Australia Day

The Cassowary Coast Australia Day Awards provide the opportunity to publicly celebrate, acknowledge and honour the outstanding contributions of individuals and groups working tirelessly to improve the Cassowary Coast community by promoting the social, cultural, economic and environmental prosperity of our region through personal accomplishments, inspirational behaviours and/or successful completion of projects, initiatives or events.

In 2024, Cassowary Coast Regional Council's annual Australia Day celebrations included the official Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony, and Australia Day Awards Ceremony on 25 January 2024,  followed by Community Pool Party Events on 26 January 2024.  Click here to read more.

Winners Announced

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

The 2024 Cassowary Coast Australia Day Awards were announced at an evening ceremony Thursday 25 January 2024 alongside the Youth Sports Bursary recipients and Australia Day Photography Competition winners.

Click the categories below to see the winning nominations.

Australia Day Award Categories

The Selection and eligibility criteria for the Cassowary Coast Regional Council Australia Day Awards Program is supported by the criteria set out for the Australia Day Awards. All nominations must be Australia Citizens, law abiding and be seen as a community role model. 

  • Citizen of the year 2024


    Richard is a leader in every sense of the word. In addition to his principal duties at Tully State High School, he has taken on countless leading roles in both school and community organisations. Some of these include: Innisfail Community Band, Innisfail Young Performers Committee, Far North Queensland Instrumental Music Working Party, Combined Sports Association (just to name a few). Richard is not only present in all of these spaces, but he drives the work being done there, leading a diverse range of people with compassion and professionalism. Words can't adequately describe what he has done for Innisfail's sporting, cultural and educational landscape.


    • Mahgan Robinson
    • Dave Pedley
    • Chrys Tait
    • Fr Kerry Crowley
    • Thea Ormonde
    • Jane Berge
    • Brad Grace
  • Young Citizen of the Year 2024


    This year, Rikki-Lee has been recognized for her exceptional contributions to our community and unwavering commitment to personal development. Her dedication to community service is exemplified through a series of notable achievements:

    ·      Crowned as the inaugural Miss Riverfest Queen

    ·      Active participation as a Youth Advisory Committee Member until 2025

    ·      Acknowledged with the Council High-Quality Work Reward and Recognition certificate

    ·      Valuable involvement in the Innisfail Catholic Debutante Ball Committee in 2021 and 2023

    ·      Meaningful contributions at the Community Recovery Silkwood Hub

    Furthermore, Rikki-Lee's devotion to the Innisfail Roarty Club is evidenced by her volunteering, notably assisting with the Innisfail Christmas Cracker Raffle and contributing her time to the Riverfest Queen Committee in 2024. Her commitment and achievements truly showcase her as a dedicated and valuable member of our community.


    • Kari Cini
    • Kyanna Wirth
    • Meave Lowe
    • Jason Schramm


  • Lifetime Contribution Award 2024




    Chrys Tait

    For over 35 years, Chrys has been an integral part of the Innisfail community, dedicating herself to nurturing the talents of vulnerable children through music and self-defense. Her journey began in 1988 at Mourilyan State School, where she imparted skills, confidence, and resilience through music education. Chrys extended her impact by teaching instrumental bands, choirs, and founding the award-winning African Drumming group. In addition to her full-time role at Innisfail East State School, she serves as a teacher's aide, guiding children with special needs and challenging behaviours. Beyond education, Chrys co-manages Tait's Family Martial Arts, offering martial arts lessons and empowering the community with self-defense courses.

    Les Moule

    Les doesn't just turn up to meetings; he is actively involved in conceptualising, planning, enacting and cleaning up after events and celebrations that shine a spotlight on education and on the talents of our district's children and youth, in all fields of endeavour including academic, sports, arts, public speaking, vocational training. Les works to ensure every child and youth has every possible opportunity, and actively works to break down barriers that any student might encounter. He's been doing this in our schools since 1995 and has never let any student down.

    Craig Marturia

    Craig volunteers at the Etty Bay Surf Life Saving Club to provide a safe environment and diligence so our community can feel safe and protected whilst using our beaches. Craig has completed over 16 years of volunteer patrol service and 10+ years of patrol Captain. Craig was one of our first Club members to volunteer to provide Water safety for the Cairns Ironman and did so for 5 consecutive years.

    Ninney Murray

    Ninney Murray, affectionately known as Nanna Nin, has always shared her Jirrbal cultural knowledge and skills with people in and around Murray Upper. She has been written about in many books. Nanna Nin is an acclaimed artist and she shares these skills with other artists at Girringun. She has art on display in the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia. Nanna Nin is always willing to support Murray River Upper State School to embed indigenous perspectives into their curriculum. She shares her Guwal language, traditional stories and every year she coordinates the building of traditional mijas on site for NAIDOC. She was also instrumental in setting up the school's Bush Tucker garden and has continued to help identify trees and their traditional uses, in her Guwal language.

    Nominee: Ken Gray

  • Community Event/Project of the Year 2024


    Innisfail Bowls Club Centenary has been nominated this year for the multiple events that were held over the previous twelve months to celebrate the centenary of the Innisfail Bowls Club. Visitors from around the Far North Queensland region, and further afield, attended these events, put together by the Innisfail Bowls Club members, and broadcast through various communications across the state. The high attendance and welcoming atmosphere at each of the specific events was well noted, and a genuine reflection of the Cassowary Coast values.


    • Innisfail Riverfest 2023
    • Paradise Run Mission Beach
  • Community Organisation 2024


    The St Vincent De Paul – Mother of Good Counsel Conference has been nominated for the selfless help the conference continuously give to their community - giving time, financial and spiritual support through Emergency Relief, visiting the sick and assisting homeless people. Even when battling their own personal ailments and struggles, this group continues to give back to the community, in the true spirit of St Vincent De Paul. Thank you all.

    Etty Bay Surf Lifesaving Club was founded in 1936 and has provided support and direction to ensure a safe aquatic environment and to promote lifesaving services, youth development and surf sports continuously over those years. Etty Bay has a deep connection to the community through their ongoing vigilance to keeping our community safe on the beach and ensuring zero preventable deaths in our waters. Not only racking up on average 40 hours per year per volunteer on the water, the members of the Etty Bay SLSC members volunteer at community events such as Riverfest, Anzac Day Dawn Service, and are on call when disaster hits the region. Thank you Etty Bay SLSC

    Mission Beach Wildcare Inc. have been nominated for their tireless work over the last 20 years, assisting sick and injured animals, birds and turtles around the far north region. Importantly, their work around Cassowary conservation was noted, as well as the strong membership and volunteer participation that allows the group to do the work they do. 


    • Paradise Run – Mission Beach
    • Frog Safe Inc
    • Mission Beach Historical Society Inc
    • Define Normal Life Style Supports – Innisfail
  • Sports Person of the Year Award 2024


    Emily  has been nominated this year for demonstrating unwavering dedication and achievement throughout her health and wellness journey. Overcoming challenges, Emily made a triumphant return to athletics in her senior year, achieving remarkable success and earning recognition as the 2023 Peninsula Captain for Track and Field.

    Her outstanding performances extended to the Athletic State Championships, securing a spot on the QLD team for the upcoming National titles. Emily's athletic accomplishments were duly acknowledged at the GCC Awards night, solidifying her status as a leader in the sporting community.

    Beyond sports, Emily's previous role as the house captain of Polding at GCC showcases her ability to inspire and guide peers, contributing significantly to school activities and enhancing the overall spirit of the school. Emily's impact on the sporting community and her house serves as a testament to her extraordinary character, resilience, and commitment to community service.


    • Kate Walker
    • Miki Toquero
  • Young Sportsperson of the Year 2024

    Kai has been nominated this year by three separate independent parties, which is a reflection of his dedication toward success in his chosen sports. 


    • Korey Roberts
    • Shaun Riley
    • Keean Greven
    • Denan Anderson
    • Elle Gracie
    • Ruby Torrisi
    • Mia Wilson
    • Ethan English
    • Alex Greenwood
    • Kaydn McDermid
  • Service to Sports Award 2024


    Nadine has been nominated this year for her commitment for the last 11 years to Tully Netball, volunteering for seats on the Executive Committee, organising the Net Set Go program and also being the current president of the committee. Nadine also volunteers in several roles for Tully Rugby Leage and rounding off her portfolio and in her spare time, volunteers for the Tully Show Society. 


    • Brayden Huey
    • Maria Crema
    • Blaise Cini
  • Arts and Culture Award 2024An Exhibition ‘Echoes of the Past’, by the Mission Beach Historical Society was shown originally in Mission Beach, and in a smaller scale in Tully.  The exhibition has since travelled to Innisfail and has been called to be displayed on the Tablelands and in Cairns later this year.

    The ‘Echo of the Past’ exhibition helps foster and celebrate a sense of identity, diversity and cultural connections between Djiru/First Nations people and the wider community.  And at the same time present challenging displays for attendees to learn, interact, think about the past and the future.

  • Emily has been nominated this year for her strong connection to the Girramay country, including her use of Guwal words and knowledge of native flora and fauna. Her welcome to Country is renouned to be genuine and authentic, and her pride and connection is obvious. In 2023 she was elected Cultural School caption for Murray Upper River State School, a role which she was extremely proud of.


    • Leyna Tran
    • Luke O'Neil
  • Environmental Sustainability Award 2024


    Constance (Connie) Symons

    Connie's selfless commitment has not gone unnoticed, as her peers and colleagues have acknowledged the sheer magnitude of her contributions. Her volunteerism extends far beyond the norm, embodying a level of dedication that has set her apart within the Johnstone River Landcare group.

     Through her unyielding efforts, Connie has become a beacon of inspiration, showcasing the transformative power of genuine passion and hard work. The community is not only grateful for her countless volunteer hours but also deeply appreciates the personal investment she brings to the cause. Connie's nomination this year reflects not just her involvement but the indomitable spirit she brings to the Johnstone River Landcare group, making her an exemplary figure in the realm of community service and environmental stewardship.

    Judy Ronland

    Judy has been instrumental in Murray River Upper State School's sustainability work. She shares her knowledge and passion with students and staff, creating a community of people who care and appreciate the wonder of the environment. These projects have included working with Elders to update the Bush Tucker garden; sourcing trees for the neighbouring Mahogany Glider expansion project; Ms Judy exceeds expectations and always works beyond her allocation of work hours. Her hours at school are spent supporting students and the extra projects she takes on are organised in her own time. She is always at school earlier than her start time and completes a significant amount of hands-on and preparation work on projects in her own time. She inspires students and other staff to care about sustainability on a daily basis!


    • Anne Foggit
    • Kenneth Andrew
  • Young Sustainable Environment Award


    Kyanna has been nominated by her peers and the school leadership team. 

    Kyanna Wirth is a year 12 student at Innisfail State College.  Kyanna has been a proactive member of the school student council for a number of years which drives the school’s recycling program.

    Kyanna has previously served as Captain of the school’s Cattle Club and is still actively involved in the club mentoring younger students.

    Kyanna aspires to complete a Bachelor of Animal studies, advancing into the study of Livestock Agronomy to improve the management of cattle farming and the environment.

  • Achievement Award 2024


    Blue EDGE (Educate, Develop, Grow, Empower) is a program of physical training designed to extend a young person’s mind and physical capability. The program also includes career education, motivational speakers and mentoring with a view to having youth actualise their potential. This program has been run by the PCYC police officer Sergeant Mick Maguire. Mick and Michael have attended Innisfail State College twice a week, providing breakfast and engagement activities.

    The attendance of the students has increased from 60% to 95%. Students that were not interactive with other students prior to this program have engaged with their classmates and sense of pride and belonging has developed amongst all the students.


    • Chrys Tait
  • STEM Award 2024


    Alicia has been nominated by her peers for her role as STEM Specialist & Blending Learning Teacher.  Alisha has established and operates the STEM extra-curricular educational after school initiative throughout the four school terms. This is the only program of its kind in the region. In 2023, Alicia has led the upgrade to electronic SMART boards throughout all classrooms and Software Lumio as a platform that has significantly enhanced curriculum delivery and student engagement in STEM. The professional learning delivered by Alicia and supported by Jan (from the Leadership team) on STEM have been transformative which has allowed staff to analyse data on each student, share practice about most effective approaches to teaching & learning; and responds to the students needs with high engagement with STEM. Alicia is to be commended on developing a positive student attitude and school culture in STEM education.

  • Young Entrepreneur 2024


    Satkirat has been nominated this year for her e-commerce business ‘Timeless Memos’. Founded in February 2023, Satkirat has had success locally, being stocked at Jill’s Stationary, but also from clients from national and international markets. Looking ahead, Satkirat and ‘Timeless Memo’s will be involved in a tree-planting collaboration with Australian universities to further support the environmental sustainability of the product.

  • Hannah has been nominated this year for  inspiring others through her motivation, support, leadership and by leading by example. By sharing her own personal journey with others, she has shown them that it is possible for anyone to strive for success.

    Hannah was Tully State High School’s Indigenous leader for 2023, part of the senior leadership team and also the recipient of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation Young Leader Award for 2023. Hannah is well respected by her peers and her community, including the local elders of Jumbun.


    • Mia Wilson
  • Excellence and Innovation Award 2024


    Rebecca has been nominated this year for her active participation in the Mission Beach State School Tuckshop. Her excellence in internal and external customer service has been recognised, from the teachers, students and especially the band of Tuckshop volunteers.

    Her dedication to the role, and to supply the students with healthy food option has been noted, and persevering with improving the tuckshop by applying for and being awarded a $25K award is commended. Well done Rebecca and we wish you all the best with your future studies in education.

Youth Sports Bursary

The Youth Sports Bursary Program aims to support young sportspersons and acknowledge an outstanding achievement in sport, in a non-professional sporting field. 

  • Junior Sports Female (Age 8-12) - Elle Gracie 
  • Junior Sports Male (Age 8-12) - Shaun Riley (Nominees: Bailey Wilson, Reef Dickson)
  • Senior Sports Female (Age 13-18) - Mia Wilson (Nominees: Arianna Martin, Emily O'Brien, Charlize Gee, Sophie McCallum)
  • Senior Sports Male (Age 13-18) - Kai Greven (Nomines were Jayden Wilson, Denan Anderson, Kaiden Roberts)

Bursary recipients received a $200 Award plus memorabilia (medallion, polo shirt and framed certificate). 



Australia Day Photography Competition - Theme: Home

First Place: Cameron Anderson

Second Place: Selina Wirth

Third Place: Jane Stark

People’s Choice:


Australia Day Resources

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