Stories of selflessness and mateship at 2022 Australia Day Awards

Published 19 January 2022

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The achievements and selfless contribution of four outstanding Moreton Bay citizens have been celebrated at Council’s 2022 Australia Day Awards.

For the first time, this year’s Awards were streamlined into two categories - Citizen of the Year Award, and the new Mayor’s Community Spirit Award. The main award pays homage to the region’s exemplary citizens, while the spirit award was open to those who live in and outside the region, and those who aren’t Australian citizens - also a first for the program.

Mayor Peter Flannery said this year’s award recipients were well-deserving of their honour and reflected the diversity and sense of pride that makes the region such a special place.

“Australia Day is a time to come together and celebrate how lucky we are to live in our region, and the country we call home,” Mayor Flannery said.

“Part of this is sharing our own stories, and each of this year’s award recipients have great stories to tell - all of them showing commitment to helping others, reaching out to those in need, and giving back to their community.

“I’d like to congratulate all four winners on their remarkable achievements and thank them for their dedicated service, along with everyone who was nominated this year.

“While our Australia Day Awards Ceremony looked a little different this year, it has still given us the chance to celebrate, and reflect on their selfless and significant actions in what are challenging times.

“It’s people like our Award recipients that epitomise the Aussie spirit of reaching out to others no matter the circumstances, and not giving up when times get tough.”

Mr Graham Gibb of Bribie Island has been named Moreton Bay Regional Council’s 2022 Citizen of the Year. Community is at the heart of everything Graham does. On land and at sea, his dedication and passion for serving others is a shining light, with his own needs always placed last.

Graham’s decade-long service as a Senior Radio Officer with Volunteer Marine Rescue Bribie Island has not only seen him play a vital role in protecting those enjoying Moreton Bay and supporting the crews on the water, but also helps ensure the future of the organisation. Graham established and continues to lead the annual Emergency Services Expo at VMR Bribie Island, coordinating the extremely popular event to bring local emergency services together, as well as working with local schools and community organisations, engaging with kids and the wider public. He’s also an instrumental part of the Young Emergency Services Ambassador program, inspiring future generations to join the emergency services and Defence forces.

Graham’s passion for helping others has also seen him working as a Volunteer in Policing with Bribie Island Police for the last ten years. This role sees him act as a ‘buffer’ between police and the community, offering understanding and assistance during what can be a daunting time.

Always humble, Graham says he couldn’t do the work he does without the support of others, and even though he’s officially retired, has no plans to slow down when it comes to volunteering. A dedicated and widely respected member of the community, Graham is a truly deserving winner.

Three other members of the community have each received a Mayor’s Community Spirit Award.

Mrs Ann Brooks, Bribie Island

Ann’s passion for education has brought joy and sparked a love for learning among thousands of others across the Moreton Bay region. Her dedication and enthusiasm during her 12 years’ service as President of the Bribie Island University of the Third Age (U3A) was inspiring, with membership growing from 460 senior citizens when she started out in 2004, and almost tripling by the time she passed on the torch in 2016. She has also served as Vice President and is now the Patron.

More than 2,000 members from across Bribie and surrounding areas are now part of the social and educational club for seniors, with a wide range of classes in many subjects run by volunteer tutors to help with mental and physical wellbeing. Ann also helped open the highly successful branches at Beachmere and Caboolture, and also manages the Masters and Apprentices annual art and drama exhibition held at the Bribie Island Community Art Centre (BICAS), giving more than 100 local artists the opportunity to showcase their work. An inspiring educator, manager and friend, Ann truly embodies community spirit, and is so deserving of this honour.

Mr Len McCandless, Lawnton

The story of Len’s determination to turn his own life around has proven inspirational as he reaches out to others in his local community, helping them to do the same. Having been homeless from a young age, it was the help of support services like Rosies – Friends on the Street that helped him through the tough times, bringing safety and stability to his life.

He is now paying that experience forward. Starting out as a patron volunteering with Rosies in 2017, Len became a Team Leader, and is now a Branch Coordinator. Known as incredibly caring, Len can truly relate with those who seek help at Rosies, and his nominator says he’s always on hand with a big smile, a cuppa and a chat. Len works with many other services to connect with at-risk youth, and is also active in his local community, speaking to different organisations to put the spotlight on what those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are going through. He not only makes a difference in others’ lives through volunteering, but also uses his big heart in his job as a disability support worker at Skylark House. Len is a true inspiration to all those who have the pleasure of meeting or working with him, and despite all he’s been through, has chosen the path of helping others. His community spirit lives large, making him a standout for this award.

Mr Malcolm “Mick” Klein, Morayfield

Mick’s love of sport has inspired him to ensure others in his community have access to everything they need to help achieve their dreams. Through hard work and dedication, Mick established Caboolture Sports Club in 1994, funding its construction by working with venture capitalists and six local sporting groups across softball, touch football, cricket, dog obedience, soccer and rugby union. Under Mick’s leadership, they united to form an umbrella group to help support their different codes, and a place for them to meet and socialise, bringing the community together. He also served as the club’s first President, and helped revive Caboolture Cricket Club when it was threatened with closure in the 1980s.

Thanks to Mick’s passion to help these six foundation clubs reach their goals, each now receives funding from Caboolture Sports Club, providing them with some of the best sporting facilities in Australia. The club delivers over $1.9 million in cash and in-kind support to the local community each year, including over 300 local sporting clubs, community groups and individual athletes. Mick’s dedication and generosity is helping grow the next generation of sports stars, which is more important than ever as Moreton Bay prepares to become a major hub for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This Award recognises his service and ongoing support for his community.