Congratulations to our 2015 Australia Day Award winners
26 January 2015
Each year, the Greater Dandenong Australia Day Awards recognise the exceptional contribution of people in our community who are making a difference.
We congratulate our 2015 winners on their outstanding achievements and thank them for their part in making Greater Dandenong the city of opportunity.
Beverley Douglas Citizen of the Year
Beverley Douglas is a longstanding volunteer and community member who has been giving back to her community for nearly 30 years. Beverley has served on the committee of the Springvale Learning and Activity Centre where she has been instrumental in responding to a changing community through new program development and service delivery.
Beverley is noted for her positive ‘can-do’ attitude and willingness to step up. Under her influence, the Springvale Learning and Activity Centre has grown. It has embraced new programs that serve hundreds of residents each week to help them be connected, informed and valued members of our community.
Beverley’s community spirit and selfless voluntary commitment is the true embodiment of community service. The judging panel has noted that the years of dedicated service as a positive role model make her a standout for the Citizen of the Year.
Kelly Applebee Sports Person of the Year
Kelly has been an active member of the Dandenong Women’s Cricket Club for more than ten years in varied roles such as administrator, coach, captain and club president.
Kelly juggles her local role with being State representative cricketer as well as working full time. In her time as club president, Kelly has promoted women’s sport in local schools to encourage multicultural communities to participate in sport and has built a strong values base at the club.
She is a collaborative and inclusive individual to works tirelessly to promote participation in sport for women and girls.
Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network at Dandenong Neighbourhood House Leadership Award
This award category recognises groups and individuals within our community who provide a forum for strong leadership to make a difference in people’s lives. The Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network grew out of a need that became evident where local Afghan women were experiencing social isolation due to a lack of language ability and a lack of confidence in navigating through Australian society.
The Dandenong Neighbourhood House, particularly through the founders Zakia Baig, Sarifa Fayyazi and Sakina Basit and assisted by Rabia Nadir (pictured) responded to this need by initiating a network to link women together for mutual support. Initially looking at social connections, the group grew to provide English language classes, and then to train their own members to act as tutors for others in the group.
Overcoming significant personal hurdles, the participants have benefitted from strong connections with each other for support and the network has grown in number to become a fi rm platform for social connections and improved lives.
Rohullah Rahimi Young Leader of the Year
Rohullah has been active in the community since his arrival in 2012 to promote opportunities for young people, to support young Hazaras and to work collaboratively for greater discussion on youth issues.
This young man currently represents the Association of Hazaras on a sub-committee of the Refugee Council of Australia. He has been involved with the Centre for Multicultural Youth as a volunteer advisor, where he advocates for newly arrived young people. Rohullah is active in organising the annual Nawroz Festival to celebrate Afghan culture and he acts as MC for these events.
This remarkable young man has worked extensively with local youth through Council’s Young Leader’s Program and is committed to giving back to his adopted community through service and commitment. He has balanced his considerable volunteer work with both study and work, achieving much since he arrived in Australia a few short years ago.
Carroll-Jade Doran Highly Commended - Young Leader
Carroll-Jade has been active on the local Freeza Committee for the last four years and has a solid history of contributing her time and energy to voluntary work.
Carroll-Jade has been instrumental in delivering a range of events for young people including music events, a ‘Day of Action’, an Access All Abilities event and a number of school related extracurricular activities.
She also tutors other young people and has been a Council voluntary Ambassador for the past three years. Carroll-Jade is a VCE student who has balanced her community volunteering with her study and home commitments. She is a young woman with a great future.
Merle Mitchell AM Community Hall of Fame
This new award acknowledges the lifetime of achievements of Merle Mitchell.
This Springvale resident has shown outstanding and sustained involvement in community life to help all residents feel welcomed and valued in our community.
Natalie Irvine Volunteer of the Year
Natalie has been a volunteer language tutor within our community since 1994 where she commenced with the Dandenong Regional Adult Literacy Group. In 2003, she started at the Dandenong Library as a tutor in English conversation classes, moving into one on one tutoring with the Springvale Neighbourhood House.
Natalie is recognised, not only for her lengthy voluntary service, but also for the care she has taken in guiding those that she has tutored to lead more fulfilling and rewarding lives.
Her influence has helped many within our community to grow in skills and confidence to gain employment, go onto further study and to become productive and valued members of our local community.
Mas Mai Multicultural Award
Mas Mai is an active member of the Burmese community who has established a successful social enterprise, the Free Burma Cafe in Springvale as well as supporting the Burmese community in many ways.
Mas Mai is a leader in the community with an inclusive style and a focus on building harmony and inclusion. The Free Burma Cafe is an outward demonstration of Burmese food and culture but has also become a hub for community support.
From there, Mas Mai provides advice and assistance to the Burmese community, including the establishment of a community funeral fund to support grieving families, social activities for children and older adults, providing material goods and housing and bringing the community together for celebrations and prayer. Mas Mai is highly respected within his own community and more widely within the municipality as a community leader who promotes that value of the diverse culture of Greater Dandenong and promotes harmony and tolerance.
Gerry Ryan Corporate Citizen of the Year
Gerry Ryan is a very well known corporate figure in Greater Dandenong with a nationally successful business in Jayco. Jayco is a brand leader and based in Dandenong, employing thousands of local residents.
As well as being a strong corporate sponsor of teams such as the Dandenong Jayco Rangers basketball team, Gerry has a strong history of philanthropic work to assist others in our community. He has personally supported employment opportunities through Chisholm Tafe and local secondary schools, has a firm commitment to providing rewarding employment for local people and is a patron of the arts, sport and community.
He is always ready to give back. Gerry is a true professional who uses his skills and influence to provide opportunities for others to grow through work and training.
Abuk Bol Corporate Citizen of the Year Encouragement Award
Abuk Bol has established an African Women’s Sewing Collective in Dandenong, called ‘The Twich’ that engages women and trains them to be self sufficient through training and employment in the clothing industry.
As a migrant from South Sudan, Abuk has made this country her own: she has learned the language, manages a family of seven children, has obtained Australian qualifications and now assists other women to be trained and productive in garment production.
She is a fine role model for perseverance, determination, innovation and resilience to truly enrich the lives of others.