Residents' achievements and dedication have been celebrated in the 2022 Port Macquarie-Hastings Australia Day Awards.
The award winners, drawn from a field of 19 nominees, are Jamie Donovan (Citizen of the Year), Georgia Ryan (Young Citizen of the Year), Larry Brook (Senior Citizen of the Year), Sue Baker (Environmental Citizen of the Year) and St Agnes' Catholic Parish Flood Recovery Group (Community Group of the Year).
Mayor Peta Pinson congratulated the recipients, saying their contributions exemplified Australian values and the spirit of the Port Macquarie-Hastings.
"This challenging year demonstrated to us that, more than ever, our people are what makes this community so incredible," she said.
"The strength that has been shown in times of uncertainty, by those who look out for others - that's what makes us Australian.
"These award recipients, through their compassion and determination, make our community a better place. They are sensational role models and seeing their commitment to overcome challenges to thrive and succeed is so inspiring."
Jamie is an inspiring Indigenous leader and is well respected and loved by the community.
Jamie presents a cultural program named "Connecting to Country Program" for all educational staff and works in consultation on cultural and language practices with the Department of Education and educational providers. Jamie also teaches Aboriginal dancing to many students across the area.
In the "Connecting to Country Program", Jamie facilitates the resources and Aboriginal guest speakers. He delivers the program in a meaningful and cultural way that incorporates all Aboriginal histories and culture.
He is a mentor for all students and encourages them to take responsibility and ownership for their own choices and education journey.
Jamie has been approached by schools to erect yarning circles and was instrumental in having a language wall built at Port Macquarie Public School that teaches the Birpai language to all students.
He was also approached by the Lake Cathie Public School about using the local totems for the house colours which has seen all the house colours being the local totems of the Birpai people.
Jamie is the chairperson of the Wauchope Bunyah Land Council, as well as the Mid North Coast Regional Aboriginal Men's Group and is a positive role model to all.
Georgia was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia in her final year of primary school.
Since this time, she has passionately advocated for people with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties.
She has been a committed youth ambassador for Dyslexia Mid North Coast for the past three years and spearheaded the "Go Red for Dyslexia" awareness campaign the past two years.
Georgia is also a keynote speaker at events, has published brochures and magazine articles and has secured 4325 signatures on her learning difficulties education petition to date.
She is recognised globally as a dyslexia warrior; winner of the Young Australian Writers' Award in Poetry 2017; winner of the International Tournament of Minds 2021; and encourages meaningful conversation by openly sharing her experiences of living with dyslexia on her social media platforms.
Larry has been awarded Senior Citizen of the Year in recognition of his lifelong volunteering, sporting, community and leadership activities across a wide range of organisations in our area.
Larry joined the Surf Life Saving movement in 1962 and remains a Port Macquarie Surf Life Saving Club coach and active patrol member, taking a leadership role as patrol vice-captain.
He coaches four sessions a week, amounting to more than 300 hours a year and has shown this commitment to young members for 21 seasons continually.
In his 60 years of Surf Life Saving competitions, Larry has won many branch, state and national medals and has one world championship medal to his name. He is a life member of the surf club, the Port Macquarie Swimming Club, the Port Macquarie Winter Swim Club and St John's Ambulance Australia.
Susan, affectionately known as Sue, formed the Dunbogan Bushcare Group in 1999 and has coordinated its weekly bush regeneration activities ever since.
She has coordinated a significant bush regeneration program in the Diamond Head-Kylie's Beach area and has worked closely with NPWS to plan and execute large-scale restoration of Crowdy Bay National Park.
The Bushcare Group has restored a number of habitats seriously degraded by invasive woody weeds, particularly littoral rainforest. Sue's work in the national park has seen significant regeneration of the habitat and has been successful in obtaining various environmental grants.
Sue has coordinated the Clean Up Australia Day Laurieton foreshore program for 17 years, and in 2018, initiated a koala food tree corridor in the Pilot Beach-Gogleys Lagoon area, as well as overseeing erosion control measures along the lagoon edge.
As a result of the severe flooding that impacted our area in March 2021, St Agnes' Catholic Parish established a flood recovery group under the leadership of Peter Johnson, parish staff and volunteers to provide immediate and long-term responses to assist those in need.
This support is ongoing. Recovery activities targeted helping those who were flood-affected.
This included the provision of emergency and mid-term accommodation; provision of food and clothing through the pop-up pantry; pastoral care and emotional support; financial support/relief for families and businesses, mental health and well-being support, and rebuilding of homes and property clean-up.
Assistance has also featured flood and building supplies vouchers; coordination of clean-up teams from within the parish community; facilities for the rest and recuperation for those flood-affected and the clean-up teams; assistance with individual applications for government funding and connections with suppliers and providers of support.
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