Homelessness advocate is city’s top citizen


Homelessness advocate Kate Kelly was today announced as Hobart’s 2020 Citizen of the Year.

The award was presented at today’s City of Hobart Australia Day event, which included a citizenship ceremony for 74 new Australian citizens.

Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds, who presented the award, thanked Ms Kelly for her contribution to the Hobart community.

“This award is in acknowledgement of Kate’s advocacy for people with a lived experience of homelessness and extreme housing stress,” she said. “Kate continues to work tirelessly to break down the stigmas surrounding homelessness and to promote the right of every community member to have a safe and secure home.”

Ms Kelly said she was honoured to accept the city’s top award.

“I’m deeply honoured to have been nominated and to receive this award for the volunteer work I do,” she said. “Homelessness is a growing problem, as is housing shortage in Tasmania. It’s a problem that requires immediate, serious and creative solutions. Everyone deserves a home and homelessness can affect anybody.”

The Young Citizen of the Year award went to Oliver Edwards, who started the Free On A Tree initiative that makes coats available for people without a home in the middle of winter. He and his mother, Cathy Edwards, set up donation points to receive second-hand coats and then hung the coats on trees around the city.

The Community Event of the Year is Diwali 2019. Deepavali Tasmania Inc partnered with Street Eats @ Franko to deliver the event for its fourth year last November.

Diwali, a festival that has been celebrated since ancient times, symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness. The Hobart event at Franklin Square, showcasing the food and culture of various communities originating from the Indian subcontinent, has proved immensely popular.

More than 16 groups performed in 2019, representing eight nationalities. Many of those providing entertainment were amateur performers, including students, children and young adults, who were encouraged and supported by the organisers.

The Australia Day awards are part of a group of awards coordinated through the National Australia Day Council and administered by local councils throughout Australia.

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