The 2021 Community Citizen of the Year Awards have honoured three incredibly inspiring locals as well as a benevolent community group that supports young people with mental health challenges.
Held in conjunction with Auspire – The Australia Day Council WA, the annual awards provide an opportunity for local governments around the state to acknowledge exceptional community members and groups across four categories.
Announced at a ceremony held on Australia Day, this year’s recipients covered community interests ranging from championing local sport to campaigning for safer suburbs.
Each year, Australia Day provides an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s past – a history that began more than 65,000 years ago with the First Australians – the world’s oldest living culture. It is also a day when we respect and share the stories, histories and contributions of everyday Australians, because we’re all part of the story of Australia.
This year’s Community Citizen of the Year Awards’ recipients are:
Community Citizen of the Year - Gary Hale
Devoted to community sports, Gary has volunteered his time to local football, basketball and softball clubs for the past eight years. As Club Vice President of Marist Auskick, he helped more than double the number of club members over a three-year period and later implemented innovative programs during a five-year stint with the Raiders Basketball Club.
When it comes to his biggest achievement, Gary effectively created the Woodlands Softball Club from the ground up after starting with a men's softball team in 2015. Since then, the club has grown from 15 to 200 members. The club now has 17 teams – seven men’s winter teams, four women’s summer teams, four girl’s teams and two men’s veteran teams. In 2020, seven young female players represented the state in softball and one of those players was chosen for the Australian junior team.
An all-rounder volunteer, Gary has supported the club by umpiring, coaching and mentoring to ensure everyone has the same opportunity to play local sport, develop friendships and be part of the Woodlands community. Remarkably, Gary has realised his considerable volunteering achievements while working full-time.
Senior Community Citizen of the Year (65 years or over) - Kaye Liddelow
Kaye’s achievements in the community stretch across decades. A long-time Balga resident, Kaye helped form the Balga Action Group in 1998 as a way of reducing crime in the suburb. Over the years, the group has lobbied the State Government to improve the area, which resulted in the New North project to promote urban renewal across Balga, Westminster, Girrawheen and Koondoola.
An active member of her community, Kaye has been involved in many local groups including the Mirrabooka Community Choir, Illawarra Primary School Board and the Northern Suburbs Reconciliation Action Group. While Kaye retired from a 35-year teaching career in 2018, she remains a member of the Flying Squad that enlists teachers to carry out relief work or fill vacancies in rural, regional and remote areas at short notice.
Young Community Citizen of the Year (under 25 years) - Akash Parekh
Akash has become the youngest active member of the Stirling Youth Advocates (SYA) and has dedicated himself to helping deliver entertaining events aimed at local young people. He continues to put his creativity and organisational skills to great use by taking on leadership roles to ensure events such as the Carine Skatepark Festival are promoted in a timely and effective manner.
Akash was heavily involved in creating posters and flyers to promote the ‘Chills with the Stirling Youth Advocates’ panel discussions. He also served as stage manager at two events and a panellist during discussions about multiculturalism. In addition to his many achievements with the SYA, Akash helps fellow students at his school as a maths buddy, volunteers at the Scitech Science Centre and is a proud supporter of the City’s Adopt-A-Park Program.
Active Citizenship Award (community group or event) - The Good Chat Foundation
A registered charity since 2019, the Good Chat Foundation (GCF) aims to improve mental wellbeing and the overall health of children from low-income families by providing sporting sponsorships. Recipients can choose a 12-month placement with their preferred sporting club or team.
Founded by Kelly Bergsma, the GCF has already helped more than 20 families with sporting opportunities and continues to create more awareness about the need for mental health related support for young people across the community. Along with providing sponsorship support, the foundation empowers young people with mental health problems to develop relationships, find role models and take an active role in their own recovery.
Mayor Mark Irwin said each of this year’s recipients had made a tremendous contribution to the community, ranging from local sports and youth advocacy to community safety and supporting youngsters with mental health challenges.
“This year’s recipients have gone above and beyond, and I thank them all for their selfless efforts that have made a big difference to so many people across the community,” Mayor Irwin said.
“We had so many admirable nominations this year, which really shows that there is an incredibly strong sense of community in the City of Stirling.”
The City would like to thank all winners and nominees for their generous efforts during the past year.
Visit www.citizenshipawards.com.au for more information about the awards.
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