The strong sense of community that shone through during recent bushfires in the east and west of the region was celebrated in the presentation of the 2020 Scenic Rim Australia Day Awards.
Presented in conjunction with a citizenship ceremony where 57 members of the Scenic Rim community officially became Australians, the awards honoured some of the brave men and women involved in the firefighting effort as well as the community champions who work tirelessly behind the scenes to support grassroots organisations.
Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen presented Citizen of the Year Awards in three age categories, the Mayor’s Award for an outstanding individual across all categories, a Special Commendation for Community Involvement and a special Scenic Rim Region Award recognising the service and sacrifice of fire emergency service volunteers during the September to December 2019 fires across the Scenic Rim.
Cr Christensen said it has been a challenging time for many in the region with drought and bushfire.
“From my first-hand involvement with the bushfires I am also very aware of the personal impact that these have had on many people throughout the Scenic Rim,” he said.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the tremendously brave men and women involved in these firefighting efforts.”
“They faced the most challenging of conditions and fought tirelessly to save lives and property across our region.”
“It’s evident our emergency service personnel put life and limb on the line to help protect local communities.”
“It was not just those on the fire lines – logistics, planning, communication and our SES played a strong support role.”
Many of the nominees for the Citizen of the Year Awards were among those who had been involved in the firefighting and community recovery efforts.
“Our region has been tested but has shown remarkable resilience to stand together through these challenges and to look to the future to be stronger as a result,” Cr Christensen said.
“All of our award nominees are of an extremely high calibre and those of you who were nominated should be proud of the contribution you have made to your community.”
Citizen of the Year 16-30 Years, Grace McDonald
Boonah State High School’s captain of 2019, Grace McDonald, was nominated for inspiring other students to step up and become involved in their school and local community.
Grace was involved in school fundraising activities and was editor of the school magazine and an Interact member. Her efforts with Interact and fundraising resulted in Boonah State High School delivering 52 shoe boxes to Rotary for Timor Leste.
Grace’s nomination recognised her mature, efficient, organised and friendly manner that will stand her in good stead in her tertiary nursing studies.
Citizen of the Year 31-65 Years Mark Ayers
As First Officer of the Beechmont Rural Fire Brigade, Mark led his team to protect the Binna Burra/Beechmont community for 18 days in early September 2019.
Mark was recognised for his bravery and clarity of purpose during the unprecedented September Sarabah bushfires, when fire fronts were 30 to 40 metres high and moving at speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour in unpredictable directions.
Mark’s nomination called for recognition for the service he and his team provided in ensuring that no residents or volunteer firefighters lost their lives during the dangerous bushfires.
Mark said he was honoured to be selected as Scenic Rim Citizen of the Year.
“I would like to dedicate this award to all the amazing volunteer members of Beechmont Rural Fire Brigade,” said Mark.
“You have done an incredible job over the last five months and throughout the last fifty years of the brigades existence.”
“I would like to thank my wonderful wife Julie and sons Lachlan and Cameron for their ongoing support.”
“I would also like to thank Beechmountain CWA for their incredible dedication, care and kindness to our community.”
“Finally I would like to thank the Beechmont community for all your support and help during the fire event and with the continuing recovery,” he said.
Citizen of the Year 65+ Years Frank White
Frank White was nominated for his outstanding contribution to the Tamborine Mountain community, and throughout the Scenic Rim region, through his work as a volunteer minister and local SES member.
He also serves as Padre to the Tamborine Mountain RSL Sub Branch, of which he is a committee member, and is regarded by colleagues as an outstanding role model to the sub-branch and local community.
For the past eight years Frank has supported the residents of the Roslyn Lodge Aged Care Facility on Tamborine Mountain, which faced closure two years ago. While no longer a paid pastoral care worker, he has continued to volunteer his services. A former Presbyterian minister, Frank also volunteers as a religious education teacher at Tamborine Mountain and St Bernard State Schools.
Mayor’s Award Lesley Klan
Like many of the Scenic Rim’s community champions, Lesley Klan has a strong sense of community and passion for helping others. The Rathdowney Rural Fire Brigade, the Anglican and Catholic churches at Rathdowney, and the Rathdowney Swimming Club are among the 18 local not-for-profit groups which have benefited from her fundraising activities from her community market stall.
Lesley has been a member of the Rathdowney Area Development and Historical Association since the 1990s, helping with the historical museum, conservation of museum objects and compilation of local history. She volunteers at the Rathdowney Visitor Information Centre, is a member of the Barney View Community Church and has supported Beaucare’s community work at Rathdowney.
Special Commendation for Community Involvement – Kooralbyn Valley Community Development Association
The Kooralbyn Valley Community Development Association worked tirelessly in the months leading up to the Arts Ablaze Regional Arts Conference and Festival, with local volunteers hosting a number of working bees in readiness for guests of the event to camp on the grounds. They also managed the camping area during the event, with volunteers working together to look after bookings, camping check-ins, the camp kitchen, and camper enquiries.
This was a huge effort for the local volunteers and Scenic Rim Regional Council is grateful for their show of civic pride and for being an integral part of this wonderful event within the region.