Australia Day Awards - nominees and winners
Australia Day Ambassador 2020 for Cardinia Shire
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.
2020 Australia Day Award nominees
The Cardinia Shire 2020 Australia Day Award winners will be announced at the Cardinia Shire Australia Day event at the Cardinia Cultural Centre on Sunday 26 January.
Citizen of the Year nominees
- Aanchal Meshram
- Daniel Clausen
- Hardev Singh Cheema
- John Anderson
- Leah Bryant
- Luke Williams
- Melise Yeates
- Michael Soutter
- Michael Wright
- Ray Spencer
- Ruth South
- Samantha O’Sullivan
- Shoheli Sunjida
Senior Citizen of the Year nominees
- Bruce Monro
- Jenny Pritchard
- Robert Porter
- Pamela Cunningham
Young Citizen of the Year nominees
- Emma Jackel
- Jayden Kruzicevic-King
- Taleisha Rech-Ellery
Community Event of the Year nominees
- Cardinia Australia Day 2019 – Lakeside Residents Group
- Cardinia Diwali Festival – IACC
- International Mother language day celebration
- Jitterbugs playgroup – St Luke’s Church
- Jorh Mela Pakenham – Baba Budha Ji Charitable Association Inc
- Lang Lang Community fair and fun day – Lang Lang Football Club
- Navratri 2019 – Cardinia Gujarati Association Inc
- Nectar feeding garden planting, Garfield North Outdoor Education Centre – Community recovery committee and Cannibal Creek Landcare
- Not on my watch – Officer Junior Football Club & Officer Cricket Club
- Officer Sikh Temple’s Thanksgiving for Volunteers of the Bunyip Bushfires 2019 – Gurdwara Siri Guru Nanak Darbar, Officer
- Remembrance Day Centenary of Armistice – Emerald RSL Sub Branch
- Resin Flow Art show & expo – Cardinia Art Society
About the Citizen of the Year nominees
Hardev Singh Cheema
Following the loss of her husband to Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2011, Leah turned her grief into hope by working tirelessly to raise funds for research into finding a cure for this disease – raising more than $100,000 to date. Money raised as part of the first fundraiser in 2011 was donated to Calvary Health Care for Bethlehem and since then all funds have been donated to the Fight MND Charity. In addition to fundraising, Leah has helped raise awareness of MND in the community. The Craig’s Crew has been spreading the word, resulting in an increase in funds raised each year as well as greater community awareness.
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.
Melise is a dedicated volunteer in the shire’s sporting community, volunteering an average of 30 hours per week for different clubs and associations. Melise has become a key contributor to Officer Auskick, Officer Kangaroos Junior Football Club (OKJFC) and the Boldens Basketball Club. She is the longest-serving Auskick coordinator in the region and was awarded a long-term recognition award by AFLSE. In addition, Officer Auskick won Auskick Centre of the Year 2019. Melise has been an active member of the OKJFC committee, initially as secretary and then moving on to club apparel where she has refreshed the club merchandise. She also organises the presentation nights for 600 players, siblings and parents. Melise is involved in Boldens Basketball Club as a committee member and coach, and manages all uniform and merchandise orders.
Michael is the founder of Pakenham Road Runners group, which has more than 1,000 members. He is a coach, mentor and inspiration to many in the community and encourages others to achieve their goals. Michael and his wife Jodie started a Relay For Life team 10 years ago to raise money for the Cancer Council, raising more than $100,000 in that time. In February 2019, Michael ran 100 kilometres in 12 hours at Lakeside and raised more than $10,000 on the day through donations and sponsorships. He has increased his next goal to 100 miles (160 kilometres) as part of his fundraising efforts. Michael was also run director for Pakenham Park Run.
Michael is described as a quiet achiever and an asset to the community. Michael is committed to preventing violence against people with a disability, particularly women. He is actively involved in the Together We Can initiative and has participated in the planning and delivery of Together We Can summits, the South Sudanese celebration, and the Disability Advisory Committee. He is an active member of the Together We Can round table; a White Ribbon ambassador, he has coordinated White Ribbon fundraising and awareness events, and has led the development of resources to support women with a disability to report family violence. Michael was awarded the Garry McQuillan and Tony Fitzgerald Award in 2018 for his involvement in the prevention of violence against people with a disability.
Since moving to Emerald 46 years ago, Ray has been heavily involved in the local community through local organisations, clubs and businesses. His main passion has been for the Lions Club of Emerald where he has been a member for 35 years, serving many as president. He is currently chairman of the board of the Emerald Co-Op Society and has also been president and secretary of the Emerald Mechanics Institute. He is a founding member of the PAVE Winterfest Committee, past member and president of the Emerald Village Committee and he coordinates the monthly Make It, Bake It, Grow It market in Emerald. Ray was recently jointly awarded the Emerald Citizen of the Year by the Emerald Village Association.
Ruth has been involved in the Cockatoo community since she moved to the town in 1976 with her soon-to-be husband Neville. Ruth served on many committees as she raised her four sons and is currently a co-opted community member of the Cockatoo Primary School council. Ruth is also a volunteer with the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre, drawing on her own experience of having lost everything her young family owned during the fires. Ruth is a member of the Puffing Billy working group ‘All Aboard At Cockatoo’, Jerry the Railway Dog Committee, and an active member of the Cockatoo History and Heritage Committee. Ruth’s passion is history and she is committed to preserving and celebrating Cockatoo’s heritage.
Leading aircraftswoman Samantha O’Sullivan is a member of the 403 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC), based at St Francis Xavier College Beaconsfield. She holds the role of training officer, coordinating a range of subjects to over 100 participating cadets. Samantha has been a committed volunteer of the AAFC since 2017. Her achievements include active recruitment of more than 100 Cardinia young people to the AAFC program, mentoring and encouraging teens to develop into strong leaders and community-minded citizens, driving aviation scholarships and delivering the Duke of Edinburgh International Award program. She has worked with local Rotary, RSLs, and St Francis Xavier College to introduce the cadets to community service and activities such as Australia Day, ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day services.
Shoheli is an advocate for community wellbeing and is passionate about empowering women and bringing together people from diverse backgrounds. Shoheli is actively involved in a number of groups and initiatives. She is president of the Beaconsfield Neighbourhood Centre, she set up the new Bangla Language School in Pakenham, organised Neighbour Day, International Mother Language Day and Harmony Day events and is involved in a number of groups including the Cardinia Food Movement, Pakenham Men’s Shed, Cardinia Interfaith Network, Women’s Friendship Cafe and Yakkerboo Festival committee. Shoheli was also selected to feature in a touring exhibition by Her Place Women’s Museum, she is a multicultural community ambassador for the AFL and has received an excellence award from the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
About the Senior Citizen of the Year nominees
Bruce has been a valued member of the Pakenham State Emergency Service (SES) for 35 years. Bruce has always been an active volunteer, attending to fallen trees, damaged homes and road accidents. He has also attended most major local emergencies including the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday fires, the floods in 2011 and countless storm events. As well as being an operational member of the Pakenham SES, Bruce has been a peer support officer where he has been called on to provide support to other volunteers following critical stress incidents. Bruce is still an active and reliable volunteer with the day crew, and is often seen at community events promoting a safer communities message.
Jenny has been committed to beautifying the Upper Beaconsfield township streetscape since 2013, and is the Village Beautification Group coordinator. She seeks funding through Cardinia Shire Council’s beautification grants program and organises working bees for planting and weeding. Under Jenny’s leadership, the agapanthus in the planter boxes at the local shops have been cleaned up and new Australian native plants have replaced the weeds. Jenny has been a committee member of the Upper Beaconsfield Association since 2013 and was president 2016–18. She has also been a member of the Village Festival committee for the past two years and is campaigning to reduce plastic waste at the festival. Jenny was awarded 2018 Upper Beaconsfield Citizen of the Year.
Robert has been involved in volunteer activities in the local community for many years. As the chair of Officer Recreation Reserve for more than 40 years, Robert 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. Robert 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. Robert was the inaugural winner of the Stan Henwood Award for his volunteer work.
Pamela has been a member of the Cannibal Creek Catchment Landcare Group for 10 years and secretary for six. She has been the driving force behind the group, which celebrated 25 years in 2019. She and her husband Gerard instigated the Cannibal Creek Catchment Biodiversity Project Group and host regular meetings with key partners and community organisations. Pamela assisted in the Bunyip Complex bushfire recovery effort by coordinating working bees and volunteering in the Tynong North, Garfield North and Tonimbuk fire-affected areas, and assisting at the Tonimbuk Recovery Centre and Bunyip Hall as an emergency cook for BlazeAid volunteers. Pamela also volunteers at the Garfield Op Shop, is a member of the Natural Environment Fire Recovery sub-committee convened by DELWP and Cardinia Shire Council, and the Healthy Waterways Strategy (Western Port Catchment) Working Group convened by Melbourne Water.
About the Young Citizen of the Year nominees
Emma is a local teacher who lives on her family farm in Avonsleigh. In March 2018, Emma’s father was involved in an accident and sustained an acquired brain injury, leaving Emma and her family to take on the farm. Emma quickly realised the full weight of living and working on the land, inspiring her to establish Ladies from the Land. The organisation aims to support rural women who face everyday hardship by enabling them to share their stories via an encouraging and uplifting platform. Since it began, Ladies from the Land has grown and is reaching more than 13,000 women across Australia. Following the Bunyip Complex bushfires, Ladies from the Land sent out a request for quilted blocks that could be made into quilts for families affected by the bushfires. Emma has also undertaken drought relief fundraising.
Jayden is a dedicated community volunteer who is always willing to help. As a youth helper at the 1st Cockatoo Scout Group, Jayden 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.
Taleisha has been a member of the Scouting community for six years, starting as a young scout and progressing into Venturers. She has been actively involved with 1st Cockatoo Scout Group, assisting with the younger sections and acting as a role model. She has worked to achieve her Australian Scout Medallion, the highest award achieved in the Scout section. She has been an active patrol leader for the group and district, helping to run and organise activities for her patrol such as the Stradbroke Cup, a competition camp testing Scouts on their knowledge and abilities in camp craft and scouting skills. Taleisha lead her scout patrol to win the Stradbroke Cup, achieving the highest score.
About the Community Event of the Year nominees
Cardinia Australia Day 2019 – Lakeside Residents Group
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 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.
Cardinia Diwali Festival – IACC
The festival of lights in Cardinia Shire was not just about the Indian community celebrating their festival. In 2019, the Indian Australian Community Cooperative (IACC, formerly Indian Association Cardinia Casey) worked to involve all members of the community by running incursions in schools, libraries and shopping centres for four weeks to create awareness about Diwali.
This campaign resulted in 3,000 people from different cultural backgrounds attending the Cardinia lights festival where they celebrated with free workshops, craft, food and performances. The event aimed to bring together the community and create greater social cohesion through its celebration of cultural diversity.
International Mother language day celebration
The International Mother Language Day celebration in Cardinia Shire gave community members the opportunity to learn about different cultures through presentations, music, dance and cultural costumes. The celebration was the first of its kind for the area and featured cultural shows, an art and poster exhibition, rides and food vans, and paid tribute to language martyrs.
Eighteen community groups participated in the event, which brought together members of Cardinia Shire’s diverse community. A Quran teaching class and activities for the Muslim community have started as a result of this event.
Jitterbugs playgroup – St Luke’s Church
Jitterbugs Playgroup provides a welcoming support network for new parents and new families moving to Cockatoo, creating opportunities for friendship and learning in a safe and inclusive space. The playgroup builds strong connections between local residents who may be socially isolated, financially disadvantaged or managing health or family crises. Currently, 30–35 adults and children attend the Wednesday Jitterbugs Playgroup.
Jitterbugs Playgroup is one of three programs run as part of the Hills Community Strengthening Initiative (HCSI) program, which began in 2011, from St Luke’s at Cockatoo. The playgroup provides a safe and inclusive space to learn, share, and make friends and helps build connections and community strength by developing peer networks.
Jorh Mela Pakenham – Baba Budha Ji Charitable Association Inc
Jorh Mela Pakenham is an annual community sporting event and festival organised by Gurudwara Baba Budha sahib ji Pakenham. The third annual event was held in Pakenham from 27-29 September, with teams coming from all over Australia, New Zealand and India to participate. Games played included kabaddi, volleyball, badminton, cricket, soccer, races and other fun games. Approximately 750 participants took part over the three days.
The Jorh Mela event was free to attend and aimed to promote sportsmanship and bring together community members from different cultures. People were able to enjoy the games as well as food, fresh juice and fruit.
Lang Lang Community fair and fun day – Lang Lang Football Club
Lang Lang Football Club hosted a Community Fair and Fun Day and charity luncheon in May 2019, with all funds raised on the day donated to the Cancer Council Victoria. The event involved a community fair attended by more than 1,000 people, as well as a charity luncheon attended by 90 people. A number of community groups were involved in the fair that featured activities including a dunk machine, farm animals, jumping castles, free face painting, as well as games, competitions and demonstrations.
The luncheon was attended by local business people, volunteers and members of the Longwarry and Lang Lang football clubs. The fair and luncheon raised $6,750 for the Cancer Council Victoria. More than 250 volunteer hours went into organising the event.
Nectar feeding garden planting, Garfield North Outdoor Education Centre – Community recovery committee and Cannibal Creek Landcare
Not on my watch – Officer Junior Football Club & Officer Cricket Club
Officer Sikh Temple’s Thanksgiving for Volunteers of the Bunyip Bushfires 2019 – Gurdwara Siri Guru Nanak Darbar, Officer
Remembrance Day Centenary of Armistice – Emerald RSL Sub Branch
Resin Flow Art show & expo – Cardinia Art Society
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
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’ 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.
Citizen of the Year
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 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 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.
- 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