Australia Day Award Winners

Published on 26 January 2022


Northern Grampians Shire Council congratulates the 2022 recipients of Australia Day Awards announced at official ceremonies held in St Arnaud and Stawell Wednesday 26 January 2022.

Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor, Cr Tony Driscoll, said Council could not be prouder of its citizens for their contributions.

“Our award recipients this year have made very selfless donations to the community through volunteering and initiatives that have dramatically improved the lives of others via charity, awareness, advocacy and inclusion work.

“The accomplishments of the individuals and groups receiving awards are absolutely staggering considering that much of what they achieved took place during the second year of a pandemic.

“I give my heartfelt thanks to all of the Australia Day Award recipients for their accomplishments; it is absolutely staggering to learn what you have achieved in the second year of a pandemic nonetheless, and our shire is so much the richer for having people who give their all for the betterment of others.”

Australia Day Award recipients are as follows:

Kara Kara Ward

Senior Citizen of the Year: Colin Forster

  • 30 years of service to the community as an NGSC employee
  • Volunteers in his spare time to mow and maintain business yards and surrounds in St Arnaud
  • Sponsor of St Arnaud Football Club
  • Regular benefactor of the St Arnaud Country Music Festival
  • St Arnaud Visitor Information Centre volunteer

Citizen of the Year: Russell Steel

  • Voluntary committee Treasurer at St Arnaud Resource Centre and instrumental in resurrecting the centre and preventing what would have been its imminent closure.
  • Member of the Lake Batyo Catyo Committee and St Arnaud Rotary Club of St Arnaud.
  • St Arnaud Field Naturalist volunteer who has donated more than 200 hours of his time to this organisation.
  • Steering committee member for a group keen to implement a renewable energy power station for St Arnaud and District.
  • Volunteer assistant to artist Kyle Torney whilst he was painting the silos in McMahon Street, St Arnaud to ensure that Kyle was able to work safely at heights.
  • Notable contribution and active involvement in the following groups:
    • St Arnaud Community Resource Centre
    • St Arnaud Rotary Club
    • Lake Batyo Catyo Commitee
    • St Arnaud Energy Power Station
    • St Arnaud Historical Society
    • St Arnaud Silo Gateway Project

Young Citizen of the Year: Rachel Hendry

  • St Arnaud Neighbourhood House Administrative Officer.
    • Recognised for her contribution to St Arnaud community work undertaking the Life Story Book Project working with residents at Coates Hostel to collate books retelling the resident’s lives through photos and memories.
    • The program proved so successful that it is being implemented in other aged care residences.
    • During the pandemic Ms Hendy also established a no contact service to deliver kindling and shopping to the elderly. She also regularly telephoned them to check on their wellbeing.
    • She is also a passionate advocate of the Neighbourhood House recycling program and has driven bottle top collections to Ballarat in her own time.

    Community Event of the Year: St Arnaud Lions Club Christmas Procession (President: John Beggs)

  • The club held a procession on Friday 17 December in Market Square, St Arnaud.
  • The small club of 23 members collaborated with local groups and businesses to coordinate procession floats and run a successful community event.

Stawell, South and Central Wards

Local Hero: Helen Kennedy

  • Registered Nurse nominated for outstanding professional and community service to the Stawell and Northern Grampians community in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Helen is sole infection prevention practitioner working out of Stawell Regional Health.  When the pandemic hit, she became the lead coordinator, lead vaccinator and regional expert in all things Covid.
  • She has spent endless hours manning vaccination clinics, supporting en masse testing, designing programs for our CALD community, community members with a disability and our Indigenous community and providing services that support some of our largest employment groups to ensure their workforce and therefore our local businesses were able to work uninterrupted.
  • Helen is an active community member who volunteers for Stawell Secondary College, Stawell Rail Trail Committee and Good Night Out Society. She has also been an active fundraiser for Stawell Regional Health, raising in excess of $25,000.
  • She is also a volunteer at the Community Op Shop, WAMA and Stawell Agricultural Society.

Young Citizen of the Year: Joint Winners – Charlie Wilson and Sienna Santuccione

Charlie Wilson is a Stawell resident who has advocated for the formation of a group for young people who identify as LGBTIQ+

  • Charlie has worked with GCH to form a group known as the Rainbow Alliance.
  • Charlie’s efforts have provided a safe and supportive meeting space for LGBTIQ+ kids who meet weekly after school.
  • Charlie’s group is supporting five local young people and reviewing requests from 15 additional young people wanting to join the group. These requests are from young citizens aged 13-21 years from as far afield as Hamilton.

Sienna Santuccione is an athlete from Stawell Amateur Athletics Club who decided to partake in a 50km run to raise funds and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that her mother has been diagnosed with.

  • Sienna has raised $7,486 for research and her friends - the "Glitter Angels" - ran and raised a further $13,015 for the cause.
  • Sienna competed in the senior category of the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club in order to challenge herself racing longer distances against more seasoned runners.
  • She is one of the first of her age to take out a first/second double, in a senior's race with SAAC in the 5km "Kieran Ryan Handicap" and has also competed in the famed Lindsay Kent Memorial Handicap.
  • In addition to their 50km fundraising challenge, the Glitter Angels also completed the MS Readathon in 2021, with their brothers and a group of friends.
  • She hopes to give an address at the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Competition in the upcoming year on social justice and equality.
  • She is also a member of Inter-church netball competition and hopes to initiate a Social Justice Club at Stawell Secondary College this year.

Citizen of the Year: Joint Winners – Raie Gale and June Raeburn

  • Duo have served on the executive committee as President and Secretary respectively for Stawell Senior Citizens.
  • They manage hall bookings, programs and upkeep of the building and spend many hours with event management for Senior Citizens. They have ensured the hall and the group’s activities are Covid compliant.
  • The pair also coordinate the local line dancing program, one leading and the other assisting the class, organising set lists, choreography, teaching new members and running socials.
  • They have joined local singer Kerry Wilson for Carpark Karaoke events during lockdown for the Macpherson Smith Nursing Home and Eventide Homes.
  • They donate many hours a week to the St Pats Op Shop and are regular volunteers for Stawell Interchurch Council Welfare.

Community Event of the Year: Stawell Interchurch Welfare

  • While not strictly a community event, Council is acknowledging the efforts of this community group and their members.
  • The group is well known to the Stawell and district communities for their selfless and humanitarian contributions. It is entirely volunteer run, and senior in their years with many members well above 60 years of age. 
  • The group is "on call" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in case of emergency welfare situations, and man a welfare centre 3 days a week.
  • The group has made significant contributions to people in need of assistance over the past few years providing support to many culturally and linguistically diverse households in our region, supplying grocery, accommodation, fuel and pharmacy vouchers and hampers of food and essential supplies.

Northern Grampians also welcomed four brand new Australian citizens during the official proceedings: Naricisa Beniga (Philippines), Veera Kandukuri (India), Janakooreet Muhar (India) and Tsai-Lun Tseng (Taiwan).

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