Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was awarded the first posthumous Queensland Greats Award over the weekend, for his incredible achievements in wildlife conservation.

The special posthumous category was added into the awards this year to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the program, which honours individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to Queensland.

Irwin claimed the award over humanitarian scientist Professor James Dale, philanthropist and entrepreneur Andrew Brice, artist and benefactor Robert MacPherson, equality advocate Pat Fennel, broadcasting pioneer John Gleeson and the Queensland branch of military family supporter RSL.

Since 2001, 75 individuals, 10 institutions and 1 posthumous recipient have been honoured as Queensland Greats. Their names are displayed on commemorative plaques at Brisbane’s Roma Street Parkland.

Irwin’s life was dedicated to wildlife conservation, and he was highly respected in the area. He was world renowned TV personality and the face behind Australia Zoo, one of Queensland top tourist attractions. He died in 2006, while filming a documentary off the coast of Queensland.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told ABC news “it was a great loss to our state when Steve unexpectedly passed away in 2006, so it is only deserving Steve is recognised for is exceptional impact on Queensland.”

Steve Irwin’s family, Terri, Bindi and Robert accepted the award on the night in his honour.

“Dad first came up with the phrase ‘wildlife warrior’ and he spent his life trying to spread the message of wildlife conservation to the people globally so this award really marks his legacy and it’s a true blessing and honour for us as a family as well,” Bindi told ABC news.

The Queensland Greats Awards are held as part of Queensland Week celebrations, which started on Saturday and will run until 7 June.