Australia Day Ambassador Program

The Australia Day Ambassador Program aims to capture the true spirit of Australia Day by sending high achieving Queenslanders to communities across Queensland to come together and support the celebration of this important national day.

Australia Day Ambassadors include past recipients of the Australian of the Year Awards, athletes, medical professionals, business people, television personalities and community workers who provide inspiration and pride to Australia Day events.

Ambassadors generously volunteer their time and energy to contribute to celebrations. They participate in a diverse range of activities which have included providing a formal address to share their story, presenting Australia Day awards, judging baking competitions, and connecting with locals over a cup of tea.

Participation of an Australia Day Ambassador in community events is regularly cited as one of the highlights of community celebrations.

The 2020 Australia Day Ambassadors will be announced in December 2019.


The 2019 Australia Day Ambassadors were:

Matthew Ames

Host: Sunshine Coast Council

Matthew Ames was 39 years old when what started as a sore throat resulted in the loss of all four of his limbs. He had contracted a streptococcal infection resulting in toxic shock and was never expected to survive. Following a long rehabilitation process, Matthew has beaten the odds, spurred on by the fact that he is the father of four young children and husband of a very dedicated wife determined to grow old with him.

Matthew has a unique mix of professional and personal experience. With a grounding of almost 20 years in the energy and resources industry, he has found innovative ways to apply his knowledge following his illness.  Matthew is involved in a variety of endeavours, serving on boards and steering committees for a number of organisations, including Hear and Say Centre for Deaf Children, Queensland Health, Australian Digital Health Agency and Centacare.


Tasman Bain

Host: Cook Shire Council

Tasman Bain is the Co-Founder and Deputy Director of Meri Toksave, a youth-led gender equality initiative in Papua New Guinea. Tasman is also Chair of the Australian Red Cross Queensland Youth Advisory Committee, a Youth Commissioner of the National Youth Commission into Youth Unemployment and a Youth Delegate to the CSIRO National Outlook Project.

Driven by a sense of service and justice, Tasman was recognised as a Queensland nominee for the 2016 Young Australian of the Year Award, a 2016 National Youth Week Champion, a finalist for the 2018 University of Queensland Create Change Award and a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum. 

A passionate advocate for youth empowerment, gender equality and community development, Tasman has more than eight years’ experience across youth-led initiatives, international NGOs, and the Commonwealth and Queensland public service.

Dr Tim Baker

Host: Southern Downs Regional Council

Dr Tim Baker is a successful author, thought leader and international consultant. He has written eight books, including his latest, Bringing the Human Being Back to Work.

Tim is a specialist in organisational performance. He has a successful track record in transforming organisational capability through change programs and leadership capability development over the past 18 years. Tim has conducted more than 2430 seminars, workshops, keynote addresses and coaching programs to more than 45,000 people in 13 countries across 21 industry groups.


Stephen Baxter

Host: Scenic Rim Regional Council

Tech start-up investor Steve Baxter left school at 15 and joined the Army, enlisting in its apprenticeship program and becoming a technician working in the field of electronics, telecoms and guided weapon systems.

In 1994, at the age of 23, Steve put his life savings of $11,000 on the line to launch his first start-up, the pioneering internet service provider SE Net, from the spare room of his Adelaide home.

In 2001, Steve teamed with a schoolmate to launch his second start-up, PIPE Networks, a provider of wholesale telecoms infrastructure that was listed on the ASX in 2005. Eight years later they sold it to the TPG Group for $373 million.

Steve spent a year working with Google in California in 2008, leading a project to deliver high-speed telecommunications systems across North America.

Since 2010 he has become an early stage investor in start-ups through his investment company, Transition Level Investments.

Steve has been a Shark on Channel 10’s Shark Tank Australia for the past four seasons and was appointed Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur for 2018.   


Faye Carr

Host: Somerset Regional Council 

She’s spent a lifetime helping Indigenous people, but Aunty Faye Carr shows no signs of slowing down. For more than 50 years, this Yuggera Elder has helped deliver legal, housing, health and sports services, and breakfast programs for Indigenous school children, and campaigned for women and children suffering domestic violence.

Faye was involved in establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, the Kambu Progress Association and the Kambu Aboriginal and Islander Health Service to deliver important legal, housing, recreational and health services to Ipswich and broader Queensland. Among many accolades, Faye was honoured with Ipswich Citizen of the Year in 2016, the NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year in 2017 and was a Queensland Senior Australia of the Year nominee in 2018.

Aunty Faye’s compassion and commitment to culture has inspired young and old.


Sara Carrigan OAM

Host: Mackay Regional Council

Over her impressive cycling career, some of Sara Carrigan OAM’s greatest successes 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 8 World Championships, 2 Olympic Games and 2 Commonwealth Games, 3-time Australian Female Road Cyclist of the Year, recipient of the Order of Australia Medal, and being inducted into the Gold Coast, Cycling Australia & QLD Sporting Halls of Fame.

Sara is now a coach and was involved in the organisation of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. 

Justine Christerson

Host: South Burnett Regional Council

Six years ago, Justine Christerson, her husband and three children moved from Biloela to Brisbane. It was then that Justine realised her vision to create a program that supported rural patients who are required to travel to Brisbane from throughout Queensland for medical reasons.

Justine understood that many who travel to Brisbane do not have family and friends close by to provide support such as home cooked meals, someone to have a cuppa with, airport and train pick-ups, or advice on the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme and best accommodation options.

Justine is a busy mum of three, but in her spare time she is an active committee member of her local BMX club where her son and husband ride and is now commentating for the local club race nights. 


Carmel Crouch
Host: Charters Towers Regional Council

Carmel Crouch is a distinguished businesswoman and community leader known for her work in building capacity and empowering individuals and communities towards independence. 

A long-time advocate for people with a disability, Carmel has worked for more than 30 years developing programs and services that provide people with a disability with equal opportunities for employment, housing, happiness and health and wellbeing. 

Carmel has worked tirelessly to improve language, literacy and numeracy skills, and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.  Most recently she has been working to settle refugees and humanitarian migrants, giving them opportunities to achieve a new, independent and meaningful life in Australia. Carmel was also a Queensland Senior Australian of the Year nominee in 2018.


Dr Dimity Dornan AO
Host: Longreach Regional Council

Dimity Dornan AO is a speech pathologist and the Founder and Executive Director of Hear and Say, which provides services for more than 900 children and families, enabling deaf children to listen and speak. Dimity also initiated Hear and Say Research and Innovation and Hear and Say WorldWide global professional training.

She has been recognised with numerous awards and was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame (2017). Dimity has most recently been awarded the Business Leader of the Year at the India Australia Business and Community Awards (2017), Australia Not For Profit Technology Awards 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award (2018) and Queensland Senior Australian of the Year (2018).


Tim Fairfax AC

Host: Western Downs Regional Council

One of the country’s most successful businessmen, Tim Fairfax AC is also one of the most generous. With pastoral interests in Queensland and New South Wales, Tim is passionate about supporting rural, remote and regional communities. The founder of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Tim has gifted more than $16 million since 2008 to community-based arts, music and sporting projects in regional Australia. Tim also chairs the Board of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, named after his father, which has donated more than $100 million.

A keen supporter of the Ekka, Tim is Chancellor of Queensland University of Technology and promotes higher educational opportunities, particularly to students in struggling rural communities. A founding benefactor of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Tim is one of its largest donors.  Sitting on numerous boards and trusts for the arts, Tim is a keen collector and donor of art and is making an extraordinary philanthropic contribution to Australia’s arts community. Tim was also named 2016 Queensland Senior Australian of the Year.

Jordyn Francis

Host: Gympie Regional Council 

At just 16 years of age, Jordyn Francis established her own not-for-profit organisation, Chant4Change, now known as The Rescue Movement. Since the organisation’s inception, Jordyn’s fundraising concerts have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the work of Destiny Rescue, a charity which frees girls from sex-trafficking in South East Asia and provides them with a home, skills training and a fresh start to life. Jordyn has lived in Cambodia, working among Destiny Rescue in a voluntary capacity, teaching English and dancing, and managing the café which employs some of the girls. 

 Jordyn now works in the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, a federal government initiative led by the Australian Federal Police. Jordyn’s role is to liaise with federal government agencies, non-government organisations and law enforcement to develop strategies, campaigns and educational programs which aim to help prevent children in Australia and South East Asia falling victim to online child exploitation.

 In July 2012, Jordyn received the Queensland Day Community Award, and in 2014 was named Queensland's Young Australian of the Year.


Glenn Gardener

Host: Western Downs Regional Council

 Born and raised in Australia, Glenn Gardener obtained his medical degree from The University of Queensland in 1991. From there he pursued a career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and sub-specialised in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney and University College Hospital, London.

 In 2003, Glenn returned to Brisbane as a Consultant in Maternal Fetal Medicine and in 2010 he was appointed Director of the Service. He is active in all aspects of high risk Obstetrics and Maternal Fetal Medicine and also keeps himself busy with research, teaching and training of health professionals at all levels.

 He supports the development of improved services for pregnant women with teaching and training workshops for doctors in Australia and also to health professionals in Malaysia, India and Indonesia.

 Glenn has pioneered the introduction of cutting edge in-utero fetal surgery for spina bifida and for his services to women and children he was a nominee for the 2018 Queensland Australian of the Year.

Gerrard Gosens OAM

Host: Hinchinbrook Shire Council

Gerrard Gosens OAM is a totally blind adventurer, three-time Paralympian, project manager, chocolatier, small business owner and motivational speaker.

Gerrard has run the 2000 kilometres from Cairns to Brisbane five times to raise money for charity. He represented Australia at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games in the team sport of goalball. Gerrard returned to his former sporting love, distance running, and represented Australia at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games in the 5000 metres, 10,000 metres and marathon (42.2km). He has gone on to represent Australia at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic games, six Athletics World Championships and 2012 Marathon World Cup.

He has co-piloted an ultra-light motor glider around Queensland three times to raise funds for charity. In 2009, in a television world-first, he faced one of his greatest challenges ever, when he took to the dance floor on Dancing with the Stars. 

Gerrard was honoured with an Order of Australia award in 2012, for his outstanding service to sport and people with a disability. He is currently aiming to be selected to represent Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Olivia Hargroder
Host: Barcaldine Regional Council

Told she would never speak, Olivia Hargroder uses the gift she was to be denied to advocate change and equality. Olivia is the driving force behind the campaign, Change The Box, a movement to have athletes with Down Syndrome included in the Paralympics. She has taken her message across Australia, through the UK to Scotland, and addressed the United Nations in New York. Tireless in her efforts, she genuinely has a message she wants the world to hear and the world has listened.  

Olivia was a 2018 Queensland nominee for Young Australian of the Year, is currently Moreton Bay’s Young Citizen of the Year and is studying at Australia’s prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Arts - Young Actors Studio. 


Mona Hecke

Host: Livingstone Shire Council

Mona Hecke’s 20-year career in the public spotlight spans many sectors including health and wellbeing keynote speaker, political candidate, public relations and marketing executive, community representative, author, business owner, naturopath and preventative health educator. She is the current President for the Gold Coast Active and Healthy Alliance, a volunteer body delivering the country’s most comprehensive wellbeing program to the community.

Mona offers practical solutions with a hands-on approach that can be implemented into any home, school or office. She believes there are healthier solutions to our modern world problems and it all begins with consuming wholesome, nutrient dense foods that promote vitality and longevity. According to Mona, reducing stress, exercising and achieving our ideal weight all contribute to a positive mental attitude, confidence and the ability to achieve lifelong goals.


Chelsea Higgins

Host: Bundaberg Regional Council

Chelsea Higgins is a Brisbane-based equestrian rider who dreamt all her life of representing Australia in equestrian events at the Olympic Games. Chelsea began her competitive career in three-day eventing, show jumping and dressage events, and was successfully competing in 'three star' events across the country at 15 years old.

In September 2010, a horse riding accident turned her world upside down. Chelsea now competes as a Grade 4 para-equestrian rider and was the only Queenslander to be a member of the Australian Team at the World Equestrian Games in Dressage in 2014. In 2013 Chelsea moved to Melbourne to compete in all three selection-events for the World Equestrian Games and was selected to represent Australia at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France, securing an impressive top 10 position at only 19 years of age.

Relocating back to Brisbane at the end of September 2014, Chelsea now has her eyes set on being selected for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games with her equine partner Kenya.


Jeff Horn

Host: Logan City Council

Jeff Horn is a former World Boxing Organisation (WBO) World Welterweight boxing champion, who, in July 2017, defeated 11 times world champion Manny Pacquiao in front of more than 51,000 spectators at Suncorp Stadium in one of the biggest fights in Australian boxing history.

In December 2017, Jeff successfully defended his world title against the WBO number 10 Gary Corcoran before losing his title in Las Vegas in June 2018 against the undefeated Terence Crawford, who is widely recognised as the best pound for pound boxer in the world. He has since defeated Anthony Mundine in 96 seconds at Suncorp Stadium and looks to soon regain his world title.

Jeff was a quarter finalist at the 2012 London Olympics, holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Griffith University and was a former teacher. Along with Grantlee Kieza, Jeff has authored a biography on his life, The Hornet, which will soon become a major feature film.


Gitie House OAM
Host: Barcaldine Regional Council

Gitie House OAM is the President of the Toowoomba International Multicultural Society (TIMS), Chair of the Toowoomba Languages & Cultures (TLC) Festival and a member of the Queensland Multicultural Advisory Council.

Under Gitie’s leadership the TLC Festival is one of the signature multicultural events of Queensland and both TIMS and the festival have won accolades including Australia Day awards.

In 2017, Gitie was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for her services to the community. Gitie was named Multicultural Ambassador for Queensland in 2013 and received many awards including the WILPF Peacewoman, YWCA 125 Leading Women in Queensland and the United Nations Zonta Woman of the Year.

Gitie’s professional background is in project management of software development projects and she has also co-authored books on understanding wild birds and their socially rich lives.


Gail Ker OAM

Host: Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council

A nationally lauded and award-winning visionary, Gail Ker OAM is the CEO of Access Community Services Ltd. Renowned for her expertise in innovative service solutions for newly arrived migrants and humanitarian entrants, Gail is a recognised thought leader in needs-based community planning, innovative business models, social cohesion, strategic partnerships, employment pathways, funding opportunities and strategic direction.

Under her tutelage and leadership, Access has grown from a one-room youth employment service into one of Australia’s leading organisations in the provision of settlement, employment, training, youth support, housing and social enterprise services for migrants, refugees and Australian born clients with an annual turnover in excess of $20 million.

Gail has several prestigious board appointments and her standing has been recognised with numerous honours, including the Order of Australia Medal for her work in multiculturalism in Queensland, 2016 Ambassador for Peace award – Women’s Federation of World Peace, 2017 Australian Migration and Settlement Award – Winner of the Empowering Women Award. Gail was also named a Queensland Great in 2018.


Jay Larkins

Host: Torres Shire Council

After his son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Jay Larkins became passionate about Paralympic football. Jay established the Brisbane Paralympic Football Program in 2006, and coaches more than 100 children with a disability, giving them an opportunity to engage in team sport and exercise. 

As Director, Jay oversees a team of assistant coaches, managers, volunteers and regular physiotherapists and occupational therapists, who are all committed to helping young athletes be the best they can. Jay’s ‘never say never’ attitude has been inspirational to many participants in the program, with four athletes representing Australia, and others working towards selection for the Australian Paralympic football team. 

More importantly, the Brisbane Paralympic Football Program provides an inclusive environment for young athletes with a disability to develop their skills and confidence. Jay is now helping to develop similar programs in other parts of Queensland and has established programs from the Gold Coast north to the Sunshine Coast.  


John Lazarou
Host: Longreach Regional Council

John Lazarou is an Australian businessman and one of the co-founders of The Coffee Club. John has a strong public relations background and is an honorary member of the Brisbane Greeters. His passion for charity work and public relations has helped him become recognised as “the face” of The Coffee Club.

John supports and sponsors a wide range of charities and initiatives such as The Coffee Club Telethon Ball, which raises $12 million every year for the Children’s Hospital Foundation. He also supports the Special Children’s Christmas Parties and Young Achiever Entrepreneur Awards. He is also an Ambassador for The Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre.


Peter Leggat AM
Host: Flinders Shire Council  

Professor Peter Leggat AM has undertaken research on tropical diseases for more than 30 years.  A prolific writer, he has published more than 20 books, 90 chapters and 500 journals papers. His most recent book is on neglected tropical diseases in Southeast Asia and northern Australia. He is co-Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Vector-borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University (JCU), Townsville.

Peter’s research and teaching has focused on preventing some of the most devastating mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria and dengue, which affect hundreds of millions of people globally. He has a particular interest in how these types of diseases can impact on travellers going to affected areas.

Peter provides voluntary service to a number of charity and professional groups. He has also been recognised with numerous honours, but his admission as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2013 and his promotion to Commander of the Order of St John in 2016 are his most treasured awards. His personal interests include astronomy and travelling.


Richard Lewandowski
Host: McKinlay Shire Council

Richard Lewandowski graduated from The University of Queensland in 1981 and became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) in 1990. He has a Fellowship Diploma in Craniomaxillofacial Surgery from the Eastern Virginian Graduate School of Medicine, Norfolk Virginia, United States of America.

Richard is the Founder and Chairman of Operation Smile Australia and a visiting plastic surgeon at the Mater Children's, Greenslopes and St Andrew’s hospitals. Richard is an Associate Professor at The University of Queensland and Chair of the RACS Queensland. Previously, he has been the President of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Society of Queensland, Chairman of the Queensland State Committee of the RACS and President of the Australasian Society of Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons.

Richard received a Queensland Greats Award in 2004.


Henrietta Marrie AM

Host: Central Highlands Regional Council

Henrietta Marrie AM is an Elder of the Gimuy Walubara clan of the Yidinji people and Traditional Owner of the land on which the City of Cairns and southern suburbs are now located.

Henrietta has a wide range of experience in Indigenous cultural and natural resource management and impact assessment, intellectual and cultural property law, heritage legislation and philanthropy. As an academic she has had more than 50 papers published.

Henrietta served with the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, before becoming the Program Officer/Manager for North Australia with The Christensen Fund, a California-based private philanthropic fund.

Currently, Henrietta is an Associate Professor with Central Queensland University and an Adjunct Professor of the Cairns Institute, James Cook University.

In 2018 Henrietta was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division and was recognised as a Queensland Great.


Annette McFarlane

Host: Longreach Regional Council

For more than 26 years, Annette McFarlane has helped green and beautify gardens and suburbs with her Saturday morning, ABC Radio gardening talkback program.

Annette is a senior lecturer in horticulture, author of five books and garden feature writer for the Sunday Mail. She is well known to Sunshine Coast residents through her regular appearances at The Queensland Garden Expo, Australia’s premier gardening event. Annette also provides horticulture advice through her website and Facebook page.

Annette was awarded the Golden Wattle by the Australian Institute of Horticulture in 2018 for dedication to education in the art and science of horticulture over the past four decades.  She was also awarded the Gold Laurel and inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Horticultural Media Association of Australia in 2018 for achievements in publishing, broadcasting and related horticultural media and community education.


Dr Robert McGregor

Host: Balonne Shire Council

A medical practitioner specialising in child health, Dr Robert (Bob) McGregor has made an outstanding contribution to Queensland’s community.  Bob has devoted more than four decades to his role as consultant paediatrician at Ipswich Hospital.

He has been involved in community outreach programs to prevent child abuse and has presented many papers at medical conferences. He is equally dedicated to his community, working in a number of voluntary roles for local schools and Lions clubs. Over the past 12 months, Bob’s community work has been honoured by being nominated as a Queens Baton Holder for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. He was also selected as recipient of the 2018 Ipswich & West Moreton Child Protection Week Award, in recognition of his pioneering work in this field and his continuing advocacy for children in harm’s way.

A keen cyclist, Bob was the inspiration and driving force behind the Heritage Bank Ipswich100 Bike Ride fundraising event raising more than $1.4 million for charity over the past 20 years. Bob was Queensland's 2014 Senior Australian of the Year.


Annabel McKay

Host: Toowoomba Regional Council

Born at 26 weeks gestation, Annabel McKay 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.

Now a decorated nurse and clinical academic, Annabel hopes her achievements will inspire others to be the best version of themselves.

In 2013, Annabel was the sole recipient of the Australian Graduation Nurse of the Year and The Pride of Australia Medal for Care and Compassion. In years 2015, 2016 and 2018, Annabel has received Australian of the Year nominations.

More recently, Annabel was a finalist for the Queensland Community Achievement Awards for Teaching Excellence and Young Queenslander of the Year. 


Ross McKinnon AM

Host: Etheridge Shire Council

Ross McKinnon AM is the retired curator-in-charge of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at suburban 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.

Ross is a retired State Chairman and national board member of Open Gardens Australia and on Australia Day in 1999, was awarded the Order of Australia for Outstanding Services to Horticulture.

In 2005, Ross received an inaugural Vitae Lampada (The Burning Torch of Life) Medal for his consultant role to the Queensland Poisons Information Centre and to paediatricians within the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health based at the Royal Children’s Hospital, and to doctors in the broader worlds of medicine in Queensland.

In 2014, Ross celebrated 42 years of service with the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the last 32 years as curator-in-charge. He remains Patron, Life or Honorary Member of 32 horticultural organisations.


Bill Nancarrow

Host: Isaac Regional Council

Bill Nancarrow became involved in powerlifting training in 2000 after a motorbike accident in Townsville. In 2002 he met the team at Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association in Brisbane and forged a great relationship with them, attending several state and national competitions over the next few years, building on his strength and forming close friendships.

In 2005 Bill had further surgery on his right leg as his hip had deteriorated to the extent that he was unable to walk on it. After some setbacks in 2006, Bill was offered an assistant coaching role at Sporting Wheelies, and the rest is history.

Bill has held many assistant coach, coach and team manager positions over his coaching career with some highlights including the Beijing Paralympics and the recent Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He has been awarded the Col Marsh Volunteer of the Year Award and recently the Coach of the Year in 2017.


Lakeisha Patterson OAM

Host: Goondiwindi Regional Council

Lakeisha Patterson OAM started swimming at the age of five as part of her rehabilitation to overcome muscle stiffness from Cerebral Palsy left Hemiplegia. After falling in love with water and discovering para-swimming, Lakeisha started competing nationally at aged 13. After one year of competing she made the Australian Junior Development Squad.

One year on, her international debut began at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games where she claimed bronze in the 100m freestyle S8. Post games, Lakeisha headed straight to the Pan-Pacific Para Swimming Championships collecting five medals; one gold, one silver and three bronze.

In April 2016, Lakeisha competed at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. She won Australia’s first gold medal of the games, winning the 400m freestyle S8 on opening night in a new World, Paralympic and Oceania record. She also won gold and broke the world record in the 4x100m freestyle relay and collected three silver and one bronze medal.

At the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Lakeisha won two gold medals. She also raced to victory, gaining eight medals (five gold, three silver) and one world record at the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships in Cairns.

An Ambassador for Aspirations for Kids in Sport, Funkita Swimwear and an Order of Australia Medal recipient, Lakeisha’s career is just beginning. Currently studying Architectural Design at university, she volunteers at the children's hospital, helps within the community and speaks at numerous schools and events.


Allan Paull

Host: Western Downs Regional Council

Allan Paull gained his PhD in applied mathematics at The University of Queensland (UQ) and subsequently obtained a Master of Engineering Science within the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UQ.  He has worked for 30 years in hypersonics, primarily in the field of supersonic combustion and flight testing. He has been employed at NASA Langley Research Center (USA), German Aerospace Center (Goettingen, Germany) and General Applied Science Laboratory (New York, USA) and UQ where he held the position of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Professor and was an ARC Professorial Research Fellow.  

Paul is currently employed at the Department of Defence Science and Technology and is an Adjunct Professor to UQ. He developed theoretical approaches for the operations of scramjets as well as for wind tunnels and has led the HyShot, HyCAUSE and HIFiRE hypersonic flight programs.  In total, Paul has been the lead for 13 flight tests.


Daphne Pirie AO MBE

Host: Sunshine Coast Council

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. As founding President of Womensport Queensland, Daphne had the clear vision of encouraging female athletes and communicating their outstanding achievements.

Considered one of Australia’s most successful athletes, Daphne’s sporting career covers achievements in track and field, hockey and golf.  She captained the Queensland Track and Field Team, Queensland Hockey Team and was Vice Captain of the Australian Women’s Hockey Team. She is also an international hockey umpire as well as an accredited hockey coach.

In 1989 Daphne received an MBE for services to sport and in 2012, an AO for 60 years’ service to sport. In 2012 she was named a Queensland Great as well as being inducted to the Queensland Sporting Hall of Fame.

She was appointed Attaché for the Trinidad and Tobago Team at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and proudly marched in the red, white and black colours with the Trinidad and Tobago Team in the Opening Ceremony.


Gabrielle and Paul Quilliam

Host: Gladstone Regional Council

The founders of Queensland’s only children’s hospice, Hummingbird House, Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam describe themselves as ordinary Australians. But what they’ve done for families in their state is nothing short of extraordinary.

After fostering children with serious health issues, the couple became advocates for families caring for children with life-limiting conditions. With a shared determination, the former school teacher and nurse founded Hummingbird House Foundation in 2011. They have since secured $11 million in government funding and raised more than $7 million through generous philanthropic and corporate donations.

Hummingbird House officially opened in October 2016 to provide everything from family support, short break stays, to end of life care. With the dream now a reality, the couple have inspired Queenslanders to work together and bring a crucial community impact project to life.

Paul and Gabrielle were nominees for the 2017 Australian of the Year Awards as Queensland Local Heroes and recently received outstanding alumnus awards from QUT and Griffith University.  In recognition of establishing Hummingbird House, they also received the Premier’s Award for Community Service in 2016.


Dominique Rizzo

Host: Rockhampton Regional Council

Dominique Rizzo is an experienced chef and launched Brisbane’s first organic restaurant, Mondo Organics, in West End. Mondo Organics brought a new concept of organic dining to Brisbane and positioned the team as leaders within the Australian restaurant scene.

In 2007, Dominique set up Pure Food Cooking, a consultancy specialising in food and cooking; recipe development; hosting and guest presenting across all media platforms¾TV, radio and press¾and landed a ten-year residency on Channel 10’s Ready, Steady, Cook and presenter on Fresh on Sundays, a two-hour food program on Brisbane’s Radio 4BC.

In October 2014 she opened the doors to Putia Pure Food Kitchen. Dominique’s ambition for Putia is on delivering market fresh produce while catering to dietary, allergy and lifestyle customers through a delectable seasonally driven menu. More recently, in 2017, Dominique launched Clapham Junction Wine Bar & Provisions.


Anthony Ryan
Host: Goondiwindi Regional Council

Since joining Youngcare in November 2016, Anthony Ryan has led the Youngcare team on a journey to re-establish the vision of the organisation. With Anthony at the helm, the Youngcare team actively pursues entities that allow them to amplify their goal to assist the thousands of young people in Australia who are at risk of entering aged care.

Anthony previously co-founded the Mimiki Foundation and prior to Youngcare, the Edmund Rice Foundation (Australia). He has extensive experience not only in the not-for-profit sector but also in development projects throughout the world. 

In 2009 Anthony was a recipient of a Queensland Greats Award for his significant contribution to the Brisbane community through the establishment of Eddie’s Street Van and Paddie’s Van assisting Brisbane’s homeless, street kids and elderly.


Kay Saunders AM
Host: North Burnett Regional Council

Professor Kay Saunders AM is a widely published author and historian. Trained as an anthropologist, Kay was professor of History and a Senator of The University of Queensland. She later was Chief Executive Officer of The Brisbane Institute and worked at Bond University.

Kay has written widely on Queensland history including Queensland: 150 Years of Achievement. For Queensland’s sesquicentenary (Q150), she researched, wrote and travelled with the State Archives of Queensland exhibition entitled Queensland’s Fifty Firsts and served on the Q150 Advisory Council.

She was on the Premier’s committee to advise on Women's Policy (1999–2001) and served on the National Australia Day Council as a Director (1992–1997). Kay was awarded the Order of Australia in 1999 for her service to Australian history.


Christopher Scott OAM

Host: Western Downs Regional Council

Chris Scott, born with cerebral palsy, has represented Australia at six Paralympic Games across three disciplines. Chris’ sporting career highlight was at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games where he won a Gold Medal for the mixed bicycle time trial division. That same year Chris received the Australian Sports Medal in addition to his Order of Australia medal.

In 2004, Chris was announced Male Team Captain and won three gold medals. Chris was also awarded Senior Male Athlete of the Year and Sporting Wheelie of the Year by the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Sport and Recreation Association. After back surgery in 2006, Chris returned to International Competition winning a gold and two bronze medals at the 2007 Para-cycling World Championships in France. 

Chris was inducted into the Queensland Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and became the first athlete with a disability to be inducted into the Cycling Australia Hall of Fame in 2016.

Announcing that he would retire after the Beijing Paralympics, Chris said farewell to the Paralympics in style, winning gold in the 3000m pursuit, silver in the individual road time trial and bronze in the 1000m time trial. Finishing his Paralympic Career with a total of six Gold, three Silver, and three Bronze medals.


Leigh Skinner
Host: Barcaldine Regional Council

Leigh Skinner started his trade as a motor mechanic in 1981, then in 1983 was diagnosed with a tumour in his spinal cord which has crushed the nerves to his legs. Leigh has since been diagnosed as an incomplete paraplegic. 

It had been a life time dream of Leigh’s to be an athlete and in December 2008 he was introduced to Para sport by Sporting Wheelies. In March 2009 Leigh competed in his first Para Powerlifting event and qualified to become part of the Para Powerlifting Australian Team. 

Since representing our country, Leigh has been fortunate enough to travel the world with mates competing in a sport he loves. He holds several Australian and International records both in Para Powerlifting and Able Body Bench Press. Leigh has competed at three Commonwealth Games—Delhi 2010, Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018.

Alyce Stephenson
Host: Lockyer Valley Regional Council

Alyce Stephenson is 28 years old and was born and bred in Ipswich. She is one of four children including her twin sister Emma. By day she is a surgical nurse at the Ipswich Hospital and has worked there for nearly eight years. By night she is a competitive Olympic weightlifter, and recently competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the 48kg division, where she lifted a personal best and placed seventh. 

Alyce has a passion for sport and all things fitness related. She has also performed locally and internationally in aerial silks and duo lyra with her twin sister as part of a circus production. She loves a challenge, whether it is mental or physical, and loves helping others get out of their comfort zone. 

In her spare time Alyce enjoys travelling and has been to nearly 20 different countries. Her goal in life is to inspire the next generation to participate in sport and promote its benefits for mental and physical health.


Chern'ee Sutton

Host: Boulia Shire Council

Chern’ee Sutton is a proud Kalkadoon woman and artist from Mount Isa, who is passionate about her culture and history and wants to share that with the rest of the world through her art. Her unique style combines two worlds of traditional Aboriginal heritage with a modern contemporary twist which has caught the eyes of collectors around the world including royalty and was featured on the 2018 Commonwealth Games mascot Borobi. 

Chern’ee has her artwork hanging in The Royal Collection in Buckingham Palace, Queensland Parliament House, Queensland State Library and has exhibited her artworks in London, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney.

Chern’ee’s artworks have been commissioned by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Queensland Government, Australian Defence Force, Tennis Australia, National Rugby League, Caritas Australia, Dreamworld Theme Park and Rainforestation Nature Park to name a few. 

Due to Chern’ee’s passion for reconciliation and equality, she has received numerous accolades including National NAIDOC Youth of The Year, Australia Day Awards for 2013 and 2014, Queensland Pride of Australia Award, local NAIDOC Awards including Artist of the Year, and has been an Australia Day Ambassador for the past four years.


Nerelie Teese

Host: Cloncurry Shire Council 

The daughter and granddaughter of dairy farmers, Nerelie Teese grew up in Victoria before her family moved to South-East Queensland. Her love of rural life resulted in the release of her first local history book, Hurricane Lamps & Handmilking: a history of dairy-farming in the Logan & Albert River Valleys in 2001 and The Barmah Forest In Our Blood in 2008. 

Nerelie left school on her 15th birthday but returned to formal education as a mature age student with three young children and completed a Bachelor of Teaching Degree with Honours while milking cows at weekends and in holidays. A Master of Education Degree and a Graduate Diploma in Teacher-Librarianship then followed. 

A co-founder of the international literacy project, Books Through the Seas, Nerelie was instrumental in sourcing and providing books for school and community libraries in the Philippines. An award-winning bush poet, Nerelie has performed across Australia as well as in Canada and America. She was a travelling performer on The Ghan and appeared on TV’s Great Australian Doorstep.


Glenn Todhunter

Host: Toowoomba Regional Council


On 22 September 1995, Major Glenn Todhunter found himself trapped in the wreckage of his aircraft after it crashed heavily from 200ft 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 by returning to military flying and in doing so became the first and only bilateral amputee aviator to have served in the history of the Australian Defence Force.

In acknowledgement of his achievements, Glenn is the only non-doctor to have been awarded lifetime honorary membership to the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine. He has featured on ABC Television’s Australian Story and was selected as one of four finalists for the 2006 Suncorp Queenslander of the Year.


Barry Watson 

Host: Diamantina Shire Council

Born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1948, Barry Watson is a descendant of the Wergaia people of Western Victoria. Barry enjoys teaching the local Yugambeh language to children and staff at early childhood centres, schools and TAFE and private training colleges and developing cultural resources.  He has developed cultural games which are now distributed around Australia and overseas and enjoys teaching traditional games to people of all ages. Currently Barry is partnering with Griffith University to develop the games to play using virtual reality headsets and controllers.

Barry is also a co-founder and partner of Mibunn Training, which provides cultural awareness training to early childhood centres and schools and is the Chairperson of the Indigenous Sport and Recreation Fund, which raises money to sponsor young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes in Queensland to compete locally, interstate and overseas.

Barry has completed seven tertiary qualifications, has worked at Communities for Children for the past eight years and been a Justice of the Peace for more than 30 years.


Jennifer Woodward

Host: Burdekin Shire Council

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, thunder, lightning or cyclones.

After studying theatre and working as an actress, Jenny moved into television starting in Toowoomba. In her long career she has worked as a writer, editor, producer and presenter over a broad range of shows, but has now become synonymous with weather reporting across the state.

Jenny does regular spots on ABC Radio, the ABC News Channel and has contributed to several books. Jenny hosts many concerts, events and functions and this year returned to the stage to appear in the musical Bare.  She is a Queensland Media Award winner and has been an Australia Day Ambassador for many years.