Outstanding volunteers earn Australia Day Awards

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Joint award winners have been declared for this year’s Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year Australia Day Awards in the Borough of Queenscliffe.

Mayor Tony Francis today announced the Borough’s 2017 Australia Day Award recipients, recognising the dedicated service of hard-working volunteers and organisations.

Five categories were awarded: Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Community Group of the Year, Community Environment Project of the Year and Community Event of the Year.

Cr Francis said it gave him great pleasure to officially acknowledge the efforts of all local Australia Day Award recipients.

“On behalf of Council and the wider community, I commend your drive, energy and dedication to others,” he said. “This recognition is a mark of our respect and to express how genuinely grateful we are, as the Borough community, for all your contributions to community life – past, present and hopefully future.”

“Very different individuals and groups - from all ages and walks of life - are represented in this year’s Awards,” Cr Francis said. “What you share in common with each other, and past recipients, is your outstanding leadership qualities and commitment to others to make local community life richer for all.

“These Awards recognise those people and groups who have made outstanding contributions to the Borough of Queenscliffe community. They also acknowledge the diversity of the programs run by volunteers, whose participation and involvement strengthens our community. You have all earned this recognition - and our sincere thanks.”

Borough of Queenscliffe's Australia Day Award winners for 2017:

Citizen of the Year – Joint Award: Fay Agterhuis and Marylou Gilbert.

Fay Agterhuis has given outstanding service to the Point Lonsdale Primary School as principal and committed her time, effort and energy in the local community during the last 16 years. Her voluntary service is exemplary and she is a positive, energetic role model for other residents. In her roles as volunteer, organiser, chair, leader and mentor, Fay inspires others on several community organisations.

She’s been actively involved the Point Lonsdale Christmas Tree since 1999 and Chairperson since 2014; Point Lonsdale Civic Association since 1999 and Chairperson since 2013;  Sand Dune Revegetation Group; Queenscliff Reconciliation Mob; Botanic Gardens Project Reference Group for 16 years; Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Reserve Project Reference Group as PLCA representative.  

Fay also actively participates in a wide range of activities assisting in the delivery of key services including: Point Lonsdale Primary School monthly market; Queenscliff Music Festival; Meals on Wheels; ARCARE; Rotary’s ‘Queenscliff Bricks’ Lego event since 2010; annual Australia Day Awards Event; annual ANZAC Day services;  Vietnam Veterans day since 1999; ‘Trees are Valuable’ program participant in 2015; Point Lonsdale Surf Club Nipper Program; and Drug Awareness Day.

Marylou Gilbert has dedicated herself to furthering the Borough of Queenscliffe’s cultural activities and her vision, networking and organisational skills have enabled many residents of all ages, to participate in film and literary events that would otherwise be unavailable to them due to both cost and distance. She has acted on a vision for the Borough of Queenscliffe which has promoted literature, its creation and enjoyment for all ages.

Working tirelessly to initiate and implement events of a national and international standing, Marylou has brought highly acclaimed Australian authors and international films to the Borough to allow local access.  Her efforts and networks greatly enhance the literary and cultural experiences available to all residents and has strengthened connections with neighbouring communities.

As a dedicated volunteer, Marylou’s achievements include: Co-founding the Bellarine Lighthouse Film weekend in Queenscliffe; co-founder and current President of the Queenscliffe Literary Festival, incorporating a Schools Day during the Literary Festival and initiating the annual Regional Tour of the St Kilda Short Film Festival to Queenscliffe. She also engages a broad range of the community in cultural activities, raising the Borough of Queenscliffe’s profile as a cultural destination.

Young Citizens of the Year – Joint Award: Aaron Ford and Oliver Hodge

Aaron Ford and Oliver Hodge are members of the Queenscliffe Neighbourhood House, HOUSE Gallery Committee and are both studying architecture at university.  Aaron and Oliver were both instrumental in organising the inaugural Head Start Youth Art Exhibition - 100% for youth by youth - which was held in September 2016.  The pair invited young emerging artists from the Bellarine Peninsula between the ages of 14-20 years to submit an ‘expression of interest’ to exhibit works exploring the concept of “home” encouraging artistic interpretation of both the physical and the abstract.

They planned exhibition arrangements as well as designing the Head Start youth Art logo and poster. They also led liaison with school art teachers and students on the Bellarine Peninsula and Geelong promoting the exhibition, as well as using social media to attract expressions of interest. Aaron and Oliver convened an Information night and collated applications, reporting regularly to the HOUSE Gallery committee. They also curated the exhibition and created a exhibition catalogue of all works, as well as organizing the successful exhibition launch event.

Community Group of the Year: Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club - 2015 Nippers in School Program

The Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club was the first Club in Victoria to conduct a Nipper Program, in December 1967 with 50 participants. The program has grown from 50 participants in 1967 to 450 boys and girls in the 2015-2016 season.

In November and December 2015, the Club conducted a pilot “Nippers in Schools” program which was so successful that it will be repeated this February. More than 80 students from grades 3-6 participated in a series of activities and those who completed the minimum number of sessions received a certification of completion from Surf Life Saving Australia.

The Nippers in Schools program was extremely successful due to the outstanding contribution of the diverse range of local volunteers and supporters from Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff and Ocean Grove. Instructors, chief instructors, water safety and administration support volunteers were on duty at all times to provide a safe and well run program. It featured board paddling, surfing, swimming, running, wading, lifesaving theory, and lots of fun beach activities.

Local and Melbourne businesses also generously donated significant funds to the program. The parents and schools were extremely supportive of the program and appreciative of the volunteers who delivered the sessions, many of the parents getting involved in training the next generation of beach goers in water safety and basic first aid.

Community Environment Project of the Year:  St Aloysius Primary School Environment Team – Kids Teaching Kids Local Conference  - Caring for our Bays.

The St Aloysius Primary School’s Kids teaching Kids local conference – Caring for our Bays in 2016 encouraged more than 100 students from five local and regional primary schools to share their knowledge and learn from each other about how to live sustainably and protect our natural habitats for the future.

The conference was held outdoors in the King Street Reserve, using the local environment as a learning space. It was organised by the Student Environmental leadership team and united community groups and local business towards supporting primary aged students to present engaging environmental workshops, guide beach activities and create environmental art works together. St Aloysius’ Year 5 and 6 students designed a variety of environmental workshops to teach their peers about important local environmental issues.

The workshops included hands on activities, guided walks, games and quizzes. Some of the leading students went on to represent St Aloysius with a video presentation at the Melbourne Water Kids Teaching Kids Conference. 

Community Event of the Year:  Queenscliff Music Festival

The Queenscliff Music Festival (QMF) was founded in 1997 by a small band of locals keen to see Queenscliff develop as a live music destination.

The result is a major annual event that has engaged the local community and contributed to the social and economic strength of Queenscliff. The 2016 festival was the 20th event with all weekend tickets sold well prior to the festival.  Committed local volunteers and local partnerships underpin the Queenscliff Music Festival. The success of the weekend relies on 500+ volunteers and local partnerships. In addition to the eight-member voluntary Board there are about 15 local volunteers who assist with the pre-festival organisation.

The event has achieved the goal of providing a high quality festival and making a positive contribution to the local community. The QMF contributes to the economic and social capital of the Borough both through the direct provision of funds into the community and the indirect economic contribution through increased tourism.

There is a high level of community participation in the event whether this is local volunteers, business operators, service and community groups or local people attending. This event is only possible because of the 500+ volunteers, its primary organisers.