Alumni News Articles

Queensland Australian of the Year Awards presented

19 November 2009

Leading Indigenous educator Dr Chris Sarra was tonight named Queensland’s Australian of the Year 2010 at a ceremony held at Customs House. 

Best known for his groundbreaking approach to education in the community of Cherbourg, Dr Sarra is a dedicated educator who inspires Indigenous children to believe in themselves.  Dr Sarra’s leadership of the Cherbourg State School has become nationally acclaimed for its ‘Strong and Smart’ philosophy.  He is now the Executive Director of the Stronger Smarter Institute which is transforming Indigenous education with positive messages of high expectations, quality relationships and community engagement in schools. Led by Dr Sarra, the Institute’s programs are having a significant impact on students, educators and communities in schools across Australia.

The Queensland Senior Australian of the Year 2010 is surf lifesaving leader Ron Rankin AM of Cleveland. At 62 years of the age, Ron has been a volunteer member of Surf Life Saving Australia for over 46 years, has been on the Board of Directors for 25 years, and President since 2001. He makes a significant contribution to drowning prevention and lifesaving development in the international arena and is Director of the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS) and Vice President of the ILS Asia–Pacific region. Ron’s dedication and commitment to an Australian tradition has saved many thousands of lives.

Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year 2010 is 30 year old Jean Madden of Upper Brookfield. After realising the negative effect sleeping on cement had on the homeless and that sleeping without shelter could be life-threatening, Jean designed the Street Swag made from a super lightweight waterproofed canvas with a high-density foam mattress that also has room for extra belongings. Jean has given away over 13,000 Street Swags to the homeless and has now begun providing Street Swags to aid and relief organisations in other countries. This year Jean was the first Australian winner of the world’s largest design awards, INDEX.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale was awarded Queensland Local Hero 2010 for his tireless passion and commitment to making his home town the most liveable city in Australia. Paul was elected Mayor in 2004 and again in 2008 with an 82% majority, demonstrating the support and respect in which he is held. He established the Ipswich and Moreton Regional Development Corporation which helped businesses develop and reshape the city and has also worked to protect existing parklands and create a new nature centre where visitors can see rare and protected species.

The four Queensland award recipients will now join award recipients from all other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2010 in Canberra. 

Tam Johnston, Program Director for the National Australia Day Council, said all the Queensland award recipients will travel to Canberra for the national awards and to take part in the 50th Anniversary of the Australian of the Year Awards program.

“All the State and Territory award recipients will attend a special celebration event on 24 January before the announcement on 25 January,” said Ms Johnston.

“It will be a very special occasion and we look forward to sharing it with these great Queenslanders.”

Ralph Norris, CEO Commonwealth Bank, offered his congratulations to the award recipients. The Commonwealth Bank has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than thirty years.

“On behalf of the Commonwealth Bank, I would like to congratulate all the recipients of the Queensland awards. Their hard work and achievements are an inspiration to the community,” said Mr Norris.