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25 January, 2021

Compassionate leader earns city’s top accolade

The CEO of Anglicare Cairns, Ian Roberts, has been recognised for his tireless commitment and enduring compassion to help people in need, being named Cairns region’s 2020 Citizen of the Year.


Mayor Bob Manning (back centre) with Australia Day Award recipients (from left) Ashleigh Ung, Glynnis Kiernan, Janine Bowmaker, Ian Roberts, Grant “Scooter” Patterson, Harrison Oates, Caleb Nissen, and Rachel Bradley (on behalf of Terry Doyle). Photo by Tanya Murphy.

Mr Roberts is the driving force behind the not-for-profit organisation that has provided support for the homeless, particularly those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, established food stores and taken innovative measures to address youth unemployment.

Mayor Bob Manning described Mr Roberts as a man dedicated to the community who has committed to looking after the less fortunate and disadvantaged in our society.

“From Babinda to Cairns and out to the Torres Strait, Ian has been instrumental in guiding Anglicare Cairns in its endeavours to support people in need, which was particularly critical last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” Cr Manning said.

“As soon as the coronavirus crisis started to hit our region, Ian had Anglicare ready to assist.

“It was through his dedication, working seven days a week for most of the past year, that Ian was able to quickly find accommodation and food for people, including many from Indigenous communities who were unable to return home due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

Cr Manning also acknowledged Mr Robert’s ability to secure support from suppliers and businesses to provide food, clothing and other necessities, which are distributed via Anglicare Cairns to those in need.

“In very challenging circumstances, Ian has continued to be a strong advocate for continued government support for those most in need, he has provided strong leadership and ensured the health and safety of the community and Anglicare staff and volunteers,” Cr Manning said.

“His hard work encompasses the finest qualities of our community and his efforts make him a deserving recipient of this esteemed award.”

Student leader, national debating finalist and keen sailor, Harrison Oates, has been named Cairns Regional Council’s Young Citizen of the Year.

A national finalist in the prestigious Evatt diplomacy competition, which simulates the UN Security Council, the St Augustine’s College student will this year assume the dual roles of Public Speaking Captain and President of the Student Representative Council at the school.

He has also demonstrated a conviction to assisting others through fundraising – last year volunteering for the Cairns Relay for Life livestream, as well as being part of a college team that raised more than $6500 for cancer research as part of the event.

Harrison also sat on a student-led committee that organised events as part of R U OK? Day, drawing attention to the problem of social isolation in the community.

Heavily involved with Cairns Yacht Club (CYC), Harrison has enjoyed strong competitive sailing results and has helped to rebuild the organisation’s junior sailing program.

As a junior sailing instructor, he has been instrumental in the development and delivery of the CYC Tackers program.

Recipient of the inaugural COVID-19 Community Care Award was President of Study Cairns, Janine Bowmaker, for her support of international students stranded in Cairns as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

When Queensland went into lockdown at the beginning of April 2020, it was estimated about 2000 international students were stranded in Cairns without government support, most having lost their jobs and income, and were isolated from family and friends.

Under the guidance of Ms Bowmaker, Study Cairns instigated the #CairnsCares campaign and worked with funding bodies, local businesses, community groups and farmers to assist students with food, accommodation and mental health support. 

Also presented with awards today were:

  • Volunteer of the Year, Glynnis Kiernan
  • Cultural Award recipient, Terry Doyle
  • Junior Cultural Award recipient, Ashleigh Ung
  • Sportsperson of the Year, Grant “Scooter” Patterson, and
  • Junior Sportsperson of the Year, Caleb Nissen.

“These individuals represent everything great about our region and about being Australian,” Cr Manning said.

“Despite different backgrounds, talents and interests, each has contributed in a unique way to our community.

“They are wonderful role models for our city and very much deserving of this special honour.”  


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