Sunshine Coast Australia Day recipients and nominees
  • Last updated:
  • 23 Jan 2023

The Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards are a celebration of the contribution that individuals, community groups and organisations make in our region.

The 2023 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards ceremony took place on 20 January where recipients were announced for the following seven categories:

  • Citizen of the Year
  • Senior Citizen of the Year
  • Young Citizen of the Year
  • Community Group or Organisation
  • Sustainability
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Creative

The following are the recipients of each category followed by nominees:

Citizen of the Year – MICHELE LIPNER

Michele coordinates the OzHarvest Sunshine Coast chapter helping to save surplus food and redistribute it to charities to feed people in need. Michele and her volunteers, rescue and redistribute more than 15,000 kilograms of quality surplus food each month. They support 45 charities, with 40 food donors and have delivered 2.1 million meals. 

They run a hands-on cooking class, showing participants how to transform rescued ingredients into delicious meals, to deliver to charities as well as education outreach programs which teach healthy eating habits and how to cook simple and low-cost meals.


  • Neil Collie
  • Kate Hofmeister
  • Jarrad McCarthy
  • Anita Trimarchi
  • Joanne Turner
  • Daniel Weepers

Senior Citizen of the Year – GARY LANGFORD

Gary moved with his family to Nambour in 1990 and immediately took an interest in community activities, leadership and volunteering.

He joined the Nambour Chamber of Commerce where he served for a period of 10 years. He has volunteered with the Nambour PCYC, St. Vincent de Paul Society, the ‘Task Force 2000’ committee and the Sunshine Coast Indigenous Liaison Network. Since 1999, he has been President of the Nambour Local Ambulance Committee (LAC) and is a qualified Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation trainer.


  • Otto Alder
  • Dominique Babacar Cisse
  • Shiralee Cooper
  • Helen Gibson
  • John Hammond
  • Ian Lawson
  • Jessie Madsen
  • Janet Millington
  • Jan O’Halloran
  • Julienne Tennyson
  • Neville Watt
  • John Whan

Young Citizens of the Year – MASON HOPE-KASSULKE

At 23, Mason is already an award-winning artist and songwriter winning the Gympie Music Muster Talent search, and was Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the year.

Mason is a volunteer and committee member for 4 Paws Animal Rescue and does important volunteer work with Headspace – an organisation he joined 11 years ago. Mason has performed and spoken at various events, promoting services for young people needing support. He has also been a Sunshine Coast Arts ambassador participating in the arts planning for the region.


  • Oliver Akester
  • Kaitlin Dobinson
  • Zayden Frost
  • Jessica Lawrie

Community Group or Organisation – (Tie)


Sunshine Coast Riding for the Disabled is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit charity, celebrating 10 years in North Arm. They provide six equine-based therapy programs to members of the disability community on the Sunshine Coast. They help with gross and fine motor skills, balance, communication, social skills, core strength, life skills, increased independence, self esteem, motivation, concentration as well as horse skills! Over the past 10 years more than 972 people with a disability have accessed programs, many of whom still remain with them today.


The Board Meeting Surf Charity started in 2003 to help swimmer Ty Belnap compete in the World Down Syndrome Championships— he came home with three medals. Fast forward to today and the charity continues to provide funding for Sunshine Coast families with children who have physical and mental disabilities. The charity has raised more than 3.25 million dollars and allocated every dollar to those who have fallen through the cracks of government care. They are run entirely by volunteers and supported by the business and surfing communities as well as community groups like Rotary.


  • Sunshine Coast Agricultural Show Society
  • Caloundra Family History Research
  • Carian Support Services
  • Coolum Beach Uniting Church
  • Festuri – A Multicultural Celebration
  • Life Care Opshop
  • Maroochy Men’s Shed
  • Nambour Community Centre
  • Salvation Army Nambour
  • Sunshine Butterflies

Sustainability - BAMBOO PROJECTS

Bamboo Projects is a mental health and disability support charity that supports environmental sustainability. They conduct waterways and land-based clean-ups, engaging youth to provide a connection to their community and culture.

During their clean-ups, they engage with the participants and teach them sustainable methods. Their back to work program engages people with disabilities to collect wheelie bins and 10 cent containers. Funds raised go back into things such as mentoring, life skills, resume workshops and high-vis clothing.


  • Danny Hood
  • Kerrie and Richard Lonn
  • Kids in Action
  • Melanie Penman
  • Oz-Harvest Sunshine Coast
  • Sean Borg
  • Stephanie Hughes


The Sunshine Coast Art group is run by volunteers and has been a creative hub for the local community for more than 50 years. The combined arts group has regular sessions in painting, life drawing, pottery and sewing. Members volunteer their time and share skills by running low-cost workshops and classes which are open to the community try out creative pursuits in a supportive, friendly environment.


  • Shannon and Felicity Cliff
  • Nick and Kate Dimakis
  • Nikita Newley Fitzpatrick
  • Anne Grant
  • Samantha Howcroft
  • Georgia Rule
  • Amy Tucker


Motiv8sports Sunshine Coast has helped thousands of young children actively engage in club sport. Their incredible multi-sports programs get kids off screens and into sport.

Their whole ethos is based on participation, inclusion, resilience, strong anti-bullying messaging and above all, giving kids the confidence to ‘have a go’.

Since starting in 2018, they have been involved in a number of fundraising initiatives and have a brilliant Leadership Program, helping Grade 7 students develop life skills, confidence and gain work experience.


  • Martin Bristow
  • Darrell Dalton
  • Amanda Jansen
  • Andrew Johnston
  • Shane Truscott

Download the program[934KB] for more information on all nominees.