2023 Queensland Greats recipients

The 2023 Queensland Greats are:





Mr William Barton
First Nations Musician and Composer (Kalkadungu QLD)

William Barton, a Kalkadunga man, is a distinguished performer of extraordinary musicality who has achieved global recognition as a world-leading didgeridoo performer, composer, instrumentalist, and vocalist. A lifetime love of music enables William to take his audiences on a rich cultural journey of creative stories with a history over 60,000 years in the making.

William has composed works in collaboration with orchestras, string quartets, jazz and rock bands across the country, integrating the unique First Nations heritage of the didgeridoo. Performing on classical stages from the Vatican to the Royal Court of Spain, Anzac Cove to the Beijing Olympics and a live BBC One broadcast premiering his composition Kalkadungu’s Journey at Westminster Abbey to commemorate Commonwealth Day 2019, yet he feels equally comfortable sharing his talents at home in Queensland.

Amidst his international acclaim, numerous awards and performances, William finds joy in giving back to his community with performances, workshops for children and by teaching future generations didgeridoo, First Nations storytelling and language.

Mr Joe Brumm
Creator of Bluey

Joe Brumm is the creator, writer and showrunner of Bluey, an expertly produced animated children’s television series about a family of dogs, set in Brisbane.

The success of Bluey has been incredible and is now spoken about as being as important a cultural export as Crocodile Dundee. In 2019 it was bought by Disney, who distribute it globally. The show is entirely produced in Queensland, by Queenslanders. Joe has personally hired and trained hordes of young graduate animators, arming them all with a CV and showreel that will set them up well for the rest of their careers.

Bluey has captured the hearts and positively impacted the lives of children and adults all around the world. It makes people laugh, cry, and strive to be better parents. The winner of several prestigious industry awards, including a Logie, an Emmy and a BAFTA, as well as Bluey being among the top ten most streamed programs globally for 2022, Joe has shown that Brisbane can produce world class film and television.

The Honourable Gerald (Tony) Fitzgerald AC KC
Champion of anti-corruption and accountability

The Honourable Tony Fitzgerald AC KC has a legacy of fighting systemic corruption and abuse of power in Queensland throughout his distinguished legal and judicial career.

In the late 1980s, Tony chaired the Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities, widely known as the Fitzgerald Inquiry, which transformed Queensland’s policing and political landscape considerably.  A significant number of prosecutions followed the inquiry and lead to three ministers and the Commissioner of Police being jailed, along with numerous other convictions. This watershed report also led to the establishment of the Criminal Justice Commission, now known as the Crime and Corruption Commission, which continues the Inquiry’s work to this day.

Tony is known for his fierce independence and moral authority. His achievements are recognised in Queensland and elsewhere as evidence by him being awarded as a Companion of the Order of Australia. This accolade was awarded in recognition of his service to law and the people of Queensland.

Mr Steve Renouf
‘The Pearl’

Steve Renouf is a Gunggari and Gubbi Gubbi man who has contributed to Queensland in many ways. During his Rugby League career, Steve represented Queensland and Australia at the highest levels as well as signing with English team, Wiggan, in 1999.

Steve’s profile as a successful Aboriginal football player means he has been an inspirational role model and mentor for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people for most of his adult life. Upon retirement from professional football, Steve was a guiding force behind the Queensland Government’s state-wide Get Active health, well-being and sport program, a legacy project of the 2000 Olympic Games.

Steve has also lead Aurizon Rail’s Indigenous employment strategy, been an ambassador for the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, lead the roll-out of the highly effective Deadly Choices preventative health strategy, worked with the federal government as Co-Chair of their Medicine Safety Committee and been a strong public advocate for better understanding and health care for people living with Type 1 diabetes.

Ms Adele Rice AM
Educator and refugee advocate

Adele Rice is synonymous with education and the refugee and humanitarian sector in Queensland, forging pathways for newly arrived individuals, families, and communities. Her significant contribution to the creation of a more cohesive Queensland goes far beyond her principalship.

From pioneering a community-based model of education, implementing psychosocial programs to counter the effects of trauma on learning, recognised as an expert in multicultural education, facilitating community partnerships in schools, conducting state-wide teacher training, taking part in early Indigenous reconciliation discussions, and asserting settlement advice within the political realm, Adele strives for social equity and leaves an indelible legacy in Queensland education.

Adele personifies the adage ‘it takes a village’, creating networks and opportunities for students and families to integrate into the fabric of our Queensland society.

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Rural Fire Service
Queensland focused

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) provides support to 93 percent of Queensland with approximately 28,000 volunteers, 1,400 Rural Fire Brigades (RFBs) and 2,400 fire warden districts. This support includes frontline firefighting and a wide range of support services.

Each year, RFBs help Queensland communities prepare for fire seasons, train new members, conduct hazard reduction burns, build understanding of cultural land management practices, and deliver community education to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impacts of fire and emergency events.

The RFS has made significant contributions to the safety of Queenslanders by developing and implementing innovative technology systems like state-of-the-art mapping technology, Mobile Situational Overview, and improving culturally sensitive land management practices through their Jigija Roadmap. An Indigenous Fire Training Program named Jigija, provides wildfire management and mitigation training on traditional lands and offers unique opportunities for RFS to share traditional knowledge of fire ecology, together with practical lessons relevant to contemporary fire management across Queensland.

With the rollout of these vital projects, volunteers have access to innovative technology and increased education to reduce fire risk and better manage land in a culturally sensitive manner.

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Dr Honor Dell Cleary OAM
Queensland Elder and early childhood pioneer

Dr Honor Dell Cleary (Aunty Honor) was a Koa woman who made significant contributions to early childhood education and the broader Aboriginal communities of Cherbourg, Greater Brisbane, and Queensland. Aunty Honor was part of the first cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who were selected to be trained as community teachers and went on to work at Yelangi Preschool on the Brisbane’s south side for the next 25 years, teaching many First Nations children who went on to succeed in their chosen fields.

She provided high level guidance to many senior government officials and was instrumental in the establishment of 13 Indigenous playgroups across Queensland as well as providing Eldership and guidance to ensure that First Nations children and their families had a great start engaging with education.

Aunty Honor dedicated her time as a community advocate and played an active role in the Brisbane Natives Rugby League Football Club, The Golden Oldies (an annual celebration of Elders from Aboriginal Missions and communities), numerous Elders groups, the first Aboriginal debutant balls and The Ration Shed Museum Tours to Cherbourg's Historical Precinct. ‘Honour Dell Cleary Place’ was opening in 2018 at Lawnton for her outstanding contribution to the local Aboriginal community. Whilst her biggest achievements were within early childhood education, the impact of Aunty Honour’s devotion to improving life outcomes for First Nations people and other vulnerable members of the community are considerable.

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Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim AM
Stem cell research pioneer

Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim AM made a profound contribution to Queensland as a world-leading scientist in the use of patient-derived stem cells for spinal cord injury rehabilitation and neuroscience drug discovery that dramatically changed treatment options for paraplegia.

Alan’s work helped to establish Queensland as a hub for cutting-edge neuroscience research and contributed to the growth of the state’s biotechnology industry. His research was the catalyst for Queensland’s developments in the field of injury rehabilitation and contributed towards the MAIC funded pre-clinical trial led by Professor James St John to produce 3D biodegradable nerve cell bridges. Alan revolutionised the use of patient-derived stem cells (in contrast to transgenic animal models) to open new research possibilities in developing disease-modifying drugs for neurological conditions.

Alan was driven by a life-long commitment to making a difference in the health and wellbeing of our communities. He remained committed to developing a cure for neurological diseases, staying the course when major drug companies had closed their neuroscience research departments.

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