2016 Queensland Australian of the Year Recipients Announced

Posted 30 October 2015 6:57pm

2016 Queensland Australian of the Year - Catherine McGregor AM (Toowoomba)
2016 Queensland Senior Australian of the Year - Tim Fairfax AC (Hamilton)
2016 Queensland Young Australian of the Year - Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett (Herston and Westlake) 2016 Queensland Local Hero - Michael Ross (Cooktown)

The Premier of Queensland, The Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk MP has announced the 2016 Queensland Australian of the Year Award recipients at a ceremony at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane this evening.

Ms Palaszczuk said she was delighted to announce this year’s Award winners, and on behalf of Queensland would like to congratulate them on their contributions and achievements.

“The diversity and transcendence of this year’s recipients is astonishing and a testament to the depth of generosity in Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Their contributions have been heartfelt and far-reaching, impacting the lives of so many people.

“This year’s recipients are role models to Queenslanders, young and old, inspiring others to excel and be community minded.

“They are deserving of this recognition and I thank them for their selflessness and contribution.

“As a State, we rally behind Catherine, Tim, Michael and Nic and Lucas, and wish them the best of luck as finalists at the national Awards in Canberra.

Catherine McGregor AM has been named 2016 Queensland Australian of the Year for her work as a diversity champion.

A Group Captain in the RAAF and former Lieutenant Colonel in the Army seeing operational service in East Timor three times, Catherine McGregor announced that she was changing her gender in 2012, moving from Malcolm to Catherine. Since then, Catherine has told the stories of thousands of hidden transgender Australians through her own lived experience, speaking at forums such as the National Press Club in Canberra and at capital city writers’ festivals. Her story as a leader for the transgender community has been documented in the Australian Women's Weekly and national newspapers and she’s featured in the ABC’s Australian Story. A well-known cricket commentator, author and political columnist, Catherine’s remarkably brave journey has not been without its challenges but it has brought her great personal contentment and inspired others to be true to themselves. With large stocks of courage, eloquence and confronting candour, Catherine has become a leading figure in the transgender community and as a result Australians have gained a greater understanding and acceptance of the transgender community.

Philanthropist Tim Fairfax AC has been awarded 2016 Queensland Senior Australian of the Year.

One of the country’s most successful businessmen, 69 year old Tim Fairfax is also one of the most generous. With pastoral interests in Queensland and New South Wales, Tim is passionate about supporting rural, remote and regional communities. The founder of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Tim has gifted more than $16 million since 2008 to community-based arts, music and sporting projects in regional Australia. Tim also chairs the board of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, named after his father, which has donated more than $100 million. A keen supporter of The Ekka, Tim is also Chancellor of the Queensland University of Technology and promotes higher educational opportunities, particularly to students in struggling rural communities. A founding benefactor of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Tim is one of its largest donors. Sitting on numerous boards and trusts for the arts, Tim is a keen collector and donor of art and is making an extraordinary philanthropic contribution to Australia’s arts community.

The 2016 Queensland Young Australians of the Year are 21 year olds, Herston and Westlake residents Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett.

Best mates Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett built a free mobile laundry in their old van to help the homeless and Orange Sky Laundry began. Aiming to connect the community and spark conversations, Orange Sky Laundry started helping people in September 2014. Since then, this world first idea has rapidly grown to four vans in Brisbane, Melbourne, south-east Victoria and the Gold Coast and they plan to expand their services Australia-wide. With the help of 250-plus volunteers, the custom fitted vans each with two commercial washing machines and two dryers service 22 locations and wash more than 200 loads each week. Orange Sky encourages people of all walks of life to come together. In February 2015, they took their mobile laundry to North Queensland to wash clothes in cyclone- ravaged communities. Nic and Lucas have found a way to treat others the way they want to be treated by restoring respect, while raising health standards and reducing the strain on resources.

Cooktown’s Michael Ross has been awarded 2016 Queensland Local Hero for his work as a land rights activist.

At the forefront of land rights for his people, Michael Ross commands respect wherever he goes from the corridors of Parliament House in Canberra to the cattle yards of Cape York. An Olkola man, Michael was appointed by his elders to lead his people in the emerging era of land rights. Since then, Michael has dedicated his life to securing land rights, protection of culture and country for his people and the people of Cape York, first as Director and Chairperson of the Cape York Land Council and now as Chairperson of the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation. After years of negotiations with the Queensland Government, Michael successfully secured one of the largest transfers of Aboriginal freehold land in Australia’s history. More than 700,000 hectares of land was handed back to the Olkola People in 2014. Michael is now leading his people in the next step towards self-determination, progressing sustainable economic development, land management and eco-tourism and supporting his people to come back home to country.

The Queensland Award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national Awards to be announced on 25 January 2016 in Canberra.

National Australia Day Council CEO, Jeremy Lasek, said the Queensland Award recipients are five inspirational Australians.

"The Queensland Award recipients are five great Australians shaping the future of Australian society. We are extremely proud of the work they have done - and will do in the future," said Mr Lasek.

For more than 36 years, the Commonwealth Bank has been a proud sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards. Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, congratulated the Queensland Award recipients.

“Congratulations to the Queensland recipients on being named national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards. We recognise their inspirational contribution to our community and wish them well for the national Awards,” said Mr Narev.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards finalists visit the Honour Roll.  

2016 National Nominee Local Hero

Michael Ross

Land rights activist

At the forefront of land rights for his people, Michael Ross commands respect wherever he goes – from the corridors of Parliament House in Canberra to the cattle yards of Cape York. An Olkola man, M...

2016 Young Australian of the Year

Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett

Social entrepreneurs

Best mates, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett built a free mobile laundry in their old van to help the homeless. Orange Sky Laundry began in September 2014 and since then, the world first idea h...

Where are they now? →

2016 National Nominee Senior Australian of the Year

Tim Fairfax AC

Philanthropist

One of the country’s most successful businessmen, Tim Fairfax is also one of the most generous. With pastoral interests in Queensland and New South Wales, Tim is passionate about supporting rural, r...

Where are they now? →