Queensland Young Australian of the Year Angel Dixon. Picture: Jerad Williams
Queensland Young Australian of the Year Angel Dixon. Picture: Jerad Williams

Meet Queensland’s Australian of the Year finalists

THEY are the people who make Queensland great.

A detective who goes where no one else wants to - refusing to turn a blind eye to the sickening world bubbling underneath the surface that exploits children.

A young model with a spinal injury who fiercely advocates for disability inclusion, awareness and human rights.

A South Sudanese refugee who has been instrumental in removing children under the age of 18 from adult prisons.

And a professor who once again proves this great state is at the forefront of science, modifying bananas to treat Vitamin A deficiency in developing countries and at the same time, saving Queensland's crops.

Tonight, they will vie for Australia's top Australia Day honours - and Queenslanders are behind them.

Detective Inspector Jon Rouse - QLD Australian of the Year

Sexually exploited children all around the world exist in the darkness of the online world.

And one man, Detective Inspector Rouse, fights his own war everyday, piercing the dark cage that traps them.

Det Insp Rouse, 55, nationally and internationally recognised as one of the best cops for his passionate and all-embracing career, has tirelessly worked with the FBI, Interpol, and the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

He has been a key player in the universal take-down of some of the most horrific paedophile rings in the world.

Yet, he remains humble and seeks no credit, saying he does it for the children.

In 1996 he was promoted to Detective Sergeant and assigned to the Child Abuse Unit and in the same year Task Force Argos was initiated to investigate institutionalised child abuse. Today, Rouse runs Argos, the globally renowned taskforce that investigates the threat posed by the now burgeoning internet and focuses exclusively on technology enabled abuse of children.

Operation Achilles, which became the biggest multi-agency take-down of a paedophile ring of its time, began on the Gold Coast with a simple lunch meeting between Rouse and then-new chief of the FBI's Innocents Images Program Arnold Bell.

It resulted in mass police raids conducted in several countries and more than 40 children were rescued from sexually abusive situations.

Throughout his extensive career, Rouse's colleagues have praised the brave man who refuses to leave the task force as "humble, focused, passionate, totally committed."

He has plateaued his career, as far as rank goes, to remain in the role that sees him work towards rescuing children every day - a job many could not stomach.


Angel Dixon - QLD Young Australian of the Year

What Angel Dixon lacks in age, she makes up for with fiery passion and intelligence.

Ms Dixon is using these qualities for an area that sees little attention - the perception of people with disabilities in the media.

She tragically suffered a spinal injury eight years ago, but that doesn't stop her from changing the world one step at a time, paving the way for those that are struggling and fighting their own battles.

A fierce advocate for disability inclusion and awareness, and human rights, Ms Dixon was the first agency signed model with a physical impairment to feature in a national television program.

She is unlike other models; she tells of her battles with feelings of "exclusion and isolation that come with not fitting in one basket".

Countering the daily media and societal perceptions of disabilities, Ms Dixon is CEO of the Attitude Foundation and advocacy manager for the not-for-profit organisation Starting With Julius, which both aim to promote the importance of people with disabilities through the establishment of disability-inclusive media norms.

Her current endeavours include working on a line of walking canes that are designed to be marketed as a fashion accessory.

And she is also a member of the steering committee for NOW Australia, also a not-for-profit, which supports people who have experienced workplace sexual harassment.


Queensland Young Australian of the Year Angel Dixon. Picture: Jerad Williams
Queensland Young Australian of the Year Angel Dixon. Picture: Jerad Williams

Elijah Buol - QLD Local Hero

Having received multiple awards for advocacy and community services and been instrumental in removing children under the age of 18 from prisons in Queensland, it's no wonder Elijah Buol has been nominated for Queensland's local hero.

From his time entering Australia as an unaccompanied refugee from South Sudan to his status as criminologist and Director of Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, Mr Buol has touched the lives of many, spending much of his time helping young and disadvantaged people integrate successfully into society.

His 33-year life is a walking success story, and his Queensland award was a testament to Australia being a fair country.

Mr Buol is passionate about improving the nation, and hopes for a world where his four children are not the subject of racial discrimination and will not be judged for their colour of skin but instead by their actions as Australians.

His qualifications include a Master of Law, Master of Justice in Intelligence, a Bachelor of Human Services and is currently studying Juris Doctor at the Australian National University. Mr Buol has held numerous senior and volunteer positions allowing him to drastically improve the lives of many and continues to inspire people through his powerful motivational speaking and leadership training.

His influence and assistance is widespread, improving the lives of not just young and disadvantaged people or those in prison, but has also improved the wellbeing of African women living in Australia through the establishment of the African Australian Women's Association.

He has also mentored many young African Australian Queenslanders through his role as President of Queensland African Communities Council and continues to touch the hearts of many around the state.

Queensland Local Hero Elijah Buol. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Queensland Local Hero Elijah Buol. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Professor James Dale AO - QLD Senior Australian of the Year

Professor James Dale, founder of Australia's first molecular farming company Farmacule Bioindustries, is a renowned scientist, researcher and humanitarian that has led significant research in agricultural biotechnology.

And now he is looking internationally with his plans to save hundreds of thousands of innocent children.

Prof Dale, who is nominated for the Queensland Senior Australian of the Year, has made a significant footprint in the industry with his groundbreaking work of modifying bananas to treat Vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.

He has also created strains of disease-resistant bananas to protect Queensland's banana crops. With his heart of gold and the brain of a genius, he hopes to release these lifesaving bananas into East Africa in four years as a solution to Vitamin A deficiency which tragically results in the death of an estimated 670,000 children and has caused blindness in another 400,000 children.

Here in Queensland, Professor Dale has actively helped suffering farmers by placing disease-resistant genes into local Cavendish bananas to protect them from a virus and fungi that destroys crops and causes mass economic damage in Queensland.

Alongside these achievements, he was the inaugural Director of the Centre for Tropical Crops and Bio-commodities (CTCB) at Queensland University of Technology and led developments that enabled the rapid testing for genetic diseases and molecular farming technology that is designed to produce edible, plant-based vaccines.

Queensland Senior Australian of the Year. Picture: Supplied.
Queensland Senior Australian of the Year. Picture: Supplied.