Worthy award winners celebrated at Australia Day at the Farm

The Australia Day Awards are run by local governments across the states of Australia. The Awards recognise community service at a local level and are administered through a nomination program, which is assessed by a local selection committee and/or councillors.

The 2016 Australia Day Awards ceremony was held at Bella Vista Farm as part of The Hills Shire Council’s Australia Day celebrations.

Mayor of the Hills Shire Dr Michelle Byrne said the Awards are a great way to encourage those who sacrifice time and effort for their local community.

“The Hills Shire is very lucky to have a high level of community participation in volunteer programs and events. We are also lucky to have individuals and groups within our council that go above and beyond the works that organised groups perform to help one another in their own time often using their own resources,” Mayor Byrne said.

“The Australia Day Awards program gives council a public opportunity to recognise the efforts of outstanding individuals who have contributed to making the Hills Shire the wonderful place to live that it is.”

This year’s Australia Day Awards were awarded across five categories; Young Citizen of the Year, Citizen of the Year, Senior Citizen of the Year, Community Project of the Year-Excellence in Community and Community Project of the Year-Social Enterprise Awards.

Citizen of the Year was awarded to Donna Fraser who received the award for her outstanding and continued service to the Hills Shire community since moving to the area in 1983. Since then she has been a member of the Sydney Hills Zonta Club where she has held executive positions such as vice president, secretary and treasurer. Donna has also been the club representative on the Hills Domestic Violence Prevention Network and Hills Multicultural Network and most recently she has been elected as the District 24 (NSW/ACT) treasurer for the period 2016-2020.

Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to Laura Wood. Laura has been heavily involved in a range of extracurricular activities aimed at building school spirit and establishing ties to the local community including the Christmas Food Drive, peer support, peer tutoring, Hills Relay for Life, Red Cross Blood Drive and 40hr Famine.

The Senior Citizen of the Year Award in 2016 was shared between two winners Warren Glenny and Grahame Utley. Warren’s service with the Castle Hill RSL Group and The Hills community expands and covers a vast array of activities including involvement in Relay for Life, Red Shield Business Appeal, Help2Help Cambodia Community Building Scholarship and the Rattle N Hum Car Show for Tallowood Special Needs School. Grahame Utley has been an active member of the community for over 35 years. Grahame joined Baulkham Hills Lions Club in 1978 after a chance meeting with a member of the Lions Club at the Castle Hill Show. Grahame remains an active member of the Lion’s Club to this day.

The Hills Daily Grind was the recipient of the Community Project – Excellence in Social Enterprise award. The Hills Daily Grind works with at-risk youth and those with physical disabilities to affect positive outcomes such as improved self-esteem, increased confidence and pathways to employment and further education.

The winner of the Community Project – Excellence in Community was awarded to Mental Health Month Country Style High Tea. The Mental Health Month Country Style High Tea involved more than 22 volunteers from 12 different organisations all working together to deliver vital messages about the importance of looking after your own mental health and reducing the stigma of talking about mental illness with others. Over 100 guests, from consumers to community leaders and service providers attended the sold out event which was held in the Education Pavilion at Castle Hill Showground.

Three Mayoral Commendation Awards were also awarded in 2016 in the categories of Mayoral Commendation Award winner, Young Citizen of the Year Sporting Achievement and Citizen of the Year Sporting Achievement.

The winner of the Mayoral Commendation Award was Mike Yeo. Mike is commended for the significant time and effort he put into the Centenary of Anzac commemorations in 2015 and devotes a number of hours each week in service to the Castle Hill RSL sub branch. Mike has been a member of the Sydney Hills Business Chamber for 20 years, chairman and board member of HillsSIP (now 2realise) and is also involved in Relay for Life and many other community events.

The Mayoral Commendation for Young Citizen of the Year- Sporting Achievement was awarded to Janath Kasthuriarachchi and the Mayoral Commendation award for Citizen of the Year -Sporting Achievement was awarded to Brad Mitchell.

“I would encourage all Hill locals to take time to congratulate the wonderful efforts of the individuals and groups that received Australia Day Awards this year. I would also encourage locals to take notice of the community work that people and groups around them perform in 2016 and nominate them for an Australia Day Award next year,” Mayor Bryne said.