Australia Day Awards celebrate great community – East Gippsland

A turnout of more than 200 people at the Nowa Nowa Recreation Reserve on Saturday, January 22, celebrated the outstanding contribution of more than 30 individuals and community events at the annual Australia Day Awards.

Hosted by East Gippsland Shire Council the shire-wide awards tapped into the Australia Day theme of “We’re all part of the story – reflect, respect, celebrate”.

Held in Nowa Nowa for the first time, the awards included a welcome to country by Gunaikurnai elders Aunty Sandra Patten and Uncle Lennie Hayes, a flag unfurling by the Bairnsdale Scouts (on a flagpole the Scouts on site for the day), songs from the Nowa Nowa Men’s Choir, and a keynote address from visiting Australia Day Ambassador Paul Wheelton AM. Twin Rivers Lions Club had the sausages and bacon and egg rolls sizzling throughout the morning.

Mayor, Cr Mark Reeves said the awards were a wonderful way for Council and the community to acknowledge the contribution volunteers make in our community.

Cr Reeves said this was evident in the 33 nominations across the three award categories – Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year and Community Event of the Year.

“The quality of nominations this year was fantastic. Hats off to all finalists and to everyone who took the time to nominate such worthy people and events this year,” Cr Reeves said.

‍Citizen of the Year

Ann and Stan Barker, of Lakes Entrance, were announced as Citizen of the Year for the extensive volunteer work.

Founders of the Bushfire Recovery Project, Ann and Stan have potted over 6,000native plants and trees and distributed across the East Gippsland region to those affected by the bushfires.

This hard-working duo has contributed to the restoration of native flora in East Gippsland and have had a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of those affected by the bushfires.

As members of the Australian Native Plants Society and Lakes Entrance Garden Club, Ann and Stan have contributed to community life for many years in a voluntary capacity, including opening their own garden.

Nominees: David Appleton, Peta Bassett, Laurel Calvert, Paul Carroll, Debbie Carruthers, Barbara Dodd, Angela Dunkley, Norm Elliott, Claire-Lise Gamble, Brodie Gaudion, Lorna King, Judy Marsden, Cathy McLellan, David McCoy, Peter Neal, Elaine Newcomen, Ronald Edwards Pepper, Ula Sheather, Peter Sindrey, Amber Wade, Robert Wright.

‍Young Citizen of the Year

Paris Davis has been volunteering as the Youth Leader for Gipps Youth Club at Orbost for the past four years.

Paris goes over and above to young people to participate in health and lifestyle programs and activities to benefit their health and wellbeing.

Paris is an inspiration to the community, assisting with raising funds for the Youth Club to support social activities for the young people and their families.

Nominees: Damen Bassett, Brydie Bourke, Chloe Peters.

Community Event of the Year

The inaugural East Gippsland Winter Festival was a series of community events including lantern parades, laneway street food nights and food van feasts with live entertainment, projections, art and light installations, bonfire nights, concerts, exhibitions, ticketed dinners, performances, workshops and tours across the region.

It brought the community together and encouraged collaboration. The entire festival was designed around promoting the region – not one individual event. This included promotion of towns right across East Gippsland as well as local restaurants, wineries, breweries, chefs, producers, studios and galleries, and tourism operators.

Organisers collaborated and involved over 50 local businesses and sole traders and 200 local community members with the festival in a volunteer capacity.

Nominees: 7 Generations Art Mural, Colour Ya World Bairnsdale, Landcare Sustainability Expo (Orbost Show), The Sandhill Ashes, Winter Festival Lantern Parade (Orbost).

In celebrating all nominees and award recipients, Cr Reeves said volunteers give so much of their time, passion, and dedication to helping others.

“This is highly valued and does not go unnoticed,” Cr Reeves said.

The presentation of the awards was broadcast live on Council’s YouTube channel. It is available to watch online.

Photographs and details of award winners and nominees is also available on the Australia Day page of our website.

Council holds the shire-wide awards prior to Australia Day to allow winners and nominees the opportunity to attend celebrations in their own towns on Australia Day, 26 January.

Saturday’s event was supported by the National Australia Day Council

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