Eight more Greats awarded on Queensland’s 160th birthday

Eight more Queensland Greats have joined the prestigious list of individuals and organisations to be honoured by their state as part of the annual Queensland Day celebrations.

The 19th year of the awards continued the tradition of recognising Queensland’s best and most generous contributors to the state’s public life and well-being.

Former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, cancer researcher Judith Clements, ophthalmologist and former Wallaby captain Mark Loane, journalist and community advocate Kay McGrath and Indigenous advocate Patricia O’Connor received a 2019 Queensland Great Award from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

International philanthropist Charles (Chuck) Feeney was named an honorary Queensland Great and conservationist John Sinclair was awarded posthumously.

The institution award recipient was the Queensland Country Women’s Association.

“These individuals and groups have enriched our State as they demonstrate what makes a Queensland Great,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“It is important to celebrate, honour and commemorate outstanding people who have contributed enormously to our communities throughout Queensland.

“Their work, dedication and enterprise have helped make Queensland an even better place to live.

“Queensland is celebrating its 160th anniversary and, in the past year, Queenslanders have again united in times of triumph and times of devastation.

“The eight Queensland Greats honoured with an award represent everything our great State is about, and I congratulate them for helping make Queensland what it is today.”

2019 Queensland Greats: https://awards.premiers.qld.gov.au/qga/

Mr Robert (Bob) Atkinson AO APM – Former Queensland Police Commissioner

Distinguished Professor Judith Clements AC – Biomedical cancer researcher

Dr Mark Loane AM – Ophthalmologist and Australian Rugby Union legend

Ms Kay McGrath OAM – Journalist and community advocate

Ms Patricia O’Connor – Indigenous advocate

Mr Charles (Chuck) Feeney – Philanthropist and entrepreneur

Institution Award – Queensland Country Women’s Association

Posthumous Award – Dr John Sinclair AO – Conservationist


Robert (Bob) Atkinson AO APM, Former Queensland Police Commissioner

Robert (Bob) Atkinson AO APM commenced his public service with the Queensland Police Service in 1968 and quickly discovered a passion for investigations. He was appointed to the rank of Inspector following the Fitzgerald Commission of Inquiry, and in 2000 was appointed Commissioner of Police. Mr Atkinson successfully oversaw security for the 2002 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the first high-level meeting of international leaders after the United States terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Other significant achievements include overseeing responses to Cyclone Larry in 2006 and the 2010–11 statewide flood and cyclone disasters, reductions in crime and the road toll, enforcing welfare support, advocating for multiculturalism, and increasing Police Liaison Officer positions, including the first Sudanese and Muslim positions. Mr Atkinson retired as Police Commissioner in late 2012 and in January 2013 was appointed as one of the six Commissioners for the five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. His contribution today continues in advisory roles for youth justice, sentencing for child homicide offences and as Chair of the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce.

Distinguished Professor Judith Clements AC, Biomedical cancer researcher

Distinguished Professor Judith Clements AC is one of Australia’s leading biomedical researchers. In 2015 Professor Clements was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia for her eminent service to the biological sciences through cancer research and education. She has made a significant contribution to both prostate and ovarian cancer research, and the development of cancer research infrastructure and capability in Australia. Professor Clements played a key role in establishing the national Australian Prostate Cancer Bioresource and the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre – Queensland and is a national leader in international collaborative research spanning discovery and preclinical and clinical trials. Her advocacy and dedication have influenced the research landscape to bring hope to people with cancer and provided a visionary pathway for future scientists.

Dr Mark Loane AM, Ophthalmologist and sporting legend

Born and bred in Queensland, Dr Mark Loane AM has excelled in the fields of medicine and sport. As Captain of the Wallabies from 1979 to 1982, Dr Loane was inducted into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame and named one of the Queensland’s top fifty sportspeople of all time in 2007. When he retired from his stellar rugby career he pursued studies in ophthalmology, receiving the Cedric Cohen Medal for Excellence. Dr Loane established, and still runs, the Cape York Eye Health Project, which provides health services to many remote Indigenous communities in northern Queensland and has treated more than 20,000 patients. In 2011, he was named a Member of the Order of Australia for services to medicine in the field of ophthalmology, particularly to the Indigenous communities of northern Queensland, and as a contributor to the development of sustainable health services.

Kay McGrath OAM, Journalist and community advocate

Kay McGrath OAM is an award-winning Queensland journalist with more than 40 years’ experience. Throughout her career, Ms McGrath has been an inspirational and exemplary public figure, coupling her journalism with volunteer support for some of Queensland’s most deserving causes. In 1985, she co-founded the child protection organisation, Protect All Children Today (PACT). Since its establishment, PACT has worked on behalf of children, providing support for more than 20,000 child witnesses and their families through the Child Witness Support Program, establishing the now-national Child Protection Week, and advocating for child witnesses in a variety of forums. Ms McGrath is also an Ambassador for Act for Kids and Patron of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation. In 2017, she was appointed to serve as Chair of the Domestic and Family Violence Implementation Council, overseeing and championing implementation of Queensland’s domestic and family violence reforms. In this role, Ms McGrath has led representatives from the community and key government agencies to review and promote action to address domestic and family violence in Queensland.

Patricia O’Connor, Indigenous advocate

Patricia O’Connor (nee Yuke) is a co-founder of the Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture, formed 35 years ago to research and promote her community’s language and story. In 1986, Ms O’Connor jointly led Australia’s first major repatriation of about 200 Aboriginal remains on the Gold Coast. Shortly after, she organised community meetings to regather their Yugambeh language, which experts had previously said was lost. This work led to the Corporation opening the Yugambeh Museum, Language & Heritage Research Centre in 1995, as an Aboriginal research space. In 1991, with her sister Ysola Best, she created Australia’s first war memorial to Aboriginal service men and women. At 90 years of age, Patricia continues to work at the Yugambeh Museum. A legacy of Patricia’s work is that Yugambeh Language can now be taught in schools and through community.

Charles (Chuck) Feeney – Philanthropist and Entrepreneur

Charles (Chuck) Feeney is, by global standards, a major philanthropist and his contribution to Australian philanthropy in general, and to the development of educational, scientific and research infrastructure in Queensland, has been nothing short of game-changing. In 1982 Mr Feeney founded The Atlantic Philanthropies (TAP), which operated anonymously for its first 15 years and, in all, has donated some $10.9 billion (AUD) to health, education, science and other social causes. Since 1990 Mr Feeney, through TAP, has donated $549 million (AUD) to Australian and Australian-related entities with the majority of that benefaction directed towards Queensland-based initiatives and institutions. These include The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, and Queensland Brain Institute; Translational Research Institute; QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, and Science and Engineering Centre; QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute; and Griffith University, as well as significant support for the Wesley Medical Research and the Princess Alexandra and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospitals.

Queensland Country Women’s Association, Empowering and inspiring women

Since 1922, the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) has connected, supported, advocated and cooked its way to improving the lives of women and their families in rural, regional and remote communities across Queensland. With 240 branches and more than 3,700 members spread throughout the length and breadth of Queensland, the QCWA has set the benchmark as Queensland’s oldest, largest and one of the most influential women’s organisations. QCWA’s vision is for the women of Queensland to come together to support communities, celebrate their interests and forge friendships in a respectful and caring environment. This is achieved by advocating and providing opportunities for women centred around education, health and community, throughout every phase of a woman’s life.

Dr John Sinclair AO, Conservationist

Born in Maryborough, the late Dr John Sinclair AO joined the Wildlife Preservation Society in the 1960s. Dr Sinclair became increasingly involved in the conservation movement and, in 1971, formed the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation (FIDO). For six years FIDO fought to stop sand-mining of the forested dunes of Fraser Island. The battles came at significant personal and financial cost for Dr Sinclair, including bankruptcy, but he never lost his love or passion for the island. His fight to protect Fraser Island from overexploitation meant that sand-mining and logging were stopped, and countless visitors are now able to experience the island’s World Heritage listed beauty. In 2014, Dr Sinclair was appointed the Order of Australia for his outstanding commitment to conservation and in 2017 the Sunshine Coast University presented him with an honorary doctorate as one of Australia’s leading nature conservationists.

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