A WOMAN who defied the odds has been awarded Scenic Rim Citizen of the Year.
Lizz Hills received the award in recognition of decades of environmental work and raising awareness of mental health issues.
The 40 year old suffered a brain injury in an accident when she was 21, but she has gone on to achieve more than many people ever imagine, including a 6,000 trek across Australia to raise awareness of climate issues.
Defying the odds
WALKING across Australia is not something the average person would contemplate, but Lizz Hills could not be called average.
At the age of 21, 40 year old Lizz had an accident while travelling in Thailand.
For six weeks no one knew where she was and when her family was contacted and she returned to Australia, doctors told her she would never return to university, never work again and would never have children.
Lizz, who lives at Wild Mountains Environmental Education Centre, accepted her Citizen of the Year award after spending 2023 trekking 6,000 kilometres across Australia with her husband Justin and son Rowan as her support crew.
She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Graduate Diploma in Psychology and is currently undertaking a Masters in Social Work, majoring in ecological grief.
Her walk across Australia, called the Trek to Reconnect, was inspired by her desire to educate people about environmental issues.
During the Trek, Lizz visited schools and community groups to talk about the environment, the food chain and where food comes from.
“What really got me was leaving the schools and being asked, ‘what do we do next, how can we do this?’” she says.
“The narrative has changed from ‘let’s plant trees’ to ‘we’ve got a plastic problem’, ‘we’ve got genetically modified organisisms’ – there’s lots of ways we can respond to that and the most common one is apathy – too much, too big – and we can all relate to that.”
“The other choice is to pursue a positive change and there are a heck of a lot of people doing that.”
“I reckon you get what you focus on so we need to start to talk about what the solutions are. How we reconnect with the earth, reconnect with each other.”
Lizz also spends time volunteering for suicide prevention and mental health care.
“That’s why I’m studying ecological grief, you’ve got to understand that when people are broken, nothing else matters.”
“It’s showing people they are ok and they can connect in their community, because ultimately we are all connected.”
2024 Scenic Rim Australia Day Awards
Community Event of the Year – Tamborine Village Lions, Christmas in the Village
Citizen of the Year (16-30 years) – Charlotte Stubbs
Citizen of the Year (31-65 years) – Elizabeth Hills
Citizen of the Year (65+ years) – Effie Anderson
Mayor’s Award – Charmaine Standfield