Maroondah honours its top citizens on Australia Day

Maroondah’s most inspirational community members were honoured at an Australia Day event held at Ringwood Lake Park on Wednesday 26 January.

Councillor Mike Symon, Mayor of Maroondah, announced the 2022 Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year and Community Event of the Year during a special awards ceremony, where 57 people also received their Australian citizenship.

Each year we invite the community to nominate an individual or community group, someone who they think is deserving of a Maroondah Australia Day Award. This year’s recipients have been awarded for their leadership, resilience and passion for the community.

Citizen of the Year – Terri Verberne

Terri Verberne was recognised as the 2022 Citizen of the Year for her incredible service, leadership and volunteering in the community.

“I’m very grateful for this award. Most of us don’t volunteer with any expectation of formal recognition. To be named Citizen of the Year is a great honour and I proudly accept the award on behalf of all of those who volunteer with Scouting and Lawn Bowls in the Maroondah community,” Terri said.

“Volunteering is something that I have done since my teens. The fantastic thing about volunteering is that you meet people coming together for a common cause but often with so many different experiences/skill sets. We all benefit from that shared experience,” said Terri.

Terri has contributed 20 plus years of service to Scouts Victoria, including five years as Maroondah District Commissioner. She is a mentor to over 20 adults and is currently a Group Leader.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, Terri showed impeccable leadership, resilience, care and initiative. From continuing to champion the 600 youth and 130 adults through Zoom meetings, to working on multiple hall upgrades for our young people, Terri epitomises what it means to be a dedicated volunteer.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Maroondah Council to complete the Scout hall upgrades during 2022. It’s a very exciting time with lots of infrastructure development in Maroondah,” Terri said.

Young Citizen of the Year – Lily Van Sui Cer Kingbawl

Lily Van Sui Cer Kingbawl was awarded Young Citizen of the Year for her passion and commitment to supporting the broader Maroondah community.

“I love being able to connect with people and learn different perspectives from different groups of people,” Lily said.

Lily is an active member in Council’s Youth Services programs and is involved in Eastern Access Community Health’s campaigns to raise awareness of safety over the continued effects of the pandemic.

“I also want to encourage young people to get out of their comfort zone and connect with our wider communities. There are so many things we can do to make our community safe and better,” said Lily.

Lily is strongly connected to her Chin (Myanmar) culture and is a Chin Cultural Liaison, supporting many young Chin students and their families. Lily is also an active member of the Chin Family Strengths and Project Advisory Group with Foundation House. She has recently become the Assistant Secretary of the Youth Department in the Australia Chin Community – Eastern Melbourne Inc.

Lily also volunteers her time at the Victoria Chin Baptist Church, teaching Sunday school to children.

“I would like to thank the Maroondah City Council for providing endless opportunities for young people. I also want to thank my Chin communities for uplifting our culture and creating a place where the Australian-Chin young people can practise our values and culture,” Lily said.

Community Event of the Year – The Ringwood Eisteddfod

The Ringwood Eisteddfod was one of the very few community competition events able to take place in 2021. With a large span of awards in performing arts as well as music, the Eisteddfod provided the opportunity for over 700 community members to participate.

“Receiving the Australia Day Award certainly was a boost to the Eisteddfod team and they are exceedingly grateful to the Maroondah Mayor, Councillors, CEO and staff for making such a magic event possible,” Eisteddfod president, Bernie Capicchiano, said.

Not just an event for young aspiring musicians—the Ringwood Eisteddfod offers awards which are open to any age, encouraging an inclusive opportunity to compete in skill level, not just age.

As lockdown hit in June, rather than cancel, the Eisteddfod committee worked around the clock to quickly modify performance schedules to be COVID-19 safe and fit with the rapidly changing regulations.

“The 67th Ringwood Eisteddfod was a massive team effort to operate in such restrictive circumstances. Its mission is to Showcase, Inspire and reward Performing arts Scholars, and we are proud that we achieved that,” Bernie said.

All the sections of the event were delivered “in-person”; a rare and epic effort in this current climate.

“The amazing part about the 67th Eisteddfod was the reaction from the children and the parents. The entrants, even from the under 6-year-olds, were so happy to be able to perform that they dressed up to really showcase their talents. Parents were so thankful that we received cards, flowers and chocolates in appreciation,” Bernie said.

Congratulations to all our deserving recipients and nominees. Nominations are now open for the 2023 Australia Day Awards.

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