2021 Queensland Australian of the Year Award recipients announced
2021 QLD Australian of the Year – Dr Dinesh Palipana (Gold Coast)
2021 QLD Senior Australian of the Year – Aunty McRose Elu (Brisbane)
2021 QLD Young Australian of the Year – Daniel & William Clarke (Redland City)
2021 QLD Local Hero – Natasha Johnston (Chinchilla)
Facebook live stream link via @AustralianoftheYear
Tuesday 10 November 2020, 8:00pm Brisbane: The 2021 Queensland Australian of the Year Awards have been announced this evening in a ceremony at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.
The Queensland award recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2021.
The 2021 QLD Australian of the Year is advocate for doctors with disabilities, Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM. Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM is a senior resident doctor at Gold Coast University Hospital. Despite facing numerous barriers, he became the first quadriplegic medical graduate and medical intern in Queensland. He was recently admitted as a lawyer. As co-founder of Doctors With Disabilities Australia, Dinesh has worked with the Australian Medical Association to create first-of-kind national policies for inclusivity in medical education and employment. Dinesh is a doctor for the Gold Coast Titans physical disability rugby league team. He is also a member of multiple committees for disability advocacy and has spoken in world-renowned forums such as TEDx. Through COVID-19, he advocated for equitable treatment for people with disabilities, including as a witness to the Disability Royal Commission. The 36 year old has also contributed significantly to scientific advances in treating spinal cord injury and restoring function to people with paralysis. His national and global impact has been recognised with numerous awards, including Junior Doctor of the Year and the Order of Australia.
Advocate for Torres Strait communities and climate change, Aunty McRose Elu, is the 2021 QLD Senior Australian of the Year. Torres Strait Island Elder McRose Elu is a tireless advocate for her community. She has an unwavering vision to bring about change to better the lives of children and families. At 75, McRose is committed to reconciliation and sharing the traditional practices of her people at local, state and federal levels. She was instrumental in negotiations to legally recognise the traditional customary adoption practices of Torres Strait Islander families, which led to the introduction of a landmark Bill to the Queensland Parliament. Since 1980, McRose has been drawing global attention to the impact of climate change on the Torres Strait, including speaking at the UN and to business and political leaders. As a member of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARCC), she advocates for renewable energy and sustainable methods of production. McRose also provides essential translation for Torres Strait Islander communities to help them access services and lobbies for funding to support community capacity building.
Conservationists for the endangered orangutan, Daniel and William Clarke, are the 2021 QLD Young Australians of the Year. Brothers Daniel (24) and William (22) Clarke are passionate conservationists for the critically endangered orangutan populations in Borneo and Sumatra. Since 2008, they have highlighted the species’ plight and raised more than $900,000 to help protect the animals. The funds have supported orangutan care centres by building new holding enclosures and enabling investment in veterinary equipment. The brothers have also sponsored more than 50,000 hectares of orangutan habitat and adopted more than 100 animals. Daniel and William’s literary work on orangutan conservation has been incorporated into the NSW Department of Education Curriculum. To date, the brothers have spoken in at least 80 schools to more than 60,000 students Australia-wide, inspiring other young people to make a positive difference in the world. Daniel and William are regularly invited to speak at events to address industry leaders and politicians on sustainability and the environment. Their conservation efforts have been recognised by former US President Barack Obama and Dame Dr Jane Goodall.
Natasha Johnston, Founder and Director of Drought Angels, is the 2021 QLD Local Hero.
Natasha Johnston is the founder and director of Drought Angels, a service that delivers care packages and financial assistance to thousands of drought-stricken farming families across Queensland and New South Wales. Natasha and her friend Nicki Blackwell were inspired to help after hearing stories of farmers struggling to put food on the table. After loading a ute with supplies to take to one family in 2014, they soon started responding to calls for assistance from other families in urgent need. Drought Angels is a unique service that provides a listening ear in addition to financial assistance and food hampers. This personalised support is a lifeline for farmers who often don’t reach out for help. Natasha’s work plays a vital role in reducing rates of depression and suicide, as well as helping to keep farmers on their land. Thanks to her hard work and dedication, 47 year old Natasha frequently receives heartfelt responses of gratitude.
National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the Queensland award recipients.
“The contributions of the 2021 QLD Australians of the Year are inspirational,” said Ms Brand.
“Their dedication to making a difference for others, leading the way for change and helping those in need is to be respected and admired.”
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au.
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