Nominate a mate for a 2023 Australia Day Award! Closing 30 November. More info here.

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Australia Day in the Central Highlands

Australia Day celebrations and events

Each year we celebrate Australia Day across the region to reflect on what it means to be Australian, to celebrate contemporary Australia and acknowledge our history.  And from car shows to thong-throwing competitions, each of our towns adds their individual flavour to their celebrations. In Emerald, we continue the tradition of the more formal Australia Day citizenship ceremony. Across all of our towns, we celebrate our people by awarding the annual Australia Day Awards.

You will find information on the region’s events closer to 2022. For now, nominations have just opened! Find out more information about nominations below.

Or if you’re ready to nominate, fill out and submit your nomination here.

Australia Day Award nominations

The Central Highlands Australia Day Awards celebrate the achievement and contributions of individuals and organisations in our region. Nominating someone is an opportunity to publicly acknowledge those who have made an extraordinary contribution or are an outstanding achiever.

Each year, people in the Central Highlands recognise the achievements and contributions of individuals and organisations in six categories and the four community areas of:

  • East: Blackwater/ Dingo/ Duaringa/ Bluff/ Bauhinia and surrounds
  • North: Capella/ Tieri and surrounds
  • Central: Emerald/ Comet/ Gemfields / Gindie and surrounds
  • South: Rolleston/ Springsure/ Arcadia Valley and surrounds

You will find all you need to know to complete a great Australia Day Award nomination here.

  • Categories

    Citizen of the Year

    The Citizen of the Year Award recognises those aged 26 years and above who have made a significant contribution to their community.

    Young Citizen of the Year

    The Young Citizen of the Year Award recognises those aged 25 years and under who have made a significant contribution to their community.

    Cultural Award (Individual or group)

    The Cultural Award recognises individuals or groups that have made a significant contribution to the arts and culture in their community.

    Senior Sportsperson/ Administrator of the Year

    The Senior Sportsperson/ Administrator of the Year Award recognises individuals aged 18 and over who have an outstanding record of achievement in their sport or have made a significant contribution as a coach, official or administrator.

    Junior Sportsperson of the Year

    The Junior Sportsperson of the Year Award recognises individuals aged 17 and under who have an outstanding record of achievement in their sport or have made a significant contribution as a coach, official or administrator.

    Community Event of the Year

    The Community Event of the Year Award recognises a community event held in the Central Highlands Regional Council area that has made a significant contribution to the community profile economically, culturally and socially.

  • Tips for a great nomination

    Open with the important information

    Start with a clear and specific statement that outlines why your nominee is worthy of the award. Ask yourself:

    What activities or actions has the nominee undertaken to stand out? What has the nominee accomplished that goes above and beyond their job description? What special skills or talents have they employed? How has the nominee changed their community? Why are you motivated to nominate this person?

    Consider your audience

    The people on the judging panel come from all walks of life. Imagine you are talking to an intelligent, engaged audience without specific expertise in your field. Spell out acronyms the first time you use them and avoid using jargon, overly scientific language or terms that may not be familiar to people outside your industry.

    Share their story

    Strengthen your nomination by painting a picture of the person. What motivates them to make a difference? What personal challenges have they overcome in their life? Why do they inspire others? How does this person make you feel?

    Don’t just say it, prove it

    Use real-world examples that demonstrate what you’re saying is true. Whether your nominee was the first one to lend a hand at the local football club or the person staying back late each night at the lab, we want the stories of their life and the impact they have made.

    Tell the facts

    Support your nomination with hard facts and reliable statistics. Can you provide specific measures of this person’s success?

    Aim for quality, not quantity

    A long nomination isn’t always a better nomination. Try to keep your sentences short and concise and avoid repetition. Steer clear of detailed job descriptions and work histories or providing multiple referee statements that don’t offer new information.

    Stick to selection criteria

    The panel is looking for people who make a significant contribution to the community, who are a role model for people in their community and demonstrate excellence in their field, so ensure your nomination addresses these criteria.
    For the Community Event of the Year award, the panel is looking for an event that makes a significant contribution to develop the regional economy and social and cultural life.

  • Nomination process and conditions

    Selection criteria and how to prepare a nomination

    When completing the nomination form, it is important to address selection criteria.

    1. Significant contribution – Give evidence that the nominee/ event has made a significant contribution to their community.
    2. Inspirational role model – Give evidence that the nominee has outstanding personal attributes and is an inspirational role model for their community.
    3. Demonstrated excellence in their field
      1. Provide specific examples of how the nominee has gone above and beyond what could be reasonably expected of someone in a similar situation.
      2. Include a list of appointments/ positions/ academic or sport or other achievements and memberships.
    4. Community Event of the Year nominations only: Contribution to development of regional economy and social and cultural life. – Provide data to substantiate the claims of economic, social and cultural contribution. This might include participant numbers, organisations involved, and revenue generated.

    The judging panel will also give consideration to the following in assessing and comparing nominations against the above criteria:

    1. Personal, academic and professional achievements.
    2. Contribution in the relevant field – how has the nominee ‘put back’ into their field to benefit others.
    3. Demonstrated leadership, innovation and creativity.
    4. Personal interests and community involvement.
    5. Contribution to development of regional community and or/ economy.
    6. Degree of difficulty of the achievements and sacrifices made.
    7. Future goals and likely impact.
    8. Previous awards and recognitions.
    9. Voluntary work beyond paid employment.
    10. Nature and length of activity or service.
    11. Achievements as an individual or as part of a group or organisation.

    Eligibility criteria

    1. Nominees must be an Australian Citizen and reside within the local government boundary of Central Highlands Regional Council. Community events must be held within the local government boundary of Central Highlands Regional Council.
    2. Previous award recipients must not have won the same award category more than once in three consecutive years.
    3. Nominees must be within the accepted age range of the award.

    An individual can be nominated in more than one category, but a separate form must be completed.

    How are nominations assessed?

    The Australia Day Awards judging panel assesses the nominations based on the selection criteria. The panel consists of councillors, council representatives and community members reflecting each of the award areas. Read more in the Australia Day Awards Judging Panel Terms of Reference.

    Are nominations confidential?

    All nominations are confidential, and the information will be used only to assist council to consider the merit of the nominations.

    Previous award recipients may be approached by council to share their experience for the purpose of promoting future Australia Day Award campaigns.

    When are nominations considered?

    Nominations for the Australia Day Awards are open between 1 September and 30 November in the year before the awards. All award nominees will be notified via contact details provided on the nomination form and receive an invitation to attend the award presentation on 26 January. A list of nominees may be published before the 26 January.

  • Nominate online

Emerald and Gemfields 2021 Winners

  • Citizen of the Year - John Hall

    John is a quiet achiever whose contributions to the local community have spanned almost 45 years.

    Since returning to town in the early 1970s, John has given his time and expertise to making Emerald a better place. In addition to his 28 years working for the local council, John’s myriad of volunteer positions have included acting as president for the Emerald Town Band, Emerald Amateur Swimming Club and Emerald Lions Club.

    In recent years, John’s accomplishments with the Lions Club have been honoured with both the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellow title and the Ian Stockdale award.


  • Young Citizen of the Year - Kirra Lee Gittens

    Using her experience from attending cattle judging since the age of five, Kirra-Lee has shown immense confidence and kindness while helping to raise funds to help Anakie State School students in years five and six attend a school trip to Canberra this year.

    As the only student to spend all six weekends attending the sausage sizzle, Kirra-Lee acted as a role model for other children, helping to show them the ropes and boost their confidence within the community. She truly is a team player!


  • Senior Sportsperson Administrator - Sue Fehlhaber

    Going from the classroom to zoom, Emerald Gymnastics and Trampoline Club head coach, Sue Fehlhaber, excelled at keeping her students active and engaged while maintaining COVID-19 precautions.

    In general, Sue is a role model within the Gymnastics and Trampoline community, teaching all ages and helping to guide the clubs six younger coaches.


  • Junior Sportsperson - Logan Weaver

    At only 15 years old, Logan Weaver has represented the Central Highlands at both state and national level.

    He currently holds nine Queensland state weightlifting records and two Australian national weightlifting records. For the last three years, Logan has taken out Queensland Under 15 and Junior State Weightlifting Championship.


  • Community Event - Laughing Kookaburra

    During the COVID-19 pandemic artist, educator, community development professional and mindfulness trainer Dr Daliri took to the streets with his giant Kookaburra to bring laughter and joy to people everywhere. 

    The catalyst for the event was Kim Tompson.

    The Kookaburra visited 12 towns and 17 venues during Mental Health Week in 2020.


  • Cultural Award - James Raschle

    James Raschle is the driving force behind local initiative ‘Festival of Bands’, where professional musicians travel to perform and workshop with student bands from across the Central Highlands.

    While working as a music teacher at Marist College Emerald, James has not only supported his student’s music endeavours but has allowed students in smaller schools, such as Springsure State School, an opportunity to be a part of a band.

Blackwater and Duaringa 2021 Winners

  • Citizen of the Year - Olive Smith

    Olive Smith has a passion for Duaringa and has spent most of her life contributing to the community. Not only does Olive work at the Duaringa School she serves the school in other ways by being part of the committee that helped build the school pool. This resource has been invaluable in giving the school children the chance to learn swimming and pool safety in a rural town. Over her years associated with the school she has helped with the reading programs, in the tuckshop cooking up a storm and with all fundraisers and in the past Olive has volunteered to teach sewing and knitting. Olive joined and is still a practising member of the Boolburra Rural Fire Brigade, the local SES group and is always one of the first on the scene to lend a helping hand to those who need it the most. Olive is also a member of the Duaringa Community Reference Group to help put forward her experiences and knowledge of the area’s part with a mind for future growth. She helps preserve its greatness while pushing it forward to be better. Olive is always ready to lend a hand in any capacity no matter if she is directly involved or not.

  • Young Citizen of the Year - Jordan Jackson

    Jordan consistently gives to the Blackwater State High school community by attending all events and is always willing to help set up, pack up and do anything in between. During the Year 6 transition days, Jordan volunteered to help out in the year 6 classes to ensure they have a smooth transition to high school. She came early to school and talked with the students, bringing them over to breakky club and making them feel welcome. Jordan did all of this off her own initiative, without being asked by staff to do so. Jordan is a talented sportswoman and represents the school well through interschool events. She has also helped out at other school events such as the family fun science night and has represented the school internationally at space camp.

  • Senior Sportsperson Administrator - Annette Boase

    Annette has worked hard to bring netball to the Blackwater community and in 2020 it was the first time in 16 years that Blackwater took an under 13 team to the Nissan State Age Titles in Brisbane. Annette assisted with coaching and management of the team. Annette is a great role model for the young up and comers, always making herself available to host the net set go programs for the younger community. Knowing that netball means a lot to the community, Annette has worked tirelessly to ensure that netball continued through court upgrades and covid challenges

  • Community Event - Blackwater Netball Carnival

    On the 7 November Blackwater Netball Association held it’s first netball carnival since 1977. After the court upgrades, the netball committee decided it would be a great opportunity to showcase Blackwater netball. The event was a huge success with 32 teams attending the one day carnival. Teams travelled from Yeppoon, Rockhampton, Emerald, Middlemount and Biloela. Congratulations Blackwater Netball Association, we look forward to seeing you in action in 2021.

  • Cultural Award - Blackwater Arts Society

    The Blackwater Art Society is a community visual arts group that meets their art hall at 6 Evans Street every Tuesday. It is the hub of like-minded people who have an appreciation for the visual arts and like to share their passion for all things art-related. It provides a space to learn, with many members sharing their knowledge regularly as well as providing the opportunity for formal instruction in the many artist mediums through tutorial workshops held several times per year. The Blackwater Art society is a very progressive community group with great momentum within the community for being involved in many things. They recently celebrated their 50th year anniversary with a major function to celebrate this milestone event. A grand opening night was held recently to celebrate the new artist space in Evans Street.

Tieri and Capella 2021 Winners

  • Citizen of the Year - Becky Scarlett

    Becky has been a volunteer wildlife carer in Capella for many years and a member of the Central Highlands Wildlife carers group since inception 5 years ago. Becky is the hotline responder and Secretary of the group. 

    Becky is usually the first line of contact when members of the public require wildlife assistance receiving calls from Moranbah to Carnarvon George, Barcaldine to Blackwater and everywhere in between. She then needs to work out the closest or required carer and the logistics of transporting. Sometimes it requires her to meet at a designated sport or have the animal dropped to her.  

    Becky cares for wildlife overnight, short term or in some cases until time of release.  

    She has a gentle way of educating people about stopping, checking and getting help for our injured/orphaned wildlife. Knowing that Becky is around and what she does makes it easy for people to make the decision to help, they don’t have to wonder what to do and how. 


  • Young Citizen of the Year - Emielia Jansen

    Emielia is a much loved and respected junior instructor with Peak Downs Karate.

    She gives her time freely to teach junior and senior students at Peak Downs Karate 

    Emielia is the first person to put her hand up to help man a stall at the Community Markets or help fundraise for those that need it. 

    In 2020 whilst COVID took many opportunities away from the community Emielia continued to dig deep and find new opportunities 

    Emielia is a polite, respectful, hardworking young lady who is a fantastic role model to all, not just children but adults as well. 


  • Senior Sportsperson Administrator - Rod Green

    Rod, or Greeny as he is known is the president of the Capella Cattledogs Rugby Union Club. He is a leader and role model for the other players and member of the club. He gets in there and does what needs to be done both on and off the field. In the true spirit of country rugby, when the team is short of players, he will pull on the shoes so they can still field a team.  

    Behind the scenes, Greeny is also the person that organises the catering and drinks for training and games and lends a hand when needed. 

    Whether it be for training or a game, he is the first person there, and always the last to leave. He is a great mentor for the younger players of the club, leads by example on how to act as a team player and member of the Capella Cattledogs. 


  • Junior Sportsperson - Mollie Evans

    Mollie is a young lady who has achieved amazing results in her chosen sport of Netball. Mollie has been playing netball for 7 years starting when she was in year 4. 


    Mollie’s hard work and determination has paid off by being selected in the 2021 17/U Qld squadTo make it to this selection she attended the Nissan State Titles as a member of the Capricorn Claws under 16 team and was 1 of 7 Emerald girls selected to join the under 17 Qld Squad. Mollie is a member of the Emerald Netball Association. 


    While the competition was shut down due to COVID Mollie never lost sight of her goals and took the time to train harder and develop her skills, so she was ready to play when shut down was lifted. 

    Mollie always tries her best in all things sport related. She is very supportive of her competition and peers, always cheering on the side or waiting at the finish line to support and encourage. 

    Her commitment to her sport is inspiring and she is a role model to up and comping players. 


  • Community Event - Capella State School Eco Club

    The Eco Club commenced at the beginning of the 2020 school year through the guidance of Ms Kate Legge and Ms Carla Langtry along with the Capella State School Students to teach students to Re-use, Reduce and Recycle. 

    The students separate food scraps in bins, which is then used in the worm farm, popper and drink containers are recycled through ‘Containers for Change’, and they grow succulents and vegies. 

    The students have been attending the Capella Markets to sell their plants and produce along with worm juice, castings and shredded paper. 

    All funds raised at the markets is reinvested into new tools or to fund new projects within the school community. 


  • Cultural Award - Harvey Jones

    Harvey has had an interest in music for a number of yearsHarvey won a position to attend an emerging musicians’ conference run by Arts Qld with his songwriting and performing excellence. At this event, he was mentored by musicians, wrote and performed some original pieces. 

    Harvey would spend his breaks at school working with students to develop their skills. Hhas been an inspiration and mentor for younger students, growing their participation in the music program. He is modest about his talent, but he spreads a sense that the arts are worthwhile with his energy, enthusiasm, and hard work. 

    Harvey won the inaugural music award at Capella State High School in 2019 and Dux of the school in 2020 proving that Music and academic success are often linked. 

    Harvey volunteers to perform at community events, he is incredibly generous with his talent and time. When I approached him to perform today he was keen and honoured to assist. 


Springsure and Rolleston 2021 Winners

Images by Trina Patterson.

  • Citizen of the Year - Kurt Mayne

    Kurt has volunteered much of his time to the Rolleston community and wider region as President of the Rolleston State School P&C and President of the Central Highlands Junior Rugby Union.

    He established the Rolleston Joey’s Rugby Union Club in 2019 and raised more than $30,000 in 2019 and 2020 for the Rolleston State School P&C through the containers for change initiative.

  • Young Citizen of the Year - Belle Priddle

     Belle has been nominated for her extraordinary work raising funds for childhood cancer research. In 2020, she was the recipient of the Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation Silver Award in recognition of the support towards the foundation’s vision.  Belle is now recognised as an ambassador, helping kids fulfil their right to a healthy life.

    You will find Belle at every market day, street stalls if she’s allowed, and social events selling tickets for countless Jelly Bean jar raffles and more.

    Belle prepares all the prizes, wraps and presents them, organises tickets and change, either from donations or pocket money.

    She is an inspirational role model, donating the full proceeds of her fundraising efforts to the Springsure Lions Club who forward it to the ALCCRF.

  • Senior Sportsperson Administrator - Geoff and Suzie Pederson

    Geoff and Suzie Pederson have shown continued commitment to the administration of the Rolleston Tennis Club.

    Their work helped to create a strong committee while keeping fixture nights and final days running smoothly.

    Rolleston State School students are able to utilise the courts free of charge, giving the s

  • Junior Sportsperson - Kyle Taylor

    Kyle achieved amazing success in the pool during the Springsure Stingers Swimming Club’s 2019/20 season.

    He competed at the Queensland Sprint Championships where he not only made the final but placed 8th in the State for 14 years of age and 50-metre fly.

    Kyle is the first swimmer from Springsure to make a final in more than 25 years. For the season, he accumulated 38 gold medals, resulting in six age champion trophies.

    Out of the pool, he’s a great role model for younger swimmers and always willing to help through encouragement or assistance.

  • Community Event - Combined Christmas Eve Mardi Gras

    The Combined Christmas Eve Mardi Gras got the entire community together for a night of celebrating the festive season. It was a time for social connection, where many locals felt the effects of drought.

    The event held in 2019 was organised and funded by the Ivy Anderson Home, Springsure Lions Club and council and attended by 400 people.

  • Cultural Award - Eclipse Street Emporium

    The Eclipse Street Emporium Group of local craft people make a significant contribution to the region showcasing and selling home-made items to locals and tourists.

    The group also promotes arts and crafts to all ages. Throughout drought times in 2019 and COVID-19 in 2020, this group has defied all odds, providing workshops for everyone from children to elderly.

    The workshops were a source of inspiration and calm during challenging times. Members of the group contribute countless hours to open the shop, organise workshops and share their knowledge in arts and crafts.


Youth Photo Contest entries for 2020 have now closed

  • Australia Day Youth Photo Contest

    Entries for the Youth Photo Contest are now closed.

    Australia Day, 26 January, is the day to reflect on what it means to be Australian, to celebrate contemporary Australia and to acknowledge our history!

    So simply upload a picture of what it means to you to be Australian and tell us why!

    Entry is open to all young people aged between 10 and 25 who live in the Central Highlands region.
    Photos are to be themed around what it means to be Australian.

    How to participate:
    Snap your photo
    Click on this link
    Upload your photo and fill in the form

    How to win:
    The photo with the most votes wins. Winners will be emailed upon completion of the contest on the 28 January 2020 @ 5.00pm.

    Prizes: (voucher of your choice to either Big W, EB Games, Target or BCF)

    1st – $100
    2nd – $50
    3rd – $20

    COPYRIGHT: You must have rights and authorities of photo you submit.

    USAGE RIGHTS: Photos could be used by future promotion by Central Highlands Regional Council.

    Good Luck

    If you want to ask a question, call the youth development team on 1300 242 686 or

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