Gold Coast Australian of the Year Awards

Nominations are now closed

Gold Coast Australian of the Year Awards

City of Gold Coast wishes to recognise those people that are changing lives and our community for the better.

Those whose challenges and triumphs are manifested in their life achievements.

Those who go above and beyond within their career achievements.

Or those who are simply champions in one way or another and have an impact on those around them.

Categories

Gold Coast Australian of the Year

Honouring the achievements and contributions of eminent Gold Coasters who are role models for us all, contribute to making the Gold Coast great and are positive ambassadors for the region.

Gold Coast Senior Australian of the Year

Celebrating those Australians aged 65 and over who continue to achieve, inspire or make a difference within the wider community.

Gold Coast Young Australian of the Year

Recognising inspirational 16 to 30-year-olds who have accomplished great things in a particular field of endeavour.

Gold Coast Local Hero

Acknowledging people who make a difference and challenge us to think about our contribution to creating a better local community.

Eligibility criteria

  • Nominees must be Australian citizens
  • Nominees must be residents (past or current) of the Gold Coast
  • Awards will not be granted posthumously
  • Self-nominations will not be accepted
  • Nominees must be at least 16 years of age on 26 January of the following year (to align with the National Australia Day Council’s Australian of the Year Awards)
  • Sitting state and federal politicians and current vice-regal officers are not eligible
  • Retired politicians and vice-regal officers will only be considered for work undertaken in addition to their official duties
  • Unsuccessful nominees may be re-nominated in subsequent years
  • A person cannot be an award recipient in more than one category in the same year however can be considered for recognition in a separate category in the following years (e.g. Gold Coast Young Australian of the Year one year and then Gold Coast Australian of the Year the next)
  • Groups of people or couples will not normally be eligible though in exceptional cases the selection panel reserves the right to consider such nominations
  • An individual need only be nominated once to be considered. The number of nominations received per nominee bear no weight in their selection

Selection criteria

  • Significant contribution to the Gold Coast and its community (The Local Hero award acknowledges a significant contribution at a local community level)
  • An inspirational role model for fellow Gold Coasters
  • Demonstrated excellence in their field

Consideration is also given to the following in assessing nominations against the above criteria:

  • personal, academic and professional achievements
  • contribution in the relevant field (how has the nominee 'put back' into their field to benefit others)
  • demonstrated leadership, innovation and creativity
  • personal interests and community involvement
  • contribution to development of the city’s community and/or economy
  • degree of difficulty of the achievement and sacrifices made
  • country of residence
  • previous awards and recognition.
  • Voluntary work beyond paid employment
  • Nature and length of activity or service
  • Achievements as an individual or as part of a group or organisation

In ensuring that the Gold Coast Australian of the Year Awards recipients are representative of our diverse nation consideration may be given to:

  • gender
  • age
  • ethnicity
  • field of endeavour.

Category eligibility

  • All nominees will be considered for the Gold Coast Australian of the Year Award
  • Nominees aged 16 to 30 years will also be considered for the for the Gold Coast Young Australian of the Year Award
  • Nominees aged 65 years and over will also be considered for the for the Gold Coast Senior Australian of the Year Award
  • All nominees will be considered for the Gold Coast Local Hero Award
  • Ages are as at 26 January of the following year (to align with the National Australia Day Council’s Australian of the Year Awards)

Selection process

  1. Once the nomination period closes, all submissions are checked to ensure:
    - the nominee meets the relevant eligibility and selection criteria
    - all details have been completed/supplied
  2. Any clarifications, requests for additional information and referee consultation take place
  3. Selection panel make a recommendation in each category. The panel is made up of City representatives, Award partner representatives and community representatives
  4. Council of the City of Gold Coast will then determine the award recipient in each category

Tips for nominating

Being nominated for an award is a great honour. It could make all the difference to someone just knowing that their work is being recognised!

Therefore, it is important to make your nomination stand out. That does not mean it has to be perfectly written or have a long list of referees – the best nomination is one that tells a story. Check out our previous winners for ideas.

Don’t be daunted by the task of nominating someone who inspires you, however consider these tips when preparing your nomination.

Open with the important information

Start with a clear and specific statement that outlines why your nominee is worthy of receiving an award and ask yourself:

  • What activities or actions has the nominee undertaken that stand out?
  • What has the nominee accomplished that goes above and beyond their job description?
  • What special skills or talents have they employed?
  • How has the nominee changed their community?
  • Has this nominee represented the City in a way that made you proud?
  • Why are you motivated to nominate this person?

Share their story

Strengthen your nomination by painting a picture of the person:

  • What motivates them to make a difference?
  • What achievements have they made?
  • What personal challenges have they overcome in their life?
  • Why do they inspire others? How does this person make you feel?

Don’t just say it, prove it

Use real-world examples that demonstrate why your nominee is an inspiring role model.

We want to know who they are, why others would admire them or be inspired by their achievements, the impact they have made on others and why they deserve this recognition.

Where possible, include any relevant attachments to support your nomination e.g. media coverage, photographs, other awards, or recognition.

Tell us the facts, stick to the criteria and check eligibility

Support your nomination with hard facts and reliable statistics, not just observations. Provide specific measures of this person’s achievements and outline how and why they meet both the eligibility and selection criteria as outlined.

Aim for quality, not quantity

A long nomination isn’t always a good nomination, therefore try to keep your sentences short and concise and avoid repetition.

The nomination should ideally bring focus to the area of work or the specific field of endeavour in which the person has achieved, and not their entire life story.

Steer clear of detailed job descriptions or work history that is not relevant or providing multiple referee statements that don’t offer new information or provide support to the nomination.

Remember who we are looking for

People who:

  • make a significant contribution to the community
  • have accomplished great things in a particular field of endeavour
  • are role models for all Gold Coasters
  • have accomplished an exceptional achievement or excellence in a specific area
  • are positive ambassadors for the region
  • continue to achieve, inspire or make a difference to others
  • are making a difference and challenge us to think about our own contribution to creating a better community

Include referees

Make sure you fill in the referee field.

These are people that support your nomination, are aware of the nominee’s achievements and are able to provide any additional information if required.

If possible, please ensure that you advise the referee that you have provided their details as part of your nomination.

How to nominate

All nominations are to be submitted by Sunday 17 April 2022, using any of the options below: 

Online

Submit your nomination

Email

Complete the form below and email to events@goldcoast.qld.gov.au 

Mail

Complete the form below and post to:
City Events
City of Gold Coast
PO Box 5042
Gold Coast Mail Centre QLD 9726

Gold Coast Australian of the Year Awards nomination form(PDF, 1MB)

Contact us

For more information or help with your nomination please phone 07 5581 7539.

Previous winners

Gold Coast Citizen of the Year

Awardee Achievements
2021 – Warren Young Warren Young was employed by City of Gold Coast as a professional lifeguard in 1973 and was stationed at Burleigh Heads. In 1975, he was promoted to Chief Lifeguard, a position he held until retiring in February 2021. Now one of the City's longest serving employees, Warren was responsible for facilitating beach safety, managing a budget of $9.5 million, employing 39 permanent staff and 140 seasonal staff – the largest professional lifeguard service in Australia. He is one of the City's greatest advocates and his skill and ability in his job was recognised internationally. The Gold Coast Professional Lifeguards are considered the best in the world and this is in no small part due to its prestigious leader.
2020 – Professor Mark von Itzstein AO FAA FAHMS FRACI Professor von Itzstein has international standing in glycoscience, medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, particularly in the area of anti-infective drug discovery. His research program focuses on the discovery of novel anti-microbial (anti-bacterial, parasitic, viral) drugs, including anti-influenza drugs, anti-parainfluenza and anti-cancer drugs primarily based on carbohydrate-related pathways.
2019 – Paul Donovan Paul Donovan has played a unique role in helping to make the Gold Coast a global tourism destination. As chair of Destination Gold Coast for more than a decade, and until recently a director of Tourism and Events Queensland, he has guided the city's image and reputation in its most successful era of visitor growth.
2018 – Karen Phillips Karen boasts an expansive career in media as a qualified journalist, and is an avid supporter of women's cancer charities and other causes, having assisted in raising more than $2 million for a range of not-for-profit organisations.
2017 – Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor Professor O'Connor has been instrumental in the outstanding achievements of Griffith University as well as volunteering his time in leadership and advisory roles to a wide array of organisations.
2016 – Gary Baildon Gary held the office of Mayor for three terms; he has also held senior roles in many government and community organisations. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010.

Gold Coast Young Citizen of the Year

Awardee Achievements
2021 – Elijah Palmer Elijah is an amazing young man who attends Mudgeeraba State Special School. Elijah has continued to train throughout COVID-19 lockdown. Despite having had several hospital admissions and some medical procedures, he has still smashed records in the sport of wheelchair racing. Elijah won all 5 races at the Queensland Schools Championships with 6 personal bests.
2020 – Amelia Anderson Amelia is a year 11 student at Lutheran Ormeau Rivers District School (LORDS). Amelia has been a surf lifesaver at Southport Surf Life Saving Club for the past three years, as well as volunteering her time for the past five years at the Gold Coast Inclusive Sports Program and volunteering for Rosie's – Friends on the Street.
2019 – Kaitlin Barwick Kaitlin Barwick at just 16 is already proving herself as an inspiring leader through the introduction of new voluntary community initiatives, fundraising and personal academic and sporting achievements. Kaitlin is currently completing her Gold 'Duke of Edinburgh' Award within the PCYC.
2018 – Madison Birtchnell Madison is just 17 and for the past 10 years has single-handedly organised empowering community events, generated funding, arranged sponsorship and guest speakers, created cultural and social change locally, raised awareness and broken down barriers surrounding important social issues.
2017 – Kane Elgey As a player of the Gold Coast Titans' squad, Kane is a most available and cooperative player for community visits, sponsor liaison and media requirements. He is also ambassador for the Tugun Seahawks where he began his career.
2016 – Tanya Diessel Tanya works as a community lawyer, providing free legal advice and assistance to the Gold Coast community, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

Sports Achievement Award

Awardee Achievements
2021 – Renee Cohen Renee Cohen is an inspiring woman who plays a significant professional and personal role on the Gold Coast. Professionally, she is General Manager, Community and Game Development for the Gold Coast Titans. Through that role she is an innovator and leader across professional sport. Personally, Renee has a passion for inclusion of people with disabilities and furthering the rights of indigenous people. Every year since 2014, Renee works on an initiative where children with Down syndrome run onto the pitch with the players at the beginning of a Titans' home game. The NRL platform is used to leverage awareness of Down syndrome and create positive images of our children having the time of their lives.
2020 – Richard Peters Richard Peters joined the Hinterland Field Archers club only five years ago and has excelled at the sport of archery. In this time he has achieved the following:
- Queensland State Champion (2016, 2017, 2018)
- he won the Pan Pacific Masters Games in the traditional division in 2015 and bare bow division in 2016
- he became the Australian National Champion and Shooter of the year in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
2019 – Jarred Gillett In 2018 Jarred became the most successful referee in the Australian A-League history, taking charge of the 2018 Hyundai A-League Grand Final and taking out the Hyundai A-League referee of the year for a record fifth time.
2018 – Sally Pearson Sally is one of the fastest 100 metre hurdlers in history and a GC2018 Ambassador. Sally has placed the Gold Coast on the world's stage and is an incredible motivator and ambassador for the Gold Coast and youth in particular.
2017 – Donald Robertson Donald Robertson has been swimming since 1930 and at the age of 91 was the second oldest person to compete at the 2016 Pan Pacific Masters Games, where he came away with two gold and four silver medals.
2016 – Luke Douglas As a Gold Coast Titans player, Luke is tireless in his efforts to help others when off the field, such as his involvement with Down Syndrome Association QLD, Ambassador for Parkwood Sharks, volunteer with the Titans Junior Development training sessions, and coach of a Burleigh Bears Under 13s team.

Cultural Achievement Award

Awardee Achievements
2021 – Ken Dinh Ken is one of the former Mayor's Student Ambassadors for the Gold Coast. He now works at the Gold Coast Student Hub. Ken plays a role with the Bleach* Festival, engaging with attendees of multicultural origins. He also plays a supporting role in reaching out to international students during the global pandemic, volunteering to help Study Gold Coast to pack and deliver student support packs in the city.
2020 – Aarti Bajaj Aarti Bajaj is the artistic director of Gold Coast based production company, Wild Dreamer Productions. A medical sonographer by trade, Aarti is a wife, mother and triathlete and is the director of Navrasa Dance School in Southport (Aarti holds a degree in Indian contemporary and classical dance).
2019 – Mark Duckworth Mark Duckworth has been Festival Director of Blues on Broadbeach and Groundwater Country Music Festival for the past four years. During this time, Mark has led these festivals to more than double attendance; subsequently driving big dollars.
2018 – Lisa Sorbie Martin Lisa has lived on the Gold Coast for 35 years and has developed her skills as a painter, textile artist and fashion designer. Lisa's work has been presented both nationally and internationally.
2017 – Bianca Cook Bianca Cook is a proud, indigenous Australian who serves as senior practitioner for indigenous programs. Bianca is also actively involved in youth cultural programs that encourage healthy lifestyle choices, pride in culture and a deep sense of community belonging.
2016 – Polly Snowden Polly was the Gold Coast Music Awards 2015 Music Champion of the Year award winner, and has delivered a number of successful music programs on the Coast.

Environmental Achievement Award

Awardee Achievements
2021 – Friends of the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens The 'Friends' were instrumental in the establishment of the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens in Benowa. This led to City of Gold Coast commissioning a site selection process and later a Botanic Garden Master Plan. Community support followed and the first planting day was held 2003. Since this time the gardens have now become a thriving community hub and an area dedicated to plant conservation, research, and environmental education thanks to the efforts of the Friends. The Friends play an active and important role in both the gardens and promoting and conserving our local environment.
2020 – Saraya Robinson Saraya Robinson is the environmental face of City of Gold Coast, responsible for The Naturally GC and the Beaches to Bushland programs which engage over 14,000 individuals across the city, with more than 900 individual activities helping to connect to, conserve and explore our natural environment.
2019 – Karen Scott Karen has been active member of Wildcare for 18 years and has been the president for the past nine years. Karen's dedication and commitment to our wildlife is inspirational and her life is devoted to the care, rescue, rehabilitation and ultimately return, of our wildlife to the wild.
2018 – Dr Michael Pyne Michael heads up the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. When Michael joined in 2000 the hospital was treating 2500 injured and sick native animals annually, the hospital now treats more than 10,000 of our sick and injured wildlife annually.
2017 – Patrick Brabant Patrick has shown a keen interest in the environment from an early age. He won the Griffith University Science Award for his project on palm oil, has been on the Queensland Youth and Environment Council, is a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
2016 – Wal and Heather Mayr Wal and Heather have spent 25 years restoring their property which adjoins the Springbrook National Park and Austinville Conservation Area, and in 2008 entered in to a Nature Refuge with the State to protect these assets.

Community Service Award

Awardee Achievements
2021 – Melanie Annand For the past 9 years, Melanie has been the Secretary of the North Gold Coast RSL Sub-Branch which has grown its membership significantly over this period. She dedicates considerable hours every week to provide administrative and life support to the veterans in the Northern Gold Coast community. Melanie is a role model to many. Her efforts have encouraged her family (partner and 3 school-aged children) to become heavily involved in the veteran community activities.
2020 – Judy Hendrikx Judy has been involved in supporting many community groups across the region, including the St John's Ambulance, and six years ago was instrumental in the establishment of an Over 50's coffee and chat group at the Ormeau Centre. The Ormeau Over 50's meet each Tuesday and after a start with about 10 women, the group has now grown to about 50 people including men and women who gather for companionship on a weekly basis and who enjoy and celebrate special occasions.
2019 – The Blenders Founded in 1988, The Blenders have been an icon of the Gold Coast for 30 years. Originally formed as a four-man singing group, the now 70-strong men's choir with three associated choirs, adds up to approximately 150 permanent singing members. The Blenders mentor young leaders, provide inter-generational outreach, establish choruses and bring cheer and celebration to the community.
2018 – Trevor Hendy Trevor is a former Australian professional surf lifesaver, having won six Australian Open Ironman titles and the Uncle Toby's Super Series four times. He is now a motivational speaker and life coach.
2017 – Deborah Hazlewood Deborah is a member of the North Burleigh Surf Lifesaving Club and coordinates the Seahorse Nippers Program which is a program for children with special needs, the first of its kind to be conducted on the Gold Coast.
2016 – Animal Welfare League Since its inception in 1959, the AWLQ has grown to become one of the most effective and respected animal welfare charities in all of Australia.