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Recognising our local community heroes

Recognising our local community heroes 

Monday, March 18, 2024

Five deserving locals were recognised for their outstanding contributions to our community at the presentation of the City of Whittlesea Community Awards yesterday.  

A long-standing local volunteer, a dedicated and passionate campaigner on issues facing young people, a Baby Boomer helping older people in the community connect, a high-school teacher focused on environmental sustainability and the founder of a local support agency for migrant and refugee women all received awards for helping to make the City of Whittlesea an even better place for all.   

The 2023 City of Whittlesea Community Awards recipients were announced at the Community Festival on Sunday 17 March, 2024. 

Council received nominations for 38 people with the winners selected by a committee that included past winners, independent community members and a representative from Council’s panel of Administrators. 

Administrator Christian Zahra AM said that the large number and high calibre of nominations received this year showed that there are many in our community going above and beyond.  

“As a committee we were so impressed with the nominations this year. It really shows the community spirit is alive and well when people are stepping up, helping others and making a difference,” he said.  

Christian thanked the City of Whittlesea Community Awards Committee for their work in reviewing nominations and selecting the winners. 

“I’d like to congratulate our award recipients and to all those nominated, and on behalf of the community – thank you for helping to make the City of Whittlesea a better place for everyone.” 

Community Award recipients 

Citizen of the Year: Judith Clements 

As a member of the Whittlesea Showgrounds and Recreation Reserves Committee of Management, Judith has been volunteering to support the Whittlesea Showgrounds and Whittlesea Park for over 30 years. Judith is also a life member of the Whittlesea Agricultural Society Inc., on the board of the Yan Yean Cemetery Trust, is a member of the Whittlesea Historical Society, Friends of Toorourrong and Whittlesea Township and Surrounds Community Resilience Committee and works tirelessly to support these associations and in turn the Whittlesea community.   

Senior Citizen of the Year: Christine McDonald 

Christine is the founder of the Doreen Baby Boomers Facebook page; a group where seniors in the community can get together, meet new people and socialise. The group has helped many seniors in the area to connect and form friendships. Christine shares information and organises activities and outings including luncheons, book club, walking groups and guest speakers. 

Young Citizen of the Year: Kaynat 

Kaynat is a dedicated young person who is an active voice for young people in the community. Kaynat has worked on projects and campaigns addressing issues facing young people’s health and wellbeing, including vaping and gambling. Kaynat was an active member of the Youth Advisory Committee and is now a member of the City of Whittlesea Youth Council.   

Access and Inclusion Citizen of the Year: Norma Medawar 

Norma is the founder of the Zenobia Association, a not-for-profit agency that supports refugee and migrant women to build a new life in Australia. Through Zenobia, Norma offers a range of information sessions, wellbeing programs, cultural events and excursions. Norma is a well-respected mentor and leader within the Syrian community and takes pride in her role as a Job Victoria Mentor at Whittlesea Community Connections, assisting people from CALD backgrounds into employment.    

Sustainable Citizen of the Year: Ben Coleman 

Ben manages local environmental sustainability group EnviroFriends, actively working to restore wetlands. Working as an Environmental Science teacher at St.Monica’s College, Ben and his students also maintain the school garden and build and monitor nesting boxes for birds and possums. Ben runs the BirdNET-Pi education program and is passionate about teaching young people about climate change and helping them get involved in environmental sustainability.