2016 Casey Australia Day Award Winners

The annual Casey Australia Day Award winners were announced at a special ceremony on Australia Day, Tuesday 26 January 2016.

Casey Citizen of the Year – Cathy Wieckmann

Cathy was the co-founder of Christians Helping in Primary Schools (CHIPS), which has over 500 volunteers in 34 Casey schools. The Life Gets Better Camps, Chaplaincy program and Lead On youth program were all founded by Cathy. Cathy is an outstanding achiever who in her profession and as a volunteer, leads by example, demonstrates excellence and inspires others. She goes over and above in her role with CHIPS where she has been able to develop the programs in line with the changing needs of Casey’s diverse community. Her philanthropy extends to other important charities including the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Thailand’s Zoe Orphanage Foundation. Cathie’s life message is to “live above the line and leave a legacy” - a fitting motto for her year ahead as the 2016 Casey Citizen of the Year. 

Casey Young Citizen of the Year – Oliver Thomson

At 13 years of age, Oliver can already be called a “triple threat”, as a talented musician, singer and dancer. From a young age, Oliver Thomson has showed a great passion for the Arts and a spirit of philanthropy well beyond his years. Oliver combines his artistic talents with a desire to help others through community involvement and active support for charities and fundraisers. Oliver is a regular co-presenter of the Casey Radio Arts Hour, a member of the National Boys Choir and has performed in local theatre productions, countless school plays, musicals, recitals and debates. As Casey Young Citizen of the Year, Oliver is recognised as an exceptional young person whose artistic talents, altruism and community contribution has greatly enriched the Casey community.

Casey Senior Citizen of the Year – Rick Beeby

Since joining Riding for the Disabled Doveton ten years ago, Rick has been involved in all aspects of the program and his experience with horses is invaluable. Rick runs coaching sessions for riders with disabilities, accompanies riders to competitions, coordinates volunteers, collects horse feed and repairs fences. Rick is acknowledged as an exceptional person who brings passion and enjoyment to others and continues to achieve and contribute. He lives and breathes RDA and throughout his 10 years of service, has shown an outstanding long-term commitment to the riders with disabilities, volunteers, coaches, committee members and the horses.

Casey Sportsperson of the Year – Chandlar Felton

Chandlar is a talented and dedicated footballer who is committed to her dream of being part of the AFL Women’s Football League. Chandlar plays for the Fountain Gate Football Club and was selected to participate in the Dandenong Stingrays Youth Girls Development Squad. Being hearing impaired since birth has not hindered Chandlar’s determination to excel in her sport and reach her goals. Chandlar is acknowledged for her sporting achievements, as well as her determination, courage and sense of fair play. Chandlar puts in 100% every time she pulls on a pair of football boots. During competition, at training and while coaching Auskick kids, Chandlar sets an example for others to work hard, overcome obstacles and strive to achieve their sporting and life goals.

Casey Non-resident of the Year - Brianna Loves

As a teacher at Hampton Park Primary School, Brianna has worked hard to break down some of the cultural and communication barriers that can exist between school, home and the community. In this multicultural and diverse school community, Brianna makes all members feel included, supported and valued. Through her involvement on the school's Kids Matter Action Team, Brianna has been instrumental in implementing this framework of social and emotional learning throughout the school curriculum. Brianna’s teachings in the field of science and the multicultural and inclusive activities she leads, have all had a great impact on the school and wider Casey community.

Highly Commended Certificate - Sage Collie

The social impact of Sage Collie’s contribution to Operation Newstart Casey, an innovative program to re-engage young people in education, has been significant particularly to the many young students participating in the program with whom she has left an everlasting impression. She uses her skills and creativity to make personal portfolios for every student and also a graduation film. Sage’s commitment extends beyond this program and she also volunteers on weekends with children with disabilities. Sage is highly commended for this important work which she undertakes with a generous and caring nature, being a shining example and inspiration to others.

Casey Community Event/Activity of the Year 2015 – Doveton Show Committee for the  Doveton Show 2015

Now in its 11th year, the 2015 Doveton Show attracted over 27,000 visitors. With a gold coin entry fee, wide range of free activities and low cost rides and showbags, the 2015 Doveton Show provided an affordable and fun outing for families. Free activities were run throughout the event and included displays, demonstrations, entertainment and competitions. Volunteers on the Doveton Show Committee worked hard to ensure a safe, accessible and successful community event.

Casey Community Fundraising Event/Activity of the Year 2015 - In 2 Life Inc for the Halloween Spooktacular Party

This community event aimed to raise awareness of mental health issues in young people and raised funds for Preventing Suicide in Youth which is auspiced by In 2 Life Inc. These funds will enable the group to train new volunteers and youth mentors to support intervention and life skills programs for young people aged 12-16 years. Held on Halloween, the Spooktacular party was a fun event which included a meal, entertainment, DJ and games.

Highly Commended Certificate - Touched by Olivia Foundation for the Livvi’s Place Open Day

The Livvi’s Place Open Day was held at Marriot Waters Recreation Reserve at Livvi’s Place, an inclusive play space designed to enable children of all abilities to play side by side. The event was attended by well over 1000 people including many children with disabilities and their families. Children were delighted with activities like kite flying, face painting and use of the new playground equipment. Performers from local disability groups provided entertainment including dancing, drumming and Auslan sign language songs.

Highly Commended Certificate - Narre Warren Fire Brigade for the Narre Warren Fire Brigade Open Day 

More than 600 people attended the Narre Warren Fire Brigade Open Day which was organised by Brigade volunteers. The event was of great interest and benefit to the local community and provided valuable home fire safety information, one-on-one chats with fire fighters, fire prevention equipment displays and interactive firefighting demonstrations. Much time and effort went into organising this event which is held annually for the Narre Warren community.

Australia Day Study Tour Award Recipients 2016

  • Gul Ali - Alkira Secondary College
  • Georgia Coward-Smith - St Margaret's School
  • Joshua Hoxha – Narre Warren South P-12 College
  • Shakila Husaini - Cranbourne Secondary College
  • Lachlan Iape - Haileybury College
  • Pooja Jeyadeva - Haileybury College
  • Zoja Kovacs - St Margaret's School
  • Abdul Mohammed - Berwick Grammar School
  • Anagha Ramachandra – Narre Warren South P-12
  • Zachary Vogrig - Beaconhills College

Individual Award Nominees

Joseph Jean-Claude Collard
Joseph goes over and above in his work at the John Pandazopoulos Hall in Doveton by volunteering for several additional duties.   Joseph makes himself available on weekdays, weekends and evenings to ensure that every event held at the hall is a success.  Joseph has particularly supported the many senior and multicultural community groups who regularly use the hall.  He volunteers on groups activities and outings and assists with their book-keeping and financial accounts. 

Keith Edwards
As the heart and soul of the Cranbourne Women’s Football Club, Keith continually inspires others to build on and improve the club.  After joining in 2009, he was instrumental in bringing women’s football to the Cranbourne Football Club.  Keith recruited and coached the Youth Girls team to 3 premierships and formed two open age women’s teams.  During the season, he is at the Club almost every night, and for up to 12 hours on match days.

Dave Gordon
Dave does a great job volunteering at Coral Park Primary School in Hampton Park where he regularly helps in the classroom, teaches the students gardening and cooking skills and tends the school gardens.  He shows great community spirit by encouraging students to work together and take pride in the school grounds.  Dave gives more than 10 hours a week to the school community and the students, staff and parents all benefit from his kind and generous nature.

Pooja Gupta
Following her desire to keep Indian music alive in Australia, Pooja founded the Ragas Institute which trains children and adults in the art of Indian classical music and dance.  Her students often perform at festivals and events in the local area. A talented musician herself, Pooja migrated to Australia in 2007 and worked hard to gain accreditation and employment.  She inspires women from diverse cultural backgrounds to pursue their passions, contribute to the community and gain independence.

Peter Halat
As a volunteer mentor with the Narre Warren Youth Information Centre, Man Cave Program, Peter supports young men to meet others, try new activities and talk about men’s stuff. He is an excellent role model for the participants and treats them with respect and encouragement. Peter is a member of the Casey Youth Action Committee where he represents the views and ideas of Casey’s young people, develops his leadership skills and delivers community projects.

Elizabeth Huggins
Liz fulfils many roles at Coral Park Primary School in Hampton Park which she undertakes in a cheerful and positive way.  In 2014 Liz became President of the School Council, regularly attending meetings, overseeing school finances and actively contributing to the development of school plans and policies.  Liz also runs a playgroup at the school where 25 children benefit twice a week from the engaging and diverse range of activities that Liz provides.

Ray Keefe
Ray is an outstanding contributor to the local economy through his business and active involvement in the South East Small Business Association.  Through collaboration he develops new ventures which bring employment and economic benefits to Casey.  Ray’s enthusiasm, business acumen and industry networks have raised the region’s profile as a great place to do business.  Through his involvement in the iGen Young Entrepreneurs’ Mentoring Scheme, Ray shares his knowledge and inspires others.

Judith Kierce
As Director at an independent Kindergarten in Cranbourne, Judith ensures a high quality and engaging pre-school experience.  She provides an accepting environment for children and families and works closely with local primary schools to ensure a smooth transition for each child.  Judith has volunteered in East Timor several times and raises funds for East Timorese children.  She shares these first hand experiences with the Casey children helping to foster cultural awareness and understanding.

Angelo Leaupepe
Angelo, a promising Rugby League player was offered one of seven Rookie Contracts with Melbourne Storm in 2016.  He has faced injury challenges that kept him out of competition for a year.  With determination, Angelo continued training and on debut in the final round of the Melbourne Storm Under 20’s competition, scored two tries.  Angelo was Hallam Senior College school captain and is a young role model in the Pasifika and Casey community.

Dianne Loft
Dianne is the driving force behind the current success of the Tooradin Public Hall. Since 2010, she has held positions of committee member, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Dianne has been actively involved in several groups in Tooradin including the Sports Club, Coastal Villages Commerce Committee and the Tooradin Bendigo Bank Steering Committee.  Her enduring commitment is exemplary and she inspires those around her to be involved and make a difference in their local area.

Juan Carlos Loyola OAM
Juan Carlos founded the Doveton Special Soccer School in 1993 and for the past 22 years has coached hundreds of people with an intellectual disability and inspired a love for soccer.  He is a genuine mentor for the participants who gain independence, learn new skills and meet people through clinics, competitions, friendship games and inter-state trips. Juan Carlos is also passionate about preventing family violence and is an avid White Ribbon Day campaigner in Casey and beyond.

Sitarah Mohammadi
Sitarah is a young leader and an inspirational role model for young people in Casey and beyond.  Through her involvement with the Casey Youth Action Committee over the past two years, Sitarah has volunteered at several community events and citizenship ceremonies, often working beyond her given responsibilities. She strives to do as much as she can to reach out to young people, engage them in meaningful activities and help them connect with others.

Ross Neilson
As a local business owner, Ross inspires the business community through his fairness and integrity in business dealings, involvement in community initiatives and passion to generate employment in the Casey Cardinia region. He is an active business collaborator working with other businesses in new ventures that bring economic benefits to the region. Ross was instrumental in forming the Narre Warren Region Business group and held the position of President for 5 years.

Gizella Sedon
Gizella’s long-term involvement with the Casey Hungarian Senior Citizens Club was first as a founding member and later as a committee member, holding an executive position for 15 years. Under Gizella’s leadership, the Club organises activities and programs to help to keep its 400 members socially active and connected.  Gizella is a great advocate for the environment, positive ageing and multiculturalism and enthusiastically leads others to embrace new ideas and experiences.

James Seeary
James is the leading education facilitator and program manager at Operation Newstart Casey - an innovative program to re-engage young people in education. In its 7 years of operation in Casey, James has been instrumental in helping at-risk students to reach their full potential and build positive interpersonal connections. His dedication to the program is exemplary and he has built very strong relationships with the 250 students involved, colleagues, schools, facilitators, services and volunteers.

Ronald Sinclair APM
Over and above his role as a Police Senior Sergeant, Ron has a genuine desire to help others, a great passion for soccer and a real ability to bring people together through community initiatives. In Casey, Ron works closely with the Doveton Special Soccer School and helps organise the annual family day where the Victorian Police soccer team has graciously lost to the Doveton Special Soccer School team every year for the past 15 years!

Alex Smart
Due to his boundless enthusiasm, infectious energy and ability to complete projects, Alex has been an asset to the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne for the past 14 years. Alex has worked closely with the Gardens Management, Ambassadors and the Friends group to bring a number of construction projects to successful completion including a nursery, herbarium and activities centre. His wisdom, experience and quick wit is valued by visitors to the Gardens and by his fellow Garden Ambassadors.

Candice Tucker
Candice started gymnastics at the Endeavour Hills Leisure Centre when she was 5 years old, and recently became the first member to attain all ten Gymnastics Australia Levels at the same club. She has represented the Club at a state level and competed in the Victorian championships three years in a row. Candice now gives back to the Club by coaching the younger children and inspiring other gymnasts with her committed training regime, dedication and willingness to learn.

Bas Van Uyen
It was through personal adversity that Bas created an opportunity to combine his skills in catering with his desire to help people in crisis. As a Foodbank Victoria Ambassador, Bas promotes the Farms to Family project which provides meals for families in need. Bas authored “One Man Pan” – a cookbook aimed at getting men into the kitchen. He partnered with the Black Dog Institute to be a spokesperson for their cause and support their work around depression and mental illness.

Community Event/Activity nominees

Born in the USA Concert, Cranbourne Lions Concert Band Inc
The Born in the USA Concert was a community project which brought many local groups together, and raised over $3,000 to support Cranbourne Food Truck, including new tyres. Over 150 people attended the cabaret style concert of American themed live music, featuring local bands, vocalists and instrumental performers.  Groups involved in planning and running the event included the Cranbourne Lions Concert Band, Lions Club of Cranbourne and Cranbourne Regional Uniting Church.

Arts Exhibition Launch, Casey Multi-Faith Network
Through this arts exhibition, the Casey Multi-Faith Network demonstrated that faith can be expressed in any form, including art. Twenty four paintings were exhibited and more than 50 guests from various faiths and cultural backgrounds attended the launch which included a demonstration of the Turkish Art of Ebru. The event brought many people of different interests together, helping to promote dialogue, cultural understanding and friendship.

Lynbrook Lake Lantern Festival, Lynbrook Residents Association
The Lynbrook Lake Lantern Festival was an event for the residents of Lynbrook and attracted people from all over Casey and further afield. The festival involved local businesses, showcased Casey talent, provided fun activities and culminated in a lantern walk and launch of decorated lanterns to float on the lake. Several thousand people enjoyed the event which has become an annual highlight for the local community.

Mass & Christmas Luncheon for the Sick, Elderly and Housebound, Our Lady Help of Christians Parish
This event has been running on the first Saturday of December for the past 12 years and provides a positive social opportunity for people who may be housebound, sick or isolated at Christmas time. In addition to promotion through the parish bulletin, invitations for the 2015 mass and luncheon were sent to local nursing homes and transport was arranged for participants. One hundred people attended the luncheon which was organised by parish volunteers.

Narre Warren North Uniting Church & Community Carols, Narre Warren North Community Carols Committee
Held on 12 December 2015, the Narre Warren North Community Carols provided fun family entertainment for around 1700 people. A number of local artists performed, together with the Cranbourne Concert Band and Cranbourne Lions Choir. Santa arriving on the CFA truck was a great hit with the children. Volunteers have been running this event for the past 25 years and the local community benefited from a fun and safe family event.

Sunset Cinema – Memorial Island Tooradin, Lions Club of Balla Balla
The Sunset Cinema was a community event full of family fun, activities, food and entertainment. It culminated in the screening of a free film, outdoors near the water in Tooradin. Around 200 members of the community came together to enjoy this event and celebrate Australia Day. Prior to the movie, activities included an Australian flag raising ceremony, children’s activities, barbeque and live band with audience participation.