Australia Day 2024

Australia Day 2024

Council assists the Australia Day Committee (Victoria) to reflect, respect and celebrate with our local community through events and local government awards that provide an important opportunity to acknowledge local achievements and outstanding contributions.

Australia Day Events

Please visit our Events Calendar for detailed information about our Australia Day events throughout the shire.

2024 Australia Day Awards

Nominations for the 2024 Australia Day Awards are now closed. Awards will be presented at our annual awards ceremonies held on Friday, 26 January 2024 held in both St Arnaud and Stawell.

Australia Day Award Winners 2023

Northern Grampians Shire Council 2023 recipients of Australia Day Awards were announced at official ceremonies held in St Arnaud and Stawell Thursday 26 January 2023.

Citizen of the Year Award - Kyle Torney

Mayor Kevin Erwin and Kyle's wife, Tess Torney accepting the award on his behalf.

A fifth generation St Arnaud resident, Kyle Torney's working life started as a farmer before moving to Melbourne for studies. Whilst is in Melbourne, his interest grew in mixed martial arts and, on return to St Arnaud, these skills were brought home. Arguably, Kara Kara Ward's Citizen of the Year is better known for putting St Arnaud on the map through storytelling, tales of St Arnaud’s rich history and community spirit shared through incredible renaissance style painting. 

Both keen and proactive, spending hundreds of hours of their own time, researching, studying, and obtaining work certificates - to bring art to life on the walls and silos of our town. Our recipient currently has artworks displayed in New York and has completed many other projects, including works such as the pop-up park wall in Halls Gap. 

The ethos of our Citizen of the Year is summed up nicely in this quote from a podcast regarding the importance of the Silo Art Trail project plays in developing awareness, in which he can be heard to say “Without these types of things outside of the town, no one would ever know about them or hear their stories. That’s what I like about it. There are big stories to be told in little towns”.

Cr Karen Hyslop with volunteers from the St Arnaud Community Kitchen.

St Arnaud Community Kitchen is a not-for-profit organisation who, with each weeks takings, no matter how meagre, purchase items for the following week.

Each visitor arrives to enter a warm and friendly environment, with the offer of scones, jam and cream, and a three course lunch. And, with its service popularity rising, the number of meals that they cook increases each week. There are benefits for all who attend; access to healthy meals, the opportunity to develop life skills such as growing fresh food; budgeting, meal planning, and cooking.

Attendees gain social skills as they share tables increasing interaction with other community members while enjoying a healthy and delicious meal. The number of meals, prepared and served with a smile, has recently reached over 100.

Teacher Melissa Weir accepting the award on behalf of Rogan Hando from Cr Eddy Ostarcevic.

Rogan Hando is an active, well-known young person in our shire, involved in both school and sport, in the arts and creativity. Volunteering time with the St Arnaud Football Netball Club, filming, photography and preparing social media. Also, sharing his creativity to the benefit of the new Lord Nelson Park Sport Centre, presentation days, with secondary school, the local primary school and also the broader farming community.

He is the St Arnaud Secondary College 2023 School Captain and has also spent most years on the School Representative Council at St Arnaud Secondary College, with active involvement in presentations for school, fundraising events and sports days.


Cr Eddy Ostarcevic with recipient of the Kara Kara Ward - Senior of the Year Award, Joy Bryce.

Through passion and dedication, Joy Bryce has involved herself wholeheartedly in maintaining and developing the general aesthetic of St Arnaud and enhanced the standing of St Arnaud as the gateway to the Silo Art Trail, benefiting both townsfolk and tourists, alike.

Community spirit was the driving force for our Senior of the Year, as seen through their mantra, “you get out of a community what you put in”. 

Cr Trevor Gready and Emma Kealy MP pictured with the organising committee from Concongella Primary School 150th Celebration.

Concongella Primary School 150th Celebrations was organised by a passionate committee, led by President Ian Davies, who worked tirelessly to pull together a broad program over a two-day event.

Facing many challenges including COVID and heavy rainfall that had caused flooding in the week prior, the group persevered and were able to pull off a successful event attended by more than 500 people including locals and more who travelled from across Victoria and even interstate to attend.

The event provided a unique opportunity to recognise the longevity of the special rural community gem at the centre of its celebrations.

The event brought together past pupils and staff alike to reminisce on their time, share stories, reconnect, and remember past family and friends.

Recipient of the Stawell Ward - Local Hero Award, John Pye pictured with Cr Lauren Dempsey.

John Pye was an active member of the Stawell Urban Rural Fire Brigade for 24 years, with notable contributions including having coordinated communications during the Grampians/Black Range fires of 2014.

John also gave 37 years of service to the Project Platypus Landcare Network, inclusive of the associated establishment of the Stawell Urban Landcare group, holding the position of Secretary and President and as a voluntary manager. He also spent eight years as a volunteer with the Stawell Inter Church Council’s welfare committee.

Grampians Rail Trail from Pleasant Creek to Lake Lonsdale and the associated Friends of the Rail Trail Group, was established solely on the passion and persuasion of John.

A retired teacher, active environmentalist, and passionate local. The quote taken from the nomination form putting forth this year’s Local Hero emphasises the reason for his selection, “His volunteering history is remarkable; his knowledge, his skills, his perseverance, his ability to work with people of all ages to educate and enthuse and support, and his willingness to contribute deserves to be recognised. He is an outstanding role model for the benefits of volunteering to the community.”


Cr Murray Emerson pictured with Tyler Wineberg, Stawell Ward - Young Citizen of the Year.

Tyler Wineberg has been a driving force behind the return of community theatre to Stawell. 

Seeing a need for change, Tyler joined the Committee of Stawell Performing Arts Company Inc SPACI. Feeling strongly about the SPACI vision, Tyler researched and obtained the rights to a Broadway musical and sold the idea to the Committee.  

As a first-time director, going through all the trials and tribulations of advertising for a cast, arranging auditions, recruiting the off-stage and production team, story development, costume and set design, venue hire, and rehearsals. Incredibly, a cast of 30, with ages ranging from 10 years old up to 80 years - many first-time performers with SPACI was pulled together by this young and talented achiever.  

SPAMALOT was an incredible success thanks to our Young Citizen of the Year. Nearly 600 people attended the performances, some from as far away as South Australia. Reviews were excellent, with many of the attendees sharing how much they enjoyed the show.  

Thanks to the production of SPAMALOT and Tyler's efforts, SPACI have doubled their membership and the group are now in a sound position.  

Recipient of the Stawell Ward - Citizen of the Year, Jess Maffescioni.

In her earlier years, Jess was awarded a Rotary Youth Leadership Award and has continued connections and friendships with RYLA to this day.

Jess gives her time freely to many community groups, including Committees of the Stawell Bowling Club, Stawell Amateur Athletic Club, Stawell Country Womens’ Association and the Seed Graders Association. In addition to offering professional skills to these many clubs, Jess goes above and beyond to help these and other organisations succeed.

From taking part in a small but dynamic working group that manages to bake thousands of scones for fundraising, to organising fairs, through to last year's Christmas Tree festival and Mothers’ Day Classic – she offers to lend her hands to everything that she can.

Some of the previous roles held by our Citizen of the Year are also worthy of note; member of the Board of Grampians Tourism, Board of Stawell Regional Health, Committee of Stawell Biz, and a founding member of Raising Dust. Our Citizen of the Year services the Stawell Club, Stawell Probus, Gold Reef Ladies Probus and Stawell Lions Club with annual audits, just as her beloved Grandfather used to do. She is an avid baker, holding the Stawell Show perpetual overall trophy for the past three years.

Fit and active, she takes part in many fun runs, marathons, the entire Amateur Athletic club annual syllabus, and runs with some of her dearest friends – just for fun. A well-known Senior Manager and Chartered Accountant with Findex here in Stawell, this year’s Citizen of the Year comes from a family with a long history of connection to our community, and follows proudly in the footsteps of her Grandparents and Mother.