Mornington Peninsula Shire has announced its 2021 Australia Day Local Awards winners.
The winners are:
- Citizen of the Year: Julie Saunders
- Young Citizen of the Year: Phoebe McShane
- Community Event of the Year: Senior’s High Tea, Crib Point Community House
- Community Spirit Award: Josie D’Alia
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael Wunderly
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Colin Blythe
About Citizen of the Year – Julie Saunders
When the COVID crisis hit in March, Crib Point local Julie Saunders knew straight away how she could help. During the lockdown Julie and a group of dedicated volunteers cooked, packed and home delivered a three-course meal to around 60 households every Wednesday. In total there were 1,200 meals delivered to mainly older residents in need in the Crib Point area. The community chefs worked out of the local RSL kitchen while the local football/netball club was a constant source of volunteers and donations.
Julie also acts as an IP, which stands for Independent Person. This is a voluntary position administered by the Department of Justice. The role involves making yourself available 24/7 to assist young offenders 12-17 of age who have been arrested by the Police. When a parent or guardian is not available an IP is required to sit with the alleged offender to assist them through the interview.
She has also been a committee member of the Crib Point Football/Netball Club, the Crib Point Junior Football Club and St Josephs School Committee and assisted with catering for several local community organisations.
Julie has found time to assist in writing several books on the history of Crib Point and recently helped compile the history of the Crib Point Football/Netball Club.
About Young Citizen of the Year – Phoebe McShane
At 15 years of age Phoebe McShane became the founder and director of Ausome Hoops, a specialist basketball program for children diagnosed with Autism. Phoebe’s brother George was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when they were both young. Big into basketball, Phoebe wanted George to play, but found that many of the sports and activities he tried weren’t inclusive. She sought to change that, for George and others with Autism Spectrum Disorder in their local community.
A team of basketball coaches, teachers’ aides and junior basketball players assisted in delivering this one-of-a-kind program to kids on the Mornington Peninsula. Ausome Hoops not only taught the children basketball skills but provided the right support that many mainstream programs lack.
Phoebe who heads into Year 12 this year was nominated by her school. In 2020 Phoebe was recognised with an award by the Foundation for Young Australians and spoke to Senator Janet Rice to discuss the need for more Autism inclusive programs in Australia.
About Community Event of the Year – Senior’s High Tea, Crib Point Community House (Mary Budd)
Each year the Crib Point Community House organises a free high tea for seniors. Because of COVID-19 and restrictions, including the 5km travel limit, the toll on mental health and the need for our seniors to connect, it was decided to take the high tea to the seniors in the Western Port area and hold it virtually.
In October, 184 ‘goodie bags’ with everything needed to have a High Tea at home with a loved one or friend were made up and delivered by volunteers, from Balnarring to Baxter. The bags also had information on community houses, the Mornington Peninsula Shire and relevant information for seniors. Sponsorship and donations were received from local businesses.
The goodie bags brought so much joy, not only to the seniors receiving the bags, but also to those who helped out as they felt they were able to do something positive for others during these difficult times. So many messages with thanks and appreciation were received and the virtual event was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
About Community Spirit Award – Josie D’Alia
Five nominations were received for Josie for her incredible support to so many in the community.
For the past 30 years Josie has volunteered her services to the Italian Rosebud Club as secretary. She organises trips, weekend outings, dinner dances and shows. She also supports and assists local residents in need by phoning, visiting, driving them to appointments, shopping and helping with basic needs.
Josie was also involved with the establishment of Our Lady of Fatima primary school and the second campus of Padua College.
Josie is a very loving and caring person and brings a lot of happiness into so many lives. She is also a very modest person and asks for no recognition. In 2000 Josie was honoured by the Australian Government with a Centenary Medal for caring for the community.
About Lifetime Achievement Award – Michael Wunderly
Mick, as he is known, has made an outstanding contribution over three decades to the Mornington community, especially the Mornington Football Netball Club. He has been on the committee since 1997 and started Alexandra Park project with Martin Scanlon, project treasurer, in 2016 and has worked tirelessly to improve facilities and grounds at Alexandra Park.
As president of the Alexandra Park project, Mick approached the Mornington Peninsula Shire, the Honourable Greg Hunt MP and The Bays Hospital to build a new community pavilion, rather than just a sporting club, that could be used during the day by The Bays Hospital and groups like Wallara. With that vision The Bays Hospital received a federal grant to go towards consulting rooms and a rehabilitation gym in the new building due to be built in 2021-22. Mick has raised over $250,000 for the project.
Mick was also instrumental in raising funds for Mornington Salvos to purchase a van to service the needs of late night revellers in Main Street, Mornington.
Mick is a great family man, always supportive of family and friends. Around the clubs he is looked on as a mentor for many players and has found employment for many young people too. His door is always open if somebody needs assistance or reassurance.
About Lifetime Achievement Award – Colin Blythe
Colin has given over 25 years to McCrae Lions in many roles including the past five years as club president. He is well known and highly respected by the many clubs on the Peninsula for promoting the service work undertaken by Lions in assisting the needy in the community.
For the past 16 years, Colin has been a driving force on the Dromana Australia Day Committee, the success of which can be attributed to the dedication and work ethic Colin has for promoting community involvement.
The McCrae Lighthouse was an unused under-valued Peninsula icon until Colin came up with the idea of lighting it up for Christmas for the community to enjoy, which supported charities such as breast cancer, autism, family violence, police remembrance, daffodil day and red nose day.
Colin also came up with the idea of Carols by Headlight, a community celebration over three nights held at the Dromana Drive-In, to replace Carols by Candlelight which could not be held due to COVID.
Quotes attributed to Mayor Councillor Despi O’Connor:
“On behalf of my fellow councillors, I would like to thank all winners and nominees for their commitment to our community. Their stories and efforts show us exactly why the Mornington Peninsula region is a great place to call home. Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition”.