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Congratulations to Australia Day Award winners

2020 Mount Alexander Shire Australia Day Awards winners

Congratulations to the 2020 Mount Alexander Shire Australia Day Award winners and welcome to our newest citizens.

Sunday 26 January 2020

Mount Alexander Shire Council is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Australia Day Awards at a community event in Victory Park. This year’s winners are:

• Gary McClure – Citizen of the Year
• Vic Say – Senior Citizen of the Year
• Ada Levis – Young Citizen of the Year
• Castlemaine Farmers Market – Community Event of the Year

Mount Alexander Shire Mayor Christine Henderson congratulated the winners and praised the contribution of all nominees.

“Each year on Australia Day, our country honours the outstanding achievements of its citizens. Mount Alexander Shire is known far and wide as a highly passionate and engaged community, with an abundance of people who generously give up their time to make our shire a better place to live,” said Mayor Henderson.

“Today in presenting these awards, we publically acknowledge three outstanding individuals and a community event, and celebrate their valuable contributions to the social wealth of the Shire.

“This year’s award winners have been active volunteers for many years, or from an early age, and have dedicated their time to a variety of causes.”

Mayor Henderson said Council works with local elder and Traditional Owner Uncle Rick Nelson and the Upper Loddon Indigenous group Nalderun to coordinate the Australia Day activities.

“Having Uncle Rick, with Aunty Paulette Nelson and Kane Nelson on digeridoo perform a traditional Welcome to Country and having a Survival Day gathering area are important ways for us to include our Indigenous community,” said Cr Henderson.

This year Mount Alexander Shire welcomed a record 15 new citizens who pledged their allegiance in a special Citizenship Ceremony. Each citizen received a certificate, a native plant and a blessing to keep them safe on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

The crowd heard from Australia Day Ambassador and humanitarian Matthew Albert, who won the 2005 Victorian Young Australian of the Year Award. He started his career with the United Nations in Kenya and founded the Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning Program.

Guests enjoyed free ice cream, and entertainment from the Corker Orchestra. The Rotary Club of Castlemaine ran a BBQ to raise money for the bushfire relief fund.

“Thank you everyone who contributed to a wonderful day including all the community members, volunteers, staff and special guests who have helped make our Australia Day event such a success,” said Cr Henderson.

For more information visit www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/AustraliaDay.

Photo (L-R): SallyRose Carbines, President, Castlemaine Farmers Market with Ada Levis, Gary McClure and Vic Say. Photo by Diana Domonkos.

About the winners

Citizen of the Year – Gary McClure
Gary attended his first Rotary meeting back in 1963 when he was just 9 years old. Since then he has given 36 years of service to Rotary Castlemaine, or 47 years if you include his time spent as founding member of Rotaract, which is now a major Rotary-sponsored organisation for young people. Gary’s years at Rotary Castlemaine have been busy to say the least. He has had several leadership roles throughout this time including President, President Elect, Vice President, Club Board of Directors, Assistant Governor for the Goldfields Cluster and countless committee chair roles. He was named a Paul Harris Sapphire Fellow in recognition of his contribution to the organisation. Gary has made a significant contribution to many projects and events over the years but one most synonymous with his name is the Rotary Castlemaine Truck Show. This is the club’s largest fundraiser which raises about $30,000 each year. Over the last 20 years the show has helped to raise more than $600,000 to support community projects including youth scholarships, events, the purchase of equipment for charities and international projects. The event also has considerable flow-on benefits for the community through local spending, tourism and donations to local groups. But it’s not just trucks that Gary is involved with; he has also worked with the Castlemaine State Festival for more than 20 years. He was awarded a lifetime membership award for his contribution. Gary is renowned for his intelligence, creativity, resourcefulness and generosity.

Senior Citizen of the Year – Vic Say
Vic is recognised for his many years of continued service and the tireless contribution he has given to the community, in particular our Indigenous community. He has worked passionately to foster a real partnership between Council and our local Indigenous community, and create a collaborative relationship bound by respect and purpose.
Uncle Rick Nelson paid tribute to Vic that the Jaara community and Nalderun Aboriginal organisation “would not be anywhere near our standing in Mount Alexander Shire and beyond if it was not for Vic and his family’s unbiased commitment to help us obtain a presence and to help try to make all people aware of the Aboriginal history of this region.”
Vic has also made significant contributions to the South Sudanese and broader African community that migrated to our shire. He has been described by members of this community as the "bridge" between them and Council. He has assisted with driving lessons, English lessons and computer skills. Vic also has a long connection with the community as a school teacher and principal at various schools around our shire. He has been a teacher in the U3A program for many years. Vic is well respected, passionate and courageous.

Young Citizen of the Year – Ada Levis
Ada is a respected leader and a highly valued member of the community. She is a member of Council’s FReeZA Committee, which coordinates music events and activities for young people. In this capacity she has planned, facilitated and evaluated ten events over the last 3½ years. Ada is a talented musician and is passionate about music and radio. She volunteers her time to host two weekly radio shows on community radio station MAINfm, including one that starts at 5.30am, which she presents before school. Ada is an integral member of the local all-girl band Stop That Mammoth, which won the 2018 Battle of the Bands. The group has gone from strength to strength and now plays gigs in the region and beyond, including in Melbourne. In 2019 Ada took out the Youth Award for Leadership in Music and the Arts and was a successful applicant of Council’s Quick Response Youth Grants where she began a program to support young musicians and build connections. She has also organised various fundraising events. Ada volunteers on a number of committees including the MAINfm Social Media and Programming Committee and is a member of the Student Representative Council at Castlemaine Secondary College. Ada is a hardworking, diligent and driven young woman who achieves all of this whilst completing VCE studies, a qualification in radio broadcasting and a part time job.

Community Event of the Year – Castlemaine Farmers Market
For the last 16 years Castlemaine Farmers Market has given local residents and visitors the opportunity to access fresh, seasonal, locally grown food. The market hosts more than 100 small business and gives them a platform to sell their produce, meet customers and demonstrate how their delicious food can be prepared and enjoyed. The produce swap is very popular, and many highly sought after! Around 2,000 people head to each market. The market is very popular and well attended, with conservative estimates that the market generates around $2.5 million in sales each year. This has other flow-on benefits for local businesses, with many tourists visiting our shire to make the most of the amazing local produce sold at these markets. Castlemaine Farmers Market celebrates our local growers and producers. It’s a centralised point for locals and visitors to come together, shop, share, enjoy food and drink, music and meet new friends. The market raises more than $12,000 each year for the local SES and sales at the community BBQ raises around $5,000 for local community groups.

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