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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1090


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (09:40): I rise to acknowledge a number of outstanding Queenslanders who were named as state finalists for the 2014 Australian of the Year Awards. Among them were three individuals who play an important role in the Ryan community—Dr Jim Aylward, Dr Robert McGregor and Mr Jay Larkins.

Dr Robert McGregor of Karana Downs was named as a Queensland state level recipient of a Senior Australian of the Year award. Dr McGregor has made an invaluable contribution to Queensland as a medical practitioner specialising in child health. For nearly four decades Dr McGregor has been devoted to his role as consultant paediatrician at Ipswich Hospital. In addition to his medical work, Dr McGregor has been an avid fundraiser and volunteer within the community. As the long-time chair for the Ipswich Hospital Fund, Dr McGregor raised over $110,000 for medical equipment, child-friendly nurses' uniforms and toys for the special care nursery. He was also the driving force behind the Heritage Bank/Ipswich100/Bike Ride fundraising event. In 2013, the 14th annual Bike Ride attracted nearly 1,000 riders and raised $100,000 for the hospital foundation, local charities and Lions projects. Dr McGregor has been actively involved in community outreach programs preventing child abuse and been dedicated in his voluntary roles for local schools and Lions clubs.

Senior Australian of the Year finalist Dr Jim Aylward from Indooroopilly is the founder of Picato—arguably Australia's first ever cancer therapeutic drug. Dr Aylward is a pioneer in his field, isolating the active principle of a sap from an insignificant weed introduced to Australia from Europe to treat skin cancer. In a decade-long collaboration with the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Dr Aylward's discovery has the potential to help the 434,000 people treated for non-melanoma skin cancers each year. This type of cancer is Australia's most common, and this innovation could help save the hundreds of Australians who tragically die from it each year. Dr Aylward's discovery may also reduce the need to undergo surgical treatment that occurs in multiple skin cancer cases, thus potentially cutting hospital waiting lists as a result.

I would also like to recognise Paralympic football coach, Jay Larkins, a finalist for the Local Hero Award. In 2006, Mr Larkins established the Brisbane Paralympic Football program after learning his son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Today, Mr Larkins coaches more than 100 children with disabilities and teaches them motivation and self-belief to be the best they can be. As head coach, Mr Larkins oversees a team of assistant coaches, managers, volunteers, and a regular physiotherapist and dietician, who are all committed to providing an opportunity for the children to engage in team sport and exercise. The program has seen four young athletes representing Australia, and others working towards qualification for the 2016 Paralympic Games. Mr Larkins is now developing similar programs in other parts of Queensland outside of Ryan to provide an inclusive environment for a greater number of young athletes with disabilities to develop their skills and confidence.