Fisher community Awards recognise those giving back to the Sunshine Coast

Fisher Community Awards night recognises individuals and businesses who are giving back to the Sunshine Coast

A Sunshine Coast teacher who led his students to a world robotics title, and a group of caring clowns were among individuals and businesses recognised for their contribution to the Sunshine Coast community last night at Andrew Wallace MP’s “Fisher Community Awards”.

10 prizes were handed out at the high-spirited ceremony at Caloundra’s Rumba Beach resort, in front of a public audience of 80.

Mr Wallace said “I want our part of the Sunshine Coast to be the place to be for Education, Employment and Retirement, and that’s why I set up these awards. I wanted to recognise the people in our schools, our workplaces, health care facilities and community groups who are making that a reality in their work with Australians young and old.”

Winners included Simon Richardson, a teacher at Chancellor State College who created a Robotics program at the school. Due to his dedicated and world class teaching, this group of students have won national and world titles in robotics, and are on their way to the US again this year. Other winners included STEPS Pathways College, which provides a unique residential education facility teaching young people with a disability how to live independently; Millie Thomas, who works with young women suffering from an eating disorder on the Coast; All Love Pest Control & Carpet Cleaning, who donate 10% of their profits to the construction of accommodation for families travelling to the Coast for cancer treatment; and Coastal Caring Clowns, who provide a distraction from physical or emotional pain in older people and their families through their clowning visits. The Andrew Wallace Award, recognising a particularly special contribution to the community this year out of all of the nominations, went to SunnyKids, which delivers thousands of nights of emergency accommodation for children at risk of family and domestic violence.

Mr Wallace said “I congratulate all of our winners and finalists for their contribution to our community and for the recognition that that community has given them this evening. Our finalists were nominated not by me, but members of the public here on the Sunshine Coast. Being a winner or a finalist for a Fisher Community Award is a real statement of the value that the community places on your work. I want to thank all of our many nominators for getting involved.”

Initial nominations were called for from the public and well over 100 were received. The winners in each category were selected from the public’s nominations by a judging panel made up of representatives of the Fisher Youth Council, Business Council and Seniors Council as well as Mr Wallace himself. These councils are consultation groups, drawn from local residents, set up in 2017 by Mr Wallace.

The Awards were sponsored by Elypsys, an independent telecommunications carrier based on the Sunshine Coast that builds and operates its own fibre and wireless telecommunications networks. Rumba Beach Resort in Caloundra was the awards’ venue sponsor. Rumba Beach Resort Director Bill Darby said that community awards have a very important role to play.

Mr Darby said “Awards like these bring us together and they get people in the business community to strive for excellence. They also acknowledge many of our unsung heroes in the seniors and education communities. We have one of the highest rates of volunteerism here on the Sunshine Coast, and this is a great opportunity for those people to be recognised. We applaud Mr Wallace for his initiative and we are very proud at Rumba Beach Resort to be a part of it.”

Winners received a medallion, a certificate and a gift voucher from a local business. Local businesses which donated a gift voucher as a category sponsor are listed below in the Notes.

Mr Wallace said “Our finalists and winners should be an inspiration for all of us. The Sunshine Coast’s greatest asset is not our beaches or our spectacular hinterland, it is the people who live here and their willingness to give back to the community. It was incredibly moving to hear all of the winners’ stories, and to feel the mutual support and the community spirit shown by everyone who attended. We need to keep encouraging Sunshine Coasters to get involved and make a contribution, and I hope this award scheme will help them to know that their contribution is valued by the people who live here.”

The award categories and winners were:

The Andrew Wallace Award:                                      SunnyKids Inc


  • Fisher Educator of the Year:                        Simon Richardson (Chancellor State College)
  • Fisher Student of the Year:                         Tea Carter (Kawana Waters State College)
  • Fisher Education Provider of the Year:    STEPS Pathways College


  • Fisher Business of the Year:                        All Love Pest Control & Carpet Cleaning
  • Fisher Employee of the Year:                      Millie Thomas (endED)
  • Fisher Innovator of the Year:                      Dr Evan jones


  • Fisher Senior of the Year:                             Kevin Stroud
  • Fisher Senior Community Group of the Year:

Caloundra Committee Services for the Aging Hall

  • Fisher Senior Support Service of the Year: Coastal Caring Clowns

Further detail on each winner is in the Notes below. More information about the Fisher Community Awards can be found at:   

22 March 2018                         
Media Contact:
Simon Thwaites 0439 972 667


Notes to the Editor:

  1. Each winner’s award commendation is included below.



“SunnyKids works tirelessly to break intergenerational cycles of poverty and disadvantage. In particular they work to protect children and families from domestic abuse and family violence. On the Sunshine Coast alone we have 5,000 children at risk of this violence every year, and in response SunnyKids provides thousands of nights of emergency accommodation. They partner with health, education and child protection agencies to keep children safe on an on-going basis. They also provide a range of informative resources online, a series of events, a National Literacy project, a mentoring program, training placements and a schools program which are helping to raise awareness and develop critical skills in our community to give disadvantaged children the opportunity to get ahead.”


“Despite suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Simon instigated a new Robotics program at Chancellor State College which he gives up every lunchtime to supervise as well as spending afternoons and weekends training his most committed students. His students last year won an Australian robotics title and then a World title in the US. This year they have won their second Australian title and are off to America once again. Simon partners with the local business community to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate, regardless of their socio-economic status. He also provides professional development for other teachers across Australia to help students nationwide to share in this innovative program.”


“Tea is one of the 2018 School captains at Kawana Waters State College. She is described by her teachers as ‘an exceptional role model to the college community’, a ‘tireless worker’ on the school’s behalf and an ‘accomplished and dedicated student with a genuine flair for all her subjects’. In Year 11, Tea was a peer support mentor, helping new year 7 students to transition into high school. She was also actively involved in her school’s international program, corresponding with a Taiwanese student and hosting another international student for six months. At the end of last year Tea also submitted some beautiful images to Andrew’s Photos of Fisher competition!”


“Steps Pathway College is an Australian first, equipping young people with disabilities with life and social skills which will enable them to live independently and shape their own futures. Living independently in homes in a small residential learning community, the students support each other and learn together how to play their own part in our community. Many students of the 12 month program have never previously lived away from home. The experience of shared living and learning is literally changing the lives of many students and their families.” 


“Following their own tragic family experience with cancer, All Love Carpet and Pest Control’s Paul and Deborah Warrington-Love have worked to build a legacy for other families suffering in the same situation. They contribute 10% of their business’s profit to the building of a house on the Sunshine Coast, James House, which will provide accommodation to support families who are travelling here for cancer treatment for their children.”


“Millie is currently working with 30 young girls on the Sunshine Coast, mentoring them through their recovery from eating disorders. She runs mentor workshops for sufferers every Wednesday night at the Thompson Institute. However, due to the nature of eating disoders, Millie is on call every day, and regularly helps at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital with emergency cases. She is currently working with the Hospital’s staff to help them to better understand eating disorders from a sufferer’s perspective.”


“Evan is creating an entirely new patient-centred, fully integrated healthcare option for people in our region by creating a health hub on a grand scale. The hub, which opened on 11 December last year, includes everything a patient would usually require without major hospitalisation including radiography, pharmaceutical services and mental health services as well as a large number of GPs. Most of the services are provided at no or low cost to the patient and the Hub provides the option of a brand new healthcare approach for people on the Sunshine Coast.” 


“After arriving on the Coast in 1976 Kevin has constantly given up his time to help others. He has been President of the Metropolitan Caloundra Nippers, volunteered with Caloundra Junior Rugby League, and has been a member of the Sunshine Coast Referrees for 30 years. He has been President of Caloundra Senior Rugby League, as well as President and Vice President of the Junior Club. Since 2011 he has also found time to commit  himself to TS ONSLOW Australian Navy Cadets where he has been President and a Petty Officer Instructor, giving up his Wednesday nights for training and his weekends for Cadet activities.”


“The CCSA Hall caters for community events and meetings which collectively average 900 visitors every week. Organisers Margaret and David Smythe collectively work around 110 hours a week to manage the Hall’s operations and get it ready for events, in addition to working on grant applications to make improvements to the hall. Supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, the CCSA Hall supports dancing, stage performances, community meetings, charity groups and much more. It is a vital and much loved community facility in Caloundra.”


“Well known for their visits to Hospitals, Coastal Caring Clowns also has over 40 aged care facilities on their annual visit list. Around two dozen dedicated volunteers bring warmth and cheer, provide relief from monotony, demonstrate that there are people who care and decrease for a while the stress experienced by older people, their families and staff. Caring Clowns provide a distraction from physical or emotional pain, and offer residents the chance to see and participate in some old fashioned silliness.”

  1. Each award category was sponsored by a local business, who provided a gift voucher as that category’s prize. The sponsors were Aussie World, Family Friendly Carpet Cleaning and Pest Control, Parklands Tavern, Maleny Dairies, Pelican Waters Golf Club, Best Western Plus Oceanside Kawana, Pelican Waters Pharmacy, Maleny Hotel, Maleny Supa IGA and Spicers Tamarind Retreat

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Authorised by Andrew Wallace MP, Liberal National Party, 11/10 Lake Kawana Blvd, Bokarina, QLD, 4575