Rockhampton’s 50 Most Influential: Number 10
Like 'em, love 'em or "never heard of 'em", these are your locals who strive to make Rockhampton a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Some of them were born here and some of them moved here to make the most of the family-friendly facilities, opportunities for employment or to spend more time with their extended families.
Whether they're a community leader or someone working hard behind the scenes, we think you'll be surprised how humble and grateful our Fifty Most Influential are.
MORE COUNTDOWN HERE: Rockhampton's Most 50 Influential people: Numbers 20 to 11
Number 10: KEV GUTERIDGE
Kev Guteridge has forged a career in the Queensland Police Service having devoted much of his career to regional and rural Queensland, a passion that was instilled by his father who was a career 'bush cop'.
Now Assistant Commissioner for a region which stretches from the Sunshine Coast to Mackay and west of Emerald, he said he's "blown away" by the strong connections between his police officers and the local community.
"Police are not only the local coppers, they are family and community members who are strongly embedded into the community as sports coaches and members of many of our wonderful community based organisations including school P&Cs, Lions and Rotary and the local fishing club," he said.
Mr Guteridge relocated to Rockhampton very recently, so he's looking forward to an easing of COVID-19 restrictions to explore the region and see the return of the community events that make the Central Region such a great place.
His previous posts include Townsville, Mt Isa, Charters Towers and eight years in the Kingaroy and Charters Towers stock squad.
He is very committed to the strength of values that make good communities and attributes this passion to his role models and mentors including his parents.
"I was very fortunate to grow up with hard working parents who lived values of decency and respect and instilled those in my siblings and me," he said.
"I feel really sad for those young offenders who don't have what I had growing up."
Mr Guteridge said that, although it's a challenge, it's incumbent on police officers to keep their skill sets up to date in a fast changing environment.
"In my career the state has grown from around a million people to around five and a half million people," he said.
"The massive growth in population brings many benefits, but also many social challenges including drug use and substance misuse, mental health, and child abuse.
"Many of these are directly linked to other crime and community safety challenges.
"We continue to roll out new recruitment and training, new technology, to keep our officers ready to bring about positive change in the community.
Mr Guteridge said the QPS was "incredibly well positioned" to address these issues, but argued that it would always remain the responsibility of the individual and broader community to take an upper hand in taking care of themselves.
"We have seen a significant increase in calls which are not traditionally police matters, in instances of neighbour disputes, for example, where there has been no effort from the parties involved to address the issue," he said.
"People can't expect the police to do the heavy lifting over personal matters when our time is best spent elsewhere in keeping our community safe."
He is also dismayed the message about driver safety isn't sinking in.
"With all the advancements that have been made in road safety and vehicle design, we still seeing drivers taking unnecessary risks that are costing lives and harming the community," he said.
"We've got a state-of-the-art medical response service but, at the end of the day, it's the driver who's responsible for his life, his passengers and other people on the road."
Mr Guteridge said that remote and rural communities, which didn't have ready access to many of the services available in other areas, inevitably proved better at banding together to find solutions.
"It's a great privilege to witness the ingenuity some of our officers bring forward in partnership with the community," he said.
"In Townsville, we introduced a dual response model which saw mental health nurses attending alongside police to resolve high risk incidents involving people in crisis.
"This approach saw a better response to the person in crisis, a safer outcome for the community, and reductions in demand on police and ambulance resources.
"Here in Rockhampton, we'll see a similar cooperation between police and youth justice workers to deal with juvenile offenders."
Mr Guteridge said that the "new normal" of living with Covid-19 will prove a challenge for everybody, but he's confident Central Queenslanders will rally together.
"I couldn't have asked for a better appointment; I consider it a blessing to be working here in Central Queensland," he said.
"When you see what's happening in other parts of the world and see the challenges facing police in other jurisdictions, there's no way in the world I'd sacrifice what we enjoy here in this close knit community."
Number 9 on our list will be revealed at 9am Friday 3 July.