THE City of Gold Coast's Australia Day Awards program recognises and honours the outstanding achievement of individuals and groups within our community who are worthy of recognition for helping to make our city a better place to live.
Citizen of the Year - Gary Baildon
Gary spent three terms in the city's highest office but has also played senior roles in many government and community organisations. He most recently chaired the Gold Coast Waterways Authority Board, playing a significant role in the Broadwater Parklands Stage 3 expansion, development of the Surfers Paradise Riverfront Masterplan and the Coomera Regional Dredge Spoil Management Facility. He has been a member of the Rotary Club of Surfers Paradise since 1970 and in 2010 was made a Member of the Order of Australia.
Environmental Achievement Award - Wal and Heather Mayr
Wal and Heather have spent the last 25 years tirelessly restoring their property, at the top of the Austinville valley adjoining highly valued conservation estate, including Springbrook National Park and the Austinville Conservation Area. Since becoming members of Land for Wildlife in 1999, the Mayrs have hosted numerous open property events to share their experiences and enthusiasm for restoration with others. In 2004 they entered into a General Voluntary Conservation Agreement with the City, to protect the property's natural values for the term of their property ownership, and in 2008, entered into a Nature Refuge with the State to protect those values in perpetuity.
Young Citizen of the Year - Tanya Diessel
Tanya works as a community lawyer, providing free legal advice and assistance to the Gold Coast community and ongoing casework to the Gold Coast most vulnerable and disadvantaged people. She was awarded the 2011 National Volunteer of the Year Award for her work at the Gold Coast Community Legal Centre.
Gold FM Community Service Award - Animal Welfare League
Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) was founded in Southport in 1959 by a group of Gold Coast locals who wanted to create better outcomes for the area's homeless animals. The AWLQ has grown to become one of the most effective and respected animal welfare charities in all of Australia. In 2015, AWLQ cared for up to 15,000 strayed, abandoned and homeless animals and is on track to re-home 9000 of these animals. The League has re-homed over 100,000 animals throughout its history through the commitment of almost 700 volunteers.
Sports Achievement Award - Luke Douglas
A key player for the Gold Coast Titans, Luke is tireless in his efforts to help others when he is off the field. He is a strong supporter of Down Syndrome Association Queensland, a passion that came from his late mother Trish Douglas. Luke was the driving force behind the Titans relationship with Down Syndrome Association Queensland where he helped organise the special activities at training and the run out with the team against the Rabbitohs.
Cultural Achievement Award - Polly Snowden
Polly Snowden, reigning 2015 Music Champion of the Year award winner from the Gold Coast Music Awards, is a champion for cultural momentum on the Gold Coast. In 2015 she managed to deliver the successful Summertime Sessions.