Australia Day Awards 2021 – winners and nominees

The winners of the 2021 Cardinia Shire Australia Day Awards were announced on the evening of Monday 25 January 2021. Congratulations to all winners and thank you to everyone who nominated a person or event for this year's awards.

Awards are presented in the following categories:

  • Citizen of the Year
  • Senior Citizen of the Year
  • Young Citizen of the Year
  • Community Event of the Year

The awards recognise those who have shown a willingness to lend a helping hand, concern for the environment or participated in sport, arts or cultural endeavours.

They share the aspirations of all Australians in respect of tolerance, democracy, equity and equality of opportunity.


Chris Rogers 

Chris has been a volunteer with the Pakenham SES unit for 36 years, in that time going above and beyond to attend emergencies locally, in other parts of Victoria and interstate, and giving up his Sunday mornings to train fellow volunteers in road rescue. Since records started being kept in mid-2009, Chris has attended almost 1,100 requests for assistance, including 487 road rescue calls, undertaken repairs to more than 150 residents’ houses during storms, cleared more than 300 trees from roads, assisted police at more than 30 crime scenes and attended 6 plane crashes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chris has continued responding to calls and finding ways to train volunteers in road rescue. He also participates in road rescue forums, ensuring the most-up-to date rescue techniques are used for the Cardinia Shire area.


  • Wendy Andrews
  • Brett Barker
  • Hardev Singh Cheema
  • Tony Fitzgerald
  • Aanchal Meshram
  • Brijal Parikh
  • Chris Rogers
  • Sakattar Singh
  • Shoheli Sunjida
  • Jasbir Singh Suropada


Stan Hamilton 

Stan, along with his late wife Beryl, have always contributed to the local community. Stan has been a volunteer with Upper Beaconsfield CFA for 60 years and was recently recognised for his years of service. He has been a volunteer and contributor to the Yakkerboo Festival since its inception, donating the use of his vehicles and participating in the street parade. Stan has also been an exhibitor and volunteer with the Pakenham and Berwick shows, a community bus driver, and has undertaken fundraising for the Windermere Foundation. Stan did his first ‘hay run’ for drought relief in 2005, taking surplus feed from his farm to Murchison, and has continued to donate and deliver hay to farmers ever since. Stan and Beryl received a Pride of Australia award in 2005.


  • Stan Hamilton
  • Diane Norton
  • Gwenda Preston
  • Ian Robert Wake
  • Susan Wales

Nominee and winner 

Michael William Pearce 

Michael is a final year undergraduate majoring in physics at the University of Melbourne (UoM). Following his undergraduate degree, Michael would like to pursue a Masters of Science. Michael has contributed significantly to the broader community through his volunteer work, driven primarily by his passion for physics and the outdoors. In particular, Michael is conscious about ensuring that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is accessible for all Victorians. Through his work with the Melbourne Space Program, Michael is contributing to the development of student-led programs in the state, paving the way for more young Victorians to develop and contribute to exciting and pioneering projects. Other volunteer roles included presenting science shows and workshops to secondary schools in metropolitan and regional Victoria, helping to coordinate the Victorian Young Physicists’ Tournament, as well as coordinating between different committees to deliver events. Michael has volunteered across a wide range of organisations, including as a Scout leader, VicPhysics Teacher’s Network, Australian Institute of Physics, UoM Physics Students’ Society, Melbourne Space Program and Science Delivery UoM.



Kids Fun Run With Thomas

The Kids Fun Run with Thomas is the signature fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Emerald and District, raising more than $671,250 for children’s causes since 2002. The fun run consists of 6 runs on the day; children aged 3–8 years run against Thomas the Tank Engine for the first 5 runs and children aged 9–12 years run against Puffing Billy for the sixth run. In keeping with the fun run’s theme of ‘kids helping kids’, all money raised has been donated to organisations that support children in the local area. The event has grown to be a family fun day, involving local community groups and featuring activities such as rides on Thomas the Tank Engine, a community market, live music performances and entertainment. The event is supported by local businesses and community groups. More than 460 children and their families participated in the 2019 event, with more than 100 volunteers working to make the day a success.


  • A Part Together
  • Book Launch - Voices From The Past
  • Cardinia Farm and Food Festival
  • Cockatoo Country Virtual Markets
  • Garfield Christmas Festival
  • Isolation Exhibition
  • Kids Fun Run With Thomas
  • Multicultural Cricket Tournament
  • Pakenham Welcomes 2020 New Year Event
  • South Sudanese Community Day

We are proud to provide funding support to these community events being held on Australia Day 2021 (Tuesday 26 January):

Cockatoo Township Australia Day Community Breakfast

Alma Treloar Reserve,
Pakenham Road, Cockatoo
7.30am to 10.30am

Koo Wee Rup Australia Day Ceremony

Koo Wee Rup Community Centre
Cochrane Park, Rossiter Road, Koo Wee Rup
8.15am to 10.30am

Beaconsfield Australia Day Movie

Holm Park Reserve, 
Beaconsfield–Emerald Road, Beaconsfield
Gates open 8pm
Bookings essential – for details visit the Beaconsfield Progress Association Facebook page

2020 winners

Citizen of the Year - Luke Williams

Luke has played a pivotal role in ensuring that Cardinia Shire’s most vulnerable residents have somewhere to turn in hard times. Luke is the lead Pastor for Follow Church and, for more than four years, has driven The Bless Collective initiative based in Bourke Park, Pakenham. The Bless Collective is a community-driven partnership between Follow Baptist Church, Orange Sky Laundry and Clean as Casper that offers food, laundry and shower services from the park every Tuesday and Thursday night to vulnerable members of the community. At least 60 people present for assistance each night.

Luke also leads a breakfast club, mentoring program and chaplaincy at Officer Secondary College, is involved with local Christmas events, a music playgroup, local marriage course and has led his team to help with community hampers for Christmas.

Senior Citizen of the Year - Rob Porter

Rob has been involved in volunteer activities in the local community for many years. As the Chair of the Officer Recreation Reserve for more than 40 years, Rob has tirelessly carried out extensive volunteer maintenance works at the grounds. He has also been a long-term President of the Officer and District Community Association, with achievements under his presidency including the relocation of the Officer Memorial Gates, the annual Anzac Day dawn service and Remembrance Day service.

Rob also played a key role in retaining the Officer Union Church in community hands, and is a trustee and committee member. He is the past chairman of the Officer Primary School Council and has also been a volunteer coach for Officer junior football teams. Rob was the inaugural winner of the Stan Henwood Award for his volunteer work.

Young Citizen of the Year - Jayden Kruzicevic-King

Jayden is a youth helper at the 1st Cockatoo Scout Group and assists program leaders with the Joeys program.  He also collects plastic bottle tops for not-for-profit organisation Envision Hands that creates prosthetics from recycled material. At the Cockatoo Market, Jayden helps set up the Scouts stall, and also offers assistance to other stall holders. He has participated in working bees at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre and helps with garden maintenance at the Cockatoo Scout Hall.

Jayden plays cricket for Monbulk Cricket Club, were he also assists with training for the younger teams. He helps with the Grade 3/4 bike education program at Cockatoo Primary School and assists with garden maintenance for people in the community who need his help.

Event of the Year - Cardinia Australia Day Event 2019

The Lakeside Residents Group organised the Australia Day event and activities at the Cardinia Cultural Centre for 2019. The event attracted about 3,000 people from across the shire and coincided with official Australia Day activities, giving many new Australia citizens and their families the opportunity to stay on to enjoy an afternoon of Australian culture.

The event featured a range of free activities including face painting, henna art, animal petting farm, reptiles, jumping castles and other attractions, and food. Community groups and local businesses supported the event, which enabled community members to come together to enjoy an inclusive and fun event.

2019 winners 

Citizen of the Year - Dr Harpreet Kandra

Harpreet is a leader in the Sikh community and was the driving force behind the opening of the new Sikh temple in Officer. He sourced grants and funding for the temple, so that it now has a kitchen to prepare food for community events.

Harpreet raises awareness and appreciation for Sikh food and culture in the wider community by organising Sikh food at shire events such as Harmony Day and Australia Day. He also worked with Toomuc Valley Landcare and Lions Club to provide hay donations from the Sikh temple site to the Need for Feed initiative.

Senior Citizen of the Year - June Wright, OAM

June recently retired as leader of the 1st Koo Wee Rup Scout Group after around 40 years of tireless service to the Cubs and Scouts in various roles, and in 2017 received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to youth through her involvement with Scouting.

June is also a member of the Koo Wee Rup Lions Club, and has worked as a volunteer manager in their op shops for over ten years.

Young Citizen of the Year - Meagan Venables

Meaghan has dedicated many volunteer hours to the Scouting movement over the past ten years. She started as a youth helper in Cubs and is now an assistant Joey Scout leader in Rovers. She won an Australian Scouting Medallion and a Queen Scout Award for her efforts.

As a Pakenham and District Agricultural Show committee member, Meaghan has introduced new technologies and categories to the show, helping it to remain current and keep evolving. She has also volunteered as a surf lifesaver.

Event of the Year - Yakkerboo Festival

‘Yakkerboo’ has been running for 42 years and attracts more than 10,000 people. The event brings our community together for a fun and affordable family day out, thanks to the hard work of its committee.

The festival celebrates all things Cardinia Shire with a street parade, vehicle display, live music, food trucks, market stalls, fireworks and a birthday party for festival mascot Mr Yakkerboo.

2018 winners 

Citizen of the Year - Malcolm Graham

Malcolm has been an active member of the Upper Beaconsfield community since the early 1980s, volunteering for a number of community-based organisations including the CFA, Scouts and Neighbourhood Watch. For the past 7 years, Malcolm has worked tirelessly to support the annual Village Festival, which brings residents together to celebrate the wonderful community they live in. Malcolm received the 2016 Upper Beaconsfield Citizen of the Year award in recognition of his significant contributions to the local community over almost 40 years.

Senior Citizen of the Year - Les Jacobs

Les has been a member of the men’s shed in Pakenham for the past 12 years, including many years as committee presendent. He is consistently one of the first to arrive and last to leave, and spends many hours outside of meetings planning activities and overseeing countless projects to benefit the local community. For example, Les and his fellow men's shed members have made ramps to help older and disabled residents, possum and bird boxes to protect native wildlife, and wooden ‘training’ horses for Riding for the Disabled.

Young Citizen of the Year - Sally Jensen

Sally is an inspiring young leader who has made significant contributions to her school as well as to the scout group, men’s shed and hospital in Koo Wee Rup. Sally served on the Koo Wee Rup Secondary College School Student Representative Council for three years, including as Junior House Captain and Senior House Vice Captain. Her volunteer work at the hospital includes conducting morning exercises, assisting with catering and organising sing-a-longs with patients. She has been awarded the Queen Scout Award, Silver Star Award in Ballet, and took out first prize in the Refresh Art Competition organised by Federation University – all while maintaining a part-time job at Woolworths where she works 20 hours per week.

Event of the Year - Cardinia Casey Biggest blokes lunch 2017

This event was first held in our region 4 years ago and has since raised over $330,000 for men’s health initiatives.The event brings about 500 local men together in a fun, relaxed environment to hear from guest speakers about the importance of having regular prostate cancer check-ups. Funds raised have been directed to the Prostate Cancer Association of Australia (Victoria) and into important men’s health initiatives via the Casey Cardinia Foundation.

2017 winners 

  • Citizen of the Year: Wayne Collins
  • Senior Citizen of the Year: Michael Allery
  • Young Citizen of the Year: Emily Bloxidge
  • Community event of the year: Cardinia Relay for Life

Individual awards 

Individuals must be:

  • an Australian citizen (when nominations close)
  • a resident of Cardinia Shire
  • willing to accept the award.

A nominee for an award should demonstrate that they:

  • take the lead and show leadership
  • are a positive role model or mentor
  • promote the overall welfare and wellbeing of the community
  • participate in and have achievements in community activities, academic, sporting, personal, cultural, environment and/or civic responsibility
  • have not received the same award in the past 5 years
  • are not a current serving councillor

In addition:

  • Young Citizen of the Year nominees must be under 25 years on 26 January of the year the award is given
  • Senior Citizen of the Year nominees must be at least 70 years on 26 January of the year the award is given
  • Nominations will not be accepted for individuals for service in a position of paid employment and awards will not be granted posthumously
  • Winners (over 18 years) must undergo a Victoria Police criminal records check (at Council’s expense)
  • Winners (over 18 years) must undergo a Volunteer Working with Children Check

Community event award

The nominated event must have:

  • been hosted onsite or virtually within Cardinia Shire between 1 November 2019 and 1 November 2020.
  • been open and accessible to all Cardinia Shire residents
  • showcased aspects of the local community
  • been managed appropriately
  • not received the award in the past 5 years

The organising group of the event must be:

  • not-for-profit and community-focused
  • based in Cardinia Shire and service people in Cardinia Shire
  • an incorporated body with a public liability insurance policy to adequately cover their event or a Section 86 Committee.

The nomination must address the:

  • purpose of the event and the outcomes
  • impact of the event on the community
  • level of community participation, and ongoing sustainability
  • success of staying within budget.
  • A selection panel made up of community representatives, Council offices and Councillors will assess the nominations.
  • The decision of the Cardinia Shire Council Australia Day Awards Panel is final and no correspondence will be entered into.