CLOSE to 300 people turned up to the Australia Day Awards Ceremony held at the Memorial Hall in Leongatha on Wednesday night, January 17 to celebrate all those nominated for an award.
The successful nominees were:
- South Gippsland Citizen of the Year: Paula Calafiore
- South Gippsland Event of the Year: Meeniyan Garlic Festival 2017
All nominees from the Youth Community Contribution category also received acknowledgement for their contribution to South Gippsland.
This category is non-competitive to recognise all young people that make a contribution to their community.
The Hon. Danny O’Brien, MLA for Gippsland South, Mayor Cr. Lorraine Brunt, Deputy Mayor, Cr. Aaron Brown, Cr. Ray Argento, Cr. Meg Edwards, Cr. Don Hill, Cr. Maxine Kiel, Cr. Andrew McEwan and Cr. Jeremy Rich were all present with an apology from Cr. Alyson Skinner.
The evening began with Fiona Curram playing the National Anthem then MC Ned Dennis, Council’s Community Strengthening Officer, handed over to Mayor Lorraine Brunt who took the stage and told all the nominees that they should all be proud of this recognition as it has not gone unnoticed in our communities.
“All your work makes the region shine a bit brighter,” she said.
“Also thank you to our nominators who made the effort to recognise these outstanding individuals.”
The annual event acknowledges individuals and community groups that make an outstanding contribution to the South Gippsland community.
“We wish to encourage all these individuals to continue making their mark in the future either here in South Gippsland or wherever their life shall lead,” Ned said.
Mayor Lorraine Brunt said the Australia Day Committee takes pride in assessing each nomination and learning of the exceptional work of our community members.
“Selecting the recipients for each award is always a difficult task as all the nominees are worthy.
“The Australia Day Committee takes pride in assessing each nomination and learning of the exceptional work of our community members,” she said.
The successful Citizen of the Year, Paula Calafiore is from Mirboo North and was nominated by Bernice Snell.
She is a prep teacher who devotes her spare time outside the classroom to multiple community organisations. She is a dedicated and hard-working person who consistently goes above and beyond to help run events and activities that enhance the vibrancy and culture of Mirboo North.
Bernice Snell said that Paula is only too happy to help out in her community and always does it with a big smile on her face. Although she would never be one to seek recognition and would be embarrassed by us ‘making a fuss’, Mirboo North residents are certainly appreciative of all that she does for her local community.
Paula was extremely thankful to receive the award and dedicated it to Dr Mario Croatto who delivered her 44 years ago in his first emergency caesarean section.
“When I saw him a few months before he died he took great delight in reminding me I was the reason for all his grey hairs.
“I hope this award makes it all worthwhile,” Paula said.
“At the risk of sounding cliched I accept this award on behalf of all of Mirboo North.
Together they make up and form 70 groups and organisations in our town.
“I think for a town of our size that’s pretty special.”
David Jones received the award for the Meeniyan Garlic Festival and was nominated by Meeniyan Festival and Events.
“The idea to create an event like this was my wife’s idea, like all good things I come across in life,” David said.
The inaugural Meeniyan Garlic Festival was a huge success attracting over 7,000 people.
The event had great support from the local community with 100 volunteers involved in the day led by a committee of 24. The event had a net profit of $29,000 and an economic benefit of an estimated $642,000 for the area including a collective profit of $11,000 for the community groups involved.
The Australia Day Honour Board in Council Chambers has been updated with the Citizen of the Year and Community Event of the Year recipients.
The night concluded with supper and more singing from Fiona Curram.