2021 Australia Day Award recipients announced

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Reflect. Respect. Celebrate…We’re all part of the story

Over a decade of service to the local community was recognised when Josh Allen was named Nillumbik’s 2021 Citizen of the Year at Council’s Australia Day Awards.

Through his work with the CFA as a member of the Diamond Creek Fire Brigade, Josh has been involved in the response and recovery from significant events including the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and the Christmas Day flash floods of 2011.

A member of the Rotary Club of Diamond Creek, Josh’s work in the community has been notable for his energy and enthusiasm, along with his ability to collaborate with various local groups and services.

These include the Men’s Shed, Lions Club and Diamond Creek Traders’ Association. He was instrumental in securing the W-Class Tram, which now occupies such a prominent place in the new Diamond Creek Regional Playspace and operates as a community café.

Peter Talbot is Nillumbik’s Volunteer of the Year. An active member of Community and Volunteers of Eltham (CAVE) for 20 years, he has also been Liaison Officer for Eltham High School and Eltham Lions Club President.

Over this time he has been tireless, despite his own health setbacks and challenges, in driving fundraising efforts for various important community causes.

Nillumbik Senior Citizen of the Year Jan Aitken has been fundamental to the development and success of the Nillumbik Reconciliation Group.

For 13 years as President, she has worked to connect communities through passion, warmth and a commitment to Reconciliation. Numerous other community organisations, including schools and individuals have also benefited from Jan’s dedication to giving, over the years.

The Nillumbik Young Citizen of the Year is Finn Deacey, who over the past year has balanced the completion of his Year 12 studies with his commitment to volunteering for a variety of community organisations. These include the Eltham CFA, Nillumbik’s FreeZa Group, Nillumbik Unplugged and Eltham Life 3095.

The Rotary Club of Diamond Creek was named Nillumbik Community Group of the Year. Despite all the challenges of 2020, the club managed to push ahead with a range of initiatives and projects to help those in need of support.

These included the Second Bite project (providing food to the disadvantaged) as well as a range of arts and education initiatives.

Mayor Peter Perkins said the award recipients and their achievements – and those of others nominated – underlined a strong legacy of community service in Nillumbik.

“Today’s award recipients highlight the strength of commitment to helping others that exists in our community,” Cr Perkins said.

“While their ages and backgrounds may be diverse, this unwavering commitment to bettering the lives of those around them is the thread that draws them together. It is also a reflection of an attitude among the broader Nillumbik community.

“I congratulate and extend my heartfelt thanks to today’s award recipients – and to all those in our community who work so selflessly to help improve the lives of others.”

Cr Perkins said the theme of this year’s ceremony resonated strongly with the community.

“Today is an opportunity for us all to reflect, show respect and to celebrate as we are all part of the story – and this is especially so after the year we’ve just been through. In today’s proceedings there is acknowledgement and recognition of our past and present as well as our hopes for an exciting and inclusive future,” he said.

An Australia Day Council grant enabled a COVID-safe event to proceed in person. The event featured a message from Wurundjeri Elder, Auntie Julieanne Axford as well as a speech from Nillumbik Senior Citizen of the Year and Nillumbik Reconciliation Group President Jan Aitken.

In addition to the awards, Nillumbik also welcomed 12 new citizens in a ceremony at today’s event.

To comply with in-person number limits, the event was live-streamed.

Guest speaker at today’s event was Syrian Refugee Rima Touma, who spoke of her experiences and of her work since arriving in Australia in 2016, to help others experiencing trauma.

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