Australia Day 2018 Award nominees announced

Published: 24 January 2018

Nominees for the Cardinia Shire Australia Day Awards 2018 have been announced.

Citizen of the year

Andrena Francey

Over the past 26 years, Andrena has devoted much of her life to rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing native wildlife and birds.

She established the Bayles Wildlife Centre six years ago and despite growing support from the local community and businesses, she still regularly dips into her own savings to provide the food, bedding and medical supplies the shelter requires.

A selfless advocate, campaigner and champion of native wildlife, Andrena ensures injured and abandoned wildlife have the best possible chance for a successful return to the wild.

Brianna Holder

Brianna has been a committed volunteer and advocate for Avonsleigh Preschool for more than three years, also taking on the role of President of the Parents Advisory Group (PAG) during 2017.

Brianna has volunteered countless hours to Avonsleigh Preschool – organising resources, attending events and preparing grant applications, resulting in thousands of dollars of improvements to the kinder and outdoor play spaces.

She is a graduate of Cardinia Shire’s Leadership Program and has been the liaison between the preschool and Council when improvements to the centre have been sought.

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 seven 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.

Rachelle Mechielsen

Rachelle has been an active member of the Cockatoo community for many years and was part of the original committee that established the Cockatoo Country Market and later, the Cockatoo Twilight Market.

She is also a member of the Cockatoo Township Committee and played a leading role in establishing the Christmas Elf Hunt, bringing back street decorations and assisting with the Australia Day breakfasts.

Additionally, Rachelle has been on the Emerald Secondary College committee for a number of years and is a former committee member of the Cockatoo Tennis Club.

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 President of the Committee.

He is consistently one of the first to arrive and last to leave, also spending many hours outside of meetings planning activities and overseeing countless projects to benefit the local community.

For example, Les and Men’s Shed members have made ramps to assist older residents who struggled to climb stairs, possum and bird boxes to protect native wildlife, and wooden ‘training’ horses for Riding for the Disabled.

Stewart Baker

Stewart is recognised around Pakenham for his enthusiasm and boundless energy in supporting the local community.

As Commodore of the Lakeside Sailing Club, he was a driving force behind the Lakeside Community Floating Pontoon Jetty, which includes a specialised hoist that allows people of all abilities to learn and enjoy sailing.

Stewart has also been a Scout Leader, a mentor in the L2P program at Koo Wee Rup and member and Vice President of the MG Car Club.

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.

Community event of the year

Cardinia Casey Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch

The Casey Cardinia Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch was first held in our region four years ago and has since raised in excess of $330,000 for men’s health initiatives.

The event brings approximately 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 towards the Prostate Cancer Association of Australia (Victoria) and into important men’s health initiatives through the Casey Cardinia Foundation.

Cockatoo Country Market

The monthly Cockatoo Country Market provides a low-cost, low-risk route to market for micro, home-based and artisan businesses, as well as some great word-of-mouth advertising for local stallholders.

It also provides a space for local community groups to fundraise, increase their profile and attract new members. The Market has raised and distributed more than $8,000 to local groups through its Community Grants program.

Cockatoo Country Market has a committee of six volunteers, including the three founding members, comprising an exceptional and committed group of local women who embody Cockatoo’s community spirt of ‘can do’ and ‘nothing is too hard’.

Diwali Festival of Pakenham

Diwali, also recognised as the Festival of Lights, is a significant event for the Indian community around the globe, celebrating good fortune, family, friendships and the belief that good will triumph over evil.

In 2017, the Indian Association Cardinia Casey wanted to share their local event with the broader community as a means of promoting cultural harmony in our shire.

The free event included music, food, carnival rides and culminated in an amazing fireworks display. A multicultural crowd of more than 1,000 people turned out to PB Ronald Reserve in Pakenham to enjoy the day.

Lang Lang Art Trail

The inaugural Lang Lang Art Trail was held in May 2017 as a means of showcasing the town and its artists as well as encouraging the entire community to engage with art.

The Trail was the first major art event in Lang Lang, innovatively using local shopfront windows and buildings to display the works instead of a gallery.

Visitors were able to partake in a guided tour to see the 37 displayed pieces and vote in the People’s Choice Award. The event was a resounding success and there are great hopes it will become an annual event.