Two local government legends named this year’s Community Champions

Published: 27th October 2021

Two remarkable individuals who have made an outstanding impact in their local communities have today been recognised as the Local Government Association of Queensland’s (LGAQ) Local Government Community Champions. 

Sean O’Connell from Murweh Shire Council and Di Francisco from Balonne Shire Council both stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, going above and beyond the parameters of their roles for the betterment of their communities.

Both Champions will receive $4,500 in professional development funding through Peak Services.

LGAQ President and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson congratulated Sean and Di for being named this year’s Community Champions.

“The work that the 35 nominees for the Community Champions award do every day is awe-inspiring.

“All nominees are outstanding representatives of how much our local government workforce does in the best interests of the well-being of their communities.

“Our winners Sean and Di are making a huge positive impact in their part of the state and they should be very proud of their contribution.

“Their commitment and passion go beyond their role at council and shows a real dedication to their local communities, making them very deserving winners.”

Sean has worked at Murweh Shire Council for two years after moving back to Charleville when COVID-19 hit.

He got involved straight away, helping deliver meals to the elderly who could not leave their homes, driving the RSL courtesy bus, ferrying rugby players on 10-hour round trips to and from games on Saturdays, organising monthly community movie nights, and even dressing up as a giant bilby for the town’s Bilby Festival.

“This is why we have nominated Sean O’Connell to be our champion for our community,” Murweh Shire Council Mayor Shaun ‘Zoro’ Radnedge said.

“They’re the sort of people we want. They’ve moved back to Charleville, they get involved, and they make our community better than it already was.”

Di Francisco, the Environmental Health Coordinator at Balonne Shire Council, took the initiative when COVID-19 hit in March 2020 to help local businesses navigate the Queensland Health directives.

“I [also] did a lot of visits to families who were saying final goodbyes, [helped] a lot of brides who were excited to start a new chapter in their lives, and a lot of young people who were actually able to celebrate their twenty-first,” Di said.

“But the best feeling was to see the relief and the biggest smiles on their faces when all the planning was done and they were actually able to go through with the event.

“I’m proud of being part of a progressive council that was able to help out businesses and our community to stay open and go through these really tough times.”

“Di has been instrumental in supporting our community during the pandemic and her love for the community really shines through her personal drive to step up and go that extra mile,” Balonne Shire Council Mayor Samantha O’Toole said.

“Di’s resilience and ability to think outside the box during challenging times makes her a true local government community champion.”

Nominations for the Community Champions Award were made by council mayors and CEOs and covered people working in an array of different council roles from parks and gardens to libraries, finance, waste, community relations and services, and many more.


You can see the nomination videos here:

Shaun O’Connell: Storeperson, Murweh Shire Council

Di Francisco: Environmental Health Officer, Balonne Shire Council

community champions 2021    community champions 2021

Community Champions, Di Fransisco

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Vogler, External Relations Director
Local Government Association of Queensland