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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.

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Australia Day Awards

2021 Australia Day Award nominations

Every year, City of Gold Coast recognises community members and groups who have made an outstanding contribution to the Gold Coast for exceptional achievement, by presenting the City of Gold Coast Australia Day Awards.

The 2021 Australia Day Award winners were announced on 21 January 2021 at an award presentation ceremony at Q1.

2021 Australia Day Award recipients

Gold Coast Citizen of the Year — 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 still holds today.

Now one of the City's longest serving employees, Warren is 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 are 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.

Gold Coast Young Citizen of the Year — 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 five races at the Queensland Schools Championships with six personal bests.

Community Service Award — Melanie Annand

For the past nine 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 three school-aged children) to become heavily involved in the veteran community activities.

Sports Achievement Award — 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.

Environment Achievement Award — 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.

Cultural Achievement Award — 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.

Further information

For 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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