Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the 2017 Queensland Greats as part of the Queensland Day celebrations.

Ms Palaszczuk said the awards honour the achievements of outstanding Queenslanders.

“It is important that we recognise the incredible people and institutions that have helped to shape and strengthen our state,” she said.

“This year’s award recipients have not only excelled in their chosen fields but have made a positive impact on the lives of many Queenslanders.

“Our 2017 Queensland Greats showcase the breadth of talent we have here in our state, with individuals acknowledged for their achievements in journalism, philanthropy, indigenous health, education and neuroscience.”

This year’s individual recipients are…

Professor Perry Bartlett FAA

A pioneering neuroscientist, Professor Perry Bartlett is the inaugural Director of the Queensland Brain Institute and holds the Foundation Chair in Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Queensland.

Professor Bartlett detected and subsequently characterised neural stem cells that reside in the adult brain that have the capacity to produce new neurons throughout life, a discovery that has transformed neuroscience research and may help overcome the cognitive loss that leads to dementia during ageing.

Clive Berghofer AM

One of Australia’s most prominent philanthropists, Mr Berghofer has donated $80 million to date, and has publicly pledged to “give away a lot more before I’m finished”. He currently donates an estimated $90,000 each week to charities, community and sporting groups, and emergency services.

Mr Berghofer left school at the age of 13 and has struggled with dyslexia for his whole life, but still became a highly successful property developer and one of Australia’s wealthiest individuals.

Professor Peter Coaldrake AO

A university leader and advocate, Professor Coaldrake is Vice-Chancellor of Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Under his leadership, QUT now features prominently in global university rankings. He also served as Chair of the Board of the university sector’s peak group, Universities Australia, and continues to play a leading role in national and state policy development on higher education and research.

Having spent his early childhood in a remote Aboriginal settlement, Professor Coaldrake is well aware of the opportunities that come with education.

Phil Dickie

An investigative journalist, Mr Dickie is best known for his work at The Courier-Mail in the 1980s, when an inquiry into Brisbane brothel ownership mushroomed into a series of articles that identified police, up to assistant commissioner level, with involvement in corruption and organised crime.

For his work leading to the Fitzgerald inquiry, he received Australian journalism’s highest award, a Gold Walkley. He also wrote the bestselling book, The Road to Fitzgerald, which remains a stape of investigative journalism courses around Australia. Mr Dickie contibuted to post-Fitzgerald reforms as Special Advisor to the Chair of the Criminal Justice Commission before returning to investigative journalism in 1994.

Professor Cindy Shannon FQA

A descendant of the Ngugi people from Moreton Bay, Professor Shannon is a passionate advocate for Indigenous health and education, and played a key role in the development and implementation of Indigenous health policy both in Queensland and nationally. Currently the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Engagement at the University of Queensland, Professor Shannon guided the development and implementation of Australia’s first degree-level program that specifically targeted Aboriginal health workers.

She also serves on a number of advisory boards, including as Chair of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation, and the Queensland Ministerial Advisory Committee on Sexual Health, and was a key player in the establishment of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

Eddie Koiki Mabo

The late Eddie Koiki Mabo was born on Mer (Murray) Island in 1936, but was exiled from the island when he was just 16 years old. He eventually settled in Townsville, where he was elected president of the Yumba Meta Housing Association and established Australia’s first Black Community School. In 1982, he and four other Islanders initiated legal action claiming customary ownership of their land on Murray Island, but their claim to land was rejected. Mr Mabo then decided to proceed with the hearings before a full bench of the High Court.

Before the Court’s decision to overturn the doctrine of terra nullius (land belonging to no one) was delivered in 1992, Mr Mabo fell ill and passed away. On the night of his burial, Islanders performed the sacred Malo dance in his honour.

Ms Palaszczuk commented that it was particularly appropriate to honour Eddie Mabo on the 25th anniversary of the landmark Mabo High Court decision.

“Eddie Mabo has become an important icon for reconciliation and his legacy continues to be relevant for all Queenslanders to this day,” she said.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra

One of two organisations recognised as a Queensland Great this year, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) is Queensland’s largest performing arts company and the state’s only professional symphony orchestra. Now in its 70th year, the QSO presents more than 180 live performances each year to more than 1.6 million people. Operating from its base in South Bank, the orchestra employs more than 100 administration staff and musicians, in addition to many guest soloists and artists.

QSO regularly supports the state’s other performing arts companies, including Opera Queensland, Queensland Ballet, Brisbane Festival and Queensland Music Festival, and has been a champion of music education, touring regional Queensland every year and presenting a range of programs including masterclasses, workshops, and professional development for teachers, connecting with more than 30,000 people, from pre-school to university level.

Local Government Association of Queensland

The peak body for local government in Queensland, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) is a not-for-profit association that serves the state’s 77 councils and their individual needs. Recently, LGAQ were at the forefront of disaster recovery as a result of Tropical Cyclone Debbie. LGAQ has been advising, supporting and representing local councils since 1896.

Each of the Queensland Greats will be honoured with commemorative plaques displayed at Roma Street Parkland.

“On behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate all the 2017 recipients on being recognised as Queensland Greats and thank you for your commitment and significant contribution to our state.”