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The Independent Voice of
Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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26 March, 2021

Prestigious honours for incredible locals

THE Queensland governor made a special appearance in Longreach to award and acknowledge two incredible community members.

By Kate Kiernan

John Waerea with partner Casey wearing the Bravery Medal with honour.

In an intimate ceremony, His Excellency the Honourable Paul De Jersey presented two members with Australian honours and awards. 

Daphne May Rich was presentenced the Medal of the Order of Australia for her outstanding contribution to the community of Blackall. 

John Ngahiti Waerea was awarded the Bravery Medal for his actions after the Macarthur River in 2018, performing a courageous rescue of two motorists trapped in floodwaters. 

His Excellency Paul De Jersey said it was a tremendous pleasure to visit the Longreach region. 

“This morning I presented Australian honours and awards to two remarkable citizens,” Mr De Jersey said. 

“It is terribly important to present awards and especially to be able to present the award in the center in which they live. 

“These two are outstanding Queenslanders, and it was very moving this morning to present both of those awards. 

"These examples of fellowship are what make you proud to call the Longreach region home and this is also what draws many other people to visit the region.” 

  Daphne Rich with her husband Fred Rich and two daughters Sheree Shannon and Linda Rich after receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia.   

Mrs Rich received the award for the service to the community of the Blackall region. 

As a volunteer, committee member and office holder of numerous community groups and organisations and for advancing regional education, especially as a founding member and office holder of the Australian Queensland and Blackall Isolated Children’s Parents’ Associations. 

“I am a bit overwhelmed in some ways to have received this award, I keep thinking that there are so many other people that we should bring to notice and let them share in it as well,” Mrs Rich said. 

“I spent time looking after the community and trying to encourage involvement with other people and helping anywhere we could with the children and schooling.” 

Mrs Rich said there was always opportunities for people to assist their community.  

“A lot of people are probably satisfied with what they have now but things can always be made better, if you interested in enough,” said Mrs Rich. 

Mr Waerea was very humbled to have received the Bravery Medal. 

“I feel very honoured to have received the medal, but I am simply happy to have been a part of the rescue at the time,” he said. 

“It was great to meet the Governor, the event ran really smoothly, it was good to be a part of.” 

Mr Waerea, a member of a Macarthur River Mining Emergency Response Team rescued two men who had been trapped in floodwaters. 

The men were trapped on the campervan roof for over 24 hours after it had stalled, while being driven into rising floodwaters. 

Mr Waerea jumped from the helicopter onto the unsteady rocking campervan roof amid rising waters and rapidly deteriorating weather conditions. 

Mr Waera remained on the roof surrounded by floodwaters while the helicopter firstly made two trips to take the two victims to safety. 

The Australian honours system is the pre-eminent way the community recognises outstanding contributions and acts of bravery and humanitarianism. 



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