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Australia Day Awards

Our annual Australia Day Awards program recognises and honours the outstanding achievement of individuals within the Gold Coast community.

Australia Day Awards

2017 Australia Day Award Winners

Gold Coast Citizen of the Year

Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor

Professor Ian O'Connor has made an outstanding contribution to the Gold Coast community in a variety of important roles, none more important than as Vice Chancellor of Griffith University since January 2005.

During his tenure, this important institution has grown to be home to now more than 44,000 students from more than 130 countries and is ranked in the top three per cent of universities worldwide and is one of the Asia-Pacific region's most influential universities. The education sector is a vital element of the Gold Coast economy, and Professor O'Connor has been a driving force in its growth, both financially and from a reputation perspective.

A particular achievement is his overseeing of the growth and development of the Gold Coast campus, in particular, bringing to fruition the Gold Coast University Hospital. This remarkable facility fundamentally underpins the development of the City's Health and Knowledge Precinct.

Volunteering his valuable time in leadership and advisory roles to a wide array of Gold Coast organisations has meant Professor O'Connor has been an inspirational role model to the great benefit of the Gold Coast community. Prior to his appointment as Vice Chancellor, Professor O'Connor joined Griffith University as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) in 2002.

Following completion of degrees of Bachelor of Social Work and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Queensland (UQ), he held various academic appointments at UQ including Head of the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, and President of the Academic Board. Professor O'Connor is widely published in the field of juvenile justice, child welfare and the future directions of social work and human services.

During his academic career, Professor O'Connor has held visiting fellowships at the United Nations and Asia Far East Institute, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Professor O'Connor has served as a consultant to, or as a member of, various Government and non-Government bodies. He served as Chair of the Advancing Quality in Higher Education Reference Group and as Chair of the Queensland Minister for Education's taskforce on bullying and violence in schools and the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence. Professor O'Connor is a board member of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government; Open Universities Australia; Trade and Investment Queensland; and the Foundation for Australian Studies in China.

Professor O'Connor is also a member of the Embracing 2018 Advisory Committee (the Queensland Government's legacy advisory committee for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games™).

Gold Coast Young Citizen of the Year

Kane Elgey

Kane Elgey ranks among the most available and cooperative players in the Gold Coast Titans' squad when it comes to community visits, sponsor liaison and media requirements. As part of the Titans' Gold Coasts Junior Rugby League ambassador program, Kane is an ambassador for the Tugun Seahawks, where he began his career.

Kane willingly offers his time to help the club in various ways such as signing sessions, training runs, presentations and other club activities. In 2016, Kane received the prestigious 'Preston Award', which is given to the player who shows the greatest characteristics of the ultimate teammate or clubman.

Sports Achievement Award

Donald Robertson

At 91 years old, Don Robertson has swum every day since 1930!

He was the second oldest competitor at the 2016 Pan Pacific Masters Games and admits age has not tempered his competitive spirit. The Runaway Bay resident competed in the 50 metre, 100 metre and 200 metre freestyle events as well as the 50 metre and 100 metre breaststroke, and 50 metre backstroke.

Although swimming in a pool full of athletes, he was actually in a race of his own in the 90 to 94 age group but still managed to come away with two Gold Medals and four Silver Medals.

Don was part of the winning team that set a world record in the 4 x 100 metre relay at the 2010 Masters Swimming National Championships where the team's combined age was 320 years plus.

An interest in competitive swimming combined with his winning personality landed Don a role as an official on the Australian swimming team. After becoming an official, he gave up competing until he retired, when he again got involved in competition with masters swimming.

He trains up to one kilometre a day during his training season and is an inspiration to others, encouraging all Gold Coasters to live a more active lifestyle.

Cultural Achievement Award

Bianca Cook

Bianca Cook is a proud, strong, Indigenous Australian, who serves as a senior practitioner for indigenous programs, at 'Lives Lived Well' in Burleigh.

In her role, Bianca provides counselling to Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal youths, aged 12 to 17 years, helping those with substance abuse challenges to enter rehabilitation, find transitional housing and gain the necessary skills to re-enter society. Outside of her work, Bianca is actively involved in numerous youth cultural programs that encourage healthy lifestyle choices, pride in culture and a deep sense of community belonging. One such initiative is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health partnership, Karulbo – located on the Gold Coast.

Environmental Achievement Award

Patrick Brabant

Patrick is just 13 years of age and has shown a keen interest in the environment since he was three. At just age six, he opened the frog conservation and research facility at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary; where they have now gone on to breed the endangered Tinker Frogs, the first bred in captivity.

Patrick has won the Griffith University Science Award for his project on palm oil, as well as being represented on the Queensland Youth and Environment Council, a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and the 2015-16 City of Gold Coast Naturally GC Ambassador.

Through his role as ambassador, Patrick has encouraged other youth and the Gold Coast community to become involved in caring for our environment. He has recently spoken at the Gold Coast Landcare forum, City of Gold Coast Junior Leader's day and the City of Gold Coast Environment Awards.

Gold FM Community Service Award

Deborah Hazlewood

Debbie is nominated for service to the Gold Coast community through her work with the seahorse nippers program at North Burleigh Surf Lifesaving Club.

Debbie is a member of North Burleigh Surf Lifesaving Club as well as patrol captain; she trains new club members in their bronze medallions and coordinates the Seahorse Nippers program for children with special needs.

Debbie is instrumental in the administration, sponsorship, funding and public awareness of the program. The program is the first of its kind to be conducted on the Gold Coast with an enrolment of 30 children aged between six and 14 years.


Select from the drop-down list below to find out more about each award and the general conditions of entry for these awards.

Gold Coast Citizen of the Year - aged 26 years or over as at 26 January 2017

Recognises outstanding members of the community for their personal endeavours, achievements and community input.

Consider the following when nominating:

  • How has the nominee made an outstanding contribution to the local community?
  • What personal goals and objectives has the nominee achieved?
  • Has the work been undertaken on a volunteer or paid basis?
  • How is the nominee an inspirational role model for the community?
  • What degree of sacrifice or difficulty has the nominee experienced in their pursuits?

Gold Coast Young Citizen of the Year

Recognises young citizens for their personal endeavours, achievements and community input.

Consider the following when nominating:

  • How has the nominee made an outstanding contribution to the local community?
  • What personal goals and objectives has the nominee achieved?
  • Has the work been undertaken on a volunteer or paid basis?
  • How is the nominee an inspirational role model for the community?
  • What degree of sacrifice or difficulty has the nominee experienced in their pursuits?

Gold FM Community Service Award

Recognises individuals or groups who have provided outstanding service to the community.

Consider the following when nominating:

  • What community work has the nominee undertaken and how has this work contributed to the development of the community?
  • What degree of sacrifice or difficulty has the nominee experienced in their pursuits?
  • Has the work been undertaken on a volunteer or paid basis?
  • Give examples of acts of kindness, generosity or other contribution undertaken by the nominee for the betterment of the community or a particular person or group.

Sports Achievement Award

Recognises the committed sportsperson, coach, administrator or official whose actions inspire and encourage others and enrich the community through sport.

Consider the following when nominating:

  • What personal goals, objectives or achievements has the nominee fulfilled?
  • How is the nominee an inspirational role model?
  • How has the nominee made a special contribution to the community?
  • Has the work been undertaken on a volunteer or paid basis?
  • How does the nominee display the qualities of sportsmanship and a sense of fair play?

Environmental Achievement Award

Recognises individuals or groups who demonstrate genuine passion for the environment and strive to improve it through conservation, preservation, protection, replenishment and education.

Consider the following when nominating:

  • How has the nominee made an outstanding contribution to the environment?
  • What degree of sacrifice or difficulty has the nominee experienced in their pursuits?
  • Has the work been undertaken on a volunteer or paid basis?
  • How is the nominee an inspirational role model?

Cultural Achievement Award

Recognises individuals or groups involved in the city’s rich cultural and arts community.

Consider the following when nominating:

  • How has the nominee made an outstanding contribution to the cultural or arts community?
  • What degree of sacrifice or difficulty has been experienced by the nominee in their pursuits?
  • Has the work been undertaken on a volunteer or paid basis?
  • How is the nominee an inspirational role model?

General conditions of entry

General conditions of entry are as follows:

  1. Nominees must be a resident of the Gold Coast at the time of nomination.
  2. Nominees can only be nominated in one category.
  3. Nominations will not be accepted if the individual or group has been nominated for an award the previous year.
  4. Recipients of awards are ineligible to receive the same award within a five year period.
  5. All nominations must have two nominators and include a summary of 500 words maximum about the nominee.
  6. All documentation will be retained by the City of Gold Coast.
  7. Contact details of nominators may be forwarded to local media.
  8. Citizen of the Year nominees must be aged 26 years or older as at 26 January 2017.
  9. Young Citizen of the Year nominees must be aged 16–25 years as at 26 January 2017.

How to nominate

You can nominate a Gold Coast citizen for an award by completing an online nomination form.

Nominations close 5pm on Friday 18 November.

Announcing the winners

Winners of the 2017 Australia Day Awards were announced at a presentation ceremony at Skypoint Observation Deck on Thursday 12 January.

Further information

To make any enquiries regarding the City of Gold Coast Australia Day Awards, please contact the City Events team on
07 5581 5286.

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