2017 Casey Australia Day Award Winners

The annual Casey Australia Day Awards were announced at a special ceremony on Australia Day, Thursday 26 January 2017.

Casey Citizen of the Year – Anne McGill

Anne McGill has been involved in all levels of Inner Wheel both within Australia and internationally.  She has served on the Inner Wheel Club of Narre Warren for 36 years and has been the Inner Wheel Australia's National Coordinator for Cord Blood Research for 15 years. Through her leadership, she has inspired thousands of Inner Wheel members to raise over $2.5 million.  Anne's commitment to the Casey community began many years ago with her involvement on the Wilson Botanic Park Committee and as a founding member of the Berwick Highland Games.  She has given 25 years of service to the City of Casey Meals on Wheels program and continues to volunteer with the Cancer Council of Victoria. Anne's long history of outstanding leadership and community service has resulted in her receiving many highly distinguished awards.

Casey Young Citizen of the Year – Alyssa Weston

Alyssa is an outstanding member of the Casey community and is well-known at the Casey Basketball Association for her commendable attributes on and off the court.   At only 16 years of age, Alyssa plays for the Casey Cavaliers representative junior and senior teams and is Big V women’s development player. In addition to working part-time and studying at Hallam Senior College with the selective sports academy, Alyssa is a dedicated coach for young girls, representative teams and children with autism.  Alyssa devotes herself wholeheartedly to the sport of basketball and she is a powerful presence on and off the court, working hard to increase the profile of female participation in basketball.  She is an exceptional role model for young people and girls in Casey in the field of sport and beyond.

Casey Senior Citizen of the Year – Ted Clay

Ted Clay officially joined the Tooradin Fire Brigade in 1956 and during the last 60 years of service has held the ranks of Captain (22 years), 1st Lieutenant (4 years), 2nd Lieutenant (4 years), and 4th Lieutenant (2 years). He still serves the Brigade as Treasurer and Fire Equipment Maintenance Officer. Ted's commitment, passion and expertise in firefighting skills and defence are exceptional and he has willingly shared this knowledge, having mentored more than 100 new recruits. Tooradin and the wider Casey community have benefitted from the substantial amount of time and commitment that Ted has given to volunteer fire services.  He is well respected in his local area and within firefighting communities.

Casey Sportsperson of the Year – Reiley Mark

Reiley Mark is a very talented and promising young indoor cricketer who has already achieved so much in his chosen sport.  He commenced playing indoor cricket at the age of 10, and now at the age of 13 he has represented Victoria 3 years in a row, won 3 national titles, and been named an Australia All Star. He also represented the Australia A team as their Vice Captain on his first international tour in 2015. He values being a team player and is highly respected by his peers and coaches.  He takes on leadership roles at his club to inspire others to succeed and is humble about his own achievements.  Reiley is very proud to be a local Casey resident where he permanently lives, goes to school and plays sport.

Casey Non-resident of the Year – David Nugent

David Nugent founded Heavy M.E.T.A.L. (Men's Education Towards Anger & Life) which offers behaviour change programs and counselling support to men, women and children affected by family violence.  He runs the Heavy METAL program at Hallam Senior College and goes over and above in his role as a counsellor.  David is passionate about creating a safer community and offers support to vulnerable individuals and families.  He organised a community screening of the ABC documentary “Call Me Dad”, is involved in White Ribbon Day events and advocates to State Government on important community issues. David works tirelessly in promoting healthy relationships, raising awareness of family violence issues in the community, educating others and making a difference.

Highly Commended certificate – Antora Sharif

Antora lives in the City of Casey and is an active member of the Bangladeshi-Australian community.  In her time as a volunteer Antora has worked with refugees and asylum seekers and has a sound understanding of national and international issues in this area.  She is a member of Council’s Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee where she enjoys giving back to the community in which she lives. 

Casey Community Event/Activity of the Year 2016 – Cranbourne Community Christmas Lunch, Cranbourne Turf Club

This event, held on 20 December 2016, was a collaboration between the Cranbourne Turf Club, The Salvation Army Cranbourne Community Support Services and the Cranbourne Information and Support Service.  A special Christmas lunch was held for around 300 disadvantaged or vulnerable Casey community members.  The Cranbourne Turf Club staff volunteered their time on the day and provided all the food and beverages.  The Salvation Army Band played Christmas Carols and show bags were provided for the children. A red carpet arrival, fully laid tables and a decorated venue ensured that guests were treated to a very special occasion. 

Casey Community Fundraising Event/Activity of the Year 2016 - Frost Week, Cure de Berwick, Berwick College Frost Learning Team

Frost Week, Cure de Berwick, involved 160 students from Berwick College Frost Learning Team raising funds for the Leukaemia Foundation.  The event involved students from years 7 to 11 gaining sponsorship to ride stationery bikes fitted with odometers which recorded the kilometres ridden.  This cause is important to Berwick College as over the past 5 years, several students have been diagnosed with Leukaemia and have undergone treatment whilst maintaining study at the College.  Not only was the Frost Week, Cure de Berwick event successful in raising over $5,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation, it was an opportunity for the students to work together, support each other and to make a difference to families and children in Casey.

Highly Commended Certificate - Night to Shine, Casey City Church

Night to Shine was an event for children and adults from disadvantaged families in Casey where guests had the unique opportunity to meet, mingle and share a meal with members of the Brazilian soccer team during their Tour of Hope.   These soccer stars travel the world demonstrating their skills and inspiring young athletes to strive to be their best, irrespective of their personal circumstances.  Over 130 people enjoyed this special event which was free of charge and organised by volunteers from Casey City Church. .

Highly Commended Certificate - 2016 Lynbrook Lake Lantern Festival, Lynbrook Residents Association

The 2016 Lynbrook Lake Lantern Festival was a wonderful, family-friendly event for people of all ages and attracted a huge crowd of around 5,000 visitors from around Casey and beyond.  The free event was made possible by more than 50 volunteers, including the Lynbrook Residents Association committee, Sikh Volunteers Australia and local residents.  There was live music, dancers, lantern painting, and an impressive release of floating and illuminated lanterns on the lake at dusk - a spectacular sight

Australia Day Study Tour Award Recipients 2017

  • Georgia Bennett - St Francis Xavier College
  • Lissette De La Motte - Sacred Heart Girls College
  • Natalia Girvasi - St Peters College
  • Abdul Mohammed - Nossal High School
  • Mitchell Pateman - Berwick College
  • Jane Russo - Cranbourne East Secondary College
  • Shivam Singh - Berwick College
  • Ciara Smith - Hillcrest Christian College
  • Assadullah Sultani - Cranbourne Secondary College
  • Jordan  van Rhyn - Nossal High School

Individual Award Nominees

Vicki Agius
For several years, Vicki has been a valued volunteer seamstress for Angel Gowns Victoria.  This charity re-purposes wedding dresses into tiny hand crafted gowns for babies who tragically do not make it home from hospital. Vicki collects, sews and distributes the angel gowns which are gifted to hospitals in Casey to give to families who have suffered such a loss. She is a generous and caring person who is willing to give a helping hand and organise events and donations for this important cause.   

Ian Brandon
Known as the social face of Casey RACE, Ian Brandon knows many members on a first name basis.  He uses the facility five days a week and brightens the day of staff and guests with his welcoming smile and warm conversation.  Ian inspires others through his positive outlook, regardless of his own personal hardship.  Through organising social lunches at the Casey RACE, Ian helps others by bringing them together to create new friendships and social support systems.  He has created strong and enduring community connections.

Ted Clay
Ted Clay officially joined the Tooradin Fire Brigade in 1956 and during the last 60 years of service has held many ranks, most notably serving as Captain for 22 years.   Currently, Ted holds the positions of Treasurer and Fire Equipment Maintenance Officer.   Ted has mentored over one hundred new recruits and he willingly shares his knowledge, skills and expertise.   He is well respected within firefighting communities and the local Tooradin area.

Magdalena D'Abaco
Magdalena is a local business owner who has mentored and coached many entrepreneurs in the Berwick area.  From her thriving boutique in Berwick, she runs an initiative where funds are donated each month to a nominated charity.  Magdalena has organised and coordinated many fundraising activities and to date has donated over $75,000 to more than 40 local charities. She is also Secretary of the Berwick Business Group and works diligently to bring together traders for networking, collaboration and support.

Carol Farr
As a busy volunteer for the YMCA Casey Aquatic Recreation Centre, Carol embodies the healthy lifestyle she promotes.  Carol provides valuable support and encouragement for older adults and inspires them to get involved in both land and water based classes.  She regularly organises events for members to bring them together through activities that promote social interaction and physical health and wellbeing

Gamini Fonseka JP
Every Sunday on 3SER Casey Radio, you can hear the voice of Gamini as he broadcasts “Voice of Faith”, a multi-faith radio program he established in 2011.  Through this program, Gamini hopes to promote peace and harmony and celebrate the unity and diversity of the many different religious faiths within the Casey community. Gamini is also a member of the Casey Multi Faith network and has been actively involved since its inception in 2007.

Janet Freeman
Janet has been a loyal volunteer for Ronald McDonald House since 2014.  Once a week she travels from her home in Casey to the Monash Medical Centre in Clayton to assist families with seriously ill children.  She is well known for her welcoming smile and her enthusiastic involvement in fundraising activities.  Janet is an inspirational and valuable member of the volunteer team.

Ian Good
Ian’s contribution to the Casey community extends over decades, educating the community to appreciate and value our local heritage.   He is the author of several important publications which detail histories of people, places and public life in Casey and Cardinia.  Ian has volunteered to assist many community groups in Casey including Wilson Botanic Park Friends Group, U3A, Berwick Probus Club and Berwick Mechanics Institute and Library. He is a popular MC, informative guest speaker and inspirational local historian.

Reverend Ineke Gyles
Ineke responded to a need in the local community for a playgroup for children with long term illnesses.  She has established a safe and supported place at the Narre Warren Uniting Church Community Centre for these children with special needs and their families who may be experiencing difficultly, stress and isolation.  Ineke works hard to ensure that the playgroup has all it needs to run successfully.

David Hale
On the children’s ward at the Casey and St John of God hospitals, you will find a larger than life character by the name of David Hale who entertains and uplifts young patients during their hospital stay. David creates balloon art and puppet shows to engage with and entertain patients of all ages. This is a welcome distraction particularly for children suffering long term illness and extended time in hospital. David is an inspiration who brings joy, happiness and laugher when it is needed most.

Patsy Huggins
A long-time resident of Doveton, Patsy is fully committed to working with her community and is a great example of what is possible when you put your mind to it. Patsy provides exemplary leadership to the community - actively supporting access to adult education, volunteering in a range of roles and providing great support for many auxiliary services offered at Doveton College. Patsy has been and continues to be a motivating force for change and progress in her local community.

Andrew King
Andrew was the driving force behind the formation of the Lyndhurst Football and Netball Club in 2009, after he noticed a need in the Lynbrook area.  He worked hard to get the club off the ground and since then the Club has gone from strength to strength. Under Andrew’s leadership, the club now boasts 10 junior and 2 senior football teams and 12 junior and 6 senior netball teams. Andrew has aligned the club with several charities and health initiatives and has built a welcoming family atmosphere.

Rashika Kulasinghe
More than 100 students learn traditional Sri Lankan dancing at Vishver Rangayathanaya Dance Academy, under the guidance of their teacher, Rashika.  Most students were born in Australia and Rashika aims to develop and promote Sri Lankan heritage, culture and language through dance.  Through discipline, commitment and hard work, Rashika nurtures the talent and creativity of her students and every two years stages an impressive Sri Lankan dance production.  Through this she hopes to preserve traditional dance forms which add to Casey’s rich cultural diversity.

Ron Lamb
Ron has been a great servant of the Hampton Park Tennis Club, contributing more than 20 years’ service. During this time he has built camaraderie and teamwork within the Club, mentoring youth and uniting members from diverse backgrounds to form the Hampton Park Tennis Club family.  He works hard to undertake any task that requires attention, from small maintenance jobs through to liaison with Tennis Victoria.  Ron’s vision, drive and excellent people skills make him an inspirational leader and community role model.

Rachel Lee
Rachel created the ‘Steps to Employment’ program for Outlook, a personalised program for school leavers with a disability that includes support, training and work readiness activities.  The program acknowledges personal strengths, creating a pathway to volunteering, traineeships or future employment.  Rachel’s sincere leadership and management skills inspire other staff members and create an environment at Outlook which promotes community integration, inclusion and access

Abdul Mahdawi
As a mixed martial arts competitor, Abdul already has an impressive list of state, national and international titles to his name including: 2016 Oceania Wushu Sanda Champion; Oceania Kung Fu Wushu Gold medalist 2016; and several state titles in amateur boxing and kick boxing. Mixed martial arts and Sanda is an emerging amateur sport and Adbul is a kind and humble leader in this community. His success in competitive combat, his modest attitude and dedication to hard work and training inspire those around him.

Reiley Mark
Reiley Mark is a very talented and promising young indoor cricketer who has already achieved so much in his chosen sport.  He commenced playing indoor cricket at the age of 10, and now at the age of 13, has represented Victoria 3 years in a row, won 3 national titles, and been named an Australia All Star.  With his commitment to teamwork and his humble nature, Reiley is highly respected by his peers and coaches.  He takes on leadership roles at his club to inspire others to succeed.

Anne McGill
Anne McGill has a long history of outstanding leadership and community service.  She has served with the Inner Wheel Club of Narre Warren for 36 years and has been Inner Wheel Australia's National Coordinator for Cord Blood Research for 15 years. Through her leadership, she has inspired thousands of members to raise over $2.5 million.  Anne has also given 25 years of service to the City of Casey Meals on Wheels program and continues to volunteer with the Cancer Council of Victoria.

David Nugent
David Nugent founded Heavy M.E.T.A.L. which stands for Men's Education Towards Anger & Life.  He offers behaviour change programs and counselling support to men, women and children affected by family violence.  David was recently involved in the making of an ABC documentary, Call Me Dad, which features the Heavy METAL program and follows the lives of the men and their families.  David works tirelessly promoting healthy relationships, raising awareness of family violence issues, educating others and creating a safer community.

Robert O'Connell
Robert, better known locally as Tiger Bob, has been a keen volunteer in the Blind Bight area for 20 years. He was integral in establishing the Blind Bight Boat Owners where he currently serves as captain and committee member. Bob is committed to boating safety, providing emergency assistance to many local fisherman and boat owners in Westernport Bay. Bob undertakes maintenance and equipment repairs for the Blind Bight Community Centre.  He is well known and respected in the local area as a caring and compassionate community member

Carolee Ratcliffe
Carolee volunteers at the Narre Warren Uniting Church Community Centre and has been instrumental in creating a play group program for children with long term illness.  In setting up this playgroup, Carolee worked hard to ensure it is a place where families and children can enjoy social interaction and inclusion in a safe and welcoming environment.  She has shown initiative and leadership in gaining funds for the necessary educational tools and playgroup equipment.

Stephanie Scott
Stephanie Scott is a retired art teacher who continues to share her love of art through classes at Hampton Park Community House. These classes are for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and aim to reduce social isolation and teach English conversation skills through art.  Stephanie puts a lot of effort into ensuring that these classes are enjoyable and successful.  She is committed to improve the health and wellbeing of the participants through social interaction and art. 

Antora Sharif
Antora lives and studies in the City of Casey and is a proud and active member of the Bangladeshi-Australian community.   In her time as a volunteer with several non-government organisations, Antora has worked with refugees and asylum seekers and has a sound understanding of national and international issues in this area.  She is a member of Council’s Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee where she enjoys giving back to the community in which she lives.

Trevor Thompson
Trevor has demonstrated outstanding service in his role as Manager of Berwick Cemetery for the past 8 years.  During this time he has overseen many significant capital improvements in the aesthetics and amenity of the site.  He deals with the day to day running of the Cemetery and ensures the smooth running of funeral and memorial services.  Trevor goes over and above in his role to ensure a good rapport between all stakeholders and community members and treats people with sensitivity and respect.

Nathan Tracy
Nathan is an all-rounder when it comes to volunteering and he has held various roles at the Narre South Cricket Club and Narre South Lions Junior Football club over the past 6 years.    Under Nathan’s guidance and leadership, the cricket club has been rejuvenated and now has an active and positive presence in the local community, with confidence for future success. In his role as a junior coach and coordinator, Nathan works hard to inspire young players developing their skills and encouraging passion for their chosen sport.

Alyssa Weston
At the age of 16, Alyssa has already achieved a lot in the sport of basketball and is well-known for her commendable attributes on and off the court.  She plays for the Casey Cavaliers, represents junior and senior teams and is Big V women’s development player. In addition to part time work and school Alyssa coaches and promotes female participation in basketball. She is an exceptional role model for young people and girls in Casey in the field of sport and beyond.

Keith Whaley
Since it was founded 13 years ago, Keith has been the assistant Cub Scout Leader at the Berwick Central Scout Group.  Every week, Keith teaches children aged between 8 and 11 important skills for life.  He goes over and above in this role showing patience and caring, encouraging and supporting the cubs with his quiet manner and sense of humour. Keith is also a member of the Berwick Anglican Church Pastoral Care team providing weekly activities to bring fun and enjoyment to residents in local nursing homes.

Rob Wilson
Rob Wilson is an inspiration to many in Casey due to his passion, determination and commitment to the local community.  Rob is actively involved with the Narre South Cricket Club, where he coached until last season and was the main driving force behind the newly formed All Girls Cricket competition.  He is aware of many issues in the wider Casey community and advocates on a number of important causes.  His passion extends beyond sport to men’s health, awareness of community issues and support for the local business sector.

Naomi Wood
Noticing a gap in the social programs available to local residents during the working day, Naomi started a new group in Lynbrook called Cuppa and Chat.   The group meets weekly, and provides a welcoming place for those who are at home during the day to meet, socialise and catch up on the latest local news.  Through this group, Naomi helps to bring the community together, reducing social isolation and encouraging important community connections. 

Marie Wright
Marie is a volunteer with 2nd Chance Cat Rescue who is dedicated and compassionate in her desire to find new homes for unwanted cats and kittens. She is an integral part of this rescue group and goes over and above in her volunteer responsibilities. Marie has strong communication skills which stand her in good stead when engaging with people regarding surrender of their pets, adoption of cats and kittens and promotion of responsible pet ownership.

Michael-Ray Zwierzchowski
Michael-Ray has been training and honing his Taekwondo skills since the tender age of 3. By the age of 7 he was competing in State and National tournaments and in 2016 he took out the title of Under 18 National Champion in his weight division.  This gave him the opportunity to achieve his dream to represent Australia at the Taekwondo Junior World Championships in Canada.  Michael-Ray’s commitment to give back to his club and his dedication to training have made him a successful young athlete and inspirational role model.

Community Event/Activity Nominees

125 Years Looking Back, Narre  Warren Mechanics Institute Hall
Held on 20 November 2016, the Narre Warren Mechanics Institute Hall celebrated its 125th Anniversary.  The event highlighted the age of the facility and paid tribute to the achievements of the early settlers of Narre Warren, including the Webb family.  Participants were treated to a 1900’s fashion parade, local historical information and informative talks about the history of Narre Warren area and the Narre Warren Mechanics Institute Hall. 

2016 Lynbrook Lake Lantern Festival, Lynbrook Residents Association
The 2016 Lynbrook Lake Lantern Festival was a wonderful, family-friendly event for people of all ages and attracted a huge crowd of around 5,000 visitors from around Casey and beyond.  The free event was made possible by more than 50 volunteers, including the Lynbrook Residents Association committee, Sikh Volunteers Australia and local residents.  There was live music, dancers, lantern painting, and an impressive release of floating and illuminated lanterns on the lake at dusk - a spectacular sight.

Back to the 80's concert, Cranbourne Lions Concert Band Inc.
The Back to the 80s concert was a community project activated by the Cranbourne Lions Concert Band, which raised over $2,000 for the Berwick Obedience Dog Club. More than 150 people attended the event, many dressed for the 80s theme and enjoyed the live band’s selection of popular 80s music.  The funds raised will be used by the Dog Club to provide shade sails at Kalora Park, where the dog obedience classes are held.  The event was so successful that the Band are seeking to run another similar community engagement project this year.

Call Me Dad Community Screening, Heavy M.E.T.A.L Group (Men’s Education Towards Anger & Life)
The screening of Call Me Dad brought together families, students, businesses, Victoria Police and other community services to discuss issues of family violence in the community.  Call Me Dad is a powerful documentary which puts a spotlight on this challenging community issue, and helps to promote understanding and access to support services.  Over $2,600 was raised at this event, which will be used to sponsor those affected by family violence to access the Heavy M.E.T.A.L education and support services.

Christmas Family Fun Day, Turningpoint Support Centre
Turningpoint Support Centre is an emergency relief centre in Casey that provides services for disadvantaged community members. This year, in addition to the provision of food parcels, clients were invited to attend a Christmas Family Fun day at Casey Fields. Almost 300 people came to the event which included many entertaining traditional family games.  Volunteers put together Christmas hampers for families and all children received a Christmas gift.   The event was a great success packed with festive fun and laughter.

Cranbourne Community Christmas Lunch, Cranbourne Turf Club
This event was a collaboration between the Cranbourne Turf Club, The Salvation Army Cranbourne Community Support Services and the Cranbourne Information and Support Service.  A special Christmas lunch was held for around 300 disadvantaged or vulnerable Casey community members.  Cranbourne Turf Club staff volunteered their time on the day and provided all the food and beverages while the Salvation Army Band played Christmas Carols.  A red carpet arrival, fully laid tables and a decorated venue ensured that guests were treated to a very special occasion.

Eid Al Adha, Al Emaan Muslim Women's Support Group
Eid is an important occasion for the Muslim community and the Eid Al Adha event welcomed everyone to celebrate and learn about Muslim culture.  Participants shared food, enjoyed music and joined in cultural activities aimed to bring people together to celebrate diversity and harmony.  The event gave members of the Al Emaan Muslim Women's Support Group the chance to learn new skills through organising the event and coordinating activities.  The group members were proud of their achievements in organising such a diverse and interesting community event.

Frost Week, Cure de Berwick, Berwick College Frost Learning Team
Frost Week, Cure de Berwick, involved 160 students from Berwick College Frost Learning Team raising funds for the Leukaemia Foundation.  The event involved students from years 7 to 11 gaining sponsorship to ride stationery bikes fitted with odometers which recorded the kilometres ridden.  The event was successful in raising over $5,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation and was an opportunity for the students to work together, support each other and make a difference to families and children in Casey.

Night to Shine, Casey City Church
Night to Shine was an event for children and adults from disadvantaged families in Casey where guests had the unique opportunity to meet, mingle and share a meal with members of the Brazilian soccer team during their Tour of Hope. These soccer stars travel the world demonstrating their skills and inspiring young athletes to strive to be their best, irrespective of their personal circumstances.  Over 130 people enjoyed this special event which was free of charge and organised by volunteers from Casey City Church.

Nossal Great Art Show, Provenance Artists
The Nossal Great Art Show 2016 was organised by Provenance Artists, a not for profit community organisation that caters for artists of all ages and abilities.  The event is well-known in Casey and is one of best art shows in the region, catering for students, seniors, emerging and established artists.   As well as the art show, there were painting and drawing demonstrations from talented artists.  The event was successful in bringing people together and inspiring artists to achieve their goals.

Senior Citizens Christmas Luncheon - Lions Club of Cranbourne
In December 2016 the Lions Club of Cranbourne put on a Senior Citizens Christmas Luncheon for local residents.  With the help of the Cranbourne Lions Concert Band and the Cranbourne Chorale, a big sing a long of well-known carols ensured everyone got into the spirit of Christmas.  This wonderful free event brings together several local organisations who work diligently together for the success of the luncheon. The volunteers are so committed that they have already started planning for next years’ event.