Hawkesbury announces Australia Day Winners and welcomes new citizens

This year’s Hawkesbury Australia Day Awards were held at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in Windsor on Friday evening 25 January 2019. The awards are an integral part of Australia Day celebrations, recognising and honouring the outstanding achievements of everyday Australians in the Hawkesbury.

As part of the ceremony, Council acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land, the Darug people, and showed respect for elders past, present and future and extended that respect to all Aboriginal people.

Darug elder, Aunty Edna Watson and Krystal Melvin, a young Darug woman and the granddaughter of Aunty Edna, offered a very moving Welcome to Country on the eve of Australia Day.

The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Barry Calvert said Council was very proud to host the awards.

“Congratulations to all of our Australia Day Award winners,” the Mayor said.

“Thank you for the contributions you have made to the Hawkesbury community.

“Thank you also to the nominators, family and friends of the winners who have come to celebrate and honour the efforts of their loved ones.”

2019 Hawkesbury Australia Day Ambassador, Cheryl Koenig OAM attended the Hawkesbury Australia Day Awards. Cheryl is well known for her community work and as a motivational speaker. Her stories are inspirational journeys of life and the importance of hope, resilience and family.

Cheryl was 2009 NSW Woman of the Year, and in 2014 she received the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to people with disabilities, their families and carers. Her involvement with disability services arose out of caring and advocacy for her son who was severely injured in a vehicle accident. That story was captured in her first book, Paper Cranes. Cheryl continues to volunteer her time to improve health care services, which she combines with her passion for writing.

Cheryl is the author of four books and is a lifetime member of the Brain Injury Association of NSW, an ambassador for The Friendship Foundation, an ambassador for the Brain Injury Australia’s ‘SIDETEMBER’ Initiative and for Synapse Queensland’s ‘Band-on-a-Beanie’ Initiative.

The Hawkesbury welcomed over 40 new citizens in the special citizenship ceremony held on the same evening at the Gallery.

“Becoming an Australian citizen is a major decision involving commitment, responsibility and public recognition. It is also the beginning of your formal membership of the Australian community. It is the step that will enable you to say 'I am Australian',” the Mayor said.

“I congratulate all of the Australia Day citizenship candidates on making their decision to become Australian citizens.”

The new citizens were welcomed from a range for countries including Canada, China, Iran, Lebanon, Malta, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

2019 Hawkesbury Australia Day Australia Day Award Winners:

The 2019 Citizen of the Year is awarded to Ross Matheson

Ross is the current President of Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association, a not for profit Association which manages and operates the Hawkesbury Showground at Clarendon. The Association is comprised of volunteers and members who are committed to sustaining the Agricultural Show movement and to the development, maintenance and ongoing management of the Hawkesbury Showground.

Ross has been a member of the Association for more than 40 years, a committee member and director of the Association for some 30 years, Vice President for over 10 years, Deputy President from 2013 to 2015 and President in from 2016 to now. Ross has been Head of the Showground Works Committee for many years.

All of these roles have been undertaken on a voluntary basis. His commitment is 365 days a year as the Showground is an all year business, staging not only the annual Hawkesbury Show but also the hosting of a range of externally organised events throughout the year.

Ross's achievements include:

  • significant contribution to the development of the Showground from a bare tract of land in 1986 to one of the premier showground and event facilities in the Greater Western Sydney Region
  • leading a small number of full time employees and the team of volunteers to stage the very successful annual Hawkesbury Show
  • working with users of the Showground, both permanent users and short term event organisers to ensure the staging of successful events
  • contributing to the ongoing financial stability and viability of the Showground to ensure the ongoing financial independence of the Association and the self-funding of assets under its control.

In his Head of Works Committee role over the last few years, Ross has planned, project managed and completed projects with a value of around $700,000 including upgrade to the internal roads and drainage within the Showground, construction of a new ambulant toilet block and installation of a bore and irrigation system to the Showground’s main arena.

The Volunteer of the Year is awarded to Phillip Hurst and Betty Kelly (two Awards)

Phillip Hurst

Phillip has been a volunteer in the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service for more than 35 years. He joined Kurrajong Heights Brigade in 1981 where he is still a very active member.

He has held the position of Senior Deputy Captain, Deputy Captain, brigade treasurer, permit officer and brigade management team member. Phillip is also a Deputy Group Captain in the Hawkesbury District a position which he has held since 2012.

Phillip has been instrumental in running the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service District High School Cadet program. This program started in the Hawkesbury in 2009 and Phillip has been participating in this program since 2011.

The schools that have been involved over this time include Colo High School, Windsor High School, Hawkesbury High School and Arndell Anglican College. In the time Phillip has been involved over 200 Hawkesbury students graduated through the program.

The program can only run if local Rural Fire Service volunteers donate their time to participate. The program provides Year 9 and 10 students with an insight into fire safety and prevention whilst developing practical life skills and a general appreciation of community service and volunteerism.

Phillip is deserving of this award because of the amount of time, effort and passion he has put into the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service District High School Cadet program over many years. Without people like Phillip, programs like this would not run and the community would be lacking in volunteers and future leaders for the Rural Fire Service.  He is a great mentor to the participating students as well as to the many volunteers who help him every week.

Betty Kelly

Betty Kelly received a life membership of the Hawkesbury Hospital Auxiliary in July 2018 in recognition of more than 15 years of continuous service to Hawkesbury Hospital patients, their families and friends as well as to the staff of the health service. During her time as a volunteer, Betty fulfilled important leadership roles including as Vice-President of the Auxiliary for a number of years. Betty was a significant contributor to volunteer ward services in her earlier years in the Auxiliary and also managed the group of volunteers who visited patients in the wards. Betty also volunteered very regularly in the Hospital Gift Shop working many days a month over many years.

In October 2018, Betty turned 90 and, although her mobility is now quite restricted, she still continues to volunteer in the Gift Shop, working an average of five shifts per month. This is a remarkable achievement. She also is regular contributor at fundraising events at the Hospital and is known as someone who can solve issues and ensure smooth conduct of often quite pressured situations.

While Betty’s service is outstanding and a testament to a conspicuous commitment to serve her community, it is her role as a mentor and guide to the other volunteers in the Auxiliary, that is exemplary.

The 2018 Community Organisation of the Year is City Slickers Appeal

The City Slickers Appeal is a 100% Not-for-Profit organisation. It helps our fellow Australian Country Men, Women and Children who are suffering from the devastating effects of drought.

City Slickers has provided a tangible and present mechanism for people of the Hawkesbury to support and connect with farmers.

This initiative has brought together many businesses and people in support of a great cause.  Relationships have been built both within the Hawkesbury and with our country friends, and it is these relationships that will no doubt have a positive effect should the Hawkesbury be in need of assistance in the future.

The Local Hero Award is awarded to Sherri McMahon

Since arriving in the Macdonald Valley in 1996, Sherri has quickly settled herself in and became a valuable member of the small, rural community. Joining the local Volunteer Bushfire Brigade and training as a Firefighter, she went on to become a Deputy Captain and eventually Senior Deputy. As a Primary Producer, Sherri shared her knowledge, successes and concerns with others and was subsequently elected as a Trustee of the St Albans Common.

Through flood, fire and drought, Sherri has stood by her community. She established an effective, widespread email network and she regularly notifies residents (and Weekenders) of the events which are shaping their lives. Sherri provides prompt, accurate and up-to-date information as events unfold.

Sherri has managed, to bring all the community together, whether it be fighting for a common cause, addressing threats to the community, supporting local institutions such as the St Albans School of Arts, Macdonald Valley Public School and the Writers Festival or welcoming new residents.

The Hawkesbury Environmental Award is awarded to Windsor High School

Windsor High students Harrison Moxon, Sean Gaiter, Chase Wright and Caleb Chase entered a competition called Innovation Nation run by the Foundation for Young Australians which required them to develop ideas for social and environmental change. Windsor High was one of the 10 teams selected on the merit, worthiness and the ability of their project. They received a $1,000 micro grant, online resources, as well as coaching sessions with experienced business leaders.

The students focused on rubbish reduction and recycling and created the Cash Cage Project which came about after they had conducted an audit of the garbage bins at the school. The Cash Cage was donated and it became a whole school project as students used it to separate different recyclable items right across the school.

The money earnt for the school from the return and earn part of the Cash Cage was given to the student community and they determined what the money would be used for. The funds raised were used to purchase compost bins to aid further reduction of waste and to make a product to improve the quality of the soil in the school gardens and agriculture plot.

The whole community also benefits from this project because the students take the waste reduction principles home and share the recycling message.

Please visit Council’s homepage or Like and Follow Hawkesbury Events Facebook to see the photos from the Australia Day Awards, Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony and Australia Day on the Hawkesbury.

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