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Hawkesbury 2024 Australia Day Awards winners announced

Australia Day Awards
2024 australia day award winners scott hinks, keith acton, melissa crane, nellie briddle (kurrajong nursing home auxiliary), gemma king, kylie thompson (windsor high school) and rochelle miller.

Hawkesbury City Council proudly hosted this year’s Hawkesbury Australia Day Awards at Windsor Function Centre on Friday, 26 January 2024.

The awards are an integral part of Australia Day to recognise and honour the outstanding achievements of everyday Australians in the Hawkesbury.

As part of the ceremony, a Welcome to Country was given by Erin Wilkins, a Boorooberongal woman of the Darug Nation. Council acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land and showed respect for elders past, present and future and extended that respect to all First Nations people.

The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Sarah McMahon congratulated all award recipients, including the 2024 Citizen of the Year – Keith Acton, the 2024 Young Citizen of the Year – Gemma King and the Community Organisation of the Year – Kurrajong Nursing Home Auxiliary.

“The amazing work and achievements of this year’s winners is certainly worthy of recognition and celebration. Congratulations and thank you for the many wonderful contributions you have made to our community,” Mayor McMahon said.

The 2024 Hawkesbury Australia Day Ambassador, Ricardo Goncalves, talked about his career and charity

Mr Goncalves currently fronts SBS World News, is SBS Finance Editor, hosts Small Business Secrets, and presents the SBS On the Money Podcast/Vodcast. He is also works with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and has volunteered his time assisting with migrant and LGBTI causes.

Federal Member for Macquarie Ms Susan Templeman, Hawkesbury Police Area Commander Acting Superintendent Stone and Inspector Clements, RAAF Base Richmond Wing Commander Todd Yurkowski, and Hawkesbury City Councillors attended the event along with the nominators, nominees, family members and friends of the award winners.

2024 Hawkesbury Australia Day Award Recipients
Keith Acton – Citizen of the Year
Gemma King – Young Citizen of the Year
Scott Hinks, Rochelle Miller – Local Hero Award
Kurrajong Nursing Home Auxiliary – Community Organisation of the Year
Melissa Crane – Sportsperson of the Year
Windsor High School Thursday Lunchtime Interest Group – Arts and Culture Award

Citizen of the Year: Keith Acton
This Award is given to a person in the community who goes above and beyond.

Keith has volunteered in the local Macdonald Valley / Wisemans Ferry community for the past 17 years.

Keith has been a member of the Wisemans Ferry RFS since 2007 and joined the Lower MacDonald RFS in 2015. He is a joint member of both brigades and is the President and Equipment Office of the Lower MacDonald RFS. Keith is also officially employed 1 day per week at Wisemans Ferry Public School as a Grounds and Maintenance since 2015, however you will see Keith at the school most days volunteering his time to complete the tasks that cannot be completed within his 1 day per week employment. He is also always available to assist with extra activities like Father’s Day Breakfast BBQs, Grandparent Days, School fetes and even attending school on Sundays to put out the garbage bins for collection.

Keith has also volunteered his time to assist with the organisation and operation of Wisemans Ferry ANZAC day services and marches and now holds the official title of Vice President of the ANZAC Day committee. Keith also volunteers his time to assist elderly and less able community members with anything from lawn mowing, garden maintenance, general maintenance, dog minding and social and emotional supports.

During the recent floods, Keith worked together with the NSW RFS and NSW SES to coordinate and assist with food deliveries, hay and animal food deliveries, fuel deliveries, removing horses from paddocks inundated with flood waters and most importantly emotional support to people in the community.

Young Citizen of the Year: Gemma King
Young Citizen of the Year is awarded to a young person, 25 years of age and under, who has contributed significantly to the Hawkesbury and has demonstrated selflessness, commitment and involvement in activities in the Hawkesbury.

Gemma was school captain of her local primary school Windsor Public, and she was sports person of the year twice as well as receiving a citizenship award from the Rotary in year 6. Gemma received a Go foundation scholarship for year 11 and 12 and was vice captain at the Hills Sport High School. Gemma also received the premiers sporting challenge medal and another Rotary award for hospitality. Gemma is a young indigenous proud Darug woman who is involved in all cultural events where possible.

Gemma has been swimming Laps for Life for youth mental health since 2019 and has raised more than $16,000 for young people and their families who are struggling. She organised a fundraising event at Richmond Theatre to assist her with her fundraising. She has also sold many chocolates, tie dyed shirts (made by herself) organised a raffle with all prizes being donated from local businesses and by asking many people to donate. After losing her friend and classmate who was a local boy to suicide Gemma hopes to help others get the help they need and is now also on the Board of Headspace Hawkesbury.

Community Organisation of the Year: Kurrajong Nursing Home Auxiliary
This award is presented to a voluntary service or community group for their outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of the Hawkesbury community.

The volunteers from the Nursing Home Auxiliary are a group of community minded people who have fundraised for the Kurrajong and District Nursing Home for over 41 years. These funds are directed towards the comfort of residents and staff of the nursing home and have provided outdoor extensions, terracing, dining room, gardens, and lounges. The Auxiliary can reflect with pride on seeing the items provided make the nursing home residents’ stay more comfortable.

Between 1982 and 2008, they raised more than $400,000. In the last ten years they have raised over $200,000, which has assisted with a refurbishment of the nursing home.

Local Hero Award: Scott Hinks
The Local Hero Award acknowledges the recipient’s outstanding dedication and contribution to the Hawkesbury through voluntary services, expertise or community leadership that has improved the lives of others.

Scott is the President of the Richmond Lions Club, an advocate for Flood Mitigation and a member of the Richmond RSL sub branch.

As the President of the Richmond Lions Club for two years running, Scott has overseen major projects which directly benefit the Hawkesbury and surrounds resulting in $380,000 raised for the community by the club. He is an advocate for Flood Mitigation, reaching out to media organisations and politicians to ensure the Hawkesbury was not forgotten about once the flood waters recede.

Scott has also overseen major projects which include gifting a specially fitted mini bus for the special needs school South Creek, hosting Comedy for a Cause with all proceeds going to RuffTRACK and The Women’s Cottage, purchasing a ride on mower for RuffTRACK, donating two walkers to the Lions Mobility Foundation, encouraging student attendance by rewarding students of Windsor South Public School with a BBQ at the end of each term, sponsoring the B Kinder anti-bullying program at Windsor and Bligh Park Public Schools, handing out blankets and beanies to the homeless during winter, holding an outdoor cinema event in Windsor.

Local Hero Award: Rochelle Miller
Rochelle has made a significant impact on Ebenezer Public School. She has held several voluntary roles within the school some of which are Secretary of the Parents & Citizens Association and Supervisor of the school crossing where she advocated to local and state authorities for supervised school crossings this resulted in an additional 78 schools being approved for a crossing including Ebenezer Public School and St Monica’s Catholic Primary School.

Rochelle also played a significant role in the communicating in the Lower Portland community during the floods. She administers the Lower Portland Community Facebook page which has been a vital communication tool during the recent flood events in the area. Rochelle’s was also focused on the plan for the restoration of Greens Road. Lobbying all levels of government resulted in approval by Resilience NSW for funding to restore the road.

Sports Person of the Year: Melissa Crane
Awarded to a person who has demonstrated success or achievement as a player of sport in the Hawkesbury.

Melissa has made a significant contribution to the Pitt Town Football Club and the Pitt Town District Sports Club, including the historic achievement of having of eight girls from Pitt Town Football Club leading the Australian Women’s Football Team, the Matildas, into a FIFA Women’s World Cup Semi-Final on August 16th, 2023.

Melissa’s dedication and hard work in accrediting Pitt Town Football Club over the course of ten years played a pivotal role in making this achievement possible.

Melissa’s relentless efforts to ensuring that Pitt Town Football Club adhered to Football Australia’s processes and procedures for club governance, coaching, training, sportsmanship financial management, and inclusion of female football were instrumental. This commitment to accreditation laid the foundation for the club’s success and it was the first club in the Hawkesbury and the Nepean Football Association to hold accreditation with Football Australia.

Arts and Culture Award: Windsor High School Thursday Lunchtime Interest Group
This award recognises members of the community who have significantly contributed to the development of the arts and culture in the Hawkesbury.

This award is presented to a voluntary service or community group for their outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of the Hawkesbury community.

The Thursday Lunchtime Interest groups were initiated in 2018 to provide extra-curricular activities for the students. Thursdays were a day when school finished early, and students often found it hard to get home.

The interest groups were created to provide students the opportunity to stay at school and be a part of inclusive groups that had a broad range of interests that students identified.

The Thursday Lunch Interest Group have given the students the opportunity to try new things and develop new skills like dance, technology, chess, Futsal and outdoor soccer, junior band, agriculture, ‘mind, body and soul’, drama, crochet/knitting, Sister Speak, singing group, basketball, puzzle group, bollywood dance, public speaking and debating, Netball Academy and a Yearbook Committee for Year 12. This wide range of activities equips students with sporting, social, and art skills while also broadening their outlook and giving self-confidence.

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