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Gympie Resident In Running For Australia Day Award

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Finalists for Australia Day national awards have been announed.

Gympie's Aunty Lillian Burke is a Queensland finalist for Senior Australian of the Year.

She is a tireless and inspirational champion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aunty Lillian Burke


A Butchulla woman with a Kabi Kabi connection, she is adopted elder for Gympie school, runs the annual NAIDOC celebrations and Sorry Day, and volunteers for a wide range of charities up to five-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week.

Aunty Lillian Burke is a tireless and inspirational champion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She's participated in 100 boards, committees and consultancy groups, devoting up to five-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week, to volunteering.

Lillian is President of Cooloola Aboriginal Services, Gympie State High School's adopted elder and mentor, and runs the annual NAIDOC celebrations, Sorry Day and other significant days in Gympie.

With Fraser Island's Indigenous Advisory Committee, she helped Aboriginal rangers create a cultural heritage database, was involved with a leadership camp for Indigenous high-school girls, a healthy-eating program for young mums, and a program for foster carers of Aboriginal children. Her outstanding efforts were recognised with Volunteering Queensland's Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award in 2016. Aunty Lillian has also been named an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of the Sunshine Coast.

A Butchulla woman with a Kabi Kabi connection, Lillian was forcibly removed from her family as a child and forced to live in a girls' institution. Despite these traumatic events, she has devoted much of her life to serving her community.

The Australian of the Year Awards is a program of the National Australia Day Council, managed in Queensland by the Queensland Government.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards, visit

2019 Queensland Australian of the Year nominees

Australian of the Year

Mrs Lorraine Hatton, Chair, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Queensland Incorporated (ATSIDMQI) (Paradise Point)
Detective Inspector Jon Rouse, Queensland Police Service (Brisbane) (recipient)
Mr Tony Sharp, Founder and Manager, Substation33 (Logan City)
Dr Harry Stalewski, Senior Visiting Paediatric Surgeon, Townsville Hospital (Townsville)

Senior Australian of the Year

Aunty Lillian Burke (Gympie)
Distinguished Professor James Dale AO, QUT (Moggill) (recipient)
Professor John Grant-Thomson AM RFD, Consultant, BAC Technologies Pty Ltd (New Farm)
Mrs Sandra Richards (Townsville)

Young Australian of the Year

Mrs Angel Dixon, Advocacy Manager, Starting With Julius (Gold Coast) (recipient)
Miss Kirsten Larsen, Queensland Regional Coordinator - Survivors Teaching Students, Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG) (Brisbane)
Mr Chaz Prezident, Founder, Pty Ltd (Gold Coast)
Ms Mikhara Ramsing, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mikhara Ramsing (Brisbane)

Local Hero

Mrs Joan Beacroft, Justice Coordinator, Wujal Wujal Justice Group Indigenous Corporation (Cook Shire)
Mr Elijah Buol, Advanced Practitioner, Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) (Regents Park) (recipient)
Mrs Elisabeth Ewen, Education Interpreter for the Deaf, Education Queensland (Brisbane)
Mrs Barbara Kienast, Senior Project Manager, Clinical Network Services (Samford)

Michelle Price

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