National Awards

There are so many people that make the Special Olympics Australia community rich, rewarding and welcoming. Special Olympics Australia has a range of annual rewards to say thanks. Nominations are now open for 2017!


2017 nominations are now open for Special Olympics Australia National Awards. To nominate someone, simply:

1. Review the the nomination guidelines.
2. Click here to fill out the application.

Nominations must be received by 5pm Friday 27 October 2017.

2016 Winners

Athlete of the year

Brooke McGrath, Macarthur (NSW)

Brooke has trained and competed with Special Olympics Australia for over ten years and consistently achieves her personal best in her favourite three sports – athletics, bocce and swimming. At the recent State Games in athletics she won three gold medals all in her best times making her eligible for selection for a third National Games. Brooke is also the athlete representative on the Macarthur club committee. She is dedicated to all her sports and attends every training session. If training is cancelled Brooke will train herself!

Young athlete of the year (up to 26 years of age)

Koby Banks, Illawarra (NSW)

Since Koby joined Special Olympics Australia in 2010 he has developed confidence and taken on new challenges, including helping to promote the Illawarra club to new athletes. He has attended all competitions hosted by the club, either as an athlete or volunteer. His love of basketball has seen him compete at two National Games and he has since achieved his refereeing qualifications. He started off playing in the lowest division but his commitment to training has seen him rise through the grades to the top division. He’s often out fundraising to get athletes to competitions even when he’s not on the team. On the sporting field, Koby displays great sportsmanship and applauds the efforts of his fellow athletes.

Coach of the year

Liz Ewen, Brisbane (QLD)

Liz has been delivering quality swim coaching and heading up aquatics teams for over 22 years at club, state, national and international levels. She is an advocate for all her swimmers, making sure they are treated fairly and have the best opportunity to do their best.

She also encourages and mentors older athletes to become leaders. Liz is a great supporter of families, old and new and gives many hours of patient teaching and dedication to ensure that children are safe in the water. Liz is always conscious of developing young athletes and ensuring a healthy stream of “new talent” flows into Special Olympics Australia. Liz has a huge list of accolades. Last year she was Head Coach of the swimming team at the Special Olympics World Summer Games and this year she was a winner of the Stafford Queensland Day Community Awards.

Young coach of the year (up to 26 years of age)

Melinda Nay, Hunter Valley (NSW)

At just 18 years old, Melinda already has four years under her belt as a volunteer and swimming coach. She is currently mentoring two young volunteers who will become accredited later in 2016. Her enthusiasm and encouragement is amazing and most recently she was NSW Team Assistant at the Trans Tasman Games Tournament in New Zealand. She is respected by all for her passion and positivity and this year she was named as a finalist in the Young Official of the Year and Young Coach of the Year categories at the NSW Sports Awards.

Volunteer of the year

Melda and Terry McMahon, Melbourne Inner East (VIC)

Together, Mel and Terry have given exceptional support to the Melbourne Inner East club for over 20 years. As part of the fabric of the club they have held a variety of positions, but their favourites is playing the role of sports coordinators of tenpin bowling where they manage the largest group of bowlers (120) in any Special Olympics Australia club. Terry served as Chairman of the club for four years in the early days of the club, one of the oldest clubs in Australia and Mel is still on the club committee. Health issues saw them try and retire in 2012 but they couldn’t give up their dedication to their tenpin bowlers. Until recently, they also arranged the annual regional competition as well as helping with State Games.

Young volunteer of the year (up to 26 years of age)

Not awarded

EKS Award

EKS Award

2017 EKS Award nominations are now closed. 

Nominations will be shown here shortly.


The EKS Award is presented annually to an athlete who has shown great leadership skills, both on and off the sporting field. The award is open to all Special Olympics Australia athletes and is presented on Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day, which is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of September each year.

This award honours Special Olympics founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Australian volunteer, Dr John Day inspired this award when he donated the medal he received from Mrs Shriver in 1976 to mark the beginning of Special Olympics in Australia.

Honour Roll

2016 | Martin Smith (QLD)
             Nicole Bartley (QLD)
2015 | Liam O'Donnell (ACT)
2014 | Joshua Frost (NSW)
2013 | Mel Eustace (NSW)
2012 | Steven White (VIC)
             Russell Nelligan (WA)
2011 | Andrew Williams (VIC)
2010 | John Faulkner (QLD)
2009 | Saxon Graham (NSW)
2008 | Gabrielle Clark (NSW)
             Kelly Wren (NSW)
2007 | Christopher Farmer (SA)

EKS Award Winners 2016!

Martin Smith, Moreton North, Queensland

Martin has been training and competing with Special Olympics Australia for over 22 years. He is an all-round sportsperson who currently participates in swimming, basketball, golf, athletics and gymnastics. In his time at Special Olympics Australia, Martin has always dreamt of representing Australia at the World Games and in 2015 his dream finally came true when he returned home from LA with seven medals including gold for best overall gymnast. He is also a registered swimming coach and can be found on the pool deck twice a week coaching mainstream athletes, and he also assists with Special Olympics Australia athletes. He also sits on the Sports Working Group where he acts as the voice for Queensland athletes. Outside of Special Olympics Australia, Martin has a second Dan black belt in Go Kan Ryu Karate and is now a Sensei who can instruct others. 

Nicole Bartley, Brisbane, Queensland

Nicole has been training and competing with Special Olympics Australia for over 17 years and in that time she has represented Australia four times each in a different sport: Alpine skiing, basketball, tennis and swimming. She is very passionate about Special Olympics Australia and her community and you will often find her coaching the up-and-coming swimmers of tomorrow. Nicole is a great advocate for Special Olympics Australia and is willing to spread the word to all who will listen. She is often praised for her humanity, positivity and passion and last year at the World Games in Los Angeles she swam alongside legendary Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps.

EKS Award 2016 Nominees: Stuart Sutton, Melbourne Inner East (VIC) | Martin Bankier, Melbourne Southern (VIC) | Sharon Himan, South Coast (NSW) | Will Brunsdon, North West New England (NSW), Mitchell Duncan, Sydney Hills (NSW), Allister Peek, Canberra (ACT)

Hall of Fame Award

Hall of Fame

Each year Special Olympics Australia recognises a volunteer (or volunteers) who has shown dedication to our mission and long-standing commitment to our athletes by inducting them into the Hall of Fame. Nominations are sort from the Special Olympics Australia community and the National Selection Committee select the winner.

Hall of Fame Nominations Are Currently Closed

Honour Roll

2014 | Moira Ryde (VIC)
2013 | Albert Green, OAM (ACT)
2012 | Norm Maroney APM, OAM (NSW)
2011 | Robyn Cook OAM (VIC)
2010 | Susan Grealy (QLD)
2009 | Rex Langthorne AM (NSW)
2008 | Alan Burke (VIC)
2007 | Eric Jones OAM (VIC)
             Kurt Kraushofer OAM (VIC)
2006 | Barry Easy OAM (NSW)
             Marian York (QLD)
2005 | Robyn Hanson OAM (TAS)
2004 | Anna-Louise Kassulke (QLD)
2003 | Jan Sharp OAM (VIC)
2002 | Leon Burwell OAM (NSW)
2001 | Carol Tanner OAM (TAS)
2000 | Des Renford MBE, OHC (NSW)