Australia Day Awards

The Northern Grampians Shire Council assists the Australia Day Committee (Victoria) to celebrate Australia Day at the local level. Local Government awards provide an important opportunity to acknowledge local achievers for their outstanding contribution.

Nominations for the 2018 Australia Day awards are now open. Nominations close on Friday 1st December 2017.

Apply online using the form below or paper forms are available below or from St Arnaud and Stawell Customer Service Centres.  

Australia Day Criteria and Nomination Form

Australia Day 2017 Award Winners

Kara Kara Ward

Citizen of the Year
Wayne Rourke

This year’s Citizen of the Year is a valued member of our community and has taken on many roles of responsibility since joining the Slaty Creek Brigade in 1985. He has served as Third Lieutenant, Second Lieutenant and Captain, and as a representative he has held the positions of group delegate, Municipal Fire Prevention Committee member, volunteer associate delegate and member of the Incident Management and Response Team. At group level, he served as Third Deputy Officer from 1997 to 2005 and Deputy Officer until 2014, before becoming Officer for Region 16. Wayne has worked tirelessly to promote the work of the Rural Fire Brigade and is constantly improving facilities and occupational health and safety for the group. He has also been instrumental in successfully applying for grants to purchase a fire service vehicle and equipment to improve the efficiency of fire brigade trucks. As a Strike Team Leader and a qualified CFA Incident Controller, he received the National Medal for his service to the CFA in 2016. In addition to all this he is a past vice president of the St Arnaud Agricultural Society, a life member of the St Arnaud Pony Club and a member of the St Arnaud Bowls Club Committee of Management. He also finds time to hold down the role of secretary/treasurer for the Slaty Creek Hall Committee

Congratulations Wayne on your award of St Arnaud's Citizen of the Year Award.

Young Citizen of the Year
Kate Douglas

This young citizen has always put her community first whenever possible. She has been an active member of the St Arnaud Queen Mary Gardens and the St Arnaud Historical Society and also assists with community functions and fundraising events including the Stuart Mill Picnic. Kate recently danced at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat, volunteering her time for ‘Dance for a Cure’ to help cancer support groups. In the past two years she has volunteered as a dance trainer for a Down’s Syndrome group in Ballarat and Kew on a weekly basis. She has also excelled academically, achieving an ATAR score above 90 and receiving a scholarship through Melbourne University where she was accepted into the elite Victorian College of the Arts. In addition, she still finds time to return to Stuart Mill to work on the family farm whenever she can, and is a current new member of the Stuart Mill Fire Brigade. A high-achiever who has given so much back to her community.  

Congratulations Kate on your award of Young Citizen of the Year for St Arnaud. 

Senior of the Year
Yvonne Nevill

Yvonne is a great supporter of community events. Her brilliant ‘people skills’, generosity and helpful nature have led to her being described as ‘the glue that holds the community together’. During her early years in St Arnaud,she played in the pipe band, served on the kindergarten committee and ran bingo for the golf club. She was the catering secretary and treasurer of the Country Club and has been the president of the ladies bowls. This deserving recipient is currently heavily involved in the Probus Club and gives up her time to organise outings and trips for members . She puts special effort into ensuring people with a disability are comfortable and seated in positions, on the bus or in the theatre, most convenient for them. It is said that nothing is ever too much trouble for this lovely lady. She is always thinking about other people and always has a smile on her face.

Congratulations Yvonne on your 2017 Senior of the Year Award.


Community Event of the Year
Let's Get Together

After many years of drought, this event was designed to recognise the support that partners provide to our local farmers. The group of ladies behind the idea put great deal of time and effort into organising activities to pamper the women of our farming district, including massages, facials and demonstrations.The activities provided on the day catered for women of all ages and those who attended commented on what a terrific initiative it was. This event was a timely distraction from the challenges faced by farming families during this time and many laughs and stories were shared throughout the day. 

Congratulations to all involved in the Let's Get Together Event– the winner of St Arnaud's Community Event of the Year.

Stawell Ward 

Citizen of the Year
Neil and Sheila Thornton

This couple dedicates their own time to working with young people in our community. For more than 40 years they have trained students from Stawell Secondary College and worked hard behind the scenes to ensure the success of the annual Debutante Ball. As well as teaching the younger generation to dance, this couple represents a clear and firm portrayal of the traditional values of respect and exemplary personal relationships. Many people in our community have wonderful memories of their Deb Ball and the training sessions completed in the lead up to the big night. These dedicated trainers play a huge role in helping to create these memories and keeping the tradition of the Debutante Ball alive. In addition to displaying kindness and patience to the younger generation, this couple is involved with the Stawell RSL and regularly volunteers at the Eventide Homes.

Congratulations Neil and Sheila on your Citizen of the Year Award for Stawell.

Young Citizen of the Year
Ryan Kell

Our Young Citizen of the Year for 2017 has achieved more than most people his age. He has been described as a role model of respectability, integrity and honesty and displays a personal maturity far beyond his 15 years. The winner of this award volunteers his time to our local Youth Action Council, helping to improve community life for young people living in our shire. Last year he was a Year 9 ambassador for Stawell Secondary College and a member of the school’s Great Victorian Bike Ride team. He is always thinking of others and leading by example and this has been recognised by his teachers, peers and local community groups. As well as volunteering for various organisations, he is committed to his academic studies and has an impressive 100 per cent attendance record at both primary and secondary schools to date.  

Congratulations Ryan on receiving the Stawell Young Citizen of the Year award. 

Local Hero Award
Avenue of Honour

Moving away from tradition, this year’s local hero is not an individual, but a project that has brought many community members and groups together. Over a period of two years, local volunteers from the Stawell RSL, Stawell Rotary and Stawell Lions Club partnered with the Northern Grampians Shire Council on this special initiative. It began when a group of individuals came to Council in 2014 with a vision. This vision was to create Stawell’s very own Avenue of Honour. The individuals spent many hours with staff from the Northern Grampians Shire Council to bring this idea to fruition, undertaking a significant amount of research, holding community meetings and applying for grant applications. On the 11th of November last year, Stawell unveiled its dedicated war memorial at the Stawell Library. Members of the public and local students came together for this celebration, honouring the fallen soldiers from Stawell and district during World War I. Representatives from Stawell RSL, Stawell Rotary and Stawell Lions spoke at the event and officially unveiled the monument. One hundred and sixty trees planted along Patrick Street as part of the project have each been dedicated to an individual soldier. The Stawell Avenue of Honour will give family members, school children and visitors to our region the opportunity to research and learn more about the significance of their sacrifice. Almost as importantly, the project has served as an example of how a collaborative volunteer effort can create something historic for our future generations to enjoy.

Congratulations to all involved in the Avenue of Honour, winner of the 2017 Local Hero Award. 

Community Event of the Year
Zumbo Just Desserts Drought Relief Event

Over 160 people attended this year’s Community Event of the Year. This one of a kind event in Navarre brought together farmers wives and many people from the Northern Grampians Shire to celebrate the talents of Kate Ferguson- the champion chef who took out Zumbo’s Just Dessert’s on Channel 7. Held at the Navarre Hall, the afternoon with Kate was supported by Northern Grampians Shire Council through the Drought Response Package. Kate wowed the crowd with several cooking demonstrations during the day and talked about her experience on the show and the things she learnt. A cupcake competition was held for children throughout the region who brought along their cakes for display. Lucky door prizes and raffles were conducted and attendees were thoroughly entertained for the entire afternoon. Many of our very talented local cooks provided a high tea, demonstrating their local skills and expertise in desserts and cakes. Local chefs, aspiring cake makers and students were also inspired by Kate’s work. This event brought community members of all ages together to celebrate food, share stories and welcome a celebrity to town. It also allowed the historical society to fundraise much needed dollars.

Congratulations to all involved in the Zumbo Just Desserts Drought Relief Event– the winner of the Community Event of the Year.