Congratulations to Cardinia Shire’s Australia Day winners and nominees!

Published: 25 January 2023

Cardinia Shire Council was proud to announce and celebrate the nominees and winners of the Cardinia Shire Australia Day Awards 2023 at a special ceremony on Wednesday 25 January.

The Australia Day 2023 award winners are: 

  • Citizen of the year: Shelley Beardshaw 
  • Senior citizen of the year: Audrey Dodson 
  • Young citizen of the year: Ace Simpson-Braden 
  • Community event of the year: Cardinia Men's Shed Senior-tivity Day 

Held at the Cardinia Cultural Centre in Pakenham, the awards ceremony was an opportunity for Council and community to recognise and show gratitude for the efforts of so many volunteers across the Shire who work tirelessly, year-in and out to serve and improve their local communities. 

Cardinia Shire Mayor Councillor Tammy Radford congratulated all nominees and thanked them for their contributions to making Cardinia Shire, and our country more widely, a fantastic place to live, work and play. 

“On behalf of Council, I would like to extend our gratitude to all of this year’s Australia Day Award 2023 nominees for their outstanding work within our community,” the Mayor said. 


Citizen of the Year 2023: 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 saw 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. 


Senior Citizen of the Year 2023: 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.  


Young Citizen of the Year 2023: 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. 


Community Event of the Year 2023: 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. 

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