Nine new Queensland Greats

Published Saturday, 06 June, 2020 at 12:01 AM

Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Nine inspirational recipients have been added to the list of Queensland Greats.

In its 20th year, the awards recognise and celebrate extraordinary achievements and life-time contributions by Queenslanders to our state and, often, to the world.

They are the highlight of Queensland Day, marking the day when the State of Queensland was proclaimed on June 6, 1859.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the 2020 Queensland Greats shared a common trait: service to the community.

Ms Palaszczuk said it was particularly pleasing that so many of this year’s recipients are from regional Queensland.

“Every one of our Queensland Greats has worked to make other people’s lives better, some after overcoming incredible adversity themselves,” she said.

 “They display strength, courage, ingenuity, talent and determination – all of the things that continue to make Queensland what it is.”

The 2020 Queensland Greats are:

  • Bruce Morcombe OAM and Denise Morcombe OAM
  • Associate Professor James Morton AM
  • Betty Taylor
  • Nancy Bates OAM
  • Angus Lane OAM
  • Father Mick Lowcock
  • PCYC Queensland
  • Richard (Darby) McCarthy OAM

Since the Queensland Greats Awards began in 2001, 102 individuals, 16 institutions, 6 posthumous and 1 honorary recipient have been recognised as Queensland Greats.

As a lasting tribute, each Queensland Great is honoured with a commemorative plaque displayed at Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane.

More about the 2020 Queensland Greats Awards recipients below, and at

Media contact: Shane Doherty 0439 624473

Bruce Morcombe OAM and Denise Morcombe OAM

Following the abduction and murder of their son Daniel in 2003, Bruce and Denise Morcombe OAM committed to making communities a safer place for children. The establishment of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation in 2005 highlighted their goal to educate young people about how to stay safe in physical and online environments and to support young victims of crime in their often harrowing journey to recovery.

Selflessly, and despite their personally devastating circumstances, Bruce and Denise have embraced the desire to ensure other children don’t suffer Daniel’s fate, that parents and carers are informed and that young people themselves know the signs and what do to do if they find themselves in potentially dangerous situations.

Bruce and Denise’s personal commitment to the safety of children was recognised when they were named joint Queensland Australian of the Year recipients in 2012 and when the Medal of the Order of Australia awarded to them in 2013. They are also Child Safety Ambassadors, and through the foundation have delivered important safety education to Queensland and the nation.

Associate Professor James Morton AM

Dr James Morton MBBS FRACP FRCPR AM is an accredited specialist in Haematology-Oncology, Medical Director at Icon Cancer Care and Senior Specialist in Leukaemia and Bone Marrow Transplant Services at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Above all, he is a passionate advocate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and is the Founder and previous Chair of the AEIOU Foundation for children with autism, a not-for-profit organisation. His vision is to see every young child with ASDs in Australia able to access high quality, evidence-based early intervention.

Dr Morton was a Board Member at the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland from 2000–2008, where he created and initiated the World’s Greatest Shave campaign, which continues as a successful fundraising initiative to this day. Dr Morton was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015, in recognition of his services to both children with autism and in oncology.

Betty Taylor

Betty Taylor has actively worked to prevent violence against women for almost 30 years, having held a number of positions, including Founding Manager of the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Prevention Centre; forming the Tavan Institute; and being an independent mediator to women at Wolston Park Asylum from the 1950s to 1980s. Betty has contributed to education and training in domestic violence responses through publishing papers and training manuals and a media kit to assist journalists reporting domestic violence.

In 2004, Betty returned from a Churchill Fellowship study tour of the United States where she researched domestic violence death review boards. She played a key role in the formation of the Domestic Violence Death Review Action Group in Queensland and in petitioning the government for the establishment of the Domestic Violence Death Review Board, which she has been a member of since July 2016.

Betty has chaired the Ministerial Domestic and Family Violence Council and during that time initiated Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Week, which later became Domestic Violence Prevention Month. The Red Rose Foundation was launched in 2016 and Betty was named as the Chief Executive Officer.

Nancy Bates OAM

The first woman to edit a daily newspaper in Queensland, and only the second in Australia, Nancy Bates devoted 40 years to journalism, the Fraser Coast Chronicle, the city of Maryborough and those around it.

A trailblazer in the truest sense, Nancy has helped organise and galvanise her community, promoting and celebrating Maryborough’s heritage, whether through its many industries or as the birthplace of Mary Poppins author PL Travers and Duncan Chapman, the first man ashore at Gallipoli.

Nancy was awarded a United Nations Media Peace Award for a project incorporating the language and history of the traditional owners of the Fraser Coast, the Butchulla people, into the Chronicle.

Angus Lane OAM

Regional and agricultural shows are the celebration of all that is best in Queensland and Angus Lane is the constant in all of them.  As ring announcer, he’s been the voice of Queensland’s show movement for more than 30 years. His knowledge of competitors and exhibitors is personal and legendary. In 2013 Angus received an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list for services to agricultural shows.

Angus has been involved in many community groups and was named Queensland Father of the Year in 2002. In 2003 Angus was awarded the Henry Palaszczuk Minister’s Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to Rural Communities for Services to Rural and Regional Queensland. Angus was made the Patron of the Showmen’s Guild of Australasia in 2019.

Father Mick Lowcock

Father Michael Lowcock (Father Mick) came to Mount Isa in the early 1990s as Parish Priest where he soon became a household name by the way in which he involved himself in the local community. Through the Catholic Church, Father Mick set about establishing North West Queensland Indigenous Catholic Social Services Limited (NWQICSS) as an organisation which today employs more than 70 people of which over 80 per cent are Indigenous. The group provides assistance and numerous programs to those in need, mostly Aboriginal people and their families. NWQICSS enjoys a strong community profile and actively engages the community it serves.

In addition, Father Mick assisted in creating the Jangawalla Kitchen which consists mainly of volunteers who provide daily meals to the homeless and people at the local police watch house. Father Mick is a tireless community worker and multicultural advocate for outback Queensland.

Institution recipient

PCYC Queensland

PCYC Queensland is a registered charity providing youth and community programs, services and facilities. Working alongside the Queensland Police Service since 1948, the organisation’s vision is building safer, healthier communities through youth development. PCYC Queensland’s three pillars of youth development, crime prevention and community engagement underpin all programs and activities and focus on encouraging social inclusion, addressing whole of community needs and positively impact local communities.

PCYC also supports a range of Queensland Government priorities such as giving children a great start, creating employment opportunities, keeping Queenslanders healthy and keeping communities safe.

Posthumous recipient

Richard (Darby) McCarthy OAM

Born in Cunnamulla, Richard (Darby) McCarthy OAM went on to become one of the nation’s best jockeys during the 1950s and 1960s, riding more than 1000 winners in Australia, Asia and Europe.  In 1984 he began a new life as a trainer and set up a training centre at Toowoomba’s racecourse. In 1990 he was once again re-licenced as a jockey until he retired from racing in 1991. Most riding and Aboriginal sports histories concluded that it was not until the 1960s with the phenomenal success of Darby McCarthy that the barriers for Aboriginal riders were broken. Confirmation of his strength of character is that Darby achieved such a successful and lengthy racing career in the face of so many challenging and difficult circumstances. Given his professional riding record across Australia and his achievements in racing as a jockey, his ability was extraordinary. Darby set up an apprenticeship scheme in Toowoomba in 1984 where he would take in and teach young Aboriginal kids the art of horsemanship. He was a member of the University of Southern Queensland, Elders and Valued Persons Advisory Board (EVPAB) that provides high-level strategic advice to the Vice-Chancellor and an elder of the Toowoomba Murri Court.

Darby McCarthy's outstanding contribution to Queensland Racing has been honoured with his induction into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame in 2004 and he was awarded a Medal of Order of Australia in 2016.