Wodonga’s Australia Day 2020 award winners

Wodonga Council is pleased to announce the Australia Day award winners who will receive their certificate and recognition at Australia Day celebrations at Les Stone Park on January 26.

Penny Wilson told council she is looking forward to accepting Wodonga’s Citizen of the Year award.

She is known for working tirelessly to unite people and use her voice to advocate for the vulnerable.

Highly regarded within the local multicultural communities, Penny is seen as a kind and supportive person who will go the extra mile to help.

As a refugee health nurse at Gateway Health Wodonga from 2013 to 2017, Penny completed health checks for refugees or migrants who arrived in Wodonga.

Penny went above and beyond for extra opportunities to help our newly arrived communities and was pivotal in setting up programs such as a chronic pain clinic, a hydrotherapy program and a culture club where cultural diversity is celebrated once a month. The culture club continues to this day, and Penny remains an active volunteer.

She was also involved in connecting refugee women to undergo breast screening for cancer in Albury. Many of these women were from female-only households. Multicultural volunteers were organised to interpret and drive women to breast screening appointments.

These days Penny teaches nursing at Wodonga TAFE and is a casual midwife at Wodonga Hospital where she supports multicultural women with antenatal education using interpreters.

Penny currently sponsors kids from a Congolese refugee background to play competitively for Wodonga Hearts Football Club. She provides transport to and from training/matches and sponsors their fees.

Wodonga has joint winners of the Young Citizen of the Year award – Bhakta Bhattarai and Grace King.

Bhakta, also known as Durga, was born and raised in a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal.

He has been residing in Wodonga alongside his six family members since 2012.

Bhakta has a background in home and community care, as well as aged care and recently completed a Bachelor of Nursing. He is currently an assistant in nursing at Bupa Australia.

Bhakta has played a pivotal role in organising community events that foster social cohesion and bring together people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

He is involved in organising events for the non-profit organisation, Albury Wodonga Multicultural Community Events. Such events have included women empowerment projects, concerts, movie screenings, as well as cultural dances and youth picnics.

Last December he organised the Multicultural Youth Showcase 2019, which had more than 500 people in attendance.

His passion for helping others saw him receive an award for Meritorious Service to the Community from Government House.

Meanwhile, Grace also took out the award for her many volunteer roles in the community.

The 18-year-old loves meeting people and volunteers every chance she gets.

Grace volunteers as a retail assistant at the Salvation Army Op Shop. It’s one of her favourite roles as she gets to meet new people and make connections.

During the Wodonga Children’s Fair, Grace spent time educating people about the intricacies involved in hatching baby chicks that were on display at the show.

As a member of the Kergunyah Pony Club, she received an outstanding commitment award for volunteering at every event with set up, pack up and the running of events and the canteen.

Not only is Grace an outstanding volunteer, but she is also passionate and active in other areas of the community.

She cares about local people in need, working as a collector of food and necessity items for disadvantaged people.

Her passion for photography has brought many opportunities to interact with the community, including at equestrian events.

Repair Cafe Albury-Wodonga is the Community Organisation of the Year.

The group of skilled repairers provide a free service to help fix household items brought in by the public.

Everything from furniture, clothing, to bicycles, costume jewellery, battery-operated appliances and other household items are fixed on the spot. The community organisation saves people money and keeps goods out of the landfill.

The repairers also share their tricks of the trade with the public, operating as a pop-up service on the first Saturday of each month from 10am to 1pm at the Sustainable Activity Centre in Gateway Village.

For updates on feature sessions and any changes to venue, please follow them on Facebook.

Since commencing in November 2015, the cafe has fixed 2320 household items and diverted 3495kg from landfill.

Cr Danny Lowe is the council representative on the Australia Day committee and thanked the deserving winners for their devotion to the community.

“Our Australia Day award winners are excellent examples of what can be achieved in our community,” he said.

“They have demonstrated leadership, participation and commitment, becoming positive role models for all residents.

“I congratulate these outstanding recipients and thank them for all they have done.”

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