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2016 Premier's Awards for Excellence

The recipients of the 2016 Premier’s Awards for Excellence were announced at an award ceremony on the evening of Tuesday 22 November.

Congratulations to all the award recipients:

2016 awards photo gallery

Customer focus

WINNER—Geriatric Emergency Department Innovation (GEDI)
Emergency Department, Nambour Hospital
Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, and University of the Sunshine Coast

Emergency Departments (EDs) are chaotic environments in which frail, elderly residents are often subjected to hospital acquired complications. To combat this problem, an emergency geriatric clinical nurse consultation team was developed to both maximise the quality of care for this vulnerable cohort and show an economic benefit to the establishment of such programs. The Geriatric Emergency Department Innovation (GEDI) Clinical Nurse role comprises of, but is not limited to:

  • patient-centred discussions to assist with holistic health care decisions
  • geriatric specific syndrome screening and assessment
  • clinical nurse-led and initiated referrals directly to geriatric teams
  • supporting staff with high level decision making (end-of-life care planning, advanced resuscitation plans, and minimising unnecessary invasive procedures)
  • recognising high-risk, long-stay geriatric patients and liaising with ward teams to allow intra-hospital case management
  • clinical bedside hands-on expertise providing guidance and education to ED staff.

The program has reduced ED and hospital length of stay, decreased admission and representation rates, increased staff and patient satisfaction, increased awareness of frail older persons’ unique needs, and created culture change around the EDs approach to frail, older persons.

HIGHLY COMMENDED—The Oncology Family App—Providing information and support for families caring for their child with cancer
Oncology Services Group
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service

The Oncology Family App was developed to support families who have a child diagnosed with cancer. Oncology children can deteriorate rapidly with life-threatening febrile neutropenia, and have a critical need to receive timely and appropriate medical care.

Consultation with families during development showed ways in which the app could provide additional support, such as access to information on the child’s condition, thus reducing the burden on families to locate and organise this information at what can be a chaotic and challenging time. The free to download app was released in November 2015, and included guidance on when to call the hospital based on various symptoms, click-to-call emergency contacts, maps to the nearest Queensland-based paediatric oncology unit, ability to record blood results, appointments, health team contacts and notes, and access to recommended websites.

FINALIST—Queensland Reconstruction Authority Regional Liaison Officers—Assisting Indigenous communities
Queensland Reconstruction Authority

The Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) is the lead agency responsible for disaster recovery, resilience and mitigation within the Queensland Government. In the event of a natural disaster, the QRA deploys a dedicated cohort of expert Regional Liaison Officers (RLOs) to provide face-to-face assistance to local councils and communities.

Damage assessments require expert technical knowledge of engineering and construction and such expertise can be hard to access, even in larger regional communities. Acknowledging the particular circumstances and individual needs of Indigenous communities, the QRA established a group of specialist RLOs who work directly with Indigenous councils across Queensland, focusing on their disaster recovery. RLOs take a hands-on approach to working with Indigenous councils to ensure they are not disadvantaged by distance or resourcing when it comes to securing their share of disaster recovery funding, while also providing advice and support on the ground that results in a successful reconstruction program and a faster recovery for their communities. Working across 17 Indigenous councils, QRA RLOs are assisting in the delivery of more than $270 million worth of disaster reconstruction works.

FINALIST—Revitalising Fire and Rescue in Cherbourg
North Coast Region
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) has a steadfast focus on customers, delivering activities to support prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in regards to natural and other hazards in communities around Queensland. QFES aims to deliver a solution, and empower individuals and the community to create and manage a local solution and address community issues. The department’s work gives the community the capacity to deliver its own response in times of emergency, increasing its resilience while also changing the lives of the people who live there.

The Revitalising Fire and Rescue in Cherbourg initiative addressed a significant service delivery issue in Cherbourg itself. By engaging and working with partners locally and across government departments, QFES has established a robust local auxiliary fire and rescue service and delivered real and ongoing benefits to the community on multiple levels. The initiative has delivered training, education and employment opportunities specifically tailored for individuals, their families and the wider community.


WINNER—Princess Alexandra Hospital's transformation to a digital hospital
Digital Hospital Project
Metro South Hospital and Health Service

The transformation of the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) to Australia’s first large scale digital hospital utilising the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) in late 2015 and early 2016 was the largest and most complex change the PAH has ever undertaken. The success of the EMR program represents a major milestone in the implementation of the Queensland Government’s eHealth Strategy.

The delivery of the project has resulted in:

  • more effective and efficient health services through the use of information technologies to support optimised processes and practices in clinical, operational and administrative functions
  • improvement of service quality to achieve even better health outcomes for patients and the community
  • making every stay in hospital safer by reducing the causes of adverse events
  • increased efficiency of the organisation so clinicians have more time to care for patients
  • better management and reduction of waste in a wide range of consumables to divert more funding to clinical care.

HIGHLY COMMENDED—Bronchoscopy team—Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital
Thoracic Medicine Department
Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital

The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) Bronchoscopy Team was the first in Australasia to introduce Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) transbronchial needle aspiration in 2005, now the gold standard. This was followed by autofluorescence and narrow band imaging bronchoscopy, enabling diagnosis at an earlier (and therefore more treatable) stage. RBWH remains the only hospital in the country offering this. Other innovative procedures followed, including bronchial thermoplasty (a treatment for non-drug responsive asthma), the use of endobronchial valves and coils for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cryobiopsies of the lung, and bronchial stents for malignant and benign airway stenosis (narrowing).

RBWH was the first in Queensland to pioneer these new developments which have contributed so much to the safety and relief from respiratory symptoms of Queenslanders. RBWH Bronchoscopy Unit remains the only public facility offering these services, five days a week, to patients from all over the state.

FINALIST—Co-Lab Youth Innovation Challenge
Community Road Safety
Department of Transport and Main Roads

The Co-Lab Youth Innovation Challenge, held in 2015, invited young people from across the state to help solve the problem of road fatalities due to crashes involving drivers aged 16–24 years. The winning Co-Lab team proposed the campaign slogan, Settle down Stallion, to get the road safety message across to their peers. The team had the opportunity to develop their concept into an online and social media campaign with the support of the Department of Transport and Main Roads and the department's creative agency.

The campaign was launched in June 2016 and uses humour to target young men and their social networks, with the aim of stigmatising unsafe driving and speeding. The central creative medium is the online video, which has been promoted through a social media strategy (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and targeted online strategy (programmatic video and online video seeding) to sites frequented by the young audience.

FINALIST—Immunise to 95
Immunisation Program, Communicable Diseases Branch
Queensland Health

Announced in August 2015, the Immunise to 95 initiative was established to help parents keep their children up-to-date with vaccinations. It works toward achieving 95 per cent immunisation coverage for Queensland by using call-centre workforce and technology to follow-up on children recognised as overdue for immunisation. Information obtained from the child’s last known immunisation provider, parents or guardians, helped to verify and update the child’s immunisation record where appropriate. This initiative involved a multi-component follow-up process, developed by Queensland Health’s Communicable Diseases Branch and implemented by the Health Contact Centre (13HEALTH) last year.


WINNER—The Rural Generalist Pathway expansion
Cunningham Centre
Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service

The Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway (RGP) team is responsible for leading and managing a critical and valuable supply line of purpose trained rural doctors. A rural generalist is a medical practitioner who provides primary and secondary healthcare in a combination of hospital and general practice settings in rural communities, including advanced skills in one or more disciplines. The maturing of this supply line has already provided 132 well prepared fellows and trainees into rural practice. The team is responsible for the attraction into, and passage through, of trainees from university to rural vocational practice. The RGP team comprises senior experienced rural medical advisors, clinicians, educators and administrators engaged through the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service.

The RGP team works collaboratively with all hospital and health services and industry partners to provide training opportunities and career planning that prepares and supplies doctors into our rural communities. This further development and expansion is considered a national leading pathway example. The successful expansion of this program is underpinned by strong leadership which has driven the collaborative response that now provides for over 35 remote, rural and regional health facilities supporting the training needs of 270 medical officers within the rural pathway. The RGP has made a significant difference in providing locally accessible healthcare in many rural and remote communities through strong organisational performance, pathway productivity and client service, which is delivering and growing the rural workforce

HIGHLY COMMENDED—Julia Creek Work Camp—Queensland Corrective Services
Townsville Correctional Centre
Department of Justice and Attorney-General

On 27 December 2015, the Julia Creek Work Camp (JCWC) assisted the recovery of a train derailment 20 kilometres east of the township. The derailment of the train carrying sulphuric acid saw the closure of the main rail corridor and highway to Western Queensland due to the spill of 31,500 litres of the acid.

Work camp prisoners assisted representatives from Queensland Rail, the McKinlay Shire Council, Queensland Fire and Rescue and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Tasks completed included building two easements to access the site, erecting barricades to block the view from the highway and assisting with the loading of the helicopter used to drop limestone on the spill.

Due to the timing of the incident, many members of the McKinlay Shire Council were not in town and the JCWC was able to provide timely assistance to the multi-agency effort. The assistance provided by the JCWC ensured the situation was effectively resolved with the timely containment of the spill and subsequent reopening of vital transport corridors.

FINALIST—Nathan Higgins
Courts Innovation Program
Department of Justice and Attorney-General

Nathan Higgins is currently Acting Manager, Indigenous Justice Programs (South) but his substantive role is as an Indigenous Justice Officer. In this role he was required to visit remote Aboriginal communities to train community members in the role of Justice of the Peace (Magistrates Court) to enable them to conduct their own community Remote Justice of the Peace (JP) court.

In July 2015 Nathan visited Pormpuraaw to deliver JP training. Whilst in the community, an incident between two community members escalated to fighting and unrest between hundreds of Aurukun and Pormpuraaw community members. The fighting was so violent police needed to call in reinforcements to help restore calm to the community. Without hesitation Nathan undertook a mediation role and was very successful in gaining the confidence of community members, helping them to reach a mediated agreement and restoring calm to the situation. Nathan was in the community to train JPs, not to act as a peacekeeper or mediator. He stood-up to perform the mediator role due to his strong commitment to better outcomes in Indigenous communities, showing leadership in a very challenging situation.

FINALIST—Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 and priority port master planning
Priority Ports
Department of State Development

The introduction of the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (Ports Act) in November 2015 set landmark new laws to protect the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA), through better management of Queensland port development in and adjacent to the GBRWHA. The legislation leads the way by delivering a number of key port development-related actions under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050). The plan, a joint Australian and Queensland government initiative, responds to recommendations by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee (WHC) on reef protection.

One important requirement under the Ports Act is master planning at priority ports, specifically Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay—all key regional bulk-commodity ports critical to Queensland’s economy. Priority port master planning, one of the state’s commitments under Reef 2050, will optimise the use of infrastructure and address operational, economic, environmental and community relationships, as well as supply chains and surrounding land uses. Port master plans will establish blueprints for managing ongoing priority port development and the protection of the reef. The priority Port of Gladstone is the first subjected to the master planning process under the Ports Act, with all other priority ports to formally commence over the next 12 months.


WINNER—Ravenshoe cafe explosion response and recovery
Queensland Police Service
Queensland Ambulance Service
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
Queensland Health
Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

On 9 June 2015, an out-of-control four-wheel-drive vehicle hit and punctured a 450 kilogram gas cylinder attached to the Serves You Right Cafe in the main street of Ravenshoe, pushing the gas cylinder through the wall of the kitchen and into the cafe causing an explosion and subsequent fire. Twenty-four people were injured, many critically. Two local women later died from their injuries. The local fire, ambulance and police responded within minutes of the 000 call.

Ravenshoe has limited emergency services with the closest back-up units from surrounding towns at least 40 minutes away. In the interim, at least 100 community members converged on the scene and became the first responders to this mass casualty incident. Assistance provided by the community of Ravenshoe was unprecedented and included helping with the cooling and wrapping of burns, providing emotional support, and manually handling patients and equipment. These actions enabled the attending paramedics to provide advanced life support measures and transport the injured to receiving hospitals at the earliest opportunity. A significant multi-agency operation ensued involving various emergency services, state and local government agencies, community organisations and volunteers, both on-the-day and in the months following.

HIGHLY COMMENDED—Greater Graduate Program
Human Resources, Corporate Services
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

The Greater Graduate Program (GGP) is managed by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s Human Resources branch for multiple Queensland departments within the Business and Corporate Partnership.

The program focuses on the attraction, recruitment and development of recent university graduates and ensures a smooth transition into the workplace and the Queensland public sector. Graduates recruited for the GGP are appointed to specific roles that actively contribute to each agency’s strategic priorities and frontline service delivery. The development component of the program is designed to develop leadership and business capabilities and is delivered by a mix of internal and external facilitators. It provides an orientation to the Queensland public service and develops capabilities in leadership, emotional intelligence, project planning and management, team skills, negotiation, conflict resolution and stakeholder engagement.

Attracting graduates enthusiastic to make a difference, and those who have chosen to make a career change by entering the public service, the program ensures a variety of disciplines, experiences and roles amongst the cohorts. In 2015, the GGP was ranked in the top 10 graduate programs in Australia.

FINALIST—Inclusion and diversity programs
People Capability Command
Queensland Police Service

A suite of Inclusion and Diversity Programs demonstrate the Queensland Police Service’s (QPS) commitment to equal opportunity and diversity in employment, allowing the organisation to reflect the diversity of the community, and provide a more culturally and gender equitable police service. Diversity is a strategic asset and attracting, developing and retaining talent creates an engaged and productive QPS, allowing the Service to be in touch with stakeholders, build relationships, trust and credibility.

The suite includes:

  • Indigenous Cadetship Program (delivered by the North Queensland Police Service Academy)—providing students with an introduction to the recruit training curriculum, and preparing Indigenous students to cope with the rigours of recruit training.
  • Police Liaison Officer Scholarships—enabling police liaison officers to continue their roles whilst undertaking the University Certificate in Workforce Essentials with Charles Sturt University, preparing them for priority entry into the Recruit Training Program.
  • Cultural and Linguistically Diverse program—developed for persons from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background and persons from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in preparation for direct entry into Recruit Training.
  • QBalance—designed for women holding senior leadership positions in policing, and emergency services, QBalance aims to enhance the skills and knowledge of women leaders.
  • Managing Unconscious Bias course—developed to meet the recommended best practice of conducting unconscious bias training across the organisation, particularly for key decision makers, and achieves its objectives by adopting a candid conversation approach.

FINALIST—Team 3200
Clinical Support Division
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service

Team 3200 has made a significant contribution to the lives of children and families of Queensland by improving the access and timeliness of tertiary care in the outpatients setting at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) is a recognised leader in tertiary and quaternary paediatric healthcare, teaching and research.

With increasing demand for specialist outpatient services, it was evident that, without intervention, the waitlist would create a higher than acceptable clinical risk for Queensland children. Team 3200 was aptly named given the original target set at 3200 patients waiting longer than clinically recommended time for an outpatient appointment. By challenging and transforming the current outpatient practices through service model improvements, partnerships with internal and external health agencies, and facility wide commitment across healthcare disciplines, the team was able to achieve a 57 per cent reduction in the number of children waiting longer than clinically recommended for an outpatient appointment in less than six months (from 5600 to 2408). Team 3200 is committed to ensuring CHQ is one of the only tertiary paediatric HHS’s to have zero children waiting longer than clinically recommended for an outpatient appointment by the end of June 2017.


WINNER—RP20 Burdekin nitrogen trials
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Following the Queensland Government’s introduction of Reef Protection regulations, the Burdekin Nitrogen Trials (RP20) project was born out of the need to prove an industry nutrient management standard, SIX EASY STEPS™, on Burdekin soil. It commenced in 2011 in response to the concerns of local cane farmers, and resulted in an inspiring new project that presented a unique opportunity to work directly with growers to understand their concerns and address them through on-ground science delivery. The project team replicated strip trials to test higher nitrogen rates against SIX EASY STEPS™.

The SIX EASY STEPS™ is an integrated nutrient management tool that enables the adoption of best practice nutrient management on farm. It consists of:

  1. Knowing and understanding your soils.
  2. Understanding and managing nutrient process and losses.
  3. Regular soil testing.
  4. Adopting soil-specific nutrient management guidelines.
  5. Checking on the adequacy of nutrient inputs (e.g. leaf analyses).
  6. Keeping good records to modify nutrient inputs when and where necessary.

HIGHLY COMMENDED—Moreton Bay rail project - Koala tagging and monitoring program
Technical Services
Department of Transport and Main Roads

The Moreton Bay Rail (MBR) project is a major infrastructure project which will significantly contribute to the future development of the Moreton Bay region. The project includes construction of 14 kilometres of heavy gauge rail lines between Lawnton and Kippa-Ring, six new state-of-the art stations, and significant upgrades to existing arterial and local roads.

A sustainable approach was undertaken to effectively manage and protect local koala populations during construction of the MBR project. The project team developed and implemented a highly successful Koala Management Plan, including a Koala Tagging and Monitoring Program, translocation plan and alternative koala habitat offset program. This has positively impacted local koala populations and provided significant evidence-based scientific data that will make a major contribution to the long-term viability and sustainability of koala populations across the country. The innovative approach to koala habitat offsets has been emulated by other regions with the support of both state and federal legislative authorities.

FINALIST—Early detection system for vegetation management in Queensland
Natural Resources
Department of Natural Resources and Mines

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) was issued a challenge to be responsible for ensuring compliance with Queensland’s vegetation management laws while receiving the bulk of its intel about unexplained clearing via the annual Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS). This saw DNRM receiving thousands of potential compliance breaches all at once for detections that, in some cases, were several years old. With a commitment to reinstate a responsible vegetation management framework for the state, a smarter more effective approach to compliance was urgently required.

The Early Detection System (EDS) for vegetation management was developed using a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach and has delivered a timely, innovative and cost-effective solution for DNRM. This was achieved through harnessing the latest in satellite and Geographic Information System technology, taking managed risks, borrowing from other successful compliance strategies and re-engineering business processes. Through the use of satellite imagery, the EDS team now receives potential changes in vegetation almost as they occur, which are then checked using a combination of automated and expert decision-making steps. This rapid detection allows for early engagement with the landholder, before the unexplained clearing becomes significant. The application of EDS early intervention by the department has seen 95 per cent of landholders cease clearing, allowing the environment to benefit. The EDS program has achieved a remarkable outcome and has support from both environmental and agricultural groups.

FINALIST—Polychaete-assisted sand filters: Reducing aquaculture's environmental footprint
Agri-Science Queensland
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Aquaculture in Queensland is unique in terms of the environmental regulatory environment in which it operates. Largely driven by the desire to reduce nutrient discharges from coastal waters into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the stringent zero-nutrient-discharge conditions placed upon expansions to pond-based aquaculture in Queensland have meant very little expansion of aquaculture in Queensland in the past 12 years. Most types of agriculture lead to losses of nutrients from the farms. Although the environmental footprint of aquaculture in Queensland is small, nutrient losses occur in this farming system too.

Agri-Science Queensland has been on a 10 year journey to reduce the environmental impact of land-based aquaculture to a minimum. Successful systems and practices have been developed to provide economic benefits to prawn farmers. Polychaete-Assisted Sand Filter (PASF) system cycles water from prawn ponds into sand beds containing marine worms (polychaetes). Nutrients in the water are captured by the worms and bacteria within the sand filters, then the water is pumped back into the prawn ponds. Full recirculation between the prawn ponds and the sand filters for the full duration of the prawn production cycle has been achieved.

Aquaculture will be needed to meet the globally increasing demand for seafood, and the PASF system is helping the Queensland aquaculture industry play its part in meeting this demand in a sustainable way.

Premier's Award for Excellence

WINNER—RP20 Burdekin nitrogen trials
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Following the Queensland Government’s introduction of Reef Protection regulations, the Burdekin Nitrogen Trials (RP20) project was born out of the need to prove an industry nutrient management standard, SIX EASY STEPS™, on Burdekin soil. It commenced in 2011 in response to the concerns of local cane farmers, and resulted in an inspiring new project that presented a unique opportunity to work directly with growers to understand their concerns and address them through on-ground science delivery. The project team replicated strip trials to test higher nitrogen rates against SIX EASY STEPS™.

The SIX EASY STEPS™ is an integrated nutrient management tool that enables the adoption of best practice nutrient management on farm. It consists of:

  1. Knowing and understanding your soils.
  2. Understanding and managing nutrient process and losses.
  3. Regular soil testing.
  4. Adopting soil-specific nutrient management guidelines.
  5. Checking on the adequacy of nutrient inputs (e.g. leaf analyses).
  6. Keeping good records to modify nutrient inputs when and where necessary.

2016 awards sponsors

The 2016 Premier’s Awards for Excellence is proudly supported by:


At QSuper, we’re driven by the desire to help our members achieve the lifestyle they want in retirement.


Life Sciences Queensland Limited (LSQ)

LSQ is a Queensland-based organisation bringing together industry stakeholders to cooperate and innovate to grow their businesses and help create a dynamic, internationally competitive and sustainable Australian life sciences industry.

Life Sciences Queensland (LSQ)

Griffith Business School

Griffith Business School delivers outstanding education and research which prepares tomorrow’s globally responsible leaders for success.

Griffith Business School

Queensland Treasury Corporation

As the government’s central financing authority, Queensland Treasury Corporation plays a pivotal role in securing Queensland’s financial success, by providing financial services that deliver outcomes for the whole state.


RemServ, celebrating its 17 year partnership with Queensland Government, manages salary packaging arrangements for over 125,000 employees. RemServ prides itself on great service to help customers get the most from their workplace benefits.


For more information contact Events Coordination, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, by email or phone 07 3003 9200.

Contact details

Last updated
5 January, 2017

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