Active Citizens honoured across Northern Grampians for Australia Day

Published on 29 January 2024

Northern Grampians Shire Council hosted two well-attended Australia Day ceremonies in St Arnaud and Stawell on Friday 26 January, both designed to show appreciation for the spirited people and groups who play a vital role in strengthening and supporting their communities.  

The theme for Australia Day this year was reflect, respect and celebrate, with 2024 marking the 75th anniversary of Australian Citizenship.  

Mayor of Northern Grampians Shire Council, Cr Rob Haswell, took the opportunity to acknowledge the importance of active citizenship in ensuring that communities throughout Northern Grampians Shire continue to thrive.  

“Today we have come together as a community to honour the individual contributions of active citizens and the teamwork that makes each of our communities whole. I would like to extend my congratulations and heartfelt thanks to each of our awardees; Australia wouldn’t be the nation that we know and love today without the hard work and zest for life shown by its citizens. It is a day for us to honour local achievement, celebrate our new citizens, and show our gratitude for the people around us, the communities that we live within, the incredible land that we live on and the opportunity that being an Australian citizen affords each one of us,” said Cr Haswell.  

“Active citizenship is about getting involved in our local communities and democracy at all levels, and displaying values such as respect, inclusion and helping others; it plays an important role in building and maintaining healthy societies. The communities of Northern Grampians Shire reflect the breadth of culture and tradition seen throughout Australia.  In times of crisis and in celebration, it is a willingness to put your hand up to contribute where you can and to do what you can within your means that makes this an incredible place to live. It is where our Australian spirit shines through,” he added.  

The awards showcase active citizenship in recognising individuals who are making a difference to our society. In St Arnaud, awards were presented to citizens in Kara Kara Ward and were granted as follows: 

Citizen of the Year - Melissa Weir 

Presented by the Mayor, Cr Rob Haswell, Melissa Weir was nominated for being a caring and unassuming community-minded person who works quietly behind the scenes, with no-thought for self-promotion. Highly regarded and respected by her peers, Melissa is known for her willingness to support, encourage and work with students and their families beyond school hours and is always available. She is also an advocate for diversity and has integrated accessibility programs, special days, and activities for students to participate in and learn through. 

Community Group of the Year - St Arnaud Neighbourhood House 

Presented by Cr Karen Hyslop, St Arnaud Neighbourhood House was nominated for the outstanding contribution it makes to the direct benefit of the community. St Arnaud Neighbourhood House is a charitable public organisation driven by a purpose to advance social and public wellbeing and volunteers work tirelessly and with passion to ensure that the wider community is supported. 

Young Citizen of the Year - Sophie Male 

Presented by Cr Eddy Ostarcevic, Sophie Male was nominated for her outstanding leadership skills, active involvement in numerous sporting clubs and support for young people across the community. Sophie plays a key role in community sport in the St Arnaud area and acts as participant, mentor and coach across many sports, all while pursuing tertiary studies.  

Senior Citizen of the Year - John Goode 

Presented by Cr Eddy Ostarcevic, John Goode was nominated in recognition of the years of service he has dedicated to the clubs and community of St Arnaud,  Noted to be a quiet and unassuming person who gets the job done, John is the ultimate club member with fastidious attention to detail who shows no sign of slowing his involvement in any of the significant number of clubs and associations that he has dedicated his time to.  

In Stawell, awards were presented to citizens of Central, Stawell and South West Wards and were granted as follows: 

Citizen of the Year - Mr Rupert Bibby  

Presented by Cr Rob Haswell, Mr Rupert Bibby was nominated as an outstanding member of the wider community, as a dedicated farmer and proud family man whose lifetime of service to the Navarre community has been offered with care, consideration and a genuine desire to ensure that Navarre is the best it can be. 

Community Group of the Year - Stawell Uniting Church Pop Up Shop 

Presented by Cr Erwin, Stawell Uniting Church Pop Up Shop, has been an eagerly awaited event for the wider community and visitors alike since its inception as a fundraiser six years ago. Hosted once every three months by a staff of dedicated volunteers, the pop up promotes sustainability and offers a fabulous sense of community, fellowship, sense of purpose and wellbeing to all who participate.  

Young Citizen of the Year - D'Artagnan Walls 

Presented by Cr Trevor Gready, D’Artagnan was nominated due to his dedication to sport and his willingness to support, guide and lead the next generation of players locally through Stawell Tennis Club. He is an inspiring and generous mentor and provides exceptional leadership to hundreds of kids and their parents throughout the wider community. 

Local Hero - Mrs Margaret Perry  

Presented by Cr Karen Hyslop, Mrs Margaret Perry was nominated as a trusted and wise volunteer with a kind, genuine and caring heart and long history of supporting the community. Noted for her gentle and unassuming disposition, Margaret continues to offer dedicated service to the community well into retirement and is willing to go the extra mile, assisting people in need of personalised in-home support services and providing friendship and much needed quality time to the lives of all those that she cares for.   

“Each of the awardees are incredible examples of active citizenship and truly help to make Northern Grampians Shire the wonderful place that it is,” emphasised Cr Haswell, in conclusion. 

The St Arnaud Australia Day Ceremony was hosted at Market Square in the morning with local Australia Day Ambassador, Dr Eddy Ostarcevic, Councillor for Kara Kara Ward, inspiring the crowd with an impassioned plea to continue with community service and voluntary roles, that enhance and support our communities. The Stawell Australia Day Ceremony was hosted at Central Park in the early evening and featured a fascinating community address by Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory Manager, Kim Mintern-Lane.   

In addition to the awards, there were two conferees for citizenship in St Arnaud and seven conferees for citizenship in Stawell. 


For further information contact:  

Media & Communications – Lauren Shipman  



Tagged as: