These awards are presented to groups or citizens who have made an outstanding contribution to the Toowoomba Region community.

The following list includes the 2024 Toowoomba Region Australia Day award recipients across our respective service areas who have been nominated by their peers for commendable service and, in some cases, years of volunteering for many different community, charitable and sporting organisations.

Congratulations to all our award recipients.

Related information

Australia Day

Australia Day Awards nominations

Cambooya Citizen of the Year – John Archer  

Retiree John Archer dedicates a great deal of time volunteering with the Cambooya Rural Fire Brigade.

He showed age was no barrier to learning new skills by completing his Firefighter Minimum Skills training in August 2019.

Since gaining his qualifications, John has been a valuable member of the brigade who helps the community or an individual when a call goes out.

He is a humble man, who accepts the responsibility he is handed on each fire call turnout.

He competently carries out the roles of firefighter, pump operator, officer-in-charge and sector commander. He recently assisted the Incident Controller during the Millmerran fires.

Previously, John was a volunteer with the Woodford Rural Fires Service in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

He helped to extinguish many fires, with some taking more than two weeks to control. He was also a Rotaract member and enlisted in the Citizen’s Military Force with the Parramatta Lancers.

John exemplifies the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service’s organisational values of respect, integrity, courage, loyalty and trust.

Younger members look up to John and have fondly nick-named him ‘dad’.

He has attended 112 turnouts over the past year, including 14 shifts on consecutive days. Some of his duties have been performed at the Tara, and Inglewood fires, the cement mills fire, the Millmerran Woods fires and another incident where a dog was rescued from a roof.

Apart from the callouts, John keeps the station neat and tidy, and refuels and arranges services for the trucks.

He also promotes fire safety at local schools and kindergartens.

John attends first responder and recruiting days and helps with fire support at Farm Fest.


Cambooya Community Group – Wyreema Community Gardens   

Wyreema Community Gardens was founded with a vision to transform a vacant piece of land at the Wyreema Community Hall into a productive garden.

The garden has since blossomed into a tapestry of colours and flavours, drawing people who share a passion for gardening, sustainability and community.

The group meets at the Wyreema Hall on the first and third Tuesday of each month to tend to the garden, share in a free morning tea and participate in a garden-orientated activity.

It is a great social activity and a place where you can meet new people and swap stories and interests.  Everyone is made to feel welcome.

The Wyreema Community Gardens’ beauty was highlighted when it won a ‘not-for-profit’ prize in The Chronicle Garden Competition as part of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.

The members have also provided a stand where the community can get involved and grow produce, as well as teaching the next generation about gardening.

The Wyreema Community Garden group provides a space where people can get together and share a common interest and a cuppa, while keeping the gardens at the Wyreema Hall beautiful.


Cambooya Community Event – Greenmount Billy Cart Challenge

The Get Chopped Community Events Inc. group hosted the inaugural Greenmount Billy Cart Challenge which drew hundreds of onlookers and participants from across Queensland.

More than 800 people braved the inclement weather on event day to watch the 65 participants navigate Greenmount’s main street.

The event was devised to boost tourism and create something for the local community to join.

After planning the event for more than 12 months, the day went off without a hitch.

The organisers are preparing for an even bigger and better event to continue to drive community spirit.

The challenge was a great example of the community coming together to put on an event that is truly for the local community.

The day created a great economic boost to the district.

The group further supported the local community by having local school groups cook the barbecue.

As a free community event, the challenge offered a fantastic family-friendly and fun day out.

The motivated and enthusiastic volunteers deserve credit for offering an event that made Greenmount an even better community to live in and visit.


Cambooya Sports Award – Jordan Fenton-Anderson

Jordan, known as the dancing goalkeeper, has excelled in recent seasons in her Futsal career.

She has been selected for five Australian representative teams in the past two years.

Jordan has been part of a national champion Futsal team three times and a runner-up twice.

She has been in two national All Stars teams, part of a national golden gloves side and captain of a Queensland elite Futsal team in Fiji that won the Viti Cup.

Jordan was a member of the Australian 15 years’ Futsal team that finished runners-up at the Scossie Cup, including a player-of-the-match effort against Scotland.

Jordan recently returned from Brazil as part of the Australian team that competed at the Gol Brasil International training program centre of excellence Futsal tour.

Some other recent playing highlights include being a member of the South West Queensland Thunder 15 years’ League 2 premiership team.

She was invited to play in a Metro team for the Advanced Academy State Championships, where she let in one goal in the winning team.

Away from the Futsal field, Jordan was third in her school sports carnival age division and performed well at the swimming carnival.

She encourages young athletes and is preparing to become a coach, having recently been accepted into the Football Queensland Certificate II and III sports coaching course in Brisbane.

At the height of the Futsal season, Jordan trains up to eight times per week, often playing in multiple age groups in soccer and Futsal.

Jordan has been retained by the SWQ Thunder and will step up to the 17 years’ team as goalkeeper in the next season.

She showed her tenacity by missing only two weeks following a knee injury. In her return fixture she won the player-of-the-match award.

Aside from training and playing, Jordan often spends time at the R. M. Williams Equestrian Centre volunteering in event and dressage days.

Clifton Citizen of the Year – Anne Pedersen  

Anne Pedersen is a tireless worker across the Clifton community.

She is committed to serving on many different organisations that all contribute to making a difference for her fellow residents.

Anne grew up in the Clifton district, and after many years living away, came back to her home area.

Her breadth of community involvement is commendable, starting with her work as a school bus driver.

Anne gives her time freely to support other organisations around town.

She is a friendly visitor for community members who need any form of assistance.

Most weeks, Anne is selling tickets for the Hospital Auxiliary outside the food store.

She is a 10-year member of the Clifton Local Ambulance Committee and is the current treasurer.

Anne is the Clifton Meals on Wheels president and holds the dual roles of secretary/treasurer of the Clifton Community Hospital Auxiliary.

She also serves as a Clifton Community Hospital Consultative Committee member.

Anne also lends her expertise to the Clifton Progress Association as an executive member.

In addition to these roles, Anne is a member of the Clifton Housing Association and the Nobby Craft Association.


Clifton Young Citizen of the Year – Brianna Naumann  

Brianna has grown up in the Clifton and Nobby district.

She has been an active member of the Clifton and Nobby communities and actively participates in various community activities and organisations.

Brianna has been involved in the local swimming club, Wattles Junior Rugby League, tag and the tennis club.

Brianna has been a friendly face to many while working at the Clifton Foodworks, and more recently working for the Clifton Community Health Services in Nirvana and Sunflower lodges where she enjoys engaging in conversations with the residents.

Brianna is passionately involved in the local Anzac Day services each year and has been known to actively help with the service at the RSL breakfast.

Her leadership skills were evident from a young age.

In 2013, while attending St Francis de Sales School, Brianna received the Making a Difference award for Catholic Education week as a Year One student. She was voted by her class peers as the student in the class making a positive effect on the lives of others.

As a Year 3 student at Nobby State School, Brianna created a lunch time ‘Get Active Program’ to encourage students to have fun and stay active through games, sports and dance.

In 2015, Brianna received the Pat Weir enthusiasm award in recognition of outstanding achievements.

Brianna received the Nobby State School All Rounder Award in 2018 for her outstanding academic, sporting and leadership achievements throughout the year.

Her ambition to achieve continued at high school. She has been an active member of the Student Representative Council every year since beginning high school in 2019.

She was Clifton State High School SRC vice president in 2022 and president in 2023. She organised and led the students in several fundraising activities and events during the year.

In 2022, Brianna was the junior recipient of the Long Tan Youth Leadership and Teamwork Award. In 2023, Brianna was selected as one of 22 student delegates from Queensland and 119 Students across the country to represent Clifton State High School at the Australian Schools’ Constitutional Convention in Canberra.

Brianna attended the Parliament’s question time and heard guest speakers. The gathering discussed the validity of section 128 of the Constitution and considered the imminent Voice to Parliament Referendum.

Brianna has been nominated for Clifton State High School Captain in 2024, indicating her continued commitment to leadership and service.

Brianna’s dedication to her community, passion for leadership and involvement in various activities make her a remarkable and promising individual who is making a positive impact on those around her.


Clifton Senior Sports Award – Sheree Lynam

Sheree is a keen advocate for indoor bowls in the Toowoomba Region.

She is an enthusiastic supporter and organiser of local events.

Sheree is a qualified coach who encourages new people to take up the sport.

She also helps existing players improve their skills. This has helped other Toowoomba players to represent Queensland at the Australian championships.

Sheree has been a member of the local indoor bowling community since she could roll a bowl, having grown up on a small dairy farm at Victoria hill.

She attended primary school at Ryeford and completed high school at Clifton State High.

She has risen to be one of the best indoor bowlers in Australia.

After learning to play at the little Victoria Hill indoor bowls club with her parents, Sheree moved to the Back Plains club.

Sheree first represented the Clifton district with her mother Bev Brown at the 2007 ladies’ pairs state championships at Millmerran. They were the runners-up.

After a break to raise four children, Sheree returned to the competitive bowls scene in 2015 and won the Open state triples in Caloundra.

This won her selection in the Queensland team that competed at the Australian championships.

Sheree has enjoyed outstanding success playing for Queensland. She won a bronze medal in the 2017 Australian ladies’ singles played in Devonport, Tasmania against the best women in the sport.

After the Covid-enforced cancellation of events in 2020, Sheree returned to competition in 2022, representing the Region and winning various State championships.

In 2022, Sheree was selected to play ladies’ pairs for Queensland at the national championships with her mum. They won another bronze medal.

Sheree has competed at national championships held at the Sunshine Coast where she won a gold medal in mixed pairs with David Stoker.

They played some of the best indoor bowlers in the country.


Clifton Junior Sports Award – Shelby Turl  

Shelby Turl is an exceptional equestrian athlete who embodies the qualities of a sports champion and mentor.

Shelby has compiled a remarkable list of accomplishments and is committed to uplifting her community.

Shelby's extensive victories speak volumes about her exceptional skills and dedication to her sport.

She won the Supreme Ridden Arabian title at the Pacific Coast Show at Maryborough and the Rider class at the Pony Club Queensland (PCQ) State championships in Millmerran. She also finished fourth in her age group at Millmerran.

These wins demonstrate her consistency and excellence in the equestrian world.

Shelby also won Supreme Local Hack and Supreme Quarter Horse at the Clifton Show.

These victories at local events showcase her versatility and ability to excel in various equestrian disciplines.

Shelby's success extends to broader competitions, such as her Supreme Rider title at the Pittsworth Gymkhana, as well as multiple championships at the Australian Hunter and Show Horse Association (AHSHA) Queensland State Show and the AHAQ Challenge State Show.

These state accomplishments highlight her capacity to compete at the highest levels of equestrian sports.

What sets Shelby apart is not just her personal achievements, but her commitment to the equestrian community.

As a brand ambassador for Horseland Toowoomba, Shelby represents her sport with grace and integrity. Her role is a testament to her leadership and ability to inspire others, particularly younger riders, who look up to her as a role model.

Shelby's generous spirit shines through in her willingness to support and assist fellow competitors at shows and gymkhanas.

Despite the pressures of this competitive arena, Shelby’s actions reflect sportsmanship and camaraderie.

She believes in the importance of uplifting others within the equestrian community.

Shelby's passion extends to instructing at rally days, where she shares her knowledge and expertise with younger riders.

Her dedication to helping others grow in the sport not only fosters a sense of community, but ensures equestrian skills and traditions are passed to the next generation.


Clifton Community Group – Clifton Community Op Shop

The Clifton Community Op Shop has been offering grants to community groups and people since 2017.

It was recently reported that the shop has returned more than $100,200 to the community since 2017.

The Op Shop volunteers are enthusiastic and pour their big hearts into serving the Clifton community.

The Op Shop offers affordable clothing and knick-knacks for the community.

In addition to this service, their commitment to award grants is proof of their desire to help the community.


Clifton Cultural Award – Back Road Artists

Back Road Artists was formed in 2021 when a group of extremely talented and dedicated people joined forces to share their extensive love of the arts.

They are passionate about how art can uplift a community.

In its short existence, the group has grown to 17 active members and around another 12 supporters.

The Back Road Artists have reinforced their love of the Clifton district by organising numerous activities and exhibitions.

These events not only activate Clifton localities but are an important tourist drawcard for the district.

Aside from planning and staging their own events, the members volunteer their time in support of many other community groups and events.

They have lent their expertise and time to: Clifton Country Week, the Clifton Progress Association, the Clifton Show and the Clifton Library Art Space.

The Back Road Artists also promote rural regional art at exhibitions in the Clifton district and further afield.

Crows Nest Citizen of the Year – Tammy King  

Tammy King is an enthusiastic and tireless worker across many Crows Nest organisations.

She has been dedicated to the town’s growth and development during her 10 years in the area.

Most recently, Tammy was the coordination of the revitalised Crows Nest Day celebration, held on October 28, following a three-year absence.

Crows Nest Day had been a red letter day on the Crows Nest calendar for many years, and was sorely missed after the previous event in 2019.

As the 2023 coordinator, Tammy overcame many challenges by displaying perseverance and  determination.

Toiling for hours, Tammy found a new venue for the event, and worked out how to supply essential services, such as power, water, and toilets, to the site.

Tammy was also the main person responsible for sourcing funding. She applied for grants and sought private sponsorships.

She managed the overall running of the day from planning the program, marking out the site layout, to sourcing a wide variety of entertainment.

Crows Nest Day was enjoyed by the large crowd which attended, and who will return for a bigger and better event in 2024.

Tammy is the interim treasurer of Crows Nest Tourist, Recreation, and Progress Association Inc., and has held various executive positions within the organisation dating back to 2014.

As a member of the Association, Tammy has been actively involved with the coordination of the Crows Nest Festival over many years.

She has been a member of Crows Nest Arts Council for several years and has been a producer of the very popular Arts Council theatre restaurants for the past three years.

When a private dance school ceased operations at the end of 2022, Tammy was instrumental in approaching the Arts Council to run the dance classes so the students could continue their dance lessons in the local community.

In addition, Tammy was the main coordinator of the project to move the old railway goods shed from its location in the centre of Crows Nest to its current location near the entrance to the Carbethon Historical Village.

This building has been restored and is now the Crows Nest Visitor Information Centre. Tammy was invited to perform its official opening.


Crows Nest Young Citizen of the Year – Sienna Butler

Sienna Butler has shown how one person’s passion can make changes for the better, particularly for the Region’s youth.

In 2023, the Year 10 Crows Nest student was determined to give a voice to similar young people in the Region’s towns and smaller communities.

She was accepted to join Council’s Youth Leaders program where she had the chance to identify challenges for the Region’s youth and how to harness young people’s talents.

The Youth Leaders Program offered Sienna and her fellow leaders a chance to work collaboratively with Council to create positive change for other young people.

Sienna and her colleagues were heavily involved in organising and assisting in various events, including Wear It Purple Day, Youth Week and regional Pool Parties.

Aside from these events having a positive effect, Sienna’s involvement in the Youth Leaders has equipped her and her peers with fresh ideas on the importance of teamwork, organisation and communication, and most importantly, what it means to be a community-minded citizen.

The program also offered an insight into local government operations and afforded her the chance to undertake work experience with Council.

Importantly, it offered all participants the chance to strengthen new friendships.

The Youth Leaders attended two leadership camps to bond as a team, plan future youth events and participate in fun activities like obstacle courses, night hiking, riding buggies and other activities.

Sienna took advantage of the opportunities to raise general youth issues with Council by attending Council meetings and participating in the Youth Leaders’ engagement with Councillors.

The Youth Leaders pooled their ideas to ensure events were relevant to the youth market and built positive relationships with Council and other young residents.

Sienna’s wholehearted participation in the program highlighted her commitment to giving young people a genuine voice and interesting outlets for their talents across the Region.

Her leadership skills also come to the fore in her role as a 2023 Crows Nest State School leader.

No matter what life throws at Sienna, she holds her head high and keeps going.

She has faced many hurdles and overcome challenges, including a disability, all with a smile.


Crows Nest Senior Sports Award – Jodie Beutel  

Jodie Beutel is a worthy sporting award recipient, who shows great talent, leadership and teamwork in sawing events.

Jodie Beutel is a housewife, mother and the manager of the Crows Nest Children's Centre, but most of all she loves to get out on her weekends and compete in cross-cut sawing at shows and community events.

Jodie entered the sport in 2009 and has cut 74 places (first, second or third) in handicap sawing events across South East Queensland.

She has won various ‘Jill’ single handed sawing championships at Queensland shows, and in 2011 won the overall Queensland Jill Award.

In 2011, she also won the Jack and Jill sawing event at the Canungra Show.

In 2012, Jodie won the Queensland Championship single-handed sawing title at the Chinchilla Show, and also cut third place in the Jack and Jill State titles held at the Gold Coast Show.

In 2013, Jodie made the finals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in the Jill single-handed sawing championships, and the final in the Jill and Jill sawing championships.

At the Jack and Jill competition held at Kingaroy Show, Jodie and her partner were placed first and they cut fourth at the State titles held at the Gold Coast Show.

At the Adelaide Royal Show, Jodie finished fourth in the Jill single championship. Jodie was chosen to represent Australia in 2014 as part of the Australian women's team at the Sydney Royal Show and the Woodcutter’s Bold Women's Professional Lumberjack Competition held in America.

Since 2014 she has continued as a member of the Australian teams.

In 2023, Jodie won the Australian Stihl Timber Sports series, qualifying her to travel to the Netherlands to compete for the World Championships.

She was third in the overall competition.


Crows Nest Junior Sports Award – Cooper Beutel  

Being part of a woodchopping family, Cooper started his sporting career as a five-year-old.

During his formative years, he has risen through the ranks competing in many junior woodchopping events.

Cooper has won the boys’ handicap at country shows on many occasions.

As part of the Queensland Woodchopping teams, Cooper has placed second overall in the Novice category for his age group.

He won the junior overall aggregate points for 2023 with the Queensland Axemen's Association.

At the 2023 Brisbane Ekka, Cooper was awarded the emerging talent title after being selected by the Queensland Axemen's Association, where he won a racing axe.

Cooper recently travelled to Adelaide where he competed in a round-robin competition against competitors from across Australia.

He finished fourth.

Cooper aspires to represent Australia in the Under 21 Woodchopping titles in the near future.


Crows Nest Community Group Award – Crows Nest District Tourist and Progress Association Inc.

The revived Crows Nest Day on October 28, 2023 was a successful community event, thanks largely to the efforts of the Crows Nest District Tourist and Progress Association Inc.

More than 500 people enjoyed the festivities.

Previously an annual event, Crows Nest Day did not proceed after 2019 due to Covid-19 and other circumstances.

The 2023 event showed just how valuable the day is to the local community.

The resurrected event lived up to its mission to draw businesses, community groups and Crows Nest residents together to enjoy a relaxing and ‘feel good’ day of activities for all ages.

Community groups were offered food and market sites at no charge.

This incentive was accepted by the Lions Club, Men’s Shed, Show Society and others.

The Crows Nest Children’s Centre provided face painting for younger participants.

The day’s events started with a Bush Poet’s Breakfast, followed by various local performances by the school band, line dancers, ukelele group and the Aspire Dance Group.

More active attendees enjoyed obstacle course challenges, sack races, tug-o-war, mattress racing and a pie-eating competition.

An open mic ‘have a go show’ offered aspiring talent a chance to entertain the crowd.

The signature worm races returned to the program, providing fun for young and old.

Toowoomba Region Town Crier Kevin Howarth added his usual sense of fun and energy to the day’s program.

The day was rounded out by a rousing performance by the Eleven Dollar Bills Band, which received rave reviews.

The festivities were aided by grants through Heritage PCCN and Council.

Goombungee Citizen of the Year – Fay Watkin

Fay Watkin is a strong advocate for volunteering and community service.

Fay works tirelessly supporting the wider community and is an outstanding role model.

She is a hard working, devoted community member.

In an age where volunteering is in serious decline, Fay is a passionate and dedicated advocate and supporter of giving back to the community she cares for.

Among many achievements, Fay is the Group Leader for the Yarraman SES and supports the wider Toowoomba SES community whenever she is called.

Fay has single-handedly undertaken to maintain the Yarraman SES Group over the past few years to ensure that the most northern part of the Toowoomba community retains a functioning and relevant team able to respond to the wide range of contingencies that affect the Yarraman and district community.

Fay is an exceptionally well liked and respected member of the Yarraman community.

She contributes hundreds of volunteer hours to community service for the Toowoomba district every year without any expectation of thanks or recognition.

She is selfless, unassuming, dedicated and a highly respected member of our community who deserves some form of recognition for her years of service and contributions.

Fay also takes a personal interest in, and responsibility for, many of our elderly and isolated community members.

She shows genuine concern for their welfare when she performs her daily duties for Australia Post.

Fay is a highly motivated and professional community member and is an excellent example of an unassuming and critical member of the Toowoomba volunteer community.


Goombungee Young Citizen of the Year – Zane Renyard 

Zane Reynard is a Downlands College student who has a passion for horses.

He is a gifted competitor across many disciplines, including showjumping, campdrafting, barrel racing and team penning.

Zane, 11, represented Queensland twice in 2023.

He travelled 10 hours to compete at Merriwa in New South Wales where he was awarded reserve champion in the 11 to 13 years’ category.

He has won the age champion title 10 times for Pony Club in Queensland with nine titles for campdrafting across Queensland.

He has represented Downlands for school horse sport, winning three age champion titles at three separate events.

A passionate young rider, Zane broke his first horse in in 2023.

Aside from riding horses, Zane is a keen rugby union and rugby league player. He has represented his school in these codes as well.


Goombungee Junior Sports Award – Jack Voll

Jack has risen through the Futsal ranks in recent seasons, highlighting his strong, independent nature and fine sportsmanship.

He represented Kingsthorpe State School, where he is Hughes House sports captain, at the South West Queensland Futsal titles in April 2022.

From this performance, he was chosen to compete at the 2023 Australian National School Futsal titles at the Gold Coast.

Following outstanding efforts at the Gold Coast, Jack was selected to represent Australia for an Under 11 boys’ tour to Fiji in July 2023.

The 10-day tour saw the Australian side play teams from Suva, Ba, Rewa and Navua. The Australian side finished with the bronze medal.

Following the main tournament, the Australian players met Fijian children from Ba province and played a mini World Cup soccer tournament.

Jack capped a successful trip when he scored the final goal to secure the side’s victory.

Jack also represented Inner Downs in Education Queensland’s inter-school sport.


Goombungee Community Group – Cooyar Town Rural Fire Brigade and the Cooyar District Rural Fire Brigade

The Cooyar Town Rural Fire Brigade and the Cooyar District Rural Fire Brigade work together as a single unit to defend the Cooyar district and Cooyar town.

The two organisations were established in the early 1980s, starting with a Landrover and a ‘bucket’ on the back.

The original shed was donated by the Upper Yarraman Forestry Camp.

Two years ago, a new shed was built to house one light attack truck, two medium attack trucks and a bulk tanker slip-on unit. It was built with the groups’ funds, a grant and state government funding.

The brigades’ 30-plus members late last year were involved in a prompt and professional response to the Wutul bushfire.

The fire was driven by high winds through heavily grassed paddocks and timbered properties.

In combination with the support of other brigades, plus plane and helicopter back-up, the collective fought a fire that swept through numerous properties.

They protected all homes that were severely threatened by the fire.

The brigades worked for long hours and operated on little sleep through the night and the following day to keep the community safe.

They maintained a watch on conditions over the following weeks.

The brigade members hold regular meetings to stay informed and alert to conditions.

Although a relatively small unit, the two groups worked effectively to ensure a positive outcome after the recent fire.

The brigade members have gained and maintained community confidence and are a welcome and visible presence.


Goombungee Community Event – Yarraman Show ‘n’ Shine

Eighty-one shiny classic cars and 19 motorbikes took centre stage at the Yarraman and District Progress Association’s Show ‘n’ shine on June 17, 2023 at the Yarraman Horse Sports Grounds.

In addition to the gleaming cars and bikes, visitors could browse 13 swap stalls, 10 market stalls and food vendors.

Entertainment was provided by Breakaways Rock and Roll from Brisbane.

Successful advertising by the Yarraman Shed, combined with facebook updates and flyers across Yarraman businesses spread the event’s profile far and wide.

A sub-committee comprising president Rob Mackie, Tracy Heaydon, Leanne and Edwin, Greg Wagner with the assistance of Progress Association members and volunteers contributed to a successful day.

The Yarraman Men’s Shed designed the car and bike trophies.

The event raised $1300 through the gate fees. Former Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio judged three categories.

Th event provided a significant boost to town businesses and aided the wider promotion of Yarraman’s history and cultural heritage.

The Show ‘n’ Shine was supported by major sponsors, including Stanwell, Burnett Today newspaper, Shannon Insurance and Taromeo Building Pty. Ltd.

The Yarraman and District Progress Association is a sponsor of the Driver Reviver Program, Emergency Services Day and LifeFlight.


Goombungee Community Spirit Award – Kevin and Judy Shanks

Kevin and Judy Shanks have been a driving force behind the Cooyar Progress Association.

After moving to Cooyar in 2015, the couple turned their talents to reviving the Cooyar Progress Association.

Kevin has been the Association’s vice president and president.  

Kevin also is the Cooyar Fire Brigade secretary.

Judy became the Cooyar Progress Association secretary in 2016 and has been a dedicated committee member who gladly shoulders her responsibility. She is a most diligent and thorough volunteer.

Previously, Judy worked as an executive secretary for Queensland Health and the St Vincent de Paul Society.

The Shanks’s commitment to the Cooyar community has ensured the continuation of the town’s Anzac Day ceremony and encouraged a working relationship with Council.

They have worked to provide clearer road markings in Cooyar’s main street and received a grant to purchase a PA system for community use.

Judy and Kevin contribute countless hours to helping many Cooyar community causes.

During their time in Townsville, Judy and Kevin were active members of the Townsville Lions Club.

Born in New Zealand, Kevin served in the New Zealand Air force for 20 years. After moving to Australia, he worked for Cleanaway as recycling manager in Brisbane and Townsville.


Goombungee Young Community Spirit Award – Mackenzie Bygrave

Yarraman’s Mackenzie Bygrave is an exceptional young woman who excels in many endeavours.

Mackenzie volunteers to help many great causes.

She is a very polite and courteous person, who was born and raised in Yarraman. She is the youngest of four siblings.

Mackenzie is a Year 12 graduate from Nanango State High School, where she was the school captain. Mackenzie was an inspiring leader and an exceptional role model to all students.

Apart from attaining high academic achievements, Mackenzie was involved in sporting and cultural activities, including netball, Anzac Day parades, mathematics and poetry competitions. She attended the Women's Day breakfast with the Queensland Mining and Energy Sector.

Mackenzie completed her Duke of Edinburgh Bridge 1 and 2 and competed in the Lions Youth of the Year in 2023 at the Nanango Branch Club.

Mackenzie advanced her interest in STEM subjects in 2023 by participating in numerous activities. She won the ADF Future Innovators’ Award and has shown leadership in STEM innovation by participating in programs at school and after hours, including the SPARQ-eq Workshop.

Mackenzie participated in STEM Power Girls’ camps and workshops where she was inspired by strong women working in STEM and gained insight into improving gender equity in the STEM industry. She is a motivated and passionate young woman who displays a keen interest in STEM and encourages other students, especially females, to get involved in the subjects.

Mackenzie also has a passion for drama that allows her to excel in both written and practical tasks. Her contagious positivity and enthusiasm never fail to brighten the drama classroom. She is a joy to teach. She received The Gwynne Drama Award for 2023 in recognition of her dedication to her craft and her peers.

Mackenzie received the AMPOL best all-rounder award in 2023 at Nanango State High School. This award is recognised Australia-wide and is presented to a senior student who has shown general all-round scholastic and sporting ability, and service to the school through extra-curricular activities.

In her time at Nanango State High School, Mackenzie displayed her all-round abilities. In class her behaviour, effort and positive results have been an example to others. Mackenzie is a natural leader in all aspects of her schooling and was elected school captain in 2023, as well as being involved in Peer Skills and QIP (Queensland inter-Year Program).

Mackenzie represented the school in all sports carnivals and Country Cup Netball.

Mackenzie is a high achiever academically and is known for putting 100% effort into everything she does.

At school she always assisted staff and students alike and empowered others through her leadership style.

Highfields Citizen of the Year – Richard Creagh

Richard Creagh has been a committed member and driving force behind the Highfields Men’s shed.

In his working life, Richard was a Brigade Warrant Officer (First Class) in the Australian Army and then a sergeant with the Toowoomba Police.

In his retirement, Richard has used his considerable skills to steer the Highfields Men's Shed to be an amazingly successful organisation.

His most recent task in his long stewardship was to finalise another shed to store goods and machinery, allowing more work space in the current woodworking and metal workshops

Richard was part of the original Highfields Men's Shed in 2012 and is one of four people who has served on the committee since its inception.

He has been the Highfields Men's Shed president since 2013 and has steered the committee to bigger and better things.

Richard was instrumental in finding the current site through the Toowoomba Regional Council and gaining funding to build the shed’s infrastructure.

He pushed for the Shed to have solar panels installed, which has allowed the group to derive credits from Ergon.

Throughout all his endeavours, Richard’s leadership has moulded a successful model of ‘shedding’ for other groups to employ.


Highfields Young Citizen of the Year – Sarah Mitchell

Sarah has an exceptional talent in visual arts and has created top examples of commercial-quality designs, representing Highfields and Toowoomba.

Sarah is studying her first year of Visual Arts at the University of Southern Queensland, where she is achieving Distinctions for her work.

She designed the Toowoomba Tigers’ Anzac Day jerseys in 2022, which the club intends to use for many years.

Sarah has produced the accepted concept design for a new memorial in Toowoomba’s Mothers’ Memorial Park.

This will be the only memorial statue that represents the fallen soldiers, sailors and Air Force personnel in the post-Vietnam period.

There are no other memorials in the park covering this period.

The project is waiting for the final component of the funding before the physical work starts.

Sarah also created many designs for Cooly-Wax, a surf wax company located on the southern Gold Coast.


Highfields Cultural Award – Barbara McKenzie

Barbara McKenzie is a Natural Sciences graduate who has an extensive background in research and the publishing industry.

She brings the skills acquired during her working career to her volunteer duties.

Barbara is a long-standing member of the Friends of Peacehaven Botanic Park.

She was recently re-elected to the management committee and is the editor of the group’s monthly e-newsletter.

Barbara has also worked with the Friends of the Library at the Highfields Library and as a member of PROTECT, a sub-committee of the Darling Downs Environment Council.

She is a keen advocate for environmental conservation and the preservation of biodiversity.

Her passion for writing is demonstrated by her membership of a Toowoomba writers’ group, where she hones her skills and supports fellow writers.

Her most recent venture, Peacehaven Botanic Park: Legacy of a Pioneering Family, was published in July 2023.

The book was endorsed as ‘a valuable contribution to the history of Highfields specifically and Toowoomba generally’ (Emeritus Professor Maurice French AM, FRHSQ, vice president of the Toowoomba Historical Society).

Producing the book involved extensive research and many interviews with local people.

The project was Barbara’s own initiative and mostly self funded. She was awarded a grant from Heritage Bank, through Progressive Community Crows Nest, to cover printing costs.

The book pays tribute to the area’s First Nations People and the pioneers who settled in the district.

The story details the farmer who had the generosity and foresight to donate a substantial portion of his land to the community for future generations to enjoy. It also celebrates the vital contribution made by volunteers to create the beautiful park that exists today.

Barbara’s book was officially launched by Professor French in August 2023 at a highly successful public event that was attended by Toowoomba Region Mayor Geoff McDonald, Councillors and Council staff, plus residents.

Barbara is highly committed to her community. She also enjoys music and bushwalking.


Highfields Sports Award – Mackenzie Alden

Mackenzie is a sporting allrounder who has participated and excelled in many school sports.

In the past year, Mackenzie was involved in Under 18 mixed touch, represented the Darling Downs in triathlon and was selected for the Inner Downs sport trials.

She also has been a student mentor at all-abilities touch as part of the STEP program.

She played in the open women’s rugby sevens premiership side in the Darling Downs competition in 2023 and was the Highfields State Secondary College age champion for swimming, athletics and runner-up in cross country.

Across her school years, Mackenzie has won countless awards in different sports.

She was the cross country champion from 2018 to 2021, athletics age champion 2018 to 2023, swimming age champion in 2022 and 2023, as well as a Darling Downs triathlon participant in 2022 and 2023.

Aside from her own competitive achievements, Mackenzie was a touch coach and referee for Under 14 and 16 girls in 2022 and 2023.

Away from the sporting field, Mackenzie was awarded the Highfields State Secondary College 2023 all-rounder award, the school Olympic change maker award and the school HPE award.

She attained a Level 3 certificate in Fitness Binnacle Training.

Her senior year awards and achievements followed a similar pattern of success and age champion awards across her high school years.


Highfields Community Group – Highfields Football Club

The Highfields Football Club has the distinction of being Football Queensland's 2023 community club of the year.

The state honour followed the club being announced as the 2023 Football Queensland Darling Downs community club of the year.

In addition, the club was named Football Queensland's Darling Downs Community junior team of the year (Under 16/17 junior league).

The Highfields Football Club was formed more than 20 years ago when 72 players registered with the club.

The initial player numbers saw seven teams registered and entered in the Toowoomba Junior Soccer Association Inc.

Today, the club hosts hundreds of players from four and older.

Aside from the players, the club is served by executive administration officer Melinda Dick with the assistance of a large committee team and volunteers.

All the off and on-field workers support the club to ensure it thrives as part of the wider Highfields community well into the future.

The Highfields Football Club proudly provides a platform for junior and senior soccer players to form friendships and become a part of the local community.


Highfields Community Event – 2023 Highfields Anzac Day Service

The Highfields RSL is a group of current and retired service men and women who work with community groups and businesses to organise the annual Anzac Day service.

Their commitment to organise and run the event for the community is seen and appreciated year after year.

The Sub-branch’s hardworking volunteers devised the concept for the service and have developed the program where everyone involved can attend a respectful commemorative service.

Preparations for the service include organising the catafalque party and the continent of marching servicemen and women.

Other arrangements include appointing an MC, arranging the parade and the guest speaker from the military. 

The Sub-branch also approached the Highfields State Secondary College to enlist their school captains to deliver their own address.

The Highfields RSL sub-branch liaised with the events coordinator at the Highfields Tavern to procure the services of their kitchen staff to prepare, cook and serve the gunfire breakfast, with close support from the excellent staff at Toowoomba Regional Council, including Highfields Cultural Centre staff.

The Sub-branch has enlisted volunteers from the Lions organisation, the Highfields State Secondary College and QCWA members to help run the gunfire breakfast with Sub-branch members.

The gold coin breakfast was well attended. The attendance figure of more than 2000 people for the Dawn service far exceeded expectations.

When the early morning proceedings are completed, Sub-branch members finalise the stage for the 10am march and service.

The RSL had sent notices to many local non-profit organisations, sporting clubs, schools and the Scouts to assist with seeking donations from the crowd.

The 2023 10am march attracted the largest contingent apart from the centenary celebrations.

The Sub-branch was most appreciative of ongoing community support for the annual memorial event.

Millmerran/Cecil Plains Citizen of the Year – Roselle Crellin  

Roselle Crellin is passionate about Millmerran and committed to enhancing the lives of her fellow residents.

Roselle is a quiet achiever who makes a huge contribution to the wider community without any thought of personal recognition.

Roselle and her husband Joe completed building their home in 2014 after moving to Cypress Gardens in 2013.

She soon became involved with the Wylahra Grove Progress Association Inc. She was appointed assistant secretary in 2015 before being elected secretary in 2016. She has been a committed volunteer executive member ever since.

Roselle opens and manages the Wylahra Grove Progress Association Hall two days a week, performs most of the cleaning and helps community members with many issues.

She ensures that regular organised events, such as the darts meeting, music sessions and the monthly Breakfast in the Bush, take place. In addition, Roselle is involved in purchasing supplies, cooking, serving and cleaning after functions.

Roselle has secured grant funding of more than $56,000 for children’s playground equipment, furniture, other equipment, insulation and fans for the hall.

In November 2016, Roselle organised an expo for the community and another community day, On Our Selection, in October 2017 featuring a presentation of the history and development of the seven localities south-west of Millmerran.

In 2021, Roselle was heavily involved in running a fundraising event for the Millmerran Hospital Auxiliary.

In 2014, Roselle joined the Millmerran Commerce and Progress Inc. (MCPI) and volunteered to fill the treasurer’s role in 2016 She was elected secretary/treasurer in 2018 and is the current vice president.

Her work in this capacity has seen multiple grants and sponsorships awarded to MCPI, including a grant to purchase and erect a digital LED community sign in Domville Place.

A more recent grant will allow MCPI to engage a landscape architect to develop plans for Domville Place. This project has come to fruition thanks to Roselle and the Tourism sub-committee members.

Roselle has overseen the completion of many tourist attractions across Millmerran, including the final installation of heritage plaques as part of the Millmerran Heritage Walk and the production of the first and second editions of the Millmerran Visitors’ Guide. Her enthusiasm for promoting the district extends to helping organise the Millmerran Commerce and Progress Busking competition, run during the Australian Camp Oven Festival.

Roselle volunteered for the role of Millmerran and District News newsletter editor in 2018. She devotes countless hours to produce, edit and distribute the monthly publication to Millmerran residents. This recently involved learning how to use a new computer program, which has resulted in a visually appealing and professional publication.

Roselle organises the annual Christmas in the Bush Festival and Christmas Lights competition. She goes above and beyond to create a magical event for the children, as well as organising entertainment (featuring Santa), food stalls and event installation and packing up.

Roselle is a dedicated volunteer who has an extensive knowledge of meeting protocol. She willingly assists new volunteers. Her expertise and attention to detail are invaluable.

Roselle puts her energy into all her endeavours and is open and transparent about respective groups’ decisions.


Millmerran/Cecil Plains Cultural Award – Gary Fogarty  

Gary Fogarty is a leading Australian bush poet, who has been recognised for his devotion and passion for the artform for more than 30 years.

He has published four books and released three CDs.

He is a two-time winner of the prestigious Golden Gumleaf award and has been a finalist seven times.

His connection to his subject has seen him selected twice to compete at the world championships of performing arts in Hollywood, USA.

Gary donates his time and talents to at least five charity fundraisers annually.

He is continually promoting Millmerran and the Australian Camp Oven Festival wherever he is engaged to perform.

Gary has accomplished all this while coping with chronic pain following a car accident. He is continually mentoring new poets and judging poetry competitions.

He has earned a reputation as one of the most popular comperes/announcers at music and other festivals, such as the Gayndah Orange Fest, Tara Festival of Culture & Camel Races, Tenterfield Oracles of the Bush, Millmerran’s Australian Camp Oven Festival, Bony Mountain Folk Fest, Chinchilla Melon Festival, Murgon Country Music Fest and Capella Country Music Festival, among others.

He published a children's bush poetry book in collaboration with emerging artist, Darcie Harris. The book is focused on loveable farm animal characters and gently educates youngsters on the source of some of our food and fibre, as well as containing lessons on fat shaming, being comfortable in your own skin, being part of a team and being responsible.

Gary organised a very successful book launch for the title in his home town of Millmerran.


Millmerran/Cecil Plains Community Group – Millmerran Quilters

The six-member Millmerran Quilters meet twice a month to make patchwork baby quilts that are donated to the Toowoomba Hospital Foundation.

The project is the group’s gift to new mothers across Darling Downs Health maternity wards at Toowoomba, Dalby, Warwick and Goondiwindi.

Other quilts are donated to the Royal Brisbane Children’s Hospital.

Between 200 and 300 quilts are made each year, in addition to burpers and sensory toys.

The women supply most of their own materials with other community donations providing suitable fabrics.

Apart from the core quilting group, several other women are regular donors of quilts for new mothers.


Millmerran/Cecil Plains Community Event – Australian Camp Oven Festival, Millmerran

The Millmerran community can be justifiably proud of the 25-member Australian Camp Oven Festival (ACOF) committee members who work hard to deliver an iconic, regional event.

In a sign of their dedication and drive, the committee delivered the 2022 festival in the year after the 2021 festival, which had been postponed due to Covid-19.

Despite the break from the biennial timing, the committee delivered under extra pressure. There were additional Covid protocols to introduce and enforce, along with the added problem of wet weather.

Undaunted, the volunteer committee showed their resolve and can-do attitude by delivering another outstanding event.

The committee volunteers are responsible for every aspect of the festival, starting with the event planning, working on the merchandise/information stands, welcoming guests at the gate, overseeing parking, general safety, marketing and even stoking the coals for the campfire.

The committee also manages the 140-plus event volunteers, who come from across the country, to assist with staging the festival.

The committee works hard to achieve several important objectives, including increasing overnight visitors and spending in the Millmerran district and the wider Region.

The festival is designed to increase Millmerran’s profile and appeal as a tourist destination by developing quality and authentic visitor experiences, along with encouraging community pride.

The festival proudly adopts a ‘buy locally’ policy for all event-related expenditure. They are committed to supporting local suppliers.

True to its objectives, the 2022 ACOF saw multiple benefits delivered to Millmerran clubs and societies, including the Show Society, Millmerran Landcare, Cecil Plains Progress, Cecil Plains School P&C, Brookstead School P&C, Pittsworth State High P&C, Wylahra Progress, SES, Millmerran Men’s Shed, Millmerran Hospital Auxiliary, Millmerran Lions Club, St Joseph’s School P&F and the Catholic Church group, Millmerran State School P&C and the Scouts.

Oakey Citizen of the Year – Nadine Taylor

Australia Day is about recognising individuals who make a real difference in their community.

Nadine is an absolute goer, who puts her heart and soul into everything she does. She is not afraid to stand up for what is right.

Nadine joined the Oakey Junior Rugby League committee (OJRL) after her eldest son started playing.   When asked why she was doing it, she said: ‘Well someone's got to do it and the kids want to play footy’. Not content with her league duties, Nadine assumed the same role with the Oakey Junior Cricket Club. Her dedication was commendable as her family household grew to eight children.

Nadine is a down-to-earth person, who always gives her best. Nadine found the time and energy to foster children, often receiving little notice of a new arrival.

Nadine rolls with it looking after the kids. In 2021, Nadine and Nigel took 12 foster kids on a 5500km western Queensland trip in the school holidays. It was probably the first holiday for many of the children.

Nadine has been on many other committees, including the Oakey State School P&C, swimming club and many more. Nadine epitomises the saying: ‘If you need something done in a hurry, ask a busy person to do it’.

Nadine is a committed committee member across multiple Oakey clubs and organisations, who invests boundless energy into each, leaving an indelible mark.

Her altruism is boundless. She selflessly opens her heart and home as a foster carer, welcoming children into her life at a moment's notice.

Nadine juggles all these responsibilities while admirably maintaining a job, showcasing her unwavering work ethic and determination.

Amid her bustling life, Nadine nurtures a family of eight children.

Nadine embodies resilience, love, and an unwavering spirit that uplifts and inspires all around her.


Oakey Joint Young Citizens of the Year – Jessica Lee and Sasha Lee

Jessica Lee:

Jessica is a hard-working student and a proud Oakey community member. Through her role as fundraising chair, Jessica facilitated ‘Wear Your Pyjamas Day’. The day full of fun raised $411.65 for the Starlight Foundation.

In her role, Jessica aided the rest of the council with ‘Flanno for Farmers Day’ for Drought Angels, Harmony Day, Wear it Purple, and Awareness Week.

Away from her school leadership roles, Jessica invested time in extra fundraising for ‘Wear It Yellow’ in 2022 and ‘Rhythm for a Reason’ in 2023.

Both events spread awareness and raised funds for The Leukemia Foundation.

‘Wear It Yellow’ was organised in conjunction with Oakey State High School and raised $322.30.

‘Rhythm for a Reason’ (sponsored by the Oakey Bears RLFC and The Oakey Pharmacy) was run in conjunction with Sasha Lee and Sharmekha Young, consisting of footy, raffles, auctions, and live music performed by local talent. This community event raised $2035 for The Leukemia Foundation.

Jessica won several awards and volunteered in leadership positions during her senior school years at Oakey State High School.

In 2022, she was the University of Queensland’s Science Ambassador, where she supported a two-week program of experiments and excursions.

In 2023, Jessica became a TIP Leader and participated in ‘The Inter-Year Program’, becoming a mentor and friend for Year 7 students, guiding them through the start of high school life.

Also, Jessica was the 2023 Student Representative Council fundraising chair, aiding the council through a successful year.

Jessica received certificates, including: 2021 University of Queensland’s Young Achievers’ Program; 2023 Senior Academic Award, Platinum Award, Senior Subject Award in Mathematical Methods; Certificate for Excellence in Chemistry from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and the Australian Defence Force 2020 Long Tan Youth Leadership and Teamwork Award; Oakey State High School’s Dux and 2022 Science Ambassador


Sasha Lee:  

Sasha held and volunteered her time across multiple leadership roles at Oakey State High School.

She started her senior year as a University of Queensland Science Ambassador, in which she facilitated a two-week program of experiments and excursions.

She was a leader in the Inter-Year Program, where she mentored the incoming grade seven students.

Across the year, around $1000 was raised through fundraisers for the Drought Angles and Starlight Foundation with the support of the student council committee. Two notable student council events were the ‘Flanno for a Farmer’ challenge, which raised environmental awareness and gained funds for farmers affected by drought, and the Awareness Week events promoting mental health, epilepsy and inclusion.

Sasha also volunteered and became a prominent member of the school’s strings program. She helped organise lessons, announcements and several performances.

At the Oakey State High School’s ART’s Festival Night, Sasha helped program and run sound and lighting, backstage management, multiple musical performances and a drama performance.

She also helped create and assist with the running of a new Dungeons and Dragons club at the school.

Sasha was part of the trio that helped organise and run Rhythm for a Reason, which raised more than $2000 for The Leukemia Foundation.

Highlights of Sasha’s other achievements include: A member of the University of Queensland’s Young Achievers’ Program, designed to foster leadership and community involvement while aiding academic achievement.; 2023 treasurer for the Oakey State High School Student Representative Council; 2023 A. J. Hindman memorial Women in STEM award; Achieved Academic and Platinum awards, top of chemistry and top of drama subject awards, an Excellence in Chemistry award from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

On the sporting field, Sasha has volunteered at the local football and cricket clubs for more than five years, in which she has been recognised for her contributions and was awarded the Senior Ambassador award.


Oakey Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the Year – Jorja Charles

Jorja completed her Year 12 certificate at Oakey State High School In 2023. 

She was selected to share the role of Indigenous leader at school and enjoyed the chance that it gave her to further develop the necessary skills to pursue future leadership positions.

Jorja joined the Beyond Broncos Leadership program and spent time in Brisbane at their training camp.

Jorja is a proud and confident young woman, who is passionate about her history and culture.

She has a desire to work towards creating a united community, where there is equality for all people.

At Oakey’s 2023 NAIDOC week commemorations, Jorja was awarded the Community Person award. During NAIDOC Week celebrations, Jorja visited McLean Care at Oakey.

During 2023, Jorja completed a Certificate 1 in construction at Oakey State High School and a Certificate 3 in Business at the Oakey Newsagency.

She performed her school-based work experience at New Acland Coal, while working three part-time jobs during her school year.

Jorja is employed as a disability support worker.

She comes from a strong cricketing family and has played many seasons with the Oakey Junior Cricket Club and the South West Indigenous Network Cup and other indigenous cricket carnivals.

Jorja showed her all-round sporting abilities by trying her hand at softball at local carnivals and has played rugby league with the Newtown Lions women’s rugby league team.


Oakey Cultural Award – Raquel Doudle-Waters

From the moment Raquel could talk, she was singing. She has barely stopped singing.

Raquel’s voice is her special gift to the music world, which she proudly shares.

Raquel has long been involved in singing endeavours, including school and church choirs.

When she was in Year 1, Raquel had the chance to sing with country music star Lee Kernaghan OAM at Condamine State School.

In Year 6 at Oakey State School, Raquel was involved with the ‘Walk Together Toowoomba’ project with Josh Arnold. She contributed to writing a school song and taking the lead vocal with Josh Arnold on 'Stop – Rewind’. This video is still played at the weekly parade at Oakey State School.

Raquel has a beautiful personality. She has very high morals and will stand alone, rather than conform to other standards.

Raquel is a friend to everyone and helps anyone in need. It upsets her to see someone in distress. She is honest, trustworthy and a hard worker.

Raquel encourages people of all ages to do their best and follow their dreams.

With her unique and amazing singing voice, Raquel has inspired many students at her high school, along with audiences during performances.

She was the 2022 Oakey State High School cultural chair on the Student Council.

In this role, Raquel helped organise events such as Ronald McDonald Day and Orange Day in Harmony Week.

Raquel was also a TIP leader, supporting the incoming Year 7 students.

Raquel has sung the national anthem on a regular basis at all special Oakey State High School events, including the Mayoral Breakfast, Year 12 Investiture ceremony and school parades in recent years.

Raquel has worked with a singing coach over the past three years and has performed at The Powerhouse in Toowoomba several times a year in recent years.

She has performed at the Irish Club in Toowoomba and is a chorister at her local church. She performs musical items throughout the year at her local branch in Dalby and in Toowoomba.

Raquel writes her own Christian songs and is working with a collaborator to put them to music. These will be uploaded to her YouTube channel.

She has sung the Australian and New Zealand national anthems and hymns at the Acland Anzac Day Service.

Raquel has been an MC and performed at many Oakey State High School lunchtime concerts.

Raquel encourages others to perform and has sung with students who were too shy to perform by themselves. She is an inspiration to many.


Oakey Senior Sports Award – Marlene Deans

The Deans family moved to their Oakey dairy operation from a dairy at Maleny.

Marlene Deans played tennis before joining the Oakey Golf Club in the 1990s.

She has been involved with the club from the outset.

A long-time member of the Oakey Golf Club Inc., Marlene was awarded life membership many years ago for her untiring support of the club.

She has been captain of the lady members for many years and represents them on the Downs and South West Golf organisation.

As captain, Marlene continually monitors results and members’ handicaps.

Marlene has also been secretary of the Oakey Golf Club Inc .for many years.

She liaises with Golf Queensland and the other district clubs, applies for grants for club improvements and maintenance materials for the grounds and the clubhouse.

This work has been most successful and has required considerable effort and know-how for obtaining support from kindred and associated organisations.

Marlene kept members and visitors aware of various Covid-19 health requirements at the club, to comply with Government and Golf Australia decrees.

She organises sponsors for special events on the playing calendar and inter-club events with surrounding clubs.

After Marlene and her husband Trevor retired from dairying, Marlene volunteered as an accommodation officer with the Toowoomba Hospital Foundation.

This work offers support and accommodation to people who visit Toowoomba for treatment from country areas. She books accommodation units.

She has received long-service awards for her volunteering and loyalty.

Previously, Marlene was the secretary of the Queensland Holstein-Friesian Society, where she was heavily involved in organising meetings and conferences to aid the overall conditions of the breed in the dairy industry.


Oakey Junior Sports Award – Hayden Waddell

Hayden Waddell loves rugby league.

Hayden is a worthy award recipient due to his dedication and commitment to Oakey Junior Rugby League (OJRL) over the past decade and more recently as a match official.

He started playing with the Oakey Bears as a five-year-old. Unfortunately, in 2023 the club was unable to field a team in Hayden's age group.

This meant that, apart from the Covid interruption, Hayden did not play football for the first time in a decade.

Deciding he did not want to play for another club, Hayden took on a role as OJRL 2023 club captain.

He switched his focus to match duties. Hayden was actively involved on training and game days and was named the 2023 senior ambassador.

Hayden completed his match official qualifications in 2021 and developed his skills as a junior referee and touch judge as part of the OJRL club.

He was recognised in 2022 by senior members of the Toowoomba Rugby League Referees’ Association (TRLRA) and was asked to touch judge a game at the 2022 Toowoomba Junior Rugby League (TJRL) grand final. Hayden was the one Oakey match official awarded this honour.

Hayden also developed his match official’s skills. He was invited to be part of a small group that was trained and mentored by Queensland Rugby League (QRL) match official coaches.

He attended a full-day training session in Brisbane with the QRL High Performance Unit and a training session with the National Rugby League officials.

Hayden started match official duties at Toowoomba Rugby League games. As he was too young to referee seniors, he thrived as a touch judge.

He was given many appointments in Oakey during the season, strengthening his relationship with the Oakey Bears Senior Rugby League club.

Hayden refereed during the season at OJRL home games and was named by the TRLRA as OJRL Referee of the Year.

He was given two game appointments at the 2023 TJRL grand final as touch judge.

The TRLRA presented Hayden with the Junior Referee Encouragement Award.

Hayden has been involved with various sports in Oakey over the years.

He is a member of Oakey Gym and Fitness where he completes all his strength training and has started playing senior cricket for Bowenville.

Hayden attends Downlands College, Toowoomba, where his academic focus is on further study in finance and mathematics at university.

During school holidays, Hayden works at Oakey Beef Exports and helps on the family grain farm.

He is very involved in the Oakey community.


Oakey Community Group – Lions Club of Oakey Inc.

The Lions Club of Oakey has been proudly serving the community for more than 60 years.

The club, its past and current members have been pillars of the Oakey community, supporting many different causes and groups.

Notable for serving through any challenge, in line with the Lions motto, the Oakey club members are always ready to lend a hand.

Club members regularly set up the markets and fire up the barbecues with an array of sausages and their famous egg and bacon muffins.

Bingo is held every Tuesday at the den, with a delicious morning tea adding to a fun-filled outing.

A free community morning tea is held each Friday at the den to welcome new residents. The focus is on sharing stories and making new friends.

Anyone attending is welcome to browse and view the DVDs, CDs, books and second-hand clothes.

Club volunteers also sell Lions Christmas cakes and puddings, along with regular raffles to aid fundraising during the year.

The Club also sets up its barbecue van to cater at other functions around the Region.

The Oakey Lions offer annual prizes for the Dux at Oakey State High School.

Members also make baby bonnets and rugs to be used at St Vincent’s Hospital in Toowoomba.

They can be relied on to lend a hand whenever called.

The service motto is well and truly a part of the members’ ethos.


Oakey Community Event – Rhythm for a Reason

Rhythm for a Reason was organised by Sasha Lee, Jessica Lee and Sharmekha Young to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation.

The afternoon and evening of raffles, live music, footy and fun was held in August 2023 in honour of the Lees’ late pop and was aided by sponsors, the Oakey Bears Rugby League Football Club and The Oakey Pharmacy.

The day started on the field with Oakey hosting the Highfields Eagles across four grades with entertainment provided by the club.

Across the matches, the enterprising young women sold raffle tickets, collected donations and provided education regarding the Leukaemia Foundation and its work.

Local musicians (Taneisha Campbell, Palinola and NautiDragonz) kept the entertainment rolling after the final siren. The artists donated their time to build a sense of community and display their talents.

The evening ended with a round of auctions, culminating in a local identity participating in Shave for a Cure.

This event epitomises what the Australia Day awards are about: bringing the local community together to raise funds and awareness for a worthy cause.

At 15, Sasha Lee, Jessica Lee and Sharmekha Young were accepted into the prestigious University of Queensland’s ‘Young Achievers’ Program’.

While undertaking the program, the young women were inspired to hold a fundraising event.

To honour the memory of Sasha and Jessica’s grandfather, the trio felt compelled to set forth on an adventure designed to give back to The Leukemia Foundation and their local community. This is where the fundraiser idea was formed.

The trio overcame many challenges, but this did not dampen their enthusiasm. Numerous meetings, phone calls, emails, and the use social media rallied interest and the event was up and running in the space of five weeks.

The Oakey community rallied behind the cause by raising more than $2000 to help The Leukemia Foundation support families and leukaemia patients with emergency housing, treatment, genetic testing, and other support.

The event highlighted the Oakey community’s united spirit to support a worthy cause with the aid of local businesses, clubs and performers.

Pittsworth Citizen of the Year – Jo Saal

Joanne (Jo) Saal moved to the Brookstead area when she married local farmer Wayne Saal in 1987.

Growing up in a small Western Downs rural community meant Jo understood the importance of community involvement.

The best way to become part of the community was by volunteering.

That step led to 36 years of active involvement in numerous committees and organisations in Pittsworth and Brookstead – and counting.

Jo has delivered Meals on Wheels to Pittsworth clients for more than 34 years.

In true Australian style, Jo knows them all by name and takes the time to ask about their families, their interests and their health and well-being.

They look forward to her monthly visits with her bright and endearing personality and chat.

Jo recently became a Pittsworth Meals on Wheels committee member.

A devoted gardener, Jo added her passion and expertise to help with the Gardens of the Downs program, which started in 2015.

She is the Garden Co-ordinator and is responsible for organising which gardens across the Darling Downs will be opened to the public.

She works with Pittsworth’s gardening guru Penny McKinlay.

Jo has opened her own garden on numerous occasions to visiting groups from across Queensland and tour groups from overseas.

Jo has been the group’s secretary for almost four years.

Jo is the current secretary of the Condamine Branch of the LNP.

Her community involvement extends to a role on the Showcasing Pittsworth committee, an annual event which brings hundreds of visitors to the town.

Jo organises bus excursions around the district, which have become a sold-out part of the Showcasing Pittsworth weekend each year.

Jo finds the time to attend Pittsworth’s parkrun most Saturdays, where she has been run director for the past four-and-a-half years.

A true Australian volunteer does not shy away from having to roll up their sleeves and do some dirty work and Jo certainly exemplifies this part of the national character.

Each week for more than 25 years, Jo has cleaned the public toilet at Brookstead.

She has met the occasional snake and green frogs in the toilet and also had to contend with incorrect spelling on a Council sign on one occasion. In her polite and unassuming manner, she had the signs reprinted and replaced in toilets across the Council area. 

The Pittsworth Show Society is another organisation which benefits from Jo's community spirit and willingness to volunteer.

She was on the Pittsworth Show Night of Nights committee, which for four years organised the highly successful annual event which saw more than 250 people attend each year. It raised significant funds for the Show Society. She also willingly volunteers before the show to cover administrative tasks in the show office.

Over the years, Jo has been on the Brookstead State School P and C Association, President of the Pittsworth State High School P and C Association, a tuckshop volunteer at both schools, treasurer to the Pittsworth Scouts Committee and a committee member on the Brookstead School Centenary committee.

Jo is always willing to volunteer in any role that is asked of her.


Pittsworth Joint Young Citizens of the Year – Patrick Quinn and Holly Moore

Patrick Quinn:

Patrick is a quiet achiever who leads by example in his school life, as well as in the wider Pittsworth community. Patrick sets the bar high, not only for his peers, but also fellow community members.

Patrick has excelled in his role as school captain at Pittsworth State High School with a level of maturity surpassed by very few.

He is consistently striving to do his best and brings others with him on the journey to ensure that everyone experiences success while building on their self-esteem in a positive way.

Patrick is generous with his time and keen to ensure his school and wider community is the best it can possibly be.

He has been instrumental in running a variety of events at Pittsworth State High School, including many social events, such as the Movie and Astronomy Nights, Cosy Day and Scoops of Summer.

He volunteered as coach for the Under 14 club basketball side, the Roadrunners. He contributed to the Anzac Day programs, both at the school and the Pittsworth community commemoration, as well as producing a student-focused presentation at the Pittsworth Alliance Breakfast with his fellow captains.

Patrick co-led an initiative to promote participation in local sport within local primary schools. This was achieved through the running of a promotional sports morning at Pittsworth State School.

Patrick is modest and does not like to take the limelight away from others who have assisted in preparation and delivery of a project or activity. He is a team player who likes to ensure that everyone feels they have been heard and are valued as a member of our school.

He is polite and thoughtful of others. He keeps a caring eye on his pers and is willing to have a supportive chat if they are not travelling well or invite them to join a game of basketball.

Patrick represented PSHS in the Queensland Schools’ Volleyball Cup, was an integral member of the boys' rugby league team that won the NRL Trophy, participated in the Friday Night Basketball competition and represented Darling Downs at the Athletics State Championships.

He is a wonderful role model and great sport, who is keen to give anything a go.

Patrick’s Achievements: PSHS 2023 school captain; PSHS Leadership Award (PSHS awards night); Stephanie Mylonas Sporting Spirit Award (PSHS awards night); Darling Downs regional sporting representation at Athletics State Titles.


Holly Moore

Holly Moore embodies the spirit of community service and leadership, with her contributions inspiring people of all ages.

She is dedicated to many organisations and is an outstanding contributor to the Pittsworth community.

Holly's leadership shone through in her initiative to organize the 2023 Anzac Day parade for the Pittsworth Basketball Club.

It is this type of achievement that uplifts others, making her a role model to younger students and children.

Her passion and kindness resonate with everyone around her, ensuring everyone feels included and valued.

Holly's attitude and work ethic surpass what would be expected of someone her age.

She was the sole student who stayed to help clean and pack away after the 2023 Pittsworth State High School (PSHS) athletics carnival.

Holly's numerous achievements and contributions include: Senior Leader at PSHS, Sports House leader for Beauaraba, member of the graduation committee, Two years on the debutant committee, two years with Creative Generation (dance), nine years with Pittsworth Amateur Basketball (PAB), currently playing in Under 18 and women's teams, three years coaching Under 14 and Under 11 at PAB, and eight years in refereeing and score bench duties, ten years with Pittsworth Swimming Club, four years of volunteering at the Pittsworth Show, two years of volunteering at the PSHS tuckshop, five years as a Junior Leader at kids’ games, recipient of an academic merit award, completion of a Certificate Ill in Agriculture, with 8-12 hours of weekly employment, four years as an assistant at Chenyl's Academy of Dance and awarded the 2022 Senior Dance Pride Award.

Holly’s sporting achievements include: 2022 basketball player of the year, five consecutive years as the PSHS swimming age champion, 2022 Pittsworth Piranha's club service award.


Pittsworth Cultural Award – Bree Crighton

Bree is a passionate and committed student, who immerses herself in the community as a cultural role model for all.

Bree has a promising future in performance and dance. In recent years she has worked extremely hard to achieve her goals and work towards a future in the cultural sector.

Bree achieves highly, both in the school environment and in her extra-curricular endeavours.

She works diligently at school and strives to achieve to the best of her ability. She achieved highly in dance and received the school leadership award and Dance Cultural achievement award for 2023.

Outside school, Bree achieved highly in her RA Ballet exams, auditioned for Creative Generations State School on Stage and was granted a feature position as a company dancer.

This experience provided her with further opportunities to perform at a state level. Bree spends most afternoons practising and refining her dance skills.

She is both a teacher and student at the local dance academy. Bree successfully manages her routine covering dancing, teaching and her academic studies.

Bree was a 2023 school captain at Pittsworth State High School. She participated in Lions Youth of the Year and attended numerous community events with local politicians and leaders.

As a leader, she showed she was proactive at initiating positive change. This was highlighted when she advocated through the school administration for the reinstatement of dance as a school subject.

Bree co-led an initiative to promote participation in local sport at the local primary schools. This was achieved by running a sports morning at the Pittsworth State School.

Bree is a wonderful role model for young dancers. She has developed a positive relationship with the young dancers through her kind and generous nature. Bree has a bright future and is working to achieve a career in dance.

Bree’s Achievements: PSHS School Captain 2023; Creative Generation: State Schools on Stage - featured dancer; performed at state event for Queensland premiere; performs regularly in wider community Dance Eisteddfods and is an active cultural volunteer for community events.


Pittsworth Senior Sports Award – Jackson Ryan Griffiths

It is rare in society today for a young man to be dedicated to his family, job as an apprentice electrician and a love of sports, namely rugby league and boxing.

Jackson trains at TGW Country Gym at Pittsworth.

Jackson grew up near Pittsworth on a property with his parents and five siblings, before completing all his schooling at Pittsworth.

Jackson played football with the Pittsworth Danes from Under 7 through to A Grade.

While playing football in U18s he was also riding and pre-training horses.

He decided to add another sport to his routine and jumped into the boxing ring.

He has progresses in boxing quickly.

Jackson is a well-mannered and respectful young man.

It has been a great pleasure for his friends and supporters to watch him progress at an amazing rate in his chosen sporting career.

Jackson is supported by his coach Bradley Smith, boxing trainer Gary Ruhle and manager Brendan Smith.

Jackson’s achievements: Brayd Smith Memorial Belt (boxing); South West Title Qld Belt (boxing); Queensland Title Belt (boxing); A.N.B.F. Australian Welterweight Title (boxing) and an A.N.B.F. Australian Welterweight Defence (boxing).


Pittsworth Junior Sports Award – Eric Lovell  

Eric Lovell is a wonderful sporting representative, who possesses a great attitude and even better work ethic.

Eric consistently works hard to obtain top results and this past year has been no exception.

Eric won the age champion titles at Pittsworth State High School (PSHS) in swimming and cross country at the inter-house carnivals.

Following a successful campaign at the Darling Downs trials, he then went on to represent Darling Downs at the swimming state championships.

Eric then trialled for, and achieved, a place on the Darling Downs representative side for orienteering, where he attended the state championships. From outstanding individual and team results, Eric secured his position on the Queensland side.

Eric then headed to Western Australia where he competed at the Australian Orienteering Championships (AOC), competing in seven events over nine days against the best orienteers from Australia and New Zealand.

The program included the Australian Schools’ Championships (three events), as well as the Australian sprint, middle and long-distance championships and Australian relay championships.

Eric was in the Queensland Senior Boys’ squad which came third in the Australian Schools’ competition.

The Queensland Schools’ team was second overall among the Australian states.

In addition, Eric achieved incredible individual results that included several top 10 placings.

Of special note, Eric was awarded the Sportsmanship Award for the 2023 Australian Schools’ Orienteering Championships.

Eric has shown incredible commitment and dedication to orienteering in 2023, which is evident in his achievements.

On top of his on-course achievements, Eric has been instrumental in running orienteering events to encourage more community involvement.

He is always respectful of others and encouraging to his peers.


Pittsworth Community Event – Pittsworth Sprints

The Pittsworth Sprints celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2023, highlighting its appeal to motoring enthusiasts.

A committee of more than 20 dedicated volunteers runs the event.

The group works cohesively, with at least two generations of motor sports fans involved in its running.

Much like a finely tuned engine, the committee’s collaboration and teamwork is an example for other groups.

The tight-knit team members back each other and work hard to deliver a successful event each year.

The committee is a sub-committee of the Millmerran Auto Club Inc.

The Pittsworth Sprints president is Scott Ariell and the vice president is Blake Pearce.

Across its 25 years, the Pittsworth Sprints, has contributed hugely to the economy and community.

The event offers drivers a chance to enter a street race and burnout competition, drawing locals, entrants from across Queensland and competitors from New South Wales.

This 2023 event attracted 190 entrants and the whole event ran well with the whole community coming together to make sure it was a success.

The event gives back to local suppliers and local community groups. The most recent edition saw more than $20,000 contributed, ensuring it has a far-reaching benefit across the district.

The organising team members are professional at what they do, yet they are all volunteers and work together to deliver a successful program.

Pittsworth Sprints achievements: Celebrated 25 annual Pittsworth Sprint races in 2023 with a very successful event.

The event gives back more than $20,000 to the Pittsworth community each year through local procurement and local group donations for assistance at the event.

It provides a massive economic boost for the Pittsworth economy each year through bringing thousands of people through town.

Toowoomba Citizen of the Year – Tiffany Spary

Tiffany Spary, along with her husband Nat, is one vital part of the driving force behind Toowoomba’s BASE Services.

Tiffany has served at the Basement Soup Kitchen for more than 20 years, including 15 years as a volunteer.

Tiffany is dedicated to making sure the city's homeless people are not forgotten.

She runs the kitchen at BASE Services to ensure people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness have a nutritious lunch meal five days a week in a safe environment where they can sit and eat with other people.

One of the wonderful initiatives that Tiffany started is Second Shot. Opened in 2016, 2nd Shot is an innovative pathway that offers hospitality training and employment to people experiencing homelessness.

People who are homeless or at risk can register for a six-month paid traineeship which offers a path to employment and a place to live, that they can call home.

Part of the traineeship encompasses teaching people important life skills. Participants learn how to work from 8.30am to 4pm each day and know they need to have their lunch and uniform ready the night before to arrive at work on time.

Trainees also learn how to work as a team and other important skills that will help them retain a position.

Since its inception, 2nd Shot has created eight permanent positions (baristas, trainers, payroll, administration and community workers), provided 130,280 hours of paid employment, supported 87 people away from homelessness and provided training and employment to 211 people.

The program has provided 21,592 hours of Australian-recognised hospitality training and supported 153 people to find new employment.

BASE Services receives no government funding and relies on fundraising events supported by Toowoomba residents.

Their Homeless for a Week initiative sees business and community leaders sleeping rough on Toowoomba streets.

Hike for Homeless is another event, now in its eighth year, where schools and locals are encouraged to register to walk distances of 5km, 10km or 20km.

This is one of the premier charity events on Toowoomba's calendar.

Both events require months of preparation by Tiffany and Nat, who often work a 12-hour day to ensure the events gain the maximum impact to raise funds.

She has volunteered at the Base Service’s Christmas lunch for 20 consecutive years, including in 2023. Apart from providing a free Christmas lunch at St Luke’s Anglican Church, Base Services distributes Christmas hampers to individuals and families who are rough sleeping or temporarily staying in caravan parks, hotels and lodges.

All the while, Tiffany is working quietly and effectively behind the scenes.

She revels in the title of volunteer, not CEO or founder.

Tiffany can see someone at their worst and help them make small life improvements one step at a time.

She strongly advocates for the most vulnerable members of our community, while remaining unbiased and maintaining a strong sense of justice.


Toowoomba Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Citizen of the Year – Janet Suey

Janet is a strong and proud Mardigan woman (on her grandmother’s side).

Born in Toowoomba, Janet has been an active member in the community for many years and has strong cultural family connections here.

Janet’s passion is in sport, particularly women in sport.

Her passion has led to volunteering as a team manager for rugby league, indoor cricket and softball.

Janet’s participation in fundraising efforts has helped girls and young women travel and participate in representative sides at Murrie carnivals.

These outings have helped many young athletes gain representative selection in Indigenous All Stars sides and Queensland Indigenous NRL teams.

The girls who have achieved these higher honours can thanks the efforts of people like Janet for their hard work and encouragement.

Janet and fellow supporters give their time and energy to, ‘Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up’, when needed.

Janet finds the time to serve her whole community. She has been involved in organising Debutante Balls for young women, and is ready to help when needed, such as volunteering to help people through hard times.

Janet has been employed by SWIN, the Aboriginal Legal Service, Downs Housing, the Department of Youth Justice and Mercy Family Services, mostly in supportive roles to aid people.

Janet is an active member of the Toowoomba NAIDOC Committee, with her involvement stretching back many years.

Janet has also served on local community Aboriginal boards as a Director, including stints with a Housing Company, NAIDOC committees and sporting committees.

She also serves as a Director on the Toowoomba Sports Club board. She is the first Indigenous woman to hold such a position on one of Toowoomba’s most prestigious venues.

Janet encourages and motivates people with her positive attitude and passion for her people and community.

Janet finds the time to play sport and has been a team member at Murrie softball carnivals, Toowoomba touch and Toowoomba Softball.

Janet does not expect accolades for her efforts, but thoroughly deserves to be recognised.

She received the ‘Community Champion’ award at the 2022 Toowoomba NAIDOC Awards.

Janet demonstrates the values that are important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is committed to delivering benefits to her community.

She is an inspirational leader and role model, who works for her community in the Toowoomba area and further afield.


Toowoomba Young Citizen of the Year – Lena Nabizada

Toowoomba’s Young Citizen of the Year Lena Nabizada is a remarkable young woman who is a passionate leader and a model of inspiration, whose actions can inspire the rest of us to do better.

She is the founder of Strive Connecting, which aims to bridge cultural differences and promote inclusivity.

Lena has a deep fascination for diverse cultures. She has recognised the pervasive issue of racism.

Her response was to address the issue in a positive fashion. This has included organising workshops aimed at fostering conversations among young people, challenging pre-conceived notions, and encouraging dialogue that promotes understanding and empathy.

In a world where cultural differences can sometimes lead to division, Lena's commitment to ‘connecting through our differences’ is a valuable and vital pursuit.

She uses the power of the internet and social media to spread the message of unity and diversity. Lena also serves as a radio host on Radio Persia, where she helps the Persian and Dari speaking community.

As a leader in Toowoomba GenZero, Lena motivates and supports other young people to take action on climate issues, thereby helping to secure a better future for generations to come.

Her involvement in the ZeroPositive advisory group demonstrates her commitment to environmental causes and her potential to drive change on a larger scale.

Lena has represented her community and country on the global stage as a delegate and panellist at youth and interfaith conferences in Singapore and Malaysia.

These experiences have provided her with invaluable insights and connections, enabling her to contribute to the creation of a better world for tomorrow by engaging with international leaders and promoting interfaith dialogue.

Her engagement in the Queensland Youth Parliament is testament to her leadership abilities.

She has served as a youth representative in multiple roles, including as the Minister for RARE portfolio.

One of Lena's noteworthy projects is the ‘Pamphlet Project’, which addresses the lack of up-to-date information about resources available to young people in Toowoomba and regional communities.

This initiative is incredibly valuable as it provides vital information about mental health services, homelessness support, and various youth organisations.

Lena's dedication to updating this resource annually reflects her commitment to ensuring that young people have access to the support they need.

Lena is a young leader with immense potential to inspire and motivate others.

She is a shining example of a young individual making a significant difference in her community and beyond, and her continued contributions are bound to have a lasting impact on society.


Toowoomba Cultural Award – Yajuvendrasinh Mahida

Yajuvendrasinh Mahida, who is originally from India, moved to Toowoomba in 2009 to work as an IT professional at the University of Southern Queensland.

Since 2011, he has actively participated in many community initiatives, events, and festivals, aiming to foster cultural understanding and promote traditional practices from India.

Through his energetic contributions over more than a decade, Yajuvendrasinh has played a pivotal role in fostering a culture of inclusivity and empowerment.

He has made a profound difference in the lives of community members and played a crucial role in leading a group that, in collaboration with the Varnam Cultural Society (Queensland), on April 6, 2020, provided grocery kits to more than 425 international students residing in the Toowoomba Student Village.

These students were from South Africa, Jordan, Cambodia, South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

In April 2020, the High Commission of India, Canberra, appointed numerous institutions and people to assist Indian international students.

Yajuvendrasinh was responsible for catering in Brisbane, Toowoomba and Rockhampton. More than 150 international students received help through this initiative.

In May 2020, he assisted an umbrella Indian organization, FICQ, based in Queensland, by providing IT-related solutions to automate a portion of Queensland's grocery kit distribution to international students across Queensland.

He also started discussion with the UniSQ’s Multicultural Department to explore potential avenues for supporting international students, leading to the distribution of grocery kits across all UniSQ campuses.

He supervised the distribution process with assistance from the International Student Team. Starting in June 2020, for more than two months, he spearheaded the International Student Team to distribute frozen meals to international students at the Toowoomba campus as part of another arrangement made by UniSQ to support international students.

Both initiatives from UniSQ provided grocery and food aid to more than 400 international students from various parts of the world.

At the height of the COVID-19 delta crisis in India in May 2021, he assisted the Australian Association of Radiologists of Indian Origin in raising funds and obtaining 35 concentrator kits, which were scarce in India, through his contacts in India.

Also in 2021, he brought together diverse Indian communities in Toowoomba for the celebration of India's Independence Day, establishing a cohesive platform aimed at uniting these communities and fostering a closely connected local community.

More than 1000 people attended the India Day event in 2022, and more than 300 families participated in the event, each representing a distinct Indian culture.

He plays an active role in providing support to international students enrolled at the University of Southern Queensland Toowoomba Campus.


Toowoomba Senior Sport Award – David Natalier

David Natalier is not your conventional high school teacher.

Aside from his general classroom duties at Toowoomba’s Centenary Heights State High School, his other passion is coaching basketball and mentoring the players.

David spends many hours on the courts before and after school and on weekends teaching the students to shoot hoops and perfect their dribbling and other drills to improve their on-court basketball skills.

In addition to accentuating the players’ technical skills, he emphasises sportsmanship and cooperation, which are essential values that will mould these young athletes into exceptional people.

David is distinguished by his dedication to serving as a mentor to children in areas other than basketball.

Each student's psychological development is important to him, and he serves as a positive role model in their lives.

This humble and selfless educator is content with the knowledge that he has improved the lives of these children by instilling confidence and inspiring them to attain their full potential on and off the courts.

David is so humble that he does not seek recognition.

Anyone who has had their life touched by David, admires him, including students, parents, and colleagues. His dedication and passion for basketball is truly infectious.

His efforts are making a difference in the lives of these children by shaping them into young adults who exemplify selflessness, resilience, discipline, and a high level of professionalism.

As a multi-faceted individual, Davd seems to fluently overcome the distinct challenges presented by each role due to this unwavering commitment and natural charisma to support Centenary Heights State High School and Toowoomba basketball communities.

He deserves the recognition as an amazing schoolteacher and basketball coach, who is setting up academies to further support and develop the charges under his guidance.


Toowoomba Junior Sport Award – Bianca Markham

Bianca has been playing softball for 10 years and committed many hours to her training.

For most of 2023, Bianca trained three to four nights a week in Brisbane after attending school.

Aside from her unwavering commitment to her softball, Bianca worked tirelessly and invested time in her Year 12 studies.

She achieved high-level academic awards on top of her softball achievements.

Bianca has started her 2024 softball campaign, where she has been selected for the Queensland Softball Under 23 and Under 18 teams, which will play at the National Championships over summer.

She was the captain of the Queensland Under 18 softball team that travelled to the Australian Championships in Perth in January 2023. The Queensland team finished fourth.

This saw Bianca selected in the Australian Softball Talent Development Squad, where she travelled to the AIS in Canberra for a four-day intensive training camp.

Bianca also represented Darling Downs School Sports (as captain in 2023) for five consecutive Queensland State championships.

Bianca was awarded the Corrie Knight Award for Service to Softball, as well as being selected for the Queensland Schools’ Sports softball team.

Bianca then captained, (for the second year), the Queensland School Sports Softball Under 19 team at the Australian Schools’ Sports Championships in Melbourne (May 2023). This team finished with a bronze medal.

Bianca's performance saw her awarded the Most Valuable Player for Queensland and selection in the Australian Schools’ sports merit team.

As part of the Australian Under 19 softball team, Bianca travelled to Vancouver in June 2023 to compete at the Canada Cup International Softball tournament.

This two-week tournament saw her play against US and Canadian teams, as well as international teams from Chinese Taipei and Israel. The team finished in the top six.

In August, Bianca travelled to Kochi City, Japan, as a member of the Softball Queensland Development Squad. They played 10 games against a range of local Japanese teams.

Bianca was selected as a member of the Australia Under 18 team that travelled to American Samoa in November 2023 to participate in the Oceania Qualifiers (against New Zealand and American Samoa) for a place in the World Cup pool stages in 2024.


Toowoomba Community Event – David Hack Classic

The David Hack Classic has been run by the 26-member Rotary Club of Toowoomba North for 25 years with the support of the community, enthusiasts and local businesses.

Club members dedicate time and effort to the annual fundraiser to aid charities and all who attend.

The club members also assist with parking at Toowoomba’s Australia Day celebrations at Picnic Point.

Held at the Toowoomba Aerodrome, the David Hack classic showcases classic vehicles and warbirds.

Apart from a Covid break in 2020 and a cancellation due to Queensland-wide flooding in 2022, the event marked 25 years since its origins in 2023.

The event brings some 400 classic vehicles and 30 to 50 aircraft for the viewing public. Up to 5000 people attend on the day, including many from outside Toowoomba and interstate visitors.

Trophies are awarded in 21 categories, with the Mayor invited to present to the winners. The popular May attraction draws vehicle enthusiasts, aircraft enthusiasts and the curious public.

Rotary Club of Toowoomba North members and Aerotec are assisted by Toowoomba Regional Council Aerodrome personnel. Some 80 people are needed to keep the day running smoothly.

Other community groups, such as Apex, Glenvale Scouts and Blue Care, also help on the day. Many Toowoomba businesses provide in-kind support or goods at little cost.

The event is advertised widely on local radio, local papers and television.

The event also gains publicity via its Facebook page, with 1500 followers and a reach of some 10,000 around the event date. More than 900 photographs were taken in 2023 and uploaded to visitors’ facebook pages.

The funds raised have primarily been presented to Blue Care and the Leukaemia Foundation, along with other selected local charities and community groups.


Toowoomba Community Group – Base Services Inc.

BASE Services, which stands for Build-up, Accept, Support and Encourage, provides a welcoming space where individuals can connect with other people and vital support services.

They provide nutritious lunches for people in need five days a week.

Participants sit and connect with each other in a friendly and supportive environment.

They assist people by addressing individual needs through caring case management.

They also refer people to other support programs.

This caring approach allows participants to develop important life skills, healthy relationships and coping strategies.

In addition, they promote reconciliation and cultural awareness.

BASE Services staff support and strengthen family relationships and partner with other services for positive client outcomes.

Through 2nd Shot they provide paid hospitality training and employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and other barriers to regular employment, while greatly improving clients’ self esteem.