Introducing the 2021 Sunshine Coast Citizen of the Year

A huge congratulations go to Carmel Crouch, our Managing Director, for taking out the prestigious 2021 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Senior Citizen Award.

The award celebrates those who have made substantial and long-lasting differences in our community and Carmel’s dedication to people with disabilities and the wider Sunshine Coast community were honoured.

Nominated in the second largest category, Carmel’s powerful story of promoting change and opportunity in the disability community was highlighted as a standout.

The day was a proud one for the STEPS organisation, who also were honoured with nominations for both the STEPS Pathways College and for a graduate of the College, Ariana Nioa.

“It’s a pretty impressive group standing up here on stage and I’m very honoured to be chosen as Senior Citizen of the Year,” Carmel said upon accepting her award.

“STEPS has always been a heart project for me so it’s an amazing feeling to see that recognised.

“This award is shared with so many in our community, and with all who have helped STEPS continue to provide opportunities.”

Over the years, Carmel’s trailblazing has continued to expand STEPS’ presence, with Carmel’s establishment of STEPS Pathways College in 2017 being another proud addition to her many achievements.

The College is the first of its kind, allowing for intensive day, online and residential learning to be available to young people with a disability.

Carmel has driven the College to great success, with high demand leading to the College more than doubling its residential capacity, as well as opening up to deliver day and online learning options.

Carmel’s prompt expansion to online delivery has also been a welcome lifeline for many across the country, giving young people with disabilities access to inclusive and innovative education throughout the lockdown.

The award coincides with further great strides in our organisation, with the College opening a new independent living extension where students can graduate and begin to live independently in society after graduation.

Despite having established so many facets to our organisation, Carmel remains passionate about expanding further.

“Every person who comes through our doors is unique in their own way,” Carmel concluded.

“It’s an indescribable privilege to get to see young people with disabilities live their lives to the fullest.

“I don’t foresee a time where I won’t want to strive to do more.”

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Angela and Jim smiling in front of beachA graduate receiving her graduation cap