4 Paws Animal Rescue founder and dedicated volunteer earns Australia Day honour
  • Tuesday 24 January 2017
Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards

Founder and president of 4 Paws Animal Rescue Inc, and tireless volunteer, Julie Penlington was named the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Citizen of the Year at a special ceremony held today (January 24) at the Suncoast Events Centre.

Julie’s community involvement is exemplary. She dedicates more than 60 hours per week to volunteering for 4 Paws Animal Rescue and has so far found new homes for 6000 animals.

Julie is also a regular in-home visitor to elderly patients on the Sunshine Coast, providing a friendly face, assisting with chores and providing medication education.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said this year’s Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards had again highlighted the outstanding work of a number of community-focussed Sunshine Coast citizens and organisations, led by the new Citizen of the Year.

“Julie has achieved great things for our community and this award is one way we are able to show our appreciation for all of her efforts,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“She has dedicated so many hours of her time to improving the lives of others and that selfless commitment is an example for all of us to follow.

“The Australia Day Awards are our chance to say thank you to Julie and all of the other nominees across the various categories.

“While they cover a wide range of various issues, activities and topics, they share a common passion to contribute to our Sunshine Coast.

“They fully deserve this public recognition for what they do to make our region an even better place to live in, do business in and visit.

“These are the inspirational people who set a positive example and are great role models for our community.”

The 2017 Australia Day Award recipients were nominated by the community and selected by a panel of local leaders and experts, including the 2016 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Citizen of the Year award recipient, David Larkin.

2017 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Award winners

Julie Penlington – Citizen of the Year Award, sponsored by 7 News – Sunshine Coast

Julie’s community involvement is exemplary, doing in-home visits to elderly patients – providing a friendly face, assisting with chores and providing medication education.

Julie is the founder and president of ‘4 Paws Animal Rescue Inc.’. She volunteers more than 60 hours a week with them and is available 24/7, 365 days a year to provide safe, loving homes for rescued animals on the Sunshine Coast.

Julie heads up a team of 100 volunteers and personally organises and oversees rescue, vet appointments, fostering, and adoption of every animal through the charity. She coordinates all fundraising, advertising, marketing, and the annual Charity Walk. So far he has rehomed more than 6000 animals often to the elderly people she visits.

Jak Hardy – Young Citizen of the Year Award, sponsored by the University of the Sunshine Coast

Jak has demonstrated extensive local, national and global leadership in youth empowerment.

His academic achievements have been outstanding holding a Bachelor of Laws, Graduate Certificate in Business, Diploma of Ministry and 2014 Vice Chancellor's Merit Scholarship.

His list of achievements are endless, particularly for his age and has held a variety of roles in the community featuring heavily on boards, committees and memberships. He helped establish the USC Helping Hands for Nepalese students and is Founding Executive Director of WorldChangers.

Jak represented Australia at the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassador's Network and is the first ever Australian competing for Chairmanship of Commonwealth Youth Council.

George Farmer – Senior Citizen of the Year Award, sponsored by Maroochy RSL

For the last 15 years George has volunteered his time for the benefit of people around the Sunshine Coast as part of the Coastal Caring Clowns (CCC). Affectionately known as “Rocco”, George visits local hospitals, aged care facilities, respite centres and retirement villages in an effort to spread joy to those in need of a helping hand.

George is a natural leader and role model, organises workshops to develop the CCC troupe and his singular goal has been to spread happiness and wellbeing with no thought for personal gain.

Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast – Community Group or Organisation Award, sponsored by the Sunshine Coast Daily

The Innovation (ICSC) are an exceptional organisational team leading the most innovative and entrepreneurial business centre on the Sunshine Coast with more than 45 businesses.

More than 130 businesses have graduated from the startup incubator/ business accelerator program since 2002 and the ICSC has facilitated more than 150 USC internships. More than 480 jobs have been created with more than $30million raised in capital and grants.

ICTS lead the way in promoting knowledge sharing, business development, leadership, community and industry partnership building and innovation on the Coast.

Robyn Ernst – Creative Award, sponsored by TAFE Queensland East Coast

For 16 years, Robyn has provided a creative haven for youth on the Coast through the Buderim Youth Theatre of Excellence (BYTEs), harnessing talent and enthusiasm for Performing Arts.

One of BYTEs students now stars as “Matilda” in the musical Matilda at QPAC and others have entered “The Voice”.

Robyn fosters a safe space for students to explore their inner worlds. She then teaches them competitive, but supportive entrepreneurialism that assists them to start their own creative enterprises and bring their creative and people skills to all that they do, whether that is customer service, public speaking, social justice, teaching, entertaining, or any other creative pursuits.

Rhondda Alexander – Environment Award, sponsored by Living Smart

Rhondda is a dedicated volunteer who has served the community and environment for over four decades. 

She is a respected member of the community whose volunteering efforts and outstanding contribution to conservation have enhanced community capacity, engagement and participation in environmental issues on the Sunshine Coast.

Her roles have included: President of Friends of Currimundi Lake; Group Leader and Founder – TurtleCare Currimundi Beach; Coordinator - Clean Up Australia Day, Currimundi Lake.

She is passionate about engaging and empowering young people to develop environmental stewardship, has won numerous awards and organised educational displays at community events in the region, including Lights on the Lake and Maleny Wood Expo.

Ron Grabbe – Sport and Recreation Award, sponsored by the Sunshine Coast Sports Federation

Ron excels as a successful sportsman, president, volunteer, fundraiser, organiser, businessman and community member. He has been president of the largest and most successful outrigger club in Australia for more than 10 years, Mooloolaba Outrigger Canoe Club. 

Ron has volunteered for more than seven years for AOCRA in South Qld zone, for eight years with Wishlist Row for Cancer, for World Sprints 2016 and also for Waterlife. He also assisted with the successful bid to host the World Sprints 2016. This event attracted more than 5000 domestic and international competitors and visitors to the Sunshine Coast. Ron is an active supporter of the No Limits Adaptive Paddling Programme (paddlers with a physical disability).