An impressive array of Sunshine Coast residents have been recognised in the 2023 Australia Day Honours list for their selfless service to our community and nation.
From business to politics, science, gender equality and agriculture, health and saving lives on our beaches, they have been praised for their commitment to helping others and enriching all our lives.
Three Sunshine Coast recipients received the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service in a particular locality or field of activity, or to a particular group while seven Coast recipients received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service worthy of particular recognition.
Mayor Mark Jamieson congratulated the recipients, saying their awards, announced by the Governor General, reflected outstanding service.
“Each of these Australia Day Award recipients has gone above and beyond in their respective professions and pursuits to make a positive impact on our community and our nation,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The wide array of fields in which this year’s Sunshine Coast award recipients have been recognised also highlights the diversity of excellence that exists within our region.
Dr Theresa Craig AM, of Maleny is recognised for significant service to politics and the agriculture industry.
Dr Craig was a member and vice-chair of the Queensland Schools Animal Ethics Committee for seven years, as well as an author of several publications including Best Practices Dairy Beef 2007, Meat and Livestock Australia.
Dr Craig is also an adjunct professor with the University of Sunshine Coast Centre for International Developments, Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership and served as Regional Chair for the Liberal National Party of Queensland, Sunshine Coast Region from 2017-2020.
Dr Kirstin Ferguson AM, is recognised for significant service to business and gender equality.
Dr Ferguson has served as a non-executive director at a number of organisations including Sunwater, SCA Property Group and CIMIC Group Limited. She also co-authored the book Womenkind: Unlocking the Potential of Women supporting Women and served as Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Commission from 2018-2020.
Professor Emeritus Debra Henly AM, of Doonan, is recognised for significant service to education administration and science.
Prof Henly is a former member of the Queensland State Advisory Council Committee for Economic Development and a member of the National Science and Technology Council.
Prof Henly also received the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Queensland in 2002 and the Vice Chancellor’s Quality Award for Outstanding Academic Service from Bond University in 2004.
Guy Tanner OAM, of Mudjimba, was recognised for his outstanding service to surf lifesaving.
Mr Tanner has performed an incredible number of roles for the Mudjimba Surf Life Saving Club, including Club Captain, Patrol Captain and Club President.
He has also served as a State Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Officer with Surf Life Saving Queensland and received a number of prestigious awards including a Twenty-year National Patrol Service Award in 2017 and the Jack Dearlove MBE Medal for Lifesaving Excellence in 2021.
Mr Tanner was also made a Life Member with the Sunshine Coast Branch of Surf Lifesaving Queensland in 2014 and a Life Member of the Mudjimba Surf Life Saving Club in 2021.
Karen Neuendorf OAM, of Buderim, was recognised for service to business and to the community.
Mrs Neuendorf was a founding member of the Sunshine Coast Business Council, as well as board member and President of the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network.
She has served as Vice-Chair on the Foundation Board of the University of Sunshine Coast since 2007 and was founding member and former President of Sunny Kids, which provides social and emotional support for children, young people and their families.
In addition to this, Mrs Neuendorf served as a board member of Buderim Private Hospital and a Patron of Sunshine Coast Children’s Therapy Services, among many other important community roles.
Brian McBride OAM, of Buderim has been recognised for service to the community of Buderim.
Mr McBride has been a board member of the Buderim Lions Club for more than 20 years and served as President of the club in 2012. He was also a founder of the Buderim Lions Mentoring Program at Buderim Mountain State School.
Mr McBride has also served as coordinator of Sunshine Coast Fusion fundraising dinners since 2012.
Maureen Lyon OAM, of Buderim, is recognised for service to the community through a range of organisations.
Mrs Lyon served as President of the Lioness Club of Buderim for three years and was awarded the Lion’s 100% President’s Medal in 2007 and the James D. Richardson Honour Award for the Australian Lions Foundation in 2010.
Florence Woods OAM, of Maleny, has been recognised for service to the community of Maleny.
Mrs Woods served as a volunteer with the Maleny Show Society for 39 years and was made a life member in 2020. She has also been a member of the Maleny Uniting Church Women’s Guild since 1965, she’s a patron of the Maleny Historical Society and a life member of the Maleny Senior Citizen Club.
Sarah Gray OAM, of Peregian Springs is recognised for service to community health.
Mrs Gray is currently the CEO of ausEE Inc. which is Australia’s peak support and patient advocacy organisation for Australians living with an eosinophilic disease. She is the founder of the organisation and served as president from 2009-2021.
Mrs Gray is also currently a patient advocacy member with the consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers and an advisory board member with the National Health and Medicinal Research Council Centre of Research Excellence in Digestive Health.
Christopher Johnson OAM, of Woombye, has been recognised for service to community health.
Mr Johnson served as Chairman of the Australian Men’s Health Forum Organising Committee for the 2007 and 2013 National Men’s Health Conferences. He also served as Vice-President of the Australian Men’s Health Forum from 2005-2007.
Mr Johnson is also a life member and former President of Mens Wellbeing Inc and oversaw the amalgamation of the Men’s Help Line and the Sunshine Coast Men’s Emotional Support Resource Initiative to form Mens Wellbeing Inc in 1998.
Thomas Holden OAM, of Buderim is recognised for service to the community of the Sunshine Coast.
He has been involved with Legacy Sunshine Coast since 2019 and is a volunteer teacher, parishioner and choir member. He was also a member of the Royal Australian Navy and a recipient of the United Nations Service Medal .
Brian Kelly OAM, of Sippy Downs, is recognised for service to his former community at Tocumwal, NSW.
Mr Kelly was a committee member for the Tocumwal Race Club from 1970-1980 and a member of the Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce and St Vincent de Paul Society. He is also a life member of the Tocumwal Football Club, having served numerous stints as club president, vice-president and a committee member.
“Each and every one of the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Award recipients has made a difference to our region through their skills, passion and dedication in their respective professions,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“On behalf the Sunshine Coast, I offer congratulations and thanks to all Australia Day Honours award recipients.”