Compassionate leader earns city’s top accolade

Mayor Bob Manning (back centre) with Australia Day Award recipients (from left) Ashleigh Ung, Glynnis Kiernan, Janine Bowmaker, Ian Roberts, Grant

The CEO of Anglicare Cairns, Ian Roberts, has been recognised for his tireless commitment and enduring compassion to help people in need, being named Cairns region’s 2020 Citizen of the Year.

Mr Roberts is the driving force behind the not-for-profit organisation that has provided support for the homeless, particularly those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, established food stores and taken innovative measures to address youth unemployment.

Mayor Bob Manning described Mr Roberts as a man dedicated to the community who has committed to looking after the less fortunate and disadvantaged in our society.

“From Babinda to Cairns and out to the Torres Strait, Ian has been instrumental in guiding Anglicare Cairns in its endeavours to support people in need, which was particularly critical last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” Cr Manning said.

“As soon as the coronavirus crisis started to hit our region, Ian had Anglicare ready to assist.

“It was through his dedication, working seven days a week for most of the past year, that Ian was able to quickly find accommodation and food for people, including many from Indigenous communities who were unable to return home due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

Cr Manning also acknowledged Mr Robert’s ability to secure support from suppliers and businesses to provide food, clothing and other necessities, which are distributed via Anglicare Cairns to those in need.

“In very challenging circumstances, Ian has continued to be a strong advocate for continued government support for those most in need, he has provided strong leadership and ensured the health and safety of the community and Anglicare staff and volunteers,” Cr Manning said.

“His hard work encompasses the finest qualities of our community and his efforts make him a deserving recipient of this esteemed award.”

Student leader, national debating finalist and keen sailor, Harrison Oates, has been named Cairns Regional Council’s Young Citizen of the Year.

A national finalist in the prestigious Evatt diplomacy competition, which simulates the UN Security Council, the St Augustine’s College student will this year assume the dual roles of Public Speaking Captain and President of the Student Representative Council at the school.

He has also demonstrated a conviction to assisting others through fundraising – last year volunteering for the Cairns Relay for Life livestream, as well as being part of a college team that raised more than $6500 for cancer research as part of the event.

Harrison also sat on a student-led committee that organised events as part of R U OK? Day, drawing attention to the problem of social isolation in the community.

Heavily involved with Cairns Yacht Club (CYC), Harrison has enjoyed strong competitive sailing results and has helped to rebuild the organisation’s junior sailing program.

As a junior sailing instructor, he has been instrumental in the development and delivery of the CYC Tackers program.

Recipient of the inaugural COVID-19 Community Care Award was President of Study Cairns, Janine Bowmaker, for her support of international students stranded in Cairns as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

When Queensland went into lockdown at the beginning of April 2020, it was estimated about 2000 international students were stranded in Cairns without government support, most having lost their jobs and income, and were isolated from family and friends.

Under the guidance of Ms Bowmaker, Study Cairns instigated the #CairnsCares campaign and worked with funding bodies, local businesses, community groups and farmers to assist students with food, accommodation and mental health support.

Also presented with awards today were:

  • Volunteer of the Year, Glynnis Kiernan
  • Cultural Award recipient, Terry Doyle
  • Junior Cultural Award recipient, Ashleigh Ung
  • Sportsperson of the Year, Grant “Scooter” Patterson, and
  • Junior Sportsperson of the Year, Caleb Nissen.

“These individuals represent everything great about our region and about being Australian,” Cr Manning said.

“Despite different backgrounds, talents and interests, each has contributed in a unique way to our community.

“They are wonderful role models for our city and very much deserving of this special honour.”

Award recipients

Citizen of the Year – Ian Roberts

During his past 10 years as CEO of Anglicare Cairns, Ian Roberts has been instrumental in establishing critical community outreach services, including the Food Bank in Lake Street, The Beacon Café and the Community Store at the corner of Lake and Minnie streets.

He has also extended services to provide affordable food and support services in Yarrabah.

This year, he was able to quickly mobilise Anglicare Cairns to provide critical support for vulnerable members of the community from Babinda to Cairns and out the Torres Strait, who were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the challenges, Mr Roberts was able to keep all services under the Anglicare umbrella open at the height of the pandemic.

Through his dedication, which entailed working seven days a week for most of the past year, he was able to quickly find accommodation and food for people, including many from communities who were unable to return home due to COVID-19 restrictions.

He even organised the hire of a hotel to provide shelter for displaced families.

Mr Roberts garnered support from suppliers and businesses to provide food, clothing and other necessities, which was distributed via Anglicare Cairns to those in need.

He has also been a strong advocate for continued government support, speaking up about the challenges facing people who will see their JobSeeker payments return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Through his strong leadership he has safeguarded the health of the community as well as Anglicare staff and volunteers, and also secured critical funding to expand the organisation’s services.

In addition to his work around COVID-19, Mr Roberts has helped address issues of public intoxication through provision of case management for individuals and ongoing health care.

Notably, he was involved in a major revamp of the Cairns Diversionary Centre, which provides a safe and culturally appropriate sobering up facility where clients are provided with supervision, care, companionship and support.

Junior Citizen of the Year – Harrison Oates

A national finalist in the prestigious Evatt diplomacy competition, which simulates the UN Security Council, St Augustine’s College Year 12 student Harrison Oates has completed the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s Student Climate Leadership Program and has been invited to this year’s National Youth Science Forum.

A member of the St Augustine’s College junior debating team that won the local 2019 Rotary debating competition, this year he will assume the dual roles of Public Speaking Captain and President of the Student Representative Council at the school.

Enthusiastic about helping people in need, Harrison last year volunteered as an audio-visual assistant and newsreader for the Cairns Relay for Life livestream and was part of the college team that raised more than $6500 for cancer research as part of the event.

He also sat on a student-led committee that organised events as part of R U OK? Day, drawing attention to the problem of social isolation in the community.

A keen sailor, Harrison has a long involvement with the Cairns Yacht Club (CYC).

While he has enjoyed good competitive results, his passion has been helping to rebuild the organisation’s junior sailing program.

A junior sailing instructor, he has been instrumental in the development and delivery of the CYC Tackers program – a fun introductory course for children.

He implemented a novel “stoplight system” as part of the program, which uses different coloured bibs to help instructors quickly and clearly identify the confidence and skillset of any participant.

Harrison’s achievements also extend to academic fields.

He holds a full academic scholarship at St Augustine’s College, was selected to attend the 2020 annual QUT STEM Camp for high-achieving Year 11 students, has been invited to the prestigious National Youth Science Forum 2021, and has completed the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s Student Climate Leadership Program.

COVID-19 Community Care Award

President of Study Cairns, Janine Bowmaker, initiated programs to support international students who were stranded in Cairns as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

When Queensland went into lockdown at the beginning of April 2020, it was estimated about 2000 international students were grounded in Cairns without government support. Most lost their jobs and income, and struggled with the isolation from family and friends.

The #CairnsCares campaign was the brainchild of Ms Bowmaker in response to growing concerns for the mental and physical wellbeing of international students in the region.

Working with funding bodies, local businesses, community groups and farmers, she was able to provide assistance to students with food, accommodation and mental health support.

Run by the Student Cairns Student Hub, #CairnsCares incorporated three key initiatives:

  • HubFood: Free freshly cooked meals and groceries provided daily to international students in need.
  • HubTV: A livestreamed TV show with international students from around Cairns featuring content such as entertainment, cooking demonstrations and budget tips to help students remain connected.
  • HubBuddy: A virtual “buddy” system for international students that assisted them to continue practising their English skills with local families.

These initiatives not only provided support for students stranded in Cairns, but also helped avoid the decimation of the local international education sector.

Volunteer of the Year – Glynnis Kiernan

Arriving in Cairns 14 years ago, Ms Kiernan started volunteering at St Vincent De Paul about 12 years ago, predominately helping to sort donations.

She also makes cuddle pillows (having made about 250 made so far), which are sold and the funds donated to the organisation to help people in need.

For the past two years Ms Kieran has spent two mornings a week at the Caravonica Waters Retirement Village, where she helps with activities to encourage residents to be active and socialise with others.

She also supports residents to sew, knit, paint, play bowls and join the weekly singing groups.

Ms Kiernan helped establish a library at the home, which now has a collection of donated books and puzzles, along with arts and craft stalls which raise funds for additional resources.

During COVID-19 restrictions, she was the only volunteer allowed into the home and chose to isolate herself from her friends and family to ensure she could continue to volunteer and support the residents.

She provided much needed companionship for residents at this time and helped them stay in contact with their families via the use of smartphones.

Sportsperson of the Year – Grant “Scooter” Patterson

The dream of winning an Olympic medal has been a driving force behind Grant Patterson’s life for the past four years.

Better known as Scooter – after the scooter he uses to get around – his dream of winning a 2020 Olympic medal was put on ice when the coronavirus pandemic forced the Tokyo Games to be postponed, pushed back a year for the first time in the history of the games.

But that has not deterred the 31-year-old Cairns swimmer, who was born with a rare form of dwarfism called diastrophic dysplasia, characterised by a lack of cartilage in his joints and curvature of his bones and spine.

Scooter previously represented Australia at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, where he swam in two finals but did not win a medal.

Although his chance to claim an Olympic medal did not eventuate in 2020, he did compete at two major events last year.

He finished in the top three at the World Para Series in Melbourne, and at the National Short Course Championships he broke a world record in the 200m freestyle in his classification.

Junior Sportsperson of the Year – Caleb Nissen

Muay Thai junior Caleb Nissen has not let the cancellation of an international event put an end to his ambition of winning a world title.

The 12-year-old Cairns talent earned a spot on the Muay Thai Australia (MTA) junior team for the second time last year.

Having claimed gold in his division at the Muay Thai Australia (MTA) Junior National Championships at the start of last year, he was due to compete at the International Federation of Muay Thai Associations Youth World Championships in Malaysia in September.

However, COVID-19 forced cancellation of the tournament.

That did not stop Caleb’s driving passion, and in December he claimed his first title belt when he won the Siam Cup Queensland junior championships.

The youngster is also a talented AFL player for the South Cairns Cutters and last year was named his team’s Most Consistent Player and was the runner-up for the Best and Fairest award.

Cultural Award – Terry Doyle

The name Terry Doyle is synonymous with the live music and children’s entertainment in Cairns.

Mr Doyle is often credited as one of the trailblazers of live music in the region.

For more than a decade Mr Doyle has been mentoring local songwriters and has helped kick-start a number of the careers, including the multi-award winning Emma Louise, Brisbane-based Hannah Karydas (Eves Karydas), US-based Nikki Jensen (an American’s Got Talent quarterfinalist), Melbourne-based Davy Simony, and Melbourne’s Drunk Mums (featuring his son Jake).

He has spent more than 55 years in the Australian music scene, during which time he has worked in just about every facet of the industry, from sound engineer to lighting technician, roadie to venue manger and operator, through to song writing, mentoring, recording, and performing on drums, guitar and vocals.

Starting his musical journey in 1964 as a drummer in school bands, he progressed to playing for bands in country Victoria before relocating to Perth, where he continued to perform.

Mr Doyle first came to Cairns in 1985 with The Deadbeats Live and later drummed for popular local outfit, Party Starters.

The musician hit the road with partner. Carolyn, performing in Brisbane and throughout southern Queensland and northern NSW for a number of years, before heading home to country Victoria, then returning to Cairns in the late 1990s with his young family.

In Cairns, Mr Doyle predominately performed solo, but did team up with guitarist Gordon Sheard, harmonica player Rod Collins and the legendary Johno Johnson.

In 2005, Mr Doyle formed The Doyles and released two albums, The Doyles ‘Live’ at Johnos and 4:00AM.

Mr Doyle also ventured abroad, and when he returned from the US in 2007, he reinvented himself and started playing music for children.

With business partner Rachel Bradley, they formed the popular children’s interactive music show The Doyle Family Fun Show, which has led to four albums of “self-penned Aussie songs for kids of the world”.

For more than a decade Mr Doyle has been mentoring local songwriters and has helped kick-start a number of the careers, including the multi-award winning Emma Louise, Brisbane-based Hannah Karydas (Eves Karydas), US-based Nikki Jensen (an American’s Got Talent quarterfinalist), Melbourne-based Davy Simony, and Melbourne’s Drunk Mums (featuring his son Jake).

Junior Cultural Award – Ashleigh Ung

Talented vocalist and member of the Gondwana Indigenous Choir (Marliya) based in Cairns, Ashleigh is an advocate for raising the profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in the community.

The St Monica’s College student has received multiple school awards over the past year, including 2020 St Monica’s Overall Junior Cultural Woman of the Year; 2020 St Monica’s Gold Cultural Award; 2020 St Monica’s Diligence Award, Mercy Spirit and Principal’s awards; JSS Junior Sports Player of the Final (volleyball); and 2020 St Monica’s JSS Junior Sports Coaches Award.

She also participates in a number of activities outside of school, including with the Cairns Chinese Society and as a Universal Martial Arts junior instructor.

A talented performer, she performed at WOMADelaide 2020 Festival in Adelaide with the Marliya Choir and was a vocalist in the 2020 filmed remake of the I Still Call Australia Home advertisement for Qantas.

Ashleigh was also selected to be part of the Cairns Gondwana Choir, attending Sydney’s National Choral School for a national choir Gondwana Collective in January 2020, which would have led to her performing at the World Symposium in New Zealand in July, had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic.

A co-leader of the Bella Voce Junior Choir, Ashleigh helps young girls improve their musical skills.

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