Australia Day Awards - past winners

  • The Australia Day Awards celebrate and recognise the outstanding contributions made by citizens and local community organisations to the Cardinia Shire community.

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.


Council is proud to announce the nominees and winners of the Cardinia Shire Australia Day Awards 2023.

Winners were announced and celebrated at a special ceremony on Wednesday 25 January, for the nominees and their families and friends. 

Citizen of the Year: Shelley Beardshaw

From the time Shelly Beardshaw arrived in Melbourne with her young family in 1990, she has generously given her time to local schools and organisations.  

Friends of Shelley say that while she has a passion for children, she genuinely cares for her whole community at large.  

Shelley has improved the wellbeing of numerous children, new mothers, teachers, and seniors by volunteering wherever she sees the need. She has stepped up into roles on various committees, including as secretary of the Emerald Village Association in 2021.  

Shelly has enduring energy, an uplifting presence, and a welcoming attitude toward everyone she meets, while also supporting her own family. 

Citizen of the Year 2023 nominees 

  • David & Julia Graham 
  • Shelley Beardshaw 

Senior Citizen of the Year: Audrey Dodson

Audrey Dodson is a founding member of the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society and is known among her peers to be the ‘glue’ of the society. She became secretary in 1988 and is also the group’s archivist.   

Audrey has been integral in ensuring local heritage is preserved by opening the society’s doors to local schools, as well as hosting walking tours along Pakenham Main Street to educate students about local history.  

She ensures that members of the society receive the newsletters of other societies, including the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and other local groups.  

Fellow society members say that Audrey is a dependable attendee at meetings and is generous with her time. She attends cleaning days, assists with special occasions such as the launch of the Pakenham: Then and Now book, keeps up with the donations of archival material, and provides research advice to the public. 

Audrey is a well-known member of her community not only through her role as a society member, but as a teacher in both Pakenham and Beaconsfield, and in her 1957 position as secretary of the Young Farmers Club.  

Senior Citizen of the Year 2023 nominees 

  • Audrey Dodson 
  • Dianne Divola 
  • Janice Crittenden 

Young Citizen of the Year: Ace Simpson-Braden

Ace Simpson-Braden is a cadet at the 403 Squadron Beaconsfield.

He dedicated much of his spare time in 2022 to training with the Australian Air Force Cadets program and learning to train other cadets at his squadron.  

Each Monday night, Ace prepares and delivers lessons in subjects such as Cadet Drill Skills for new cadets. These lessons help new cadets to gain confidence and self-discipline, ensure they learn to build personal standards and assist in creating respect and confidence.  

During the June school holidays, Ace gave up time with his friends and family to spend 2 weeks training on an air force base at Point Cook to become a pilot, allowing him to progress to the goal of solo flight after 20 hours in flight.  

He is completing his Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award and has supported mental health initiatives like RUOK Day and the Push Up Challenge.  

Ace is now preparing for his final promotion course, where he will become a Cadet Under Officer. 

Young Citizen of the Year 2023 nominees 

  • Ace Simpson- Braden 
  • Charlotte O'Sullivan 
  • Samuel Nichols 

Community Event of the Year: Cardinia Men's Shed Senior-tivity Day

The Cardinia Men’s Shed supports older men in the community to remain active and connected through a range of activities. The group’s goal is to increase the social connections and networks of the aging community and to have a positive effect on their members’ health and wellbeing.  

After long periods of lockdown and isolation during the COVID pandemic, the Men's Shed identified a gap in free activities for older residents and older peoples’ hesitancy to attend community gatherings.  

To address this, the Cardinia Men's Shed held a ‘Senior-tivity Day’ on 1 October 2022 to showcase local community groups to residents. Groups attending included the Pakenham Purls, Probus, Pakenham Arthritis Support Group, the Golden Girls, and the Berwick-Pakenham Historical Society. There was also local art, gardening, and walking groups.  

The event attracted hundreds of local seniors who were able to meet with the community groups and learn about their activities.  

Senior-tivity Day resulted in increased membership for local community groups and has helped to encourage senior citizens to re-engage in local activities as they continue their journey through COVID recovery. 

Community Event of the Year 2023 nominees 

  • Art Show Pakenham 
  • Cardinia Men’s Shed Senior-tivity Day 
  • Emerald Arts Society Annual Art Exhibition 2022 
  • Gembrook Market 
  • Growing Cockatoo Food & Film Festival 
  • John Dudley Portrait Prize 
  • Pakenham Cricket Club – Pink Stumps Day 
  • Sports Community Leaders Luncheon - Forum Change our Game towards Gender Equality 
  • Trending Art Exhibition 

Citizen of the Year joint winners: Philip Anning and Carol Thompson  

Philip Anning

Philip is a strong advocate for the advancement of community sport and junior sport development. As president of the Pakenham Cricket Club, he ensures the club fosters an inclusive competition to enable families to participate and to create a positive environment. He has tirelessly fundraised for the McGrath Foundation, with the club’s annual Pink Ladies Day luncheon raising more than $30,000 for the charity. Philip is a strong supporter of local businesses and encourages others to do the same. Philip is described as an icon in Pakenham with friends far and wide who deserves to be recognised for the inspiring man he is.

Carol Thompson

Carol has a long history of volunteering and has dedicated many hours to the Cockatoo RSL. She joined the committee as secretary and treasurer in 2015 and has also been bar and events manager. Carol has worked tirelessly with committee members to increase patronage and turnover. In addition to running the traditional Anzac Day and Remembrance Day events, Carol has been instrumental in establishing regular social events at the RSL, including the annual free Christmas day lunch, pool and Uno competitions, trivia nights, karaoke and live music. Due to her ongoing dedication and contributions, Carol was nominated RSL President of the Year. Since she and her family moved to Cockatoo in 1998, Carol has also been involved in Cockatoo Community Creche and Cockatoo Country Market and has supported young people in need.

Senior Citizen of the Year: Ian Wake 

Ian, an active Rotarian for 50 years, has held a range of club leadership positions and is the first to lend a helping hand for their community projects, barbecues and working bees. Ian has been involved in the development of Rotary Park, where he has initiated planting of native trees and shrubs and been involved in projects such as the construction of shelters, seating, the toilet block and other amenities. He has run ‘old time’ community dances since 2007, raising more than $150,000 for Rotary Club of Pakenham projects. Ian has chartered 2 Interact and 2 Rotaract clubs and has also been involved in the Beaconsfield Scout Group and Church of Christ Berwick.

Young Citizen of the Year: Arshu Maskey 

Arshu is committed to making a difference in people’s lives. During secondary school she was elected Community Service Representative leader for 2 consecutive years, organising blood donation drives, raising funds and facilitating a coin race to bring the community together. Arshu hosted a Multicultural International Mother’s Language Day event and, as a member of the Casey Cardinia Rotaract Club, she raised funds for bushfire relief efforts and supported a fundraising barbecue to raise money for the club. Arshu received a Community at Heart Community Gem 2020 recognition letter from a local MP as someone who had shown their true ‘community colours’ by supporting her family and neighbours during the pandemic. At university Arshu is mentoring students as a part of a Woman in Technology program. She has received a Monash PG Industry Experience Expo award for creating IT for social good during the pandemic. Arshu continues to make a difference by helping, inspiring and empowering others.

Community Event of the Year: Cockatoo Country Market 

The Cockatoo Country Market adapted to virtual markets during COVID-19 lockdowns but organisers were excited to host the March 2021 Twilight Market in person. It was the most successful yet, with more than 2,500 attendees across the event. The market provides a low cost and low risk platform for micro, home-based and artisan traders, with free advertising and profile building for stallholders. The market also provides opportunities for local community groups to fundraise and attract new volunteers and participants for their programs. A community barbecue is provided for community groups each month, adding to the fundraising and networking opportunities. Now in its seventh year, the market contributes to the ongoing support and development of community organisations via its community grants program, which has awarded more than $22,000 to local groups for a variety of projects.

2021 Citizen of the Year – 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. 

2021 Senior Citizen of the Year – 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. 

2021 Young Citizen of the Year – 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. 

2021 Community Event of the Year – 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.