Local Heroes Nominated for Australia Day Awards

Damon Rockliff
Damon Rockliff is amongst the nominees for Scenic Rim Australia Day Awards

Some of the volunteers who came to the fore during the Scenic Rim bushfires, and quiet achievers who work behind the scenes in community organisations, will be honoured in a Council awards presentation in conjunction with a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day. 

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said the 2020 Australia Day Awards nominees should be proud of the example they have set for others, whether on the firefront during the recent bushfires or in the day-to-day running of grassroots community groups.

“This year’s nominees range in age from 18 to 80 years plus, showing you’re never too young or too old to make a positive contribution to the life of your community,” he said.

Cafe Metz

“Those in the running for the awards have been nominated by individuals, schools and community groups which have considered them well worthy of recognition.”

The 2020 Scenic Rim Australia Day Awards will be presented in the categories of Citizen of the Year 16 to 30 Years, Citizen of the Year 31 to 65 Years, and Citizen of the Year 65+ Years.

“These awards provide an opportunity to recognise those who, through their participation in community life, make our region such a great place to live, work and raise a family,” Cr Christensen said.

“This is one day we can say thank you to those whose contribution to their communities in 2019 – and often over many years – has enriched our Scenic Rim region.

“Not surprisingly, after our devastating bushfire season, the community has responded with gratitude in nominating some of those who gave their time and put themselves on the line to help others, whether fighting fires or supporting the emergency effort. 

“The awards nominations also recognise those who have worked tirelessly out of the spotlight supporting the organisations that are vital threads in the social fabric of our community.”


Damon Rockliff

Damon Rockliff was nominated for his unwavering commitment to the Canungra Rural Fire Brigade, of which he has been a member since 2000. As First Officer, he made an invaluable contribution to the firefighting efforts during the 2019 Canungra and Beechmont bushfires, showing exceptional leadership and quiet humility. A family man, Damon also supports his wife, Janine Rockliff in her community work as Chair of the Canungra and District Community Bank and Canungra Sport and Recreation Association Committee. Damon is seen as someone who treats everyone with respect and puts the wellbeing of the community ahead of his own needs. 

 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 was 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. 

Mark Ayers

As First Officer of the Beechmont Rural Fire Brigade, Mark Ayers led his team to protect the Binna Burra/Beechmont community during the unprecedented Sarabah bushfire event over 18 days in early September 2019. Mark’s nomination called for recognition for the lifesaving service he and his team provided during the dangerous bushfires in ensuring that no residents or volunteer firefighters lost their lives. Mark was recognised for his bravery and clarity of purpose during the September 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 Doble

Mark Doble was nominated for his contribution to the Birnam Rural Fire Brigade as Second Officer, air base operator, air observer, trainer and crew leader. For the past 10 years he has been giving to the Rural Fire Service and responding as a volunteer during fire and flood emergencies. Mark has been instrumental in training and coordinating crews to work in the air bases when helicopters and fixed wing aircraft are needed for fire-fighting and played a key role in the clean-up following flooding in the region. 

Anita Kleinschmidt

Beaudesert Community Kindergarten President Anita Kleinschmidt has been recognised for her patience, professionalism and strength of character to ensure the health and wellbeing of children and the kindy. Anita has created a culture of encouragement among staff that will benefit the children in years to come and has worked to ensure the kindergarten plays a vital role in community life. She has honoured those who established the kindergarten more than 30 years ago and in her three years as president has encouraged community participation and worked to improve conditions for the staff. 

 Jeffrey McConnell

During his eight years as Scenic Rim State Emergency Service Local Controller, Jeff McConnell ensured that SES crews were strategically placed to assist the community during Ex-Tropical Cyclones Oswald and Debbie. During Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, Jeff remained in Beaudesert to support the SES crews across the Scenic Rim knowing that his own house had been flooded but not the extent of the damage. Since stepping down as Local Controller, Jeff has remained a valued member of the Scenic Rim SES and continued to support the community during events such as the Canungra bushfires and helped other SES members to achieve their goals and grow as individuals. 

Katelyn Wall

Regarded as someone who is always first to volunteer when help is needed, Katelyn Wall worked during the Canungra bushfires to help local residents and their animals. She spent the first week of the fires helping to relocate residents’ horses from properties under threat and when the emergency was over helped return the animals and took feed to them. Katelyn is seen by her colleagues as someone who goes ‘above and beyond’ in her work with special education students at Tamborine Mountain State High School and has helped to promote the Scenic Rim through her social media presence as The Light Chaser. 

Edmund Fenton (deceased)

Edmund (Eddie) Fenton passed away suddenly in October 2019 while the Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens volunteers were preparing his Australia Day Award nomination. To honour his memory, they submitted the nomination to recognise his significant contribution to the gardens and the Tamborine Mountain community. A retired farmer, Eddie joined the gardens volunteers in 2008. His skills in agriculture, farm management, tools and machinery use were embraced and within a year he had become the Works Manager, leading by example with hard work and dedication. Eddie dedicated almost every day of the week to the gardens, which have become a significant attraction for visitors to the Mountain from interstate and overseas. 

Barbara Kenny

Queensland Coordinator of the Quilts of Valour project, Barbara Kenny and her husband Bill organised the award of more than 350 quilts to veterans, war widows and family members of former service personnel. Barbara was nominated for her dedicated and passionate approach to her role caring for the elderly and veterans and others throughout the Scenic Rim, always giving generously of her time. Since moving to Boonah in 1997, Barbara has been an assistant Brownie guide leader, manager of the boys Under 11, Under 12 and Under 13 soccer teams, a volunteer at Boonah State School and Boonah State High School and a Sunday School teacher at Boonah Uniting Church. 

Lesley Klan

Lesley Klan’s strong sense of community and passion for helping others has been recognised in her award nomination by members of the Barney View and Rathdowney communities. 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 Lesley’s 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. 

Gwenda Schneider

A retired careworker at Fassifern Retirement Village, Gwenda Schneider has been nominated for her efforts in the past six years in helping to grow the Boonah District Garden Club of which she has been Secretary, President and Bus Convenor. The garden club supports the Boonah and Kalbar Shows and Gwenda also works in the horticulture section of the Kalbar Show. While supporting family members with serious health issues, Gwenda continues to work tirelessly for the garden club, being the first person to help set up at 3am for bus trips and being the last to leave. She is a member of Perennial Poppies and a founding member of the Boonah Country Markets with her husband Laurie. 

Sam Van Tuinen

Volunteer driver Sam Van Tuinen is considered an inspiration, having volunteered since 2006 to transport Scenic Rim residents to specialist medical appointments in Logan and Brisbane, before retiring recently at the age of 80. Sam, who worked one to two days a week as a volunteer driver, has been recognised for his dedication, compassion, patience and kindness shown to all those he safely transported during the past 13 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 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, and while no longer a paid pastoral care worker 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. 

About Keer Moriarty 296 Articles
Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady with Canungra Times.