QBANK Celebrates Excellence of Everyday Heroes

Ahead of the 2023 QBANK Everyday Heroes Awards on Friday 27th October 2023, we celebrate our 22 finalists across 6 categories. Today, we look at the three finalists in the 'Excellence' category. This category looks at an individual who has shown innovation, independence & forward-thinking.


Finalists for Excellence Category

Bethany Mahadeo - Queensland Department of Education


A Brisbane teacher who is working to improve the lives of student refugees settling into a new country and helping them heal from trauma has been recognised as a finalist in the QBANK Everyday Heroes Awards.

Bethany, an Art Psychotherapist, Occupational Therapist and Co-coordinator of the HEAL Program at Milpera State High School, is one of 22 finalists selected from across the state for the awards which celebrate the exceptional achievements of people within Queensland Police, Fire, Health, Corrections, Justice, Public Service, Education and volunteers.

She is one of three finalists in the Excellence category. The HEAL Program, is a school based mental health and well-being service which provides trauma-informed creative therapies to help newly arrived refugee youth from 11-18 years old to express themselves and find support while they settle into their new community.

Ms Mahadeo said she was honoured to be nominated by a colleague she had worked with for many years, and excited to be named a finalist. “I appreciate her acknowledging me in this way,” she said. “It is always great to be able to share the work of HEAL, as it is such an effective way to support young people's wellbeing within a school context.”

Ms Mahadeo said it was rewarding to work with people who have experience trauma and help them manage their post-traumatic growth. “I feel very fortunate to be a small part of the amazing progress and expanding possibilities that unfold for the young people we work with,” she said. “Getting to use creative methods is a huge bonus and seeing the effectiveness of art therapy is enormously rewarding.”

Ms Mahadeo said she felt privileged to work with the students of Milpera. “Milpera is a very special place, with an amazing, culturally diverse student body and a very skilled and deeply committed staff,” she said. “People often ask me about the difficulties and challenges that come with working with young people who have experienced traumatic events, difficult refugee journeys and the upheaval that comes with settling in a new country, but I have always found that the joy that comes with being part of their process, especially incorporating creativity, far outweighs any cost.”


Craig Andrew - Queensland Police Service


A Police officer breaking down barriers for youth offenders on the Gold Coast with the help of some four-legged friends has been recognised as a finalist in the QBANK Everyday Heroes Awards. Logan District Mental Health Co-ordinator Craig Andrew is one of the finalists in the Excellence category.

Craig has been making an impact with Gold Coast youth, with some very large assistants. Craig has worked with QPS for the last 17 years, spending many years as a youth-bail co-ordinator on the Gold Coast where he found a passion for working with youth offenders and at-risk youth. Between 2020-2022 he was responsible for organising the Horses Helping Humans Program, funded by the Community Based Crime Action Committee and developed by horse trainer Sue Spence for at-risk youth from the Gold Coast.

In the program, three youths attend tri-monthly equine therapy sessions where they learn horsemanship skills. “The youth program delivers an equine assisted life coaching program to help disadvantaged youth to develop emotional control and effective communication and body language skills,” Craig said. “These horses come from challenging backgrounds, as do many of our participants, and each has developed its own personality quirks in response to that. The kids are matched up with the horse that best teaches them what they as individuals need to learn.”

He said the program had already produced good results with participants. “After completing the course, parents, carers and schools are reporting less conflict at home and improved school attendance and engagement.”

Craig said he was grateful to be named a finalist in the Everyday Heroes Awards and found his work to improve the lives of the participants rewarding. “The rewards come when you know you have succeeded in turning a young person’s life around. It happens often enough to keep you going,” he said. “The program specifically helps young people to learn how to display calm assertiveness to focus and to have respect as well as empathy for others. Effective communication skills, self-confidence and trust in others are three important requirements a young person must have to be able to undertake study, gain and maintain employment and be successful in human relationships.”


Helen Zahos - Volunteer


A Gold Coast humanitarian aid volunteer helping those impacted by disasters has been recognised as a finalist in the QBANK Everyday Heroes Awards. Nurse Helen Zahos is one of 22 finalists selected from across the state for the awards which celebrate the exceptional achievements of people within Queensland Police, Fire, Health, Ambulance, Corrections, Justice, Public Service, Education and volunteers. Helen is a finalist in the Excellence category.

Helen has spent 20 years supporting those in need across the world as a volunteer in disaster areas, helping people from Ukraine in 2022, Nepal after an earthquake, the Philippines during typhoon Hyan, an IDP camp in Iraq, Syrian refugees in Greece in 2015 and 2016, and travelled to Kenya in 2020 an ambassador for World Youth International.

Helen is a registered nurse on the Gold Coast, but she uses her skills as to provide medical assistance to underprivileged communities, asylum seekers and refugees in times of crisis. She said she had a passion for volunteering since she was young but took on disaster zones after working as a junior nurse at the Royal Darwin Hospital during the Bali Bombings in 2001. “I think I started because I naturally was drawn to helping people and this was encouraged by my parents,” Helen said.

“It was only later in my career, the last 20 years that I have also focussed on the international community,” she said. “My passion is humanitarian nursing and assisting in disasters or humanitarian crises”

Helen has also been involved in initiatives by the United Nation, attending the UN Disaster Risk Reduction Global Platform, sharing her knowledge and expertise to influence policy and promote best practice in healthcare and disaster management. She is also an ambassador for World Youth International’s Nurses in Action program, mentoring and inspiring young nurses to develop their skills.

“I have so many stories I could share, the precious moments you witness, the heartbreak the sorrow after floods, fires, earthquakes and devastation when you are reminded of how precious life is,” she said. “Volunteering and being selfless really is the highlight of my work, it is raw and real, and I am privileged to be allowed into these people lives when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Helen said she found her voice as a nurse advocating for those less fortunate and was honoured to be nominated for a QBANK Everyday Hero award. “I hope that the recognition for what I do inspires the next generation of nurses, helping them develop their skills and encouraging them to embrace their passion for humanitarian work through similar volunteering opportunities,” she said.