Community spirit recognised in Australia Day Awards

Date published: 26 January 2020

Townsville residents who have gone above and beyond in service of the community have been recognised with the Australia Day Awards today.

Presenting the awards at an event at Jezzine Barracks, Mayor Jenny Hill said the winners embodied the principles and values of what it means to be a true blue Australian.

“The Australia Day Awards are about recognising those in our community that do not seek recognition. They acknowledge those who go the extra mile and, in so doing, make a real difference,” Cr Hill said.

“This year we received 51 nominations across the seven categories, which goes to show just how lucky we are here in Townsville to have so many amazing people who put their knowledge, experience, passion and talents to use to help others.”

Cr Hill also paid tribute to the Townsville community which had come together in response to the unprecedented monsoon event which hit the area in February 2019.

“Our city was hit harder than ever before with the monsoon event,” she said.

“But throughout the devastation, pain and loss, what I saw from the people of Townsville was something I’m still extremely proud of to this very day.

“The leadership, resilience, kindness and compassion that shone through was amazing.

“These amazing acts in extraordinary circumstances has seen us award multiple winners in some Australia Day Award categories this year.”

Townsville’s Australia Day Award winners for 2020 are:

CITIZENS OF THE YEAR: Cayley Downey and Lynette Pemberton

After her son with special needs tragically passed away, Cayley Downey created a non-for-profit organisation, Unlock the Lachs, to raise money for special needs children and their families to purchase specialised equipment. Each year Cayley organises a graduation party for the Vincent State School special needs department and provides each child and their family a yearly family pass to Reef HQ and Coles vouchers. She also built a fairy garden at the Ronald McDonald House to help children and their families feel more comfortable while there.

For more than 10 years, Lynette Pemberton has volunteered with Delta, an organisation that takes animals to nursing homes and hospitals in an effort to cheer up patients. Lynette has also volunteered at schools and Indigenous organisations, teaching young Indigenous children crucial life skills. She is currently the president of Probus Women, a group for retired businesswomen, and has previously been involved in Soroptimist International, which encourages women to work for peace and improve the lives of women and young girls.


In 2019, Lucy Woodbury was awarded an Order of Australia Citizen Award in recognition of her commitment to community service. As a student at Kirwan State High School, Lucy collaborated with other students and staff to lead the annual Shave for a Cure Day and co-lead Kirwan High’s Colour Run. Lucy volunteered in Papua New Guinea in 2018 as part of Kirwan High’s Service-Learning Trip. Outside of school hours, Lucy rides BMX at a national level and gives up her own time to coach and mentor young people at training camps throughout the year.

COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER AWARDS: Jennifer Rentsch, Rebekah Hoover and Leann Pascoe

In February 2019, Jennifer Rentsch co-ordinated YWAM Townsville’s response to the unprecedented monsoonal event. Jennifer was YWAM’s primary liaison with the Townsville City Council, ensuring that YWAM’s efforts significantly contributed to the flood recovery. She helped assist other volunteers in engaging with the community, going door-to-door to visit each home in the hardest hit suburbs of Townsville. She also oversaw the establishment of a call centre to assist with calls regarding disaster response and provide the community with services that are available to help with recovery.

Rebekah Hoover jointly coordinated the response of YWAM Townsville to the unprecedented monsoonal event. Rebekah facilitated the establishment of the YWAM evacuation centre, mobilising a group of YWAM volunteers to prepare the centre in just one hour. She is a full-time volunteer with YWAM and has provided key direction and leadership in YWAM’s engagement throughout Townsville and across North Queensland.

After beating the odds and surviving stage 3 cervical cancer, Leann Pascoe dedicated her life to raising the most vulnerable children in our community. Since 2006, Leann and her husband Brad have cared for more than 45 children. She is also heavily involved with the Central’s Junior Football Club and also volunteers as the regional FAST representative with Queensland Foster & Kinship Care, providing support and guidance to other foster carers in the community.

SENIOR SPORTS AWARD: Greg Hooper, Art of Strength Boxing

Greg Hooper is well known in the local and interstate boxing scene. For years Greg has taught kids and adults how to build respect, discipline and confidence through the sport of boxing. Greg’s lifelong passion for boxing has seen him train Queensland and National title holders, and he has devoted his time and passion into getting youths off the street and transferring their time and energy into boxing.

JUNIOR SPORTS AWARDS: Kirwan State High School Bears Under 18 Rugby League Team and Chelseann Osborne

Kirwan State High School's Under 18 Bears Rugby League Team's victory in the National Schoolboys Cup will go down as one of the all-time great sporting achievements in North Queensland.  Not only were they crowned Australian Champions when they defeated Westfields Sports High, Sydney at Campbelltown Stadium, but they were also awarded the NRL Schoolboy Phil Hall Cup and the Aaron Payne Cup. Not only does the team show great sportsmanship on the field, but they’re also seen as great role models for the students of the Kirwan High community.

Chelseann Osborne is a fully qualified sailing instructor regularly running both Youth and Children’s learn-to-sail courses. Chelseann recently represented Australia at the Special Olympic World Games in Abu Dhabi, where she won the gold medal. She recently won 8th place at the Queensland Youth Championships in the Laser division and has won the Townsville Sailing Club Laser Champion three years running. She also volunteers her time running sailing programs for people with disabilities through Sailability Townsville.


Corrina Goldburg is a working mum of two and an active P&C member at Hermit Park State School. Working with Envirobank Townsville, Corrina installed recycling collection bins throughout the school, which helped raise $10,000 to go towards purchasing a Ninja Warrior playground for the school. She secured the collection of containers from the Townsville 400 Supercars event which allowed her to donate to Lids4Kids, a charity collecting unwanted plastic lids putting them to good use. Corrina has also sought out other recycling opportunities at local sporting events and has also set up a recycling station at Hermit Park State School. She is dedicated to the collection of bottle lids, bread tags and other soft plastics as part of the school’s participation in the Reef Guardian Schools program.

ARTS & CULTURE AWARD: Sam Wright, Neck of the Woods

Sam Woods and his partner Nicole Cross founded Neck of the Woods Music Festival and Neighbourhood Sessions in 2017 to provide a platform for those in the local music community. Neck of the Woods has continued to thrive and attract thousands of Townsville locals and visitors each year. From performing in backyards, local businesses and museums to now creating a music festival for talented local bands, Sam has created an environment which allows people to experience their art. Sam and Nicole have been overwhelmed by the growing demand for Neighbourhood Sessions, providing professional development for artists and selling out event after event.