Full list: Every nominee for Queenslander of the Year
FROM a police officer who uses his lived experience to bring awareness to domestic violence, to a celebrity chef supporting regional producers and a rural firefighter ready to step into the line of fire - these are the nominees for The Courier-Mail Queenslander of the Year.
For Ash Barty, 24, the coronavirus pandemic has meant the world's No. 1 women's player hasn't played competitively in three months. While she hits the practice courts again, Barty has been busy supporting frontline health workers, local cafes and Health and Wellbeing Queensland's new "Boost Your Healthy" campaign, which encourages Queenslanders to stay active, healthy and motivated through the COVID-19 lockdown.
Kay McGrath, 63, is the chair of the State Government's Domestic and Family Violence Implementation Council, a role that she has described as giving her "a great sense of purpose". In recent months, she has been working to help woman who are feeling even more trapped and isolated in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the loss of his wife and three children in a house fire nine years ago, Sunshine Coast Chef Matt Golinski, 48, has dedicated his "second go at life" to lifting up others. As Gympie Region's Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador, Golinski advocates for regional farmers and helps them make their businesses more profitable and recognised. During COVID-19, he is helping producers create new revenue streams.
During the bushfires, Li Cunxin was leading Queensland Ballet's support efforts for bushfire victims, which included a prized opportunity to do a class with Mao's Last Dancer.
"Regional Australia holds a special place for Queensland Ballet," Li said at the time. "We often visit small communities on our annual tours, so when we see these areas damaged or under threat from the devastating bushfires, we want to do our bit to help." Mr Li also leads ballet classes during Senior's Week in Queensland, and speaks often to business and community groups about his journey from poverty in China to stardom and the renaissance man of Queensland Ballet.
Cabaret singer and actor Naomi Price lost all of her gigs for the year within two hours due to COVID-19, but rather than giving up, the Queensland performer started an online show for charity within two days. The IsoLate Late Show has raised more than $90,000 for Actors and Entertainers Benevolent Fund of Queensland.
Volunteer firefighter Peter Lollo was deployed seven times during the 2019-20 bushfire season to fight the worst fires he has seen in his 20-year career. When called to the line of fire in New South Wales, Canberra, Victoria and Central Queensland, Lollo left his small business in Townsville in the hands of his mother.
When Dr Jeff Hooper isn't saving lives, he's training the state's critical care doctors, nurses and paramedics in world-leading aeromedical rescues. The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue's education and training director made the headlines last August when he saved the life of a fellow entrant in The Sunday Mail Bridge to Brisbane run. In his work life, he is responsible for preparing the organisation's 135 medical staff for major emergencies - everything from first response to car accidents, to international evacuations of critically ill patients.
The state's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young has the led the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, hailed as among the best in the world for saving lives and preventing an overwhelmed hospital system. Health Minister Steven Miles says she has worked "day and night" for three months to keep Queenslanders safe, while Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has described Dr Young's "clear advice" during the pandemic as "crucial" to the state's low infection and death rate.
For the past 10 years, Senior Constable Ben Bjarnesen have lived by the statement that "domestic violence can affect anyone". Within that time he's been able to work through his personal domestic violence troubles, cultivate a LGBTI support group for multiple communities in regional Queensland, raise awareness for victims of LGBTI domestic abuse and most recently become the founder for LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day.
Professor Phil Hugenholtz has studied microbial ecosystems over the past 25 years and is the director of the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics at The University of Queensland. He works with 50 researchers/core staff and state-of-the-art infrastructure for conducting ecogenomics research. He is also the founder of Microba, a company that works with everyday Australians and healthcare professionals to unlock information about who they are and what they can do through the bacteria living in their gut.
Margaret Shaw OAM was nominated by a reader of The Courier-Mail for driving a new insurance company for home and contents in north Queensland, and "somehow convinced them to branch into the strata market later this year!" In 2018, Ms Shaw received an OAM for noteworthy service to the community of NQ since 2011 as a community advocate for equitable insurance premiums and as community representative on the Advisory Panel for the Northern Australian Insurance Premiums Taskforce, her commitment to the community being acknowledged through several service and citizenship awards.
Pamela Chipperfield, the CEO of Broddribb Home Toowoomba, for enriching the lives of all residents of the home for many years. Her nomination read: "Pam's ongoing initiative, leadership and dedication to running this aged care facility goes far beyond anyone's expectations. One idea which came to fruition was the purchase of iPads for the use of the residents of the home during the pandemic. Pam will not hear of the Dementia Unit being called that - it is known as the Memory Support Unit."
In a decision "as close as an Origin decider at Suncorp" a panel of high-profile Queenslanders narrowed down The Courier-Mail Queenslander of the Year to three finalists: Peter Lollo, Ash Barty and Dr Jeannette Young.
"We have three outstanding finalists. Each in their own way personifies the essence of what it is to be a Queenslander - excellence in what they do, a 'can do' attitude regardless of the challenges faced, and humility when acknowledged for their contribution to Queensland," Professor Ian Frazer ACUQ Faculty of Medicine, Australian of the Year 2006 and inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil said.
Julieanne Alroe, Former chief executive of Brisbane Airport Corporation, now chair of Infrastructure Australia and Queensland Ballet, and Committee for Brisbane advisory board member said
"Peter Lollo has turned out when his fellow Australians have needed - not just once but time and time again," Alroe said.
"His courage and generosity are exemplary.
"Ash Barty is such a grounded, modest young woman, but with a quiet, determined self-confidence that makes her a winner.
"Dr Jeannette Young has brought experience, scientific expertise and good planning to her role as Queensland's chief health officer. During the pandemic, her steadfastness and quiet dignity have helped convince us to take the measures necessary to flatten the infection curve so we can get back to work and school.''
Chris Jones, The Courier-Mail Editor, said "we've uncovered unsung heroes and amazing role models in this series".
"The judging (thank you judges) of our top three finalists was as close as an Origin decider at Suncorp. All three finalists - as diverse as their achievements have been - should be extremely proud of their contribution to the fabric of our state."
Originally published as Full list: Every nominee for Queenslander of the Year