Australia Day Award winners announced

Date published: 26 January 2017

Townsville’s Australia Day Awards are presented on 26 January every year to residents and organisations within our community in recognition of noteworthy contributions or achievements.

Junior Sports Person of the Year: Kajsa Souter

Kajsa has been part of the Townsville Central athletics club for 10 years. She has willingly provided her skills and expertise each week to assist with the junior athletes. She has also contributed to the smooth running of their regional competition by presenting medals and making announcements.

Kajsa is a determined and disciplined athlete, putting in many hours of training to attain her sporting goals. As well as being an outstanding athlete, she demonstrates to others excellent sportsmanship and a positive and humble attitude. This year she achieved a gold in the pentathlon at the Little Athletics State Championship, she then went on win silver in the pentathlon at national level and a bronze in the relay.

In the recent Queensland School All Comers Championship, Kajsa won a gold medal in the long jump, a silver in the triple jump and 400m hurdles and gold in the 100m hurdles in a time of 14.03s only 0.5sec off the state record held by now Olympian Sally Pearson.

Senior Sports Person of the Year: Linda Davis

Linda gives back to the local sporting community in Townsville by being involved in every event she is available for. She is the driving force behind Townsville's Totally Tropical Orienteering Club that conducted more than 20 events this year with between 38-212 local participants per event.

She volunteers at local sporting events and has for years - Townsville Triathlon Festival registration and marshall, lead rider for the Townsville Running Festival, track planner for the inaugural Legacy Mt Stuart Trail Run, Maggie Island Swim support paddler, first aider for the Outer Limits Trail Run Series, Adventurethon marshall and sweep and scorer for the Maggie Island Treasure Quest. She also works at Ultra Trail Australia in the Blue Mountains (TNF100), was the course manager for XPD Adventure Race in Townville in late 2015, volunteer at Geoquest AR and provides regular medical support for Defence Touch Football and Rugby Union teams.

Linda works full-time and also teaches Sport & Recreation at TAFE. She finds the time to not only train and compete at three different sports at World Championships level (AR, Rafting, Rogaining), but also wins national championships in another sport (Outrigging).

Sports Administrator of the Year: Danny Ormonde

Danny Ormonde is an important member of Townsville Cycling Club, having coached his son into the Australian Track Cycling team for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Townsville Cycle Club has given him Life Membership in recognition of his efforts.

He has held various official positions in the club including president in 2014. Townsville Cycle Club was recognised by Cycling Queensland as 'Club of the Year' in 2014.

He is an official Cycling Australia recognised commissaire (referee or umpire) for the Club, and is often away officiating at Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Brisbane and Cairns.

Aware that more commissaires are needed, he runs courses for interested parents for free, donating his time to ensure others succeed in the gruelling training course.

As a recognised coach, he is down at the velodrome every Tuesday night supervising cyclists of all ages.

On Friday evenings, he is often organising racing and handicaps for all riders.

On Sundays through the dry season, he is commissairing the road cycling series in Townsville, as well as marquee races to and from Charters Towers.

At the end of the winter road season, he spends Sundays mornings training the elite junior riders who intend competing at the Junior State Championships in January.

For decades, he has selflessly worked at promoting the sport of track cycling, providing free training in cycling, free coaching courses, and free commissaire courses- all which normally cost thousands of dollars in Brisbane.

His knowledge and expertise are such that Cycling Queensland also requires his knowledge and time to organise and run events throughout Queensland- without refunding any personal costs.

Community Event of the Year: The Challenge Games

The Challenge Games are two fun days for children with disabilities coming together having fun, interacting with each other, winning ribbons, playing mixed and individual sports and games. People from Mt Isa to Cairns to Sarina travel for this event each year.

This event attracts volunteers from within the community including army, Mates For Mates, NQ Cowboys and sponsors from the Townsville surrounding communities.

This event has no boundaries for children with disabilities, who compete at their own abilities and are encouraged by spectators, parents, volunteers.

Cultural Award: Happy Feat

Happy Feat teach people with special needs to dance and interact with their peers in a non-judgmental environment. This increases their self-confidence and happiness and helps with their interactions within their families and the wider community. As a result, Happy Feat has performed at a number of events including the Townsville City Council Christmas Carols and with Guy Sebastian concerts on several occasions.

Happy Feat has been operating for nearly seven years and has provided much joy, fun, happiness and something to look forward to for its members and their families.

Happy Feat has given the participants a sense of belonging in the community.

Founder Leigh Caldwell devotes her time and energy freely to helping these special needs people.

She inspires them to try and is always encouraging, happy and enthusiastic which is reflected in the group's performances and attendance.

Happy Feat helps people from the age of 18 upwards in the senior group and there is a junior group as well.

Spirit of Townsville Award: Carisa Hunn

Carisa started a new branch of the CWA, has organised a number of events in the Alligator Creek community events such as Halloween and Christmas at the Creek. She has also been instrumental in helping raise money for local charities through her newly formed CWA branch.

She is an inspirational role model to many young women in the local and surrounding community by being a mum, business owner and branch president of the CWA Gator Girls. Carisa has worked tirelessly to enrich the community and provide a much-needed support for women in the community.

Spirit of Townsville Award: Alfred Smallwood

Uncle Alfred Men’s Group is a 24-hour volunteer service for young adults caught up in the justice system who are trying to re-engage with community, culture, family and country. There is a strong focus on cultural mentoring, taking responsibility for yourself, your country and your family. Uncle Alfred Men’s Group is a not-for-profit.

It’s strategy is to provide a safe and secure environment that will provide support and address the relevant social issues through mentoring and friendships, art and craft.

Alfred refers to the three Cs - Culture, Control and Choice in his training programs that take place every Tuesday evening and the three Ls - Look, Learn and Listen.

UAMG mentoring and art/craft programs have helped the men in our community deal with their bad life choices and move on from traumatic events. Mentoring has encouraged the men to make positive changes to their lives and art has given them an opportunity to release their hurt, anger and guilt.

Since 2011, Uncle Alfred Men’s Group’s main objective is to provide a safe and friendly environment that gives men the opportunity for a second chance with their families, employment and with themselves.

Uncle Alfred coordinates the weekly Tuesday night gatherings and during the day men are encouraged to pop in for a cuppa and a chat or participate in the art therapy program, screen printing program to start soon or the leather workshop opening early in 2017.

Young Citizen of the Year Award: Praveen Gurusinghe

Praveen is an extraordinary, high achieving young man. As a St. John Ambulance Cadet he provides first aid services and teaches others at community events throughout the year. Praveen also volunteers at the Good Shepherd Nursing Home during his school holidays.

In 2016, Praveen was instrumental in fundraising for victims of floods and landslides in Sri Lanka. Praveen volunteered at community barbecues and helped organise and host a charity dinner. The community raised around $8000 which was used to purchase new stationery and books for school children.

In 2015, Praveen was recognised at Kirwan High when he was elected Vice-School Captain for 2016. As President of Kirwan High’s service club Interact, Praveen organised and participated in numerous charity events including the World’s Greatest Shave, the Relay for Life, charity drives for the Townsville Women’s Centre and writing Christmas cards for residents at the Good Shepherd Nursing Home.

Praveen is a very high achiever and in 2016 as a graduating Year 12 student he was awarded Dux of the School.

Praveen significantly contributed to Kirwan High’s music program. As a keen percussionist, Praveen performed in Kirwan High’s Wind Symphony, Senior Strings Orchestra and Big Band. His leadership was officially recognised when he received the Percussion Player of the Year Award in 2014.

Praveen’s passion for Science led to his appointment as a JCU Science Ambassador for Kirwan High. In 2015, he received the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Bursary and also received national recognition when he was selected to attend the prestigious National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in Canberra.

Praveen intends to pursue a career in medicine.

Citizen of the Year: Noel Price

Noel has contributed to the arts and cultural community of Townsville for more than 40 years. In Noel’s early days in Townsville he worked as a teacher with Education QLD after leaving the army. During this time his contribution has included developing young musicians to a professional level to go on and represent Townsville as teachers and performers.

During this time Noel has also contributed to many organisations on a voluntary basis, including the Townsville Eisteddfod Committee, Townsville Brass Band, Local Barrier Reef Orchestra, Currajong State School P&C, Pimlico State High School P&C, Choral Society and North Queensland Opera and Music Theatre Company.

Noel spends many voluntary hours working for these organisations to add value to the arts and cultural community of Townsville and provide world class performances for our community.

In 2014 Noel was a contributing member of the Townsville Brass Band that won the Australian National Title Brass Band Championships in Brisbane. Noel then organised and chaired the committee that delivered the 2015 State Brass Band Championships in Townsville bringing more than 500 people to the city.

In addition Noel also provides a community service as a JP at the Castletown Shopping Centre on a regular voluntary basis.

Noel is known to be reliable and goes beyond all expectations to develop students, players and groups by providing opportunities to perform for the community and compete in world class competitions.

Noel also provides additional support to these groups by fundraising and reducing costs through transporting equipment and providing logistical support to the groups.

Noel is well respected and well known within the arts and cultural community including the schools.

Environmental Excellence and Sustainability Award: Rike Wolf

Rike Wolf is a passionate environmental and public health advocate, dedicated to reducing food waste and food poverty in Townsville. She founded the Food Rescue Initiative Townsville (FRIT) in 2013 to redistribute fresh surplus food to people in need to prevent perfectly nutritious food from going to waste.

FRIT is entirely volunteer run, redistributing perishable food daily to shelters and charities. Their volunteers have had an enormous impact on food waste reduction and access to healthy fresh food for those in need. They have just exceeded the 290 tonne mark of food they have rescued and redistributed! This is equivalent to more than one million meals delivered to the most vulnerable people in the Townsville community.

More than one third of good food goes to waste in Australia, often due to cosmetic standards, while two million Australians rely on food relief; one million of those are children. 10% of greenhouse gas emissions stem from food that is never eaten, and if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of CO2. The Food Rescue Initiative aims to not just highlight the importance of food waste reduction but provides simple solutions.

Food Rescue Initiative is coordinated by Rike and a team of 5 FRIT admin including Secretary, Treasurer and Volunteer Coordinators.