A child protection advocate, a conservationist, a golfer and a rugby league star have been named as Queensland finalists for Australian of the Year.

For Hetty Johnston, being named as a Queensland Australian of the Year finalist gives her child protection advocacy group Bravehearts a heightened level of credibility.

Ms Johnston, the group’s founder, was named alongside conservationist Terri Irwin, golfer Adam Scott and rugby league star Johnathan Thurston as state finalists on Tuesday.

Ms Johnston says the nomination validates the work Bravehearts does to give a voice to innocent children who are victims of sexual crimes and preventing child abuse.

“For a long time I was very much branded as the shrieking, emotional female who’s got it all wrong and doesn’t really understand and she’s just damaged,” Ms Johnston told AAP on Tuesday.

“What this does is give us credibility, gives us standing – it says that what we’re doing is correct and it makes it harder for those who would dismiss this issue.”

Ms Johnston said the nomination was also for her family who had been just as involved in Bravehearts, as well as the staff who had been a part of the organisation’s 19-year history.

Premier Campbell Newman said the awards gave an insight into great achievements and sacrifices that take place across the state.

“Among our state finalists are founders of multiple charities, national sporting heroes, leading advocates for social affairs and lifelong community leaders,” Mr Newman said.

“Each of these finalists provides us with a unique story of tenacity, reminding us why it’s so great to be a Queenslander.”

Winners, including in the senior, young and local hero categories, will be announced at a cocktail reception at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane on October 24.


* Terri Irwin AM – conservationist (Sunshine Coast)

* Hetty Johnston AM – child safety campaigner (Brisbane)

* Adam Scott – sportsman and youth advocate (Gold Coast)

* Johnathan Thurston – sportsman and reconciliation ambassador (Townsville)

(Source: Queensland Government)