2022 Australia Day Local Awards winners

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Mornington Peninsula Shire has announced its 2022 Australia Day Local Awards winners.

The winners are:

Citizen of the Year: Dirk Jansen

Young Citizen of the Year: Oliver Walker-Peel

Community Event of the Year: Flinders Motoring Heritage

Local Champion Award: Geraldine Bilston

Local Champion Award: Roslyn Ferres

Lifetime Achievement Award: David Pullin

About Citizen of the Year – Dirk Jansen

Dirk is President of the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation group which he formed in 2019 to highlight the plight of koalas and the loss of habitat on our Peninsula. What started out as a Facebook group to record sightings of koalas has now gone from strength to strength and with over 280 memberships it forms part of the National Landcare Network.

Dirk has worked tirelessly as a champion of the cause to create habitat corridors for the endangered koala population on our Peninsula. The current five-year project will create a wildlife corridor and biolinks extending from Somers to Red Hill. So far, over 20,000 trees have been planted by the group and other volunteers.

Dirk has been successful in securing around $80,000 in grants. He has collaborated with local groups and landowners to design and begin tree planting and he’s given numerous talks to schools, community groups and landowners.

Not just focusing his efforts on koalas, Dirk has always maintained consideration for all wildlife on our Peninsula and wants to make sure protection and habitats are in place for future generations.

His nominators say he’s such an inspirational person who is so well liked and respected by everyone he meets.

About Young Citizen of the Year – Oliver Walker-Peel

Ollie, as he’s known, completed Year 12 at Balcombe Grammar last year and was School Captain. With students and families from Frankston to Sorrento, Ollie demonstrated compassionate and inspired leadership at a time of great challenge.

Ollie has been the face of an optimistic and resilient Year 12 group and has modelled, especially for the younger students, a positive belief everyone can make a difference, and everyone counts.

Beyond the school gates Ollie’s involvement in local football promotion and celebration is well recognised. Ollie’s family moved to Australia from England when he was nine and he brought a love of football (or soccer) with him. He started commentating with the Mornington Soccer Club before becoming part of the RPP FM sport team commentating on Aussie Rules football and cricket.

Ollie has Cerebral Palsy and can’t compete in the sports he loves, but he has never let that be a limitation on his optimism and participation in our community. A recent article on Ollie in Peninsula Essence called him ‘Captain Courageous’.

About Community Event of the Year – Flinders Motoring Heritage

Flinders District Lions has hosted the fundraising Flinders Motoring Heritage event for five years. The event celebrates classic, vintage, and veteran cars and motorbikes and is held in Flinders on Easter Sunday. There were over 150 prized vehicles exhibited, 2,000 visitors and over 30 volunteers. Some of the categories include Best Oily Rag, Best Vintage Car, Best Classic Car, Best Modified Car and Most Rare or Unusual Car, among others.

Over the years the event has donated over $85,000 to various projects and last year $28,000 went to Peninsula Health to help purchase a cardiorespiratory foetal monitor allowing infants to be fully monitored when they are sick.

Planning is underway for the 2022 event.

About Local Champion Award recipient – Geraldine Bilston

Geraldine is a woman with lived experience of family violence. She has become a strong advocate for women who experience domestic and family violence in Victoria and has written numerous articles on coercive control. She is the Deputy Chair of the Victim Survivor Advisory Council and is a Victim Survivor Advocate with Safe Steps Family Violence and Response, as well as being a volunteer member of the Mornington Peninsula Family Violence Primary Prevention Collaboration.

Geraldine articulates the experiences of women in a manner that is authentic, real and heartfelt. She is an active advocate for the prevention of family violence through the media, at corporate, community and fundraising events.

Geraldine is a beacon of hope and inspiration for women, particularly women with lived experience of domestic and family violence and abuse.

About Local Champion Award recipient – Roslyn Ferres

Ros has been a member of McCrae Lions since 2015 when she moved to our Peninsula. Before this she made a significant contribution to her community through volunteering.

For more than 40 years Ros has been a volunteer with Very Special Kids, a charity supporting children with terminal illnesses. It takes an extraordinary person to work with young children who will never reach adolescence.

Ros has also been a volunteer with the Girl Guides Association for more than 30 years and is involved with numerous community groups assisting in various roles.

As a result of the bushfire and flood events over the last two years Ros has spent most of her time in lockdown knitting beanies, scarves and blankets which are also provided to homeless and cancer patients.

Through her work with Lions, she regularly provides food and other personal items to the Eastbourne Primary School to help students who are the subject of family issues. For her hard work and selfless efforts, Ros was awarded the Melvin Jones Fellowship, the highest recognition in Lions. Ros is a great role model and an inspiration to others.

About Lifetime Achievement Award – David Pullin

David has been an active member of the Somers Volunteer Fire Brigade for 56 years. During this time, he has been an active fire fighter right up until recent times. He received the National Emergencies Medal following the Black Saturday fires and the National Medal for his services to a volunteer organisation – the Somers Country Fire Authority (CFA). He is also a Life Member of the CFA.

David volunteered his time and woodworking skills to teach the Somers Primary School children simple woodworking skills. The impact David had on the students was easy to gauge by looking at the smiles on their faces. As well, David has built and donated two honour boards for the school.

David is a long-term resident of Somers and has always been involved in the community, helping anyone in need, mowing lawns, gardening and handyman jobs. David is always willing to help and is a true asset to the Somers and broader community.

Quote attributable to Mayor Councillor Anthony Marsh:

“My fellow Councillors and I would like to congratulate all nominees and winners for their unwavering commitment to our community.”

Photo: L – R – Mary Iles – Current Vice President of Flinders District Lions club (Community Event of the Year: Flinders Motoring Heritage),Oliver Walker-Peel (Young Citizen of the Year),Mayor Councillor Anthony Marsh, Dirk Jansen (Citizen of the Year),Roslyn Ferres (Local Champion Award),David Pullin (Lifetime Achievement Award),Geraldine Bilston (Local Champion Award).

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