Moreton Bay Region residents receive King's Birthday Honours

Published 10:10pm 11 June 2023

Moreton Bay Region residents receive King's Birthday Honours
Words by Jodie Powell

A dozen Moreton Bay Region residents have been honoured for their service to the community in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours list.

Among them are former Redcliffe and Moreton Bay Region Councillor Koliana Winchester, The Carer’s Foundation co-founder Ronnie Benbow and Queensland Australian of the Year Community Hero Melissa Redsell.

Koliana Winchester

Moreton Bay Region residents receive King's Birthday Honours

Mrs Winchester says she’s excited and humbled to be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to local government and to the community of Redcliffe.

She served as a councillor for Division 6 with Moreton Bay Regional Council for eight years and was the chair of the parks, recreation and sport committee from 2016-2020. She was a councillor for Redcliffe City Council between 2005 and 2008.

Her volunteer work included organising a fundraiser for the Tonga volcano/ tsunami recovery in 2022, volunteering with the Queensland Tongan Language School since 2016 and serving as a presenter and board member with 99.7 FM.

Mrs Winchester says contributing to community was something her parents – dad Sione Taimikovi Saafi and mum Elenoa Vea Saafi, from Fakakakai, Ha’apai – instilled in their 16 children.

“I always look back at where I came from and remember how hard it was for our parents to look after us,” she says.

“They were hardworking, in the church and in the community, and I got that upbringing.

“They were working very hard to put food on the table – we didn’t have much money and education to them was a priority.

“I was one of the lucky ones to get educated in Tonga.”

Serving the community is something Ms Winchester has also passed on to her children, including son Karl, who is a current Moreton Bay Regional Council councillor.

“It started when my children started school – when they were in preschool I volunteered there and then when they entered primary school at Humpybong.

“From there I volunteered a lot more because with four kids going there, I was very much in the school through the P and C and the tuckshop and being on the school council.

“I would like to thank my parents. Without their sacrifice I would not be where I am today, and my family for supporting my time as a community volunteer and on council.

Mrs Winchester says she benefitted as much from volunteering as those she helped because it was a way to meet people when she moved to Australia.

“I look back with the history of my volunteering work and I really enjoy it because I got to meet a lot of people and I learnt more about Australia and the community itself. The main thing is that you’re there for them and not for yourself.

“My highlight was co-ordinating fundraising for Give a Child a Chance at Margate. In six years, we raised over $100,000.

“The money we raised helped families who couldn’t afford to pay for basic educational things for their kids. I enjoyed the fact that we could make a difference.

“That’s the reason I really wanted to do it.

“I was really honoured to be able to represent the community on Redcliffe Council.

“Then I was elected to Moreton Bay for eight years until I retired.

“When I was elected my aim was to represent the community in council, not council in the community - I really appreciated that the people of Redcliffe supported me – I am forever indebted to them.”

She says her family regularly spoke about the importance of community work and it was part of her children’s education.

“They all grew up and saw me doing volunteering work – the kids used to do meals on wheels with me.

“They saw the work I did in the community and on council.”

Ronnie Benbow

Moreton Bay Region residents receive King's Birthday Honours
Ronnie Benbow

The Carers Foundation founder and chief executive officer Ronnie Benbow hopes receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) will raise more awareness for carers who are not getting adequate support.

“Obviously I am very humbled by the whole experience and deeply grateful – hopefully it will help me

“I think the need’s greater than ever – money for charities is less.”

Mrs Benbow says The Carers Foundation, which cares for carers by providing free wellness programs to support their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing, delivers at least one three-day respite and wellness workshop and a one-day workshop every week.

“And in Moreton Bay at the Samford Community Hub we do ‘cuppa for a carer’ each week on a Wednesday.

“We’re seeing so many more issues with carers – mental health issues just from the extra stress, exhaustion and anxiety,” she says.

“The demand is increasing – we’re getting a lot more calls from family members seeing the impact on carers in their families.

“They’re our hidden heroes and they save the government over $86 billion every year.”

Mrs Benbow, who was named Citizen of the Year by Moreton Bay Regional Council and an Australian of the Year Queensland Finalist in 2021, says many people imagine carers looking after elderly relatives, but in reality their unpaid work is much broader.

“They care for children with disabilities, family with chronic health conditions, terminal cancer.

“They give up their life to care for them out of love, but obviously the impact on the carer can be detrimental.”

Mrs Benbow’s other achievements include receiving a Making a Difference Individual Award in the Heart of Women Award this year, a community service award from Brisbane Women in Business in 2022 and a not-for-profit Excellence Award at the Moreton Bay Business and Innovation Awards in 2021, as well as being named Australia Day Volunteer of the Year by Moreton Bay Regional Council in 2019.

She launched The Carers Foundation in 2015 and says she’s still working to realise her dream of launching a dedicated centre in the Moreton Bay Region.

Her motivation?

“No carer should be alone and unsupported,” she says.

Melissa Redsell

Moreton Bay Region residents receive King's Birthday Honours

A Brave Life founding director and chief executive officer Melissa Redsell admits she was “a little shocked” when she found out she would be receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours List.

“I have no idea who nominated me (but) I feel very honoured,” she says.

“It’s been an amazing, crazy six months since I won the Queensland Australian of the Year Community Hero.”

Ms Redsell, who was a registered nurse and midwife at Redcliffe Hospital from 2003-2022, founded the charity A Brave Life in 2016 to provide practical and emotional support to vulnerable young mothers.

Her work is the continuation of her own journey - overcoming obstacles, breaking down prejudice and defying low expectations after learning she was pregnant in Year 12.

“Social welfare is at the heart of what I do,” she says.

“Making that (honours) list for service to social welfare means so much because that’s what A Brave Life is all about.

“We’re still not the biggest charity – we’re not very well known other than in our local community, so to be recognised outside that is amazing.

“Hopefully it will raise more awareness of the work we do and what needs to be done.”

As well as her OAM, Ms Redsell was named the Australian Pacific LNG Community Hero at the Queensland Community Achievement Awards in 2022, the Australia Day Volunteer of the Year by Moreton Bay Regional Council in 2021, the Woman of the Year for Strong Women in Leadership by the Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women's Network in 2020 and given the Community Dedication and Social Justice Award, Awardee of Merit Achievement at the Greater Brisbane Women in Business Awards in 2019.

Archibald Tudehope

The late Archibald Tudehope was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to community health.

The former Everton Park resident founded the Black Lung Victims Support Group in 2015, the Queensland Resources Dust Diseases Support Group in 2021 and was a founding member of the HEART 5 mobile health clinic, Heart of Australia in 2015.

Mr Tudehope was also the president of the Coalface Experience in the 2000s, a fundraiser for the Coalface Experience and the treasurer and president of the Mining and Energy Union in the 1980s and ’90s.

In 2008 he was given a community hero award in the Whitsundays.

Edward Vann

Banskia Beach resident Edward Vann has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the Maleny community.

Mr Vann was the co-founder of the T.S. Centaur, Australian Navy Cadets in 1995 and served as president of the unit support committee, commanding officer, executive officer and training officer. He was also the Executive Officer of the T.S. Onslow Australian Navy Cadets.

Other service included roles as the president and sausage sizzle fundraising instigator of the Maleny Rotary Club and being named a Paul Harris Fellow in 1993.

He founded the Hinterland Aussie Day Expo in 2014.

Linda Vann

Banksia Beach’s Linda Vann has also been honoured for her service to the Maleny community with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Mrs Vann was the commanding officer, executive officer and co-founder of the T.S. Centaur, Australian Navy Cadets

A former member of the Maleny Rotary Club, she helped instigate the club’s sausage sizzle fundraiser and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 2014.

Mrs Vann co-founded the Hinterland Aussie Day Expo, is a former treasurer of the Maleny Community Centre and a former delegate on the Maleny Show Grounds Committee.

Douglas Marsen

Bongaree’s Douglas Marsen’s service to veterans has earned him a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

He has been the vice president of the Bribie Island Sub Branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia since 2019, is the membership officer and was the welfare and pensions officer from 1998-2018.

Mr Marsen was the president of the Bribie Island Sub Branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association, as well as a veterans’ advocate and a welfare officer.

The former member of the Royal Australian Navy is a volunteer fortnightly lawn mower for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park and the president of the Solana Resort Body Corporate Committee.

Mr Marsen’s service medals include the Australian Active Service Medal, 1945-75 with Clasp Vietnam.

Ken Piva

St Vincent de Paul Society Little Flower Conference president Ken Piva has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

The Woorim resident has been the president of the Bribie Island charity’s Family Support Centre since 2010 and is a former secretary as well as being the founder of the Bribie Island Kids Educational Support program.

Mr Piva, who is the vice president of the St Vincent de Paul Northern Diocesan Central Council, is the president of the Maximilian Kolbe Prison Ministry Special Works, a chaplain at the Woodford Correctional Centre, was a school chaplain at Bribie Island State School and also at Banksia Beach State School.

In 2018 he was named volunteer of the year in the Moreton Bay Regional Council Australia Day Awards.

Joan Roper

Ferny Grove resident Joan Roper was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to the community of Broken Hill.

Mrs Roper was the president of the Broken Hill Eisteddfod Society and the keyboard section co-ordinator and a piano and organ teacher, as well as the secretary of the Broken Hill Veteran and Vintage Car Club.

Ken Hayward

Former Caboolture and Kallangur Queensland State MP Ken Hayward has received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the people and parliament of Queensland.

Mr Hayward was the Member for Caboolture from 1986-1992 and the Member for Kallangur from 1992-2009.

The former patron of the Deception Bay Soccer Club served as the Minister for Business, Industry and Regional Development from 1995-1996, Minister for Health from 1991-1995, Minister for Transport in 1995 and Minister Assisting the Premier on Economic and Trade Development in 1995.

Mr Hayward chaired the Public Accounts Committee from 2006-2009, 1998-2004 and 1990-1991 and the Legislation Committee between 2004 and 2006.

Lynette Buckley

Burpengary Jabeeka Girl Guides Unit leader Lynette Buckley has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Mrs Buckley, who received a Wattle Award in 2009, has been a volunteer leader for 27 years and was the Leader-in-Charge and Head Organiser of the Glasshouse Region Camp in 2021 and the sub-camp leader of the Queensland State Camp in 2019.

Rhonda Clayton

Elimbah’s Rhonda Clayton was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for significant service to squash as a competitor and administrator.

Mrs Clayton, who was inducted into the Squash Australia Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Queensland Squash Hall of Fame in 2005, was World Number One in the sport between 1981 and 1983 and ranked in the World Top 10 from 1979 to 1984.

She won the World Women's Individual Championship in 1981, the World Women's Team Title in 1981 and 1983, the Queensland State Open Championships in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982, the Queensland Junior Championships between 1972 and 1976 and the Australian Junior Championships in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1976.

Mrs Clayton served as a board member for the Queensland Squash Association from 1984-1986, managed the Queensland Junior team in 1985 and the Squash Australia Women's Committee from 1982-1985.

Named Queensland Sportswomen of the Year in 1984, she also received the Sports Australia Award for Most Successful Australian Women's Sport Team in 1982 and 1984.

Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia. If you know someone worthy, nominate them now here.

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