Student leaders vie for Qld’s top resources award

  • Posted 09 February, 2022
  • Media Releases

9 February 2022

Click here for full list of finalists. 

Click here for finalists’ headshots and bios. 

Click here for TV grabs from QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane. 


High-achieving school leaders of today, and potentially the next generation of leaders of Queensland’s multibillion-dollar mining and energy sector tomorrow. 

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) today announced Jemma Donovan from Brisbane’s San Sisto College, Kathleen Farrelly from Spinifex State College in Mount Isa, Claire Thompson from Kelvin Grove State College and Sanya Arora from Gladstone’s Chanel College will vie for the honour of being recognised as exceptional amongst their peers. 

All four are finalists in the Exceptional Female Student category in this year’s prestigious Resources Awards for Women presented by Anglo American in Brisbane on 8 March. 

To be eligible, students must have participated in programs run by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA), the QRC’s education arm. 

QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said the QMEA was set up to encourage high school students from all backgrounds to consider a career in resources by exposing them to real-world mining experiences and school-based skills training.   

“The QMEA currently partners with 90 Queensland schools to run workshops and programs, funded largely by QRC members and sponsors as well as through the State Government’s Gateway to Industry Schools Program,” he said. 

“Our major focus is to attract more women and more young people from Indigenous backgrounds to work in the resources sector, as we need to build on and diversify our skills base.” 

The winner of the Exceptional Female QMEA Student Award will be announced in front of an anticipated 1000-strong crowd at the QRC/Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) awards at an International Women’s Day breakfast in Brisbane on 8 March, presented by Anglo American. 

The awards will be compered by well-known journalist and TV presenter Jennifer Byrne and feature seven categories. Keynote speaker is Australia’s longest serving Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick. 

Click here for full list of finalists plus headshots and bios 

Mr Macfarlane said the future has never been brighter for women who wish to pursue a career in Queensland’s world-leading resources sector. 

“The Exceptional Female Student category reflects our sector’s determination to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce by championing greater female participation,” he said. 

“Women have traditionally been under-represented in professional and technical careers across resources, and our industry was missing out on the unique skills and expertise female employees bring to the workplace. 

“The QRC’s new diversity and inclusion strategy sets an ambitious 30 percent target for female participation across our members’ workforces by 2026, and is part of a wider plan to continually improve workplace culture and make our sector more inclusive. 

“It’s encouraging to see more young women seeking a career in resources and I congratulate this year’s finalists on being recognised for their efforts at such a young age. 

“I can’t wait to see where their careers take them.” 

Claire, Jemma, Kathleen and Sanya are considering a science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM) tertiary study pathway when they finish school this year, to potentially pave the way to an engineering career in the resources sector. 

The QRC/WIMARQ Resources Awards for Women is now in its 17th year and celebrates and acknowledges outstanding women working in the Queensland resources sector. With the exception of the student award, winners of all categories will represent Queensland in the Women in Resources National Awards later this year.  

To register to attend this event, visit 


Background on finalists in the 2022 Exceptional Female QMEA Student award:

Claire Thompson is vice-captain of Kelvin Grove State College in Brisbane. She is looking to study engineering and likes the idea of a career that is a mix of indoor and outdoor after being inspired at the Way Beyond Today careers expo at her school. Claire is also a member of her Student Representative Council and is currently studying a first-year university subject at QUT called Earth Science. 

Jemma Donovan is school captain of San Sisto College in Brisbane. In her role as the UQ Science Ambassador last year, Jemma attended QMEA workshops at her school and also shares her passion for science by mentoring junior students. She also participated in the QMEA’s Oresome Minds Camp at CQ University in Rockhampton. Jemma is interested in a career as either a Chemical/Process Engineer or an Environmental Engineer. 

Kathleen Farrelly is school captain of Spinifex State College in Mount Isa this year, as well as a Cadet Warrant Officer in the Australian Air Force Cadets and a member of Ministerial Student Advisory Council. Her involvement in QMEA’s Oresome Minds Camp, together with her love of physics, mathematics and problem-solving, sparked her interest in a career as either a Civil or a Mechanical engineer.  

Sanya Arora is a senior academic prefect at Chanel College in Gladstone. She is seeking a career as either a mechanical or mechatronics engineer. She is the President of the Rotary-sponsored Interact Club, where she organises events such as the Relay for Life for her school.  Sanya has previously attended several QMEA events in Gladstone and will be attending the National Youth Science Forum this summer.

Media contact: Ellie Blumel – [email protected] or 0448122948

The QRC is Queensland’s peak body for coal, metal and gas explorers, producers and suppliers across the resources sector. It contributes one in every five dollars to the state economy, supports one in six Queensland jobs, supports more than 15,000 businesses and contributes to more than 1,400 community organisations – all from 0.1 percent of Queensland’s land mass. 

Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) is a reference group to the QRC. Founded in 2005, WIMARQ is a non-profit organisation dedicated to connecting, nurturing, and supporting women to achieve their goals within the state’s mining and resources sector and to influence improvements in gender diversity and inclusion outcomes through our thought leadership reference group.