Anti-bullying and suicide prevention educator and social entrepreneur, Mrs Rachel Downie has been named Queensland’s Australian of the Year for 2020, with tennis champion Ash Barty named Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year.
Official physiotherapist to the Wallabies, Kangaroos and Queensland Reds, Mr Peter Dornan AM, was named Queensland’s Senior Australian of the Year.
Adjunct Assistant Professor Nick Marshall, who works as a physiotherapist for Swimming Australia, was named Queensland Local Hero for his commitment to achieving greater inclusion in sport.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk congratulated the recipients on receiving the prestigious honours.
“As a teacher, Rachel Downie has seen bullying and cyberbullying become serious issues over the past 10 years, and when one of her students took his life as a result, she took action,” the Premier said.
“Rachel created Stymie, an anonymous online reporting system that enables children experiencing bullying or other mental health challenges to seek support.
“Last year she spoke to more than 83,000 students about creating a culture of care in their schools, conducting workshops with students, staff and parents covering topics such as eSafety, cyberwellness, personal safety and boundaries.
“This is a critical issue in our society and one we must all work together on to combat. As a government we’re doing what we can and I’m incredibly proud of the work others like Rachel are doing in order to keep young people safe.”
The Premier said Queenslanders should also feel proud of Ash Barty who has had a stunning 2019 season winning four singles titles, including the French Open, and ending the year as the world’s number one player with victory in the season-ending WTA finals.
“From humble beginnings as a young tennis player from Ipswich to the top of the tennis world, her professionalism on and off the court, her dogged determination, her talent and skills are second to none,” the Premier said.
“Ash is an inspirational young Queenslander and a fantastic role model for other young Queenslanders, and is highly deserving of this special commendation.”
The Premier said the field of sports physiotherapy has delivered two Queensland Australian of the Year Award recipients.
“Queensland’s Senior Australian of the Year Peter Dornan has 50 years’ practical experience in sport medicine. He cofounded the Queensland Branch of Sports Medicine Australia and is a foundation fellow of the Australian Sports Medicine Foundation,” the Premier said.
“And Queensland’s Local Hero Adjunct Assistant Professor Nick Marshall is the founder of the Albatross Nippers, an all-inclusive nippers program at Nobbys Beach on the Gold Coast, which enables children with special needs to join other children in nipper activities.
“The Albatross Nippers competed at this year’s Queensland Surf Lifesaving Youth Championships, the first team of nippers with special needs to ever do so.
“I commend these four outstanding Queenslanders on being named Queensland’s Australians of the Year for 2020, and I wish them every success at the national awards in Canberra on the eve of Australia Day.”
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards, visit www.australianoftheyear.org.au