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Cardinia Shire’s 2020 Australia Day Ambassador announced

Published: 20 January 2020

Founder of ‘I CAN Network’ Chris Varney has been announced as Cardinia Shire’s flagship 2020 Australia Day Event ambassador.

Chris was a nominee for the 2019 Victorian Australian of the Year award, and will appear as one of the guest speakers at this year’s Cardinia Shire Australia Day Event at Cardinia Cultural Centre.

I CAN Network (I CAN) is an organisation providing mentoring, education and advocacy for the benefit of people with autism. The organisations educates children, young people and adults with autism on their rights, and helps them realise the value and unique potential of their abilities.

By focusing on what autistic people can do, and through the mentorship of people who have experience living with autism, I CAN empowers mentees to make the most of their inherent strengths and natural interests.

Beyond his success with I CAN, Chris has long fought for improvement in the lives and rights of children around the world. He spent 11 years with World Vision Australia and World Vision

International across a range of roles. In 2009 he was the Australian Youth Representative to the

United Nations. In that role, Chris successfully campaigned for the closure of South Australian youth detention facility Magill Training Centre.

Cardinia Shire Mayor Cr Jeff Springfield welcomed the announcement of Chris’ role as Cardinia Shire’s flagship 2020 Australia Day Event ambassador.

“It is an honour to welcome Chris to Cardinia Shire as he appears as this year’s event ambassador,” Cr Springfield said.

“Australia Day is an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be Australian; to work together to build a community where everyone belongs, and where our differences and contributions are valued and celebrated. Through his work with I CAN, Chris has become the embodiment of this sentiment, and in doing so, has become an outstanding inspiration to many.

“I encourage all members of Cardinia Shire to attend this year’s ceremony for the chance to hear from Chris as he undoubtedly inspires everyone in attendance.” 

The Cardinia Shire Australia Day event will be held at the Cardinia Cultural Centre from 11am.

The event will feature the shire’s annual Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony including a ministerial address from Local La Trobe federal member and Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, The Hon Jason Wood MP.

The Cardinia Shire Australia Day event will also include the announcement of the Cardinia Shire Australia Day Award winners and community activities coordinated by the Lakeside Residents Group.

A number of community-hosted Australia Day events are also being held around the shire including:

Beaconsfield Australia Day family picnic and movie night
6–10.30pm at Holm Park Recreation Reserve (oval one), Beaconsfield-Emerald Road

Cockatoo Australia Day community breakfast and awards
7.30–10.30am at Alma Treloar Reserve amphitheatre, Pakenham Road

Koo Wee Rup Australia Day ceremony
8.15–10.30am at Koo Wee Rup Community Centre, Cochrane Park

Council is proud to support these community events. For more information, visit

For more information about the 2020 Australia Day awards, ceremonies and activities at the Cardinia Cultural Centre, and the community-hosted events across the shire, visit