price, is a sixth year Arts/Laws student at the University of Queensland.


Madeline has a wealth of experience on issues of global injustice, having previously directed the Alternative to Schoolies Project, UQ Oaktree and Oaktree QLD's Community Leaders Program.


The One Woman Project is Queensland’s fastest-growing, youth-led, non-for-profit organisation dedicated to educating young people about issues of global gender inequality.


Madeline was also shortlisted as one of four finalists in the Queensland Young Australian of the Year Award 2015 and spoke at TEDxUQ on the topic of Workplace Gender Certification.


Christopher Scott

Host: Western Downs Regional Council

* Photo and biography coming soon


Scott Stidston OAM

Host: Burdekin Shire Council

Scott Stidston







Scott Stidston OAM has never allowed the motorcycle injury that left him a quadriplegic to limit his contribution to the community and campaigning for those with a disability.


Scott has been a stalwart of Spinal Life Australia for many years, determined to improve the quality of life of people with a disability by speaking of the benefits of Inclusive Communities in the North Queensland region. A tireless advocate, he has told his story to thousands of school children, sharing simple but effective injury prevention messages to help them stay safe, and has worked with councils and local businesses to improve access and transport for people with disability.


Chern'ee Sutton

Host: Charters Towers Regional Council

Chern'ee Sutton







Chern'ee Sutton is a 19 year old contemporary Indigenous artist of the Kalkadoon people from Mount Isa, Queensland.


Chern’ee is passionate about reconciliation and has one of her paintings hanging on the reconciliation level of Queensland’s Parliament House. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were given one of Chern’ee’s reconciliation paintings as a gift during the Royal visit in 2014.


Chern’ee was a 2014 Queensland Young Australian of the Year finalist and recently received the Queensland Pride of Australia Young Leader Award. She also designed the 2015, 2016 and 2017 NRL Indigenous All Stars jersey, the Indigenous component for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup as well as the Indigenous markings on the 2018 Commonwealth Games Mascot, Borobi the Koala.


Nerelie Teese

Host: Southern Downs Regional Council

Nerelie Teese






Nerelie Teese grew up near Echuca in northern Victoria before her family moved to Beaudesert in South-East Queensland. Her love of rural life resulted in her first local history book ‘Hurricane Lamps & Handmilking: a history of dairy-farming in the Logan & Albert River Valleys’ being published in 2001.


Nerelie is an educator with more than 25 years’ experience in secondary schools and colleges.


An award winning and published Australian bush poet, Nerelie has performed on The Ghan and presented her original poetry on The Great Australian Doorstep television program.


Major Glenn Todhunter

Host: Goondiwindi Regional Council

Glenn Todhunter






On 22 September 1995, Major Glenn Todhunter found himself trapped in the wreckage of his aircraft after it had crashed heavily from 200 feet during a training flight. He almost died. After several days in intensive care on life support, his journey back to health required amputation of both his legs below the knee and two months in hospital.


What followed over the next eight years was a landmark journey rebuilding his life learning to walk, drive and fly again. After been told by senior military officials he would never fly again for Defence with a disability, Glenn succeeded and in doing so became the first and only bilateral amputee aviator to have served in the history of the Australian Defence Force.


Ryan Tyack

Host: Isaac Regional Council

Ryan Tyack

Ryan Tyack made history at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games as a part of Australia’s first ever medal winning archery team. Competing at his debut Olympic Games, Ryan won bronze with teammates Alec Potts and Taylor Worth at Rio’s famous Sambodromo.


Uncle Barry Watson

Host: Burke Shire Council

Barry Watson








Uncle Barry Watson is a descendant of the Wergaia people of Western Victoria.


Uncle Barry enjoys teaching the local Yugambeh language to children and staff at early childhood centres, schools as well as TAFE institutes, by promoting and developing cultural resources. Uncle Barry was awarded Elder of the Year for South East Queensland last year by the Department of Education and Training. Uncle Barry enjoys teaching traditional games to people of all ages and he has developed cultural games which are now distributed around Australia and overseas.


Jennifer Woodward

Host: Central Highlands Regional Council

Jenny Woodward








As the longest standing weather reporter in the country, Jenny Woodward can really say the sky is the limit, whether it’s filled with clouds, rain, storms, lightning, thunder or cyclones.


As the ABC weather presenter, Jenny is a nightly fixture on the 7pm News in Queensland and frequently appears nationally on ABC News 24. Jenny also contributes stories to news bulletins and the ABC online news website. She has just celebrated 30 years with the national broadcaster.


Jenny’s job has taken her around the state and she has not been afraid to appear with animals or children, and indeed her annual visit to the Ekka has become a hugely popular segment with viewers.