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Tuesday 18 May 2021

His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland, was in Cairns today to present 9 Far North Queensland residents with Australian Honours and Awards:

Sergeant Cary Ellen Coolican - AUSTRALIAN POLICE MEDAL

For dedicated and exemplary service to the Queensland Police Service and to the community through front-line duties and as the Officer in Charge of the Cairns District Crime Prevention Unit, and as a leader in the area of community policing and crime prevention especially through the MyPoliceBlog in the Far North District.

Mrs Christine Susan Fairbrother - MEDAL OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA

For service to children and to the community as a Registered Foster Carer for over 100 children, as Committee Member of Nepali Family Incorporated, duty Chaplain at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre, and as coordinator of the Volunteer Support Group Far North Queensland Region, and the Angel Tree Program, which provides Christmas gifts for children of prisoners.

Ms Cheryl-Lee Fitzgerald - EMERGENCY SERVICES MEDAL

For exemplary leadership and dedication to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and to the community as Far Northern Region Executive Manager of Emergency Management, working across 21 Local Government Areas and 14 remote Indigenous communities during disasters, leading a multi-disciplinary team, and ensuring the safety of Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Shannon Lee Gibbs - PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL

For outstanding public service to local government in Queensland through financial management roles for the Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council including as Director of Finance, implementing sound financial management, reducing reliance on grants, introducing sustainable operations, and greater accountability; increasing employment and training opportunities in the Hope Vale Shire and through sharing skills and experience with Hope Vale locals and councils around the Cape York Peninsula.

Senior Constable John William Dijkstra - COMMENDATION FOR BRAVE CONDUCT

Senior Constable John Dijkstra is commended for brave conduct for his actions during the rescue of a man from a submerged vehicle in Cairns in Queensland on 23 September 2018.

At 6.45pm Senior Constable Dijkstra was driving with two other officers near Smiths Creek when he saw a tourist bus and trailer drive into the creek. He immediately drove to where the bus was and saw it quickly filling with water.

Despite the creek being a known habitat of crocodiles, and with the other two officers keeping an eye out for any crocodiles, he quickly entered the water and made his way to the bus, which by now was nearly completely submerged. He saw the driver's head bob up and the man call for help before disappearing under the water. After several attempts Senior Constable Dijkstra managed to grab hold of the driver and pull him out through the broken windscreen.
He then dragged the driver through mangroves and onto the bank and placed him in the recovery position. Queensland Ambulance Services officers arrived on scene and took the driver to hospital.

Commander Matthew Scott Richardson - CONSPICUOUS SERVICE MEDAL

For meritorious achievement and leadership, as Chief of Staff of the Patrol Boat Group headquarters, demonstrating outstanding technical, operational and interpersonal skills, and being pivotal in the delivery of fully mission capable Navy resources, in support of Operation RESOLUTE while also assisting in preparations for the delivery of the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol vessel, enabling optimal operational outcomes and enhancing the operational capability of the Patrol Boat Group.

Mr Robert David Slater - MEDAL OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA

For service to the community of Herberton in a variety of roles, including as member and President of the Atherton-Herberton Historic Railway; as founding member and President of Herberton Men's Shed; and as member and President of Herberton Lions Club; and as Committee member of the Associations of Tourist Railways Queensland.

Mr Alo Tapim - MEDAL OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA

For service to the Indigenous community of the Torres Strait as an Elder and Leader; including through multiple roles in the Torres Strait Regional Authority, as Cultural and Native Title Advisor and Consultant with Queensland Health and in representative roles with the Torres Strait Eastern Island Cluster, as founding member of the Torres Shire Council Torres Straits' Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival, and as a representative on the Consumer Advisory Committee, Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service; and through a variety of leadership roles in Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area District Health Council.

Mr William Brett Moller - BRAVERY MEDAL

Mr William Brett Moller displayed considerable bravery during the rescue of woman from a vehicle submerged in flood waters at Aloomba in Queensland on 29 December 2018.

Mr Moller was at home with his wife and daughters when they heard a noise outside. At the time the area was experiencing torrential rain. On venturing outside he saw the headlights of a car bobbing up and down in a nearby flooded creek and could hear a woman yelling for help. The woman had driven the car into the swollen creek and it began to float downstream. With the car filling with water the woman climbed onto the roof and managed to grab onto an overhanging tree branch when the vehicle struck a tree.
Without hesitation, Mr Moller instructed his family to get torches and ropes and he entered the muddy, fast flowing water and, despite the strong current, managed to make his way to where the woman was clinging onto the branch, to which he also grabbed.
He reassured the frightened woman and encouraged her to follow his lead and release her hold of the branch. The pair dropped into the fast-flowing water and began swimming with the current towards the bank. After approximately 30 metres they were able to grab hold of some partially submerged tree branches. They worked their way closer to the bank, swimming from tree branch to tree branch until the woman gained her footing.

Mr Moller's daughters were then able to pull the woman to safety. Mr Moller and his family comforted the woman until emergency services arrived.