Local heroes awarded at gala ceremony

25 January 2019

An environmentalist, sporting superstar, youth advocate, men’s choir, festival director and tourism leader make up this year’s winners in the City’s Australia Day Awards. 

The annual awards recognise local people or groups who have made an outstanding contribution to the Gold Coast community.

Acting Mayor Donna Gates presented the awards in the six different categories at a ceremony at Q1 tonight (24/1/19). 

“Each of these winners truly deserves this recognition and acknowledgment. Their efforts are helping and motivating others to make our city a better place to live,” she said.  

Gold Coast Citizen of the Year was awarded to Paul Donovan, a visionary and key player in the City’s burgeoning tourism industry. 

The Gold FM Community Service Award went to Gold Coast icons The Blenders, a male singing group that provides mentors for young leaders and inter-generational outreach.  

Wildcare’s Karen Scott took out the Environmental Achievement Award for her relentless volunteer work in caring for our sick and injured wildlife. 
The Cultural Achievement Award was awarded to Blues on Broadbeach and Groundwater Music Festival Director Mark Duckworth, who is responsible for the exponential growth Blues on Broadbeach has experienced, becoming a destination in its own right. 

Renowned Australian A-League referee Jarred Gillett has claimed the Sports Achievement Award.    

Teenager Kaitlin Barwick was awarded the Young Citizen of the Year for her many years of volunteer work, leadership skills and fundraising efforts.   

Paul Donovan, Gold Coast Citizen of the Year 

Paul Donovan has played a unique role in helping make Gold Coast a global tourism destination. As Chairman of Destination Gold Coast for more than a decade and until recently a Director of Tourism and Events Queensland, he has guided the city’s image and reputation in its most successful era of visitor growth. 

Paul’s leadership credentials in tourism led to his appointment by Griffith University in 2015 as Adjunct Professor of Tourism. Mr Donovan invested his personal reputation and much of his own time to cultivate direct relationships with key Chinese tourism officials over many years. This is widely acknowledged in the tourism sector as helping make Gold Coast the only Australian and only Western destination in China’s top ten most popular global tourist destinations. In this vein, Mr Donovan has been named in the Gold Coast’s Bulletin’s Top Ten Most Influential People in the city. 

Mr Donovan achieved an international reputation in the aviation industry through his involvement in executive roles with Ansett, Qantas and Air New Zealand. This led to his long-term role with Queensland Airports Ltd, operator of Gold Coast Airport. As Chief Operating Officer at Gold Coast Airport from 2005 to 2014, Paul was responsible for the day-to-day operations and several key projects. These included delivery of a runway extension, a $100 million terminal redevelopment; long-term car park; creation of an airport masterplan to guide a decade-long development program; additional apron parking, as well as terminal and apron changes to facilitate current rapid passenger growth. 

For the past four years, Paul served as Executive General Manager of Business Development & Marketing with Queensland Airports Ltd. Paul took a leading role in establishing direct flights between Gold Coast and China among other Asia Pacific destinations. His compassion for those doing it tough is shown by his participation in the CEO sleepout in support of homeless people. An example of his contribution to the fabric of the Gold Coast community was Paul’s decision to serve for three years as a Director of the Titans football club. He accepted the club’s request to remain as Patron. 

Paul Donovan is universally regarded as a genuine and tireless supporter of community activities, always willing to lend his support to initiatives that make Gold Coast a better place to live and work.
The Blenders, Gold FM Community Service Award 
The Blenders have been an icon of the Gold Coast for 30 years, The Blenders have provided outstanding service to the community through mentoring young leaders, inter-generational outreach, establishing choruses and bringing cheer and celebration to the Gold Coast, Australia and Internationally. 

Founded in 1988, they were originally formed to cover a requirement of a four-man singing group that entertained at Movie World. After an advert to find extra singers, it was underestimated how the Gold Coast required a singing outlet for men. They are now a 70-strong men's choir with three associated choirs, making up approximately 150 permanent singing members.

Karen Scott, Environmental Achievement Award 

Karen has been active member of Wildcare for 18 years. She has been the president for the past nine and prior to that, she was vice president for three years and treasurer for seven. Karen has been the education coordinator for 11 and runs training workshops on weekends and throughout the year in both Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Karen is the species coordinator for macropods, koalas, echidnas and small MAMMALS; this involves being an active carer for these animals, as well as providing advice on rescues and care to other Wildcare members. She operates the Wildcare hotline and is the main trauma carer on the Gold Coast for calls regarding macropods, hit by cars or injured in other ways, and is regularly called out overnight.

Karen makes herself available for rescues daily and represents Wildcare in several ongoing stakeholder relationships with other organisations, notably the Dept. of Environment and Science, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, City of Gold Coast, RSPCA and Australia Zoo. Her advice and input is highly regarded. 

Karen does all of this whilst working full time. Her dedication and commitment to our wildlife is inspirational. Her energy, drive and enthusiasm are unwavering. She provides leadership to Wildcare generally, and mentors many members. Her life is devoted to the care, rescue, and rehabilitation and ultimately returns of our wildlife to the wild. She goes about her volunteering quietly, without seeking recognition or adulation, but at the same time seeks to recognise and praise others. 

Karen has been instrumental in raising the profile of Wildcare through social media and presence at community events.

Mark Duckworth, Cultural Achievement Award

For the past four years, Mark (or ‘Duck’) has been the Festival Director of Blues on Broadbeach and Groundwater Country Music Festival, which in 2016 and 2017, WON Music Event of the Year at the Gold Coast Music Awards.

While the event has been running now for 16 years, it is under Duck’s direction that the festival has exploded exponentially. When he took on the role four years ago Blues on Broadbeach attracted some 80 000 fans. By last year that number had more than doubled with over 166 000 attending the event. 

Today Blues on Broadbeach is the most profitable week for many local businesses – bigger than the busiest weeks over summer, including New Year’s Eve. Without the right balance of artists in the line-up, it could so easily become a white elephant and that is where Duck’s touch ensures Blues on Broadbeach as a festival has become a destination in its own right. 

In addition to Blues on Broadbeach, Duck is the inspiration behind the newly named Groundwater Country Music Festival line up. Not wanting to stick with a 'safe country' line up, Duck has a vision to make it more festival and 'fringe-like'; working hard to secure talent from Nashville and Texas as well as the mammoth task of touring international country music artist Granger Smith for their Australian leg.

Duck is a highly sought after production manager and has also worked with international high profile celebrities and headline acts and is often in demand to coordinate festivals and concerts. He has worked on events around Australia, throughout Asia, Europe and has been involved in world premieres of films, award ceremonies, international product launches, rock concerts, high profile parties and private celebrations. 

Mark remains at the forefront of not only the Gold Coast music industry but also the Australian music industry, making him a well-deserved winner in this category.

Jarred Gillett, Sports Achievement Award

Jarred became the most successful referee in Australian A-League history when he took charge of the 2018 Hyundai A-League Grand Final. This appointment was Jarred’s fourth grand final in a row, and his fifth overall. He was also awarded the 2018 FFA Cup Grand Final and took out the Hyundai A-League Referee of the Year Award for a record fifth time. 

Jarred was awarded two consecutive Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarships as well as being awarded his international FIFA badge in 2013. 

Jarred has always been willing to help others and gives himself voluntarily by contributing to local grassroots football and regional centres across the country, through speaking engagements, coaching, game day match assessment and becoming a mentor the Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Programme. 

Jarred was identified by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games as an elite match official and invited as a keynote speaker to the GC2018 Sports Officiating Workshop here on the Gold Coast, inspiring and helping others in their chosen discipline to pursue their dream and perform at their best. 

His sporting achievements speak for themselves; however, there is no better virtue displayed than that of fair play, respect, equality and impartiality consistently demonstrated through every game he officiates. Yet it is his work at the Queensland Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre that is most inspiring, having found the time to recently complete his PhD in Sports Science and Biomechanics whilst researching and helping young adults living with cerebral palsy. 
Kaitlin Barwick, Young Citizen of the Year 

At just 16 years old Kaitlin has already proven herself as an inspiring leader via the introduction of new voluntary community initiatives, fundraising, and personal academic and sporting achievements. 

Kaitlin is a true role model to all those within the local community, school and sporting arena. Kaitlin is currently completing her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award within the Police Citizens Youth Club. Kaitlin was the recipient of the Silver award after only 12 months and her objective of achieving her Gold Award by June 2019, is almost complete. 

In achieving her Silver Award, Kaitlin volunteered her time at her local Junior Triathlon Club as a volunteer coach and also participated in many Ambassador and well-being programs within her school whereby she assisted in organising many fundraising activities.

Kaitlin is a member of the PCYC State Youth Leadership Team and has recently been nominated for the State Youth Leadership Summit in January 2019. Kaitlin regularly attends evening meetings within her local community whilst still maintaining an extremely high level of academic achievement placing in the top 1% of her year 11 cohorts. 

in 2019 Kaitlin founded a new initiative within Division community known as "Squad Eleven." Kaitlin's introduction of a supportive and inclusive program of fun and rewarding activities has encouraged and inspired the youth of the Gold Coast to be determined, committed and proactive within society thus creating positive change within our local community

Birds eye shot of the gold coast beaches and skyline.