2017 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Award Winners
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Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards
  • Last updated:
  • 01 Apr 2017

Council held a special Australia Day Awards ceremony in Woombye on 24 January to help celebrate and acknowledge the outstanding achievements of individuals and groups in the region. 

The 84 nominees were joined by the Mayor, Mark Jamieson and 300 family and friends to share the special occasion where eight recipients were presented with their awards.

2017 award winners 

Outstanding Achievement Award, Lachlan Smart

From the age of two, Lachlan has always wanted to fly. Achieving this dream at age 14, Lachlan created Wings Around the World, sending the message to youth that you can achieve your goals through adversity, whilst still being able to embrace the dream of flying. 

He now holds the World Record for flying solo around the world unassisted, a feat he completed in 2016.

Citizen of the Year, Julie Penlington 

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

She is the founder and president of 4 Paws Animal Rescue Inc and her role there includes:

  • volunteering more than 60 hours a week 

  • availablility for the charity is 24/7 x 365 days a year

  • provides safe, loving homes for rescued animals

  • heads up a team of 100 volunteers

  • organises and oversees rescue, vet appointments, fostering, and adoption of every animal through the charity

  • coordinates all fundraising, advertising, marketing, and the annual Charity Walk

  • has re-homed well over 6000 animals often to the elderly people she visits.

Young Citizen of the Year, Jak Hardy

Jak has demonstrated extensive local, national and global leadership in youth empowerment. His academic achievements include:

  • Bachelor of Law (due to complete in 2018)
  • Graduate Certificate in Business (due to complete 2017)
  • Diploma of Ministry
  • 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. 

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

Senior Citizen of the Year, George Farmer 

For the past 15 years, George has volunteered his time for the benefit of people around the Sunshine Coast as part of the Coastal Caring Clowns. 

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 and his singular goal has been to spread happiness and well being with no thought for personal gain.

Community - Group or Organisation, Innovation Centre, Sunshine Coast

The Innovation Centre (ICSC) are an exceptional organisational team leading the most innovative and entrepreneurial business centre on the Coast.  Their list of achievements include:

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

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

Sport and Recreation, Ron Grabbe 

Ron excels as a successful sportsman, president, volunteer, fundraiser, organiser, businessman and community member.  His roles include: 

  • President of the largest and most successful outrigger club in Australia for more than 10 years, Mooloolaba Outrigger Canoe Club
  • Volunteered for AOCRA in South Qld zone, Wishlist Row for Cancer, for World Sprints 2016 and also for Waterlife. 
  • Assisted with the successful bid to host the World Sprints 2016 - which attracted more than 5000 domestic and international competitors and visitors to the Sunshine Coast
  • Active supporter of the No Limits Adaptive Paddling Programme (paddlers with a physical disability).

Creative, Robyn Ernst 

Robyn has provided a creative haven for youth on the Coast through the Buderim Youth Theatre of Excellence (BYTEs) for the past 16 years.

She harnesses talent and enthusiasm for Performing Arts and fosters a safe space for students to explore their inner worlds. 

She teaches youth to be competitive, but supportive and encourages them to start their own creative enterprises.  

Environment, Rhondda Alexander

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 Coast.  

She is passionate about engaging and empowering young people to develop environmental stewardship and has won numerous environmental awards.  Her roles have included: 

  • President of Friends of Currimundi Lake
  • Group Leader and Founder – TurtleCare Currimundi Beach
  • Coordinator - Clean Up Australia Day, Currimundi Lake
  • Organised educational displays at community events including Lights on the Lake and Maleny Wood Expo.
  • Categories 

    • Citizen of the Yearsponsored by 7 News - Sunshine Coast
    • Young Citizen of the Year, sponsored by University of the Sunshine Coast 
    • Senior Citizen of the Yearsponsored by Maroochy RSL 
    • Community - Group or Organisation, sponsored by Sunshine Coast Daily 
    • Sport and Recreationsponsored by Sunshine Coast Sports Federation 
    • Creativesponsored by TAFE Queensland East Coast 
    • Environment, sponsored by Living Smart 

    View past award winners.

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