Chaplain’s commitment earns him Australia Day title
  • Monday 25 January 2016
sunshine coast australia day awards, citizen of the year, david larkin

The Chaplain for Buderim Mountain State School, David Larkin, was named the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Citizen of the Year at a special ceremony held today (January 25) at Lake Kawana Community Centre.

David’s dedication and commitment to working with students on personal development, and issues to do with grief, loss and self-esteem, was recognised when he received the region’s highest award at a celebration of outstanding achievement.

Mayor Mark Jamieson paid homage to some of the Coast’s most noteworthy residents, saying that he was honoured to not only announce the recipients of the 2016 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards but to know that they were members of his community.

“This year we received 86 nominations for the Awards – one of the biggest fields ever - and today we have had the opportunity to hear about these fantastic people and to celebrate and acknowledge their many achievements,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“I have such admiration and respect for the work these people do in our community.

“They have been nominated and commended by their own communities because of their willingness to go above and beyond and there is no doubt that their efforts are truly commendable.

“Every year it is truly an honour to be invited to announce the award winners and to celebrate the people who show us what it really means to be an Australian.

“They are, in the main, quiet achievers, unsung heroes - people who work tirelessly to help others without thought of reward or recognition.

“The Australia Day Awards are our chance to say thank you and provide some well-deserved, recognition for all the nominees, and especially to acknowledge that, by naming our award winners, we are also naming our region’s ambassadors.

“These are the people who set a positive example and are great role models for our community.”

The 2016 Australia Day Award recipients were nominated by the community and selected by a panel of local leaders and experts, including the 2015 Australia Day Award recipient, Chris Turner.

David Larkin – Citizen of the Year Award, sponsored by Seven Local News

As Chaplain for Buderim Mountain State School, David works closely with students on personal development, grief and loss, self-esteem and facilitates programs like Seasons for Growth, Drumming Circles, and Happy Being Me. David’s ability to deliver these programs, and give meaning to the individual, results in better outcomes for the student, the family and the broader community.  His work extends to encompass the emotional, social and physical requirements of many families facing difficulties and he has developed strong links and networks with the community to ensure each child has the opportunity to feel embraced and supported by all sectors of the community.  

Nathan Tessmann and Brooke Pratt – Young Citizen of the Year Award (joint winners), sponsored by the University of the Sunshine Coast

Nathan Tessmann

Hip-hop artist, rapper, producer, skateboarder and role model, 21-year-old Caloundra local Nathan, has proved that you can be so much more than the cards that life deals you, even if that includes living with the rare condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress Type 1.  Through his music, speaking at events and appearances on national TV shows, Nathan inspires others and advocates hope from debilitating disability to dynamic ability.

Brooke Pratt

In 2006, Brooke was the sole survivor of one of the Sunshine Coast’s worst road tragedies. Today, she shows tremendous courage in sharing her story in order to change driver behaviour and decrease our local road toll. Brooke’s message and dedication to education through sharing her story is an inspiration to helping save young lives.

Anne Wensley – Senior Citizen of the Year Award, sponsored by Maroochy RSL

Anne has dedicated the past 50 years to the Sunshine Coast community, particularly Caloundra, through her leadership in more than 25 community projects and groups. Her achievements have contributed to the local history, environmental integrity and social capital of the Sunshine Coast. To name a few, Anne has written local history books about Caloundra, established community gardens and helped to establish Caloundra’s Resource Recovery Centre.

Suncoast Community Legal Services Ltd – Community Group or Organisation Award, sponsored by the Sunshine Coast Daily

Since 1984, Suncoast Community Legal Service has been offering voluntary legal services free of charge to disadvantaged and marginalised Sunshine Coast residents. This group of 134 volunteers are committed to helping 3000 annual clients who cannot afford legal help. They are also committed to community legal education through regular public seminars. 

Maria Salmon – Creative Award, sponsored by TAFE Queensland East Coast

Maria is the Director of the Sunshine Coast Youth Orchestra. With a 200-strong membership, Maria is dedicated to improving and supporting young musicians on the Sunshine Coast. Her generosity with her time is a key to the success of the orchestra.  Encouraging entrepreneurship in the creative industries, Maria has helped members of the orchestra advance to form small groups and seek out professional engagements. Her initiatives have seen a growth in member numbers, as well as joint events and partnerships with other music groups in the region and beyond.

The Millington family – Environment Award, sponsored by Living Smart

Since buying their degraded 33 acre cattle property in 1994, the Millington family have committed their time and resources into regeneration and have dedicated their land to conservation and education programs. Thanks to the Millington family, thousands of students have participated in workshops on water management, forest establishment and maintenance and vegetation management. The Millington family is an outstanding example of the essential contribution that passionate and committed landholders can make to the ecological sustainability of the Sunshine Coast.

Marayke Jonkers – Sport and Recreation Award, sponsored by the Sunshine Coast Sports Federation

A three-time Paralympian champion, Marayke discovered just how expensive it is for aspiring athletes with disabilities to purchase the gear or equipment they need to pursue their dreams. From this need, Marayke founded the charity organisation Sporting Dreams in 2007, providing more than 120 grants to Queensland athletes with physical disabilities or vision impairment.

To get involved and find out what’s happening on Australia Day in your local area, or for details on the Australia Day flag raising ceremony at Kings Beach Caloundra, head to council’s website or check out the Sunshine Coast Daily.