Some of Cape York’s top citizens and groups will be celebrated on Thursday night at the Cook Shire Council Australia Day Awards.
To be held at the Shire Hall in Cooktown, some well-known figures will be recognised for their contributions to their respective communities.
There are six award categories this year: Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Sports, Arts and Culture, and Environment.
This year’s nominees are (in alphabetic order): John and Tanya Ahlers, Jennifer Creek, Denicka Danaher, Julie Oliver, Melinda Parker, Scott Johnson, Lucretia Huen, Chan Henningson, Wayne ‘Prong’ Trimble, Davin Kamholz and Ray Wright, Lucas Giese, Don Woods, Cooktown Little Athletics Club, Samuel Ryder, Cooktown History Centre, Liesl Pensio, Jess and Dave Gibson-Chung, Ruth Pattie, Kath Shurcliff, Donald McMillian, Sienna Tomason, Jane Dennis, Barb Lees, and Bev Stone.
The awards ceremony will start at 6pm on Thursday and will be followed by a community barbecue.
This year, Cook Shire has appointed Justine Christerson as its Australia Day ambassador.
She is well known for breaking down the barriers for rural patients in city hospitals.
“Ms Christerson’s unwavering commitment to bridging healthcare gaps for rural patients in city hospitals reflects the true spirit of community and service,” said mayor Peter Scott.
While living in Biloela, Ms Christerson witnessed and experienced the challenges faced by rural community members requiring emergency medical transfers to cities, when her son was rushed to Rockhampton Hospital in two separate incidents.
In 2012, having moved from Biloela to Brisbane, Ms Christerson found herself offering support to a friend, whose son’s cancer treatment required they regularly travel between Biloela and Brisbane.
From meal preparation and childcare to coordinating prescriptions and transportation, Ms Christerson’s program has assisted thousands of patients, carers, and families compelled to travel to Brisbane for healthcare services unavailable locally.
Her services encompass airport logistics, home-cooked meals, and guidance on healthcare systems, patient travel subsidies, accommodation, and general information about navigating Brisbane.
Recognised as a finalist in the 2016 Queensland Local Hero Australian of the Year Awards, Ms Christerson’s commitment has made a profound impact on both the community and the healthcare sector.