Cheryl Harris earns top honour at Australia Day Awards 2021

Cheryl Harris earns top honour at Australia Day Awards 2021

Sunshine Coast Council

At a special ceremony attended by more than 250 dignitaries, nominees and their guests, Cheryl Harris, a strong advocate for volunteering and volunteers, was today (January 22) named 2021 Sunshine Coast Citizen of the Year.

As the Volunteering Sunshine Coast CEO, Cheryl has been an outstanding advocate for volunteers over the last 10 years. Under her stewardship, volunteering has grown significantly on the Sunshine Coast through collaboration with local government, business and strong community partnerships.

Today there are around 64,000 volunteers supporting the Sunshine Coast community in widely diverse fields.

Cheryl’s work has encompassed assisting people who were seeking paid employment to participate in volunteer work with a view to keeping skills updated and building self-esteem through the Pathways to Employment program, coordinating volunteers during a disaster event and referring potential new volunteers to not-for-profit organisations across all sectors of the community.

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the annual Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards had again highlighted the outstanding work of so many community-focussed citizens and organisations.

“2020 was a year that will never be forgotten for so many reasons – but particularly because we saw our residents come together to support each other like never before,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“The nominees for the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards are a very special group and this is our chance to say thank you.

“Their stories highlight just how fortunate we are to have so many everyday heroes amongst us.

“All of our award recipients and nominees are truly deserving of these accolades.

“Their passion and dedication to helping those in need and our broader community is inspiring and they make a difference to so many lives every day.”

2021 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Award Recipients

  • Cheryl Harris – Citizen of the Year
  • Angelique Hallett – Young Citizen of the Year
  • Carmel Crouch – Senior Citizen of the Year
  • Lions Club Mooloolaba – Community Group or Organisation
  • Aleesah Darlison – Creative
  • Reef Check Australia – Environment and Sustainability
  • Stephen Ossedryver – Sport and Recreation
  • Kawana Waters Surf Life Saving Club –Outstanding Achievement COVID-19 Response Award

The 2021 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Award recipients were nominated by the community and selected by a panel of local leaders, including the 2017 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year, Jak Hardy, Angela Lisle (TAFE Queensland), Caroline Campbell (Seven Network) and John Williams (92.7 MixFM).

The 2021 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards are organised by Sunshine Coast Council and proudly supported by 7 News Sunshine Coast, 92.7 MixFM, Maroochy RSL, Sunshine Coast Daily, TAFE Queensland, Living Smart Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Stadium and Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Background information:

Cheryl Harris – Citizen of the Year: sponsored by 7 News Sunshine Coast

Cheryl has been a strong voice and advocate for volunteers over the last 10 years. As the Volunteering Sunshine Coast CEO, Cheryl has expanded its reputation and endeavours across the Sunshine Coast. Volunteerism under her stewardship has grown significantly on the Sunshine Coast through collaboration with local government, businesses and strong community partnerships. Today there are around 64,000 volunteers serving the Sunshine Coast community. Cheryl has assisted people who were seeking paid employment to participate in volunteer work with a view to keeping skills updated and building self-esteem through the pathways to employment program, coordinated volunteers during a disaster event and referred volunteers to not-for-profit organisations across all sectors of the community.

Angelique Hallett – Young Citizen of the Year: sponsored by 92.7 MixFM

Angelique is the founder and director of the social enterprise, Loving Hope Bears. Annually on the Sunshine Coast and Gympie, 446 children are forced to flee their homes with a parent as a result of domestic violence. Often these children leave without any possessions, including their favourite toy. Whilst many of these children in shelters have their basic needs met, Angelique’s research indicated that a teddy bear had been shown to bring children comfort. For two years, Angelique learnt everything she could about how she could provide a teddy bear to every child in domestic violence shelters on the Sunshine Coast and in Gympie. Loving Hope Bears has now delivered more than 300 bears to domestic violence shelters for children.

Carmel Crouch – Senior Citizen of the Year: sponsored by Maroochy RSL

Carmel’s dedication to providing opportunities for people with a disability began more than 45 years ago when she adopted a son with disabilities. As he grew up Carmel felt compelled to create opportunities for him, just as her other two children (who did not have disabilities) had the chance to experience. Carmel took a leading role to develop supported training and employment programs. The organisation STEPS was born in which Carmel has been a key driver in her voluntary role as chair and President for 33 years. Through her tireless work Carmel has garnered the support of local business that have donated to the development of classrooms, living facilities and educational programs, and have helped to create a brighter future for people with a disability.

Lions Club Mooloolaba – Community Group or Organisation: sponsored by Sunshine Coast Daily

The Lions Club Mooloolaba has a proud history servicing the community for 46 years. As a service club, they strive to make a difference in the lives of people in need through community service. This service involves the Lions Fisherman’s Road Sunday Market, held since 1999. Working with a core group of 13 members, the members work week in and week out in service to others. COVID-19 did not stop their fundraising distribution this fiscal year being $119,022. Funds are distributed based on community priorities.

Aleesah Darlison – Creative Award: sponsored by TAFE Queensland

Aleesah is a highly respected member of the Australian writing community. She has published 50 books in 10 years and has won or been shortlisted for many awards. Upon relocating to the Sunshine Coast in 2014, Aleesah formed a network of children’s authors and illustrators (SCBWI) enabling local artists to share ideas, knowledge, and opportunities to lift the status and capacity of Sunshine Coast creatives. Due to her vast industry knowledge and giving nature, Aleesah runs child and adult writing workshops, and set up Sunny Kids Writing Workshops where she’s taught hundreds of young local writers. Aleesah has nurtured the Sunshine Coast literary community in an invaluable way.

Reef Check Australia – Environmental Award: sponsored by Living Smart Sunshine Coast

Reef Check Australia is dedicated to protecting Australia’s reefs and oceans by empowering ordinary people, not just scientists. RCA engage the community in hands-on citizen science and education initiatives to help volunteers take an active role in appreciating, understanding and protecting local reef resources. RCA volunteers have surveyed more than 14,000m2 of reef in the Sunshine Coast area using a globally standardised and peer-reviewed scientific protocol. Marine debris has been identified as a critical issue and RCA volunteers have worked with partners to remove more than 3000kg of rubbish from local beaches and waterways. RCA regularly engages with students, teachers, community groups, local businesses and individuals to share the wonders of the unique reefs of the region.

Stephen Ossedryver – Sport and Recreation Award: sponsored by Sunshine Coast Stadium

Steve is a trailblazer in the Sunshine Coast mountain biking (MTB) arena. In 2012, on a firefighter exchange to Canada, Steve was inspired by the local MTB club, and upon his return, began developing MTB trails in the Caloundra Town Reserve. As he created new trails and added adventurous features, more riders found them, and others began to help Steve with trail development. Steve initiated contact with Sunshine Coast Council to formalise the Sugar Bag reserve as a designated MTB area. In 2015, Steve and a small group of mountain bikers established the Caloundra Off-Road Cycling Association to liaise with state and local authorities. Steve runs the CORCA Kids program, learn-to-MTB days and introductory courses and he often gives up his club rides to instruct novice riders.

Kawana Waters Surf Life Saving Club – Outstanding Achievement COVID-19 Response Award: sponsored by Sunshine Coast Lightning

During the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the Kawana Surf Club was closed, one of their major sponsors donated money to be used towards cooking and delivering meals to local Kawana RSL members. For 10 weeks, hearty meals were prepared by their chef’s and packaged by staff ready for delivery by a handful of volunteers who were current and past volunteer surf lifesavers, life members and local businesses donating some of their staff to help.

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