Recognising Darwin’s high-achieving citizens

Darwin City Council

A youth advocate, a coach of sportspeople with disability, and a cultural festival have been named the winners of the City of Darwin Citizen of the Year Awards at a ceremony held today.

Kaye Talbot took out this year’s Citizen of the Year Award in recognition of the 15 years she has spent coaching tenpin bowlers with disability and providing them with a safe and comfortable environment to participate in the sport they love.

In addition to Ms Talbot, Erica Mae Lu was named Young Citizen of the Year and Nepal Festival Darwin 2022 the Community Activity award winner.

Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said he was pleased to see the breadth of nominations received for this year’s awards.

“Community spirit is alive and well in Darwin, and the dedication the award nominees show to improving civic life is proof of that,” Mr Vatskalis said.

“Kaye and Erica are people with a sense of both community and compassion, and Nepal Festival 2022 was incredible, attracting an estimated 10,000 people in just a single day to the Darwin Waterfront in June last year.

“None of the winners set out to earn formal recognition but their achievements have added to our community and therefore deserve special acknowledgement,” he said.

City of Darwin Australia Day Award winners:

2023 Citizen of the Year Winner, Kaye Talbot

This year’s winner of City of Darwin’s Citizen of the Year award has been volunteering to help enrich the lives of people with disability for more than 15 years. Kaye Talbot has been an active member of Darwin and NT Tenpin Bowling since arriving here in 1991. In 2007 Kaye began coaching bowlers with disability. Coaching people with disability effectively became a vocation for Kaye, who continues her role as a specialist coach today. It’s a calling which has earned her well-deserved plaudits within the tenpin bowling community and among parents and carers of people with disability. Before the closure of the accredited bowling alley, Planet Tenpin at Nightcliff, the weekly disability league regularly attracted 40 participants to what was a safe and comfortable environment which built community participation for bowlers ranging in ages from 12 to 65. Kaye and the association’s disability officer subsequently worked with KingPin Darwin to arrange a fortnightly social bowl.

In addition to her work with people with disability, Kaye has also successfully coached Darwin’s competitive bowlers enhancing their chances at national championships. Her one-on-one coaching has helped them develop skills, technique, and bowling etiquette. Fittingly, in 2021, Kaye was rewarded with induction into NT Bowling Hall of Fame.

2023 Young Citizen of the Year, Erika Mae Lu

City of Darwin’s 2023 Young Citizen of the Year is Erika Mae Lu. Erika arrived in Darwin as an international high school student from the Philippines but has stayed in her adopted home, becoming an Australian citizen in 2019. Since embracing her new home, Erika has committed herself to making a positive contribution by helping young people here in Darwin. She does this professionally through her job as a business analyst with the Department of Industry, Business and Trade. But Erika also volunteers for organisations including Starlight Children’s Foundation, Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP), Charles Darwin University’s Career Centre, the Filipino-Australian Association NT, and Young Professionals Roteract NT, of which she is a founding member and an executive director. This role sees her focus on helping young professionals and graduates step up as leaders in their communities and chosen fields. Erika has also been involved in fund-raising included for Starlight Children’s Foundation’s 2022 Starlight Ball, which generated more than $400,000 to help brighten the lives of sick kids and their families.

2023 Community Activity winner, Nepal Festival NT

This year’s City of Darwin Community Event of the Year winner is Nepal Festival Darwin 2022. Themed “One Country, Many Stories”, the festival promoted Nepal’s unique heritage through a celebration of the Himalayan nation’s diverse ethnicity, art, culture, food, folklore and folktales.

Organisers, the Non-Resident Nepali Association of the Northern Territory had more than 300 volunteers on hand in June last year to make the day-long festival at the Darwin Waterfront a reality. Most of these volunteers had given at two least hours a day of their time for two months in preparation for the festival.

An estimated 10,000 visitors attended the event, spending time learning about Nepal and providing a business spin-off for venues at the Waterfront. The festival’s most popular attraction was the Nepal House display, which showcased the country’s unique cultures and traditions through the daily lives of Nepali people. The festival wrapped-up that evening with a high-energy performance from the Nepali Rock Band, who flew from to Darwin from Nepal to perform at the festival.

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