Kiama Council has announced Maria Baden as Australia Day Citizen of the Year for 2022.
Maria has received the Award for her humanitarian efforts with Rosemary Kariuki (Local Hero Australian of the Year 2022), welcoming vulnerable migrant women and their families to her farm in Gerringong.
The pair’s humanitarian work has received worldwide attention thanks to the documentary film ‘Rosemary’s Way’.
The award also recognises Maria’s progressive approaches to animal husbandry and land management.
Maria and husband Gerhard maintain a strong emphasis on animal ethics in managing their Wagyu beef cattle herd on their Rose Valley property.
This progressive approach has also seen the establishment of a rainforest reserve on their land, featuring more than 500 native plants, with the support of local Landcare groups and the Aboriginal community.
Local Senior Citizen of the Year is Helen McDermott, who has been recognised for her many years of community work, especially with the Gerringong and District Historical Society.
This culminated in the opening of the new multi-million-dollar Gerringong Library and Museum in November 2021.
Kiama High School student Lara Farrell has received the Young Citizen Award for her energetic leadership across a range of youth-related issues at a critical time for young people in the local community.
WIRES Illawarra has been awarded Community Group of the Year for their work rescuing and sheltering native wildlife, especially following the bushfires of 2019/20.
Council has cancelled the normal Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony on 26 January for COVID-19 safety reasons.
While our Australians-to-be will be welcomed aboard by Mayor Neil Reilly via an online citizenship ceremony, our award recipients will be presented with their awards at a later date.
Our other Australia Day events are still going head, including breakfast barbecues and activities, roving entertainers and a flyover with the Australian and Aboriginal flags.
Image: Maria Baden with one of her guests