Congratulations to the 2018 Australia Day Award Winners

Published on 25 January 2018

The winners of Baw Baw Shire’s 2018 Australia Day Awards have been recognised for their service to the community at the annual presentation ceremony held on Australia Day Eve at the Warragul Country Club.

Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Councillor Joe Gauci was the Master of Ceremony, joined by Gary Blackwood MP Member for Narracan to present the seven winners with their awards.

The crowd was entertained once again this year by official Australia Day Ambassador Peter Sullivan who was joined on stage by Andrea Lees for an Australian-themed performance.

Melina Bath MP Member for Eastern Victoria contributed some closing words after the award presentations affirming the importance of recognising and celebrating the special people who have contributed to our communities so selflessly.

The Mayor said the awards provide a great platform to recognise and acknowledge those who give back to the community every day without seeking recognition.

“The Australia Day Awards Ceremony is the perfect opportunity to thank all those winners who are true role models for our community and make Baw Baw Shire such a great place to live", said the Mayor.

“While the winners' backgrounds and accomplishments are varied, each recipient exemplifies the spirit of Baw Baw and we are very fortunate to have so many extraordinary people living here in our Shire.”

The award categories and winners for 2018 are listed as follows:

Citizen of the Year: Judy Farmer

Local resident Judy Farmer was awarded Citizen of the Year for her longstanding dedication to the Committee for Drouin among many other community-focused commitments.

“For 10 years Judy has been heavily involved in the Committee for Drouin and the Friends of Drouin’s Trees group contributing to countless projects inspired and coordinated through her own initiative”, said the Mayor.

“With a professional background as a qualified Occupational Therapist, Judy has also spent many years working in early childhood development, travelling around Gippsland providing support and early intervention care to children with disabilities and special needs.

“Her passion for the local community, kind hearted nature and generosity of time does not go unnoticed and on behalf of Council, I’d like to thank Judy for her many contributions to the Baw Baw Shire community.”

Young Citizen of the Year: Jacob Bush

Jacob Bush was awarded Young Citizen of the Year for his dedication and active participation in many different streams of the community including sport, volunteering and keen leadership in different programs at the Community Church Warragul.

“At such a young age, Jacob is already displaying inspirational attributes such as leadership, kindness and selflessness. Jacob is heavily involved in hockey, playing with the Gippsland Bulls for many years, and more recently coaching the women’s team”, said the Mayor.

“Jacob continues to be involved with his local church, starting out as a Junior Youth Leader and now helping run the Sunday School program. He has also on numerous occasions been a volunteer Cabin Leader with Christian Youth Camp Ministries.

“Jacob continually shows great maturity, depth of character and leadership in all his endeavours.”

Community Event of the Year: Warragul SnowFest

The Warragul Business Group was awarded the Community Event of the Year award for their efforts organising the popular Warragul SnowFest event.

“Warragul SnowFest is a unique event in our local community delivering smiles and fun memories, awesome activities to visitors and locals as well as a boost to the local economy”, said the Mayor.

“With real snow brought down from Mt Baw Baw, the event transforms the streets of the Warragul CBD into a winter wonderland for all to explore and enjoy. The event provides a wonderful opportunity for our community to gather for some winter fun in a positive, safe and social environment with something on offer for all ages and abilities.”

The award was accepted by Jenny Muir on behalf of the Warragul Business Group.

Australia Day Medallion Recipients: Debbie Brown and Matt Runnalls

The first of the two Australia Day Medallions was awarded to former Baw Baw Shire Councillor and Mayor, Debbie Brown, who has been a dedicated advocate for the needs of the Labertouche and Longwarry community.

Debbie has a strong presence in various community organisations such as the Lions Club (Treasurer) and food security initiatives such as Second Bite, Food Bank, the Longwarry Community Garden and Orchard.

“Debbie remains the driving force behind many community welfare initiatives for social issues such as homelessness, women’s support and continues to lobby in support of our farmers”, said the Mayor.

“In addition to her more official representative duties, Debbie is a kind, caring, humble and welcoming individual who has a special knack for making everyone around her feel comfortable, valued and heard.”

The second Australia Day Medallion was awarded to Matt Runnalls who continues to establish himself as a young, inspirational, trailblazer with a strong personal interest and passion in helping those who struggle with mental health.

“At 26 years young, Matt is the founder and CEO of ‘MindfullAus’, a not for profit charitable organisation aimed at encouraging those affected by mental illness to speak up and seek support through education and other programs”, said the Mayor.

“Shining a light on mental health is now his life’s passion, working to make sure that others do not find themselves in helpless situations. Matt continues to advocate and breakdown the stigma around mental health and work towards prevention of suicide.”

Community Contribution - Environmental Achievement: Friends of Drouin’s Trees

The Environmental Achievement was awarded to Friends of Drouin’s Trees, who strive to ensure Drouin’s natural environment, significant trees and rural features, remain safe in the face of unprecedented residential growth and development.

“The group are collaborative and committed, working on projects to educate and encourage awareness both within Council and the community, of the incredible natural assets of Drouin”, said the Mayor.

“They are an amazing group of hard working volunteers who have put in countless hours of hard work to improve community awareness and appreciation of the outstanding tree assets and the associated habitat value we have in this Shire, and particularly in Drouin.”

The award was accepted by Peter Ware on behalf of the Friends of Drouin’s Trees.

Community Contribution - Cultural Achievement: Baw Baw Arts Alliance

The winner of the Cultural Achievement Award is the well-known Baw Baw Arts Alliance; a volunteer-run organisation that aims to reach out to and inspire through the arts, while also promoting and encouraging a vibrant and creative arts environment in our community.

“Established in 2010, the Baw Baw Arts Alliance provides a network for artists and those interested in the arts to share information and resources, to develop new skills, and promote the work of the local artists”, said the Mayor.

“The hardworking and dedicated group of volunteers are continually seeking funding opportunities to support, facilitate and encourage contemporary art, craft, design, music, writing and performance.

“They shine a spotlight on our local arts by creating a space in which different artists can exhibit and sell their works, which also helps support our local businesses through increased tourism to the area.

“One thing that stands above the rest is their passion to continually promote the value of arts and culture in all aspects of the community.”

The award was accepted by Kay Lancashire on behalf of the Baw Baw Arts Alliance.