Smithfield teacher named Cairns Citizen of Year

A secondary school teacher who has been described by students as their “school mum”, has been named Cairns Citizen of the Year.

In a ceremony at the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino today, Majella Fallon, the Head of Department for the Arts at Smithfield State High School (SHS), was recognised for her service to others, an enduring community spirit, and her dedication to promoting the arts, especially to young people.

Ms Fallon is also president of FNQ Bands, a member of the Rotary Club of Cairns Northern Beaches and a member of the Smithfield SHS P&C Association.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said that Ms Fallon embodied selfless dedication and inspiration, fitting attributes for someone awarded one of the city’s highest honours.

“The fact that she has been described by students as their ‘school mum’ speaks to her character as someone who always has time to give a caring word and helpful advice,” Cr Manning said.

“She is a passionate woman who is an inspiration to her peers and someone who doesn’t stand by and wait for others to act when she sees a need, she finds a solution and gets to work.”

In 2021, she was pivotal in establishing a simple but important program to help students improve their schooling.

“She realised that a number of students would often come to school without breakfast and that it was impacting negatively on their schooling,” Cr Manning said.

“Instead of allowing the situation to continue, she worked with the school’s P&C Association and the Rotary Club of Cairns Northern Beaches, to establish the Breakfast Club, which provides a free breakfast for those students.”

“This is just one of many examples that highlights her commitment and passion, and demonstrates why she is such a worthy recipient of this award.”

Young Citizen of the Year, Alannah Giuffrida, was recognised for her extensive work, often behind the scenes, with the Northern Pride Rugby League Club, Connected Communities FNQ and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.

She holds a Bachelor of Business from JCU, with a double major in sports and events management, and Hospitality and Tourism Management, and received numerous awards for her academic achievements.

“Alannah is a highly motivated young person who has used her skills to advance local organisations and community groups, as well as assisting others to reach their goals,” Cr Manning said.

“When I see her achievements, I feel confident that our next wave of leaders will propel our city in the right direction.”

Hannah Boon has been named Volunteer of the Year, while Kushla Phillips was also recognised in the same category with a highly commended award.

Sebastian Temesi enjoyed an outstanding 2022 in the sport of judo, and has been named Cairns Sportsperson of the Year, while Edan Mattinson has capped of a remarkable 12-months to be Junior Sportsperson of the Year.

James Kerr received the Cultural Award for his work in helping at-risk and vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth.

Cr Manning congratulated the recipients of the 2023 Cairns Community Awards.

“These individuals represent everything great about our region,” he said.

“Despite different backgrounds, talents and interests, each individual has made a unique contribution 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 – Majella Fallon

The Head of Department for the Arts at Smithfield State High School (SHS) and described by students as a “school mum”, Ms Fallon was recognised for her service to others, an enduring community spirit, and a dedication to promoting the arts, especial to young people.

As well as her role at Smithfield SHS, Ms Fallon is also president of FNQ Bands, and a member of the Rotary Club of Cairns Northern Beaches and the Smithfield SHS P&C Association.

An example of her ability to identify a need and provide a solution, was the role she played in establishing the Breakfast Club at Smithfield SHS.

After noticing that several students frequently arrived at school without having breakfast, which negatively affected their education, Ms Fallon collaborated with the school’s P&C Association and the Rotary Club of Cairns Northern Beaches, to establish the Breakfast Club, which provides a free breakfast for those students.

Colleagues have described Ms Fallon as a role model who motivates others and help them believe they “can make a difference”.

She is actively involved in preparing students for live performances, providing young people with guidance and valuable insights that help them perform in front of an audience.

Ms Fallon can also be found organising venues and preparing students for community events such the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Trinity Beach, the Vibe Festival and the Festival of the Knob.

Young Citizen of the Year – Alannah Giuffrida

Alannah Giuffrida holds a Bachelor of Business from JCU, with a double major in sports and events management, and Hospitality and Tourism Management.

A high achiever, she has received numerous academic awards, including Letters of Academic Commendation for three consecutive years, and upon graduation in 2017 she was the recipient of the PwC Prize, awarded to the JCU Townsville campus student who achieved the highest GPA in their respective degree.

In 2018, she took on the role of Commercial, Partnerships and Administration manager with the Northern Pride, which included marketing, sponsorship, merchandising, event management and coordinating functions.

A year later, she also became a director on the Connected Communities FNQ Board, a group made up of individuals and business leaders which supports, funds and strengthens non-for-profit organisations in the region.

At the end of 2021, Alannah left her formal role with the Northern Pride and is currently the executive assistant at the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, where she is responsible for organising events, increasing exposure and networking possibilities, and provides access to information and services(?) that can assist local businesses.

Alannah is also the coordinator of the organisation’s Emerging Leaders Program, which is designed to develop young leaders through workshops, keynote presentations and mentoring.

In addition to this, she continues to volunteer at the Northern Pride and is currently studying a Cert IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping at TAFE.

Volunteer of the Year – Hannah Boon

Hannah Boon is dedicated to bettering her local community and is a volunteer with numerous organisations.

She is the president of the Rotary Cairns Club of Northern Beaches, a board member and marketing coordinator at the Cairns Businesswomen’s Club and is a volunteer with Cairns Street Chaplains.

The epitome of a community-minded person, she has also given her time at numerous events, including Cairns Ironman, the Cairns Italian Festival, the FNQ Rotary Field Days, and Anzac Day ceremonies.

For the past six years, she has been volunteering with Cairns Street Chaplain, which provides a Good Samaritan service for alcohol or drug-intoxicated and other vulnerable people in the Cairns CBD.

In her role with Rotary, she helps to identify fund-raising opportunities, which can help people who are in disadvantaged and require assistance.

Along with this year’s Citizen of the Year, Ms Boon helped co-establish the Breakfast Club at Smithfield State High School.

Volunteer of the Year – Highly commended

Motivated by her own daughter’s cancer diagnosis, Kushla Phillips established the charity “Stay in the Fight”, which heightens awareness about childhood cancer and provides care packs for teenage girls.

Ms Phillip’s daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with a bone cancer about two years ago.

Over the past two years, Ms Phillips has been raising funds to deliver care packs to teenage girls with cancer, which contain items that can assist them and their carers through the early stages of their diagnosis.

There are plans to expand the service to include packs for teenage boys, who are diagnosed with cancer.

Cultural Award – James Kerr

James Kerr manages the Jabalbina On Country Program, which aims to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and youth and promote pro-social behaviours.

Many of the children and young people with which Mr Kerr engages are at risk or involved with Youth Justice.

Through the program, he works to foster cultural and spiritual awareness and promote a sense of responsibility through several avenues, including improved and sustained school attendance, providing employment and training opportunities and stronger connections to family and country.

He leads a team of cultural mentors to provide workshops, overnight camps, one-on-one guidance, and referral to specialist services.

Mr Kerr also provides out-of-hours assistance to young people and their families, through crisis support, transport, and as a liaison between youths and relevant agencies.

An advocate for government and non-government agencies for improved social and emotional support, he is also active in the community through organising cultural events.

Sportsperson of the Year – Sebastian Temesi

Sebastian Temesi enjoyed an outstanding 2022 in the sport of judo, winning several high-profile events and selection to the Australian team.

He won gold at the Sydney International Open and ACT International Open and was runner-up at the Melbourne International Open and the Australian National Championships, which earned him selection to the Commonwealth Games team.

He is also the current national champion in the sport of sambo and represented Australia the World Sambo Championships in Kyrgyzstan.

Mr Temesi, who trains with Cairns Judo Club, is also the Queensland judo coach and helped the team place second at the National Champions last year.

He also coaches at the Cairns Judo Club three times a week, and helped the team win five titles at the National Championships, along with three silver and three bronze medals.

Junior Sportsperson of the Year – Edan Mattinson

Edan Mattinson made a remarkable return to gymnastics last year following 18-months away from the sport to recover from back injury.

A level 8 gymnast with the Barron Valley Gymnastics Club, he represented Queensland at the National Gymnastics Champions in May 2022, where he placed second in the parallel bars and helped the team secure a silver medal.

The achievement is remarkable as being located in a regional city adds to the challenges, especially with all major competitions in the state being held in Brisbane or the Gold Coast.

He is seen as a role model by other members of the gym and was awarded the senior club champion boy with Barron Valley Gymnastic Club in recognition of his achievements.

He also demonstrated his gymnastic skills on the theatre stage, playing the role of Lord Faquaard in the St Mary’s Catholic College production of the musical Shrek Jr.

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