Today is Australia Day. My day began with a delicious breakfast at Knox City Council in honour of the Australia Day Awards in the panoramic Civc Room.
Every year people in the community are nominated by their peers for their outstanding contribution to the community. There are four awards given : Local Hero, Young Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and Citizen of the year.
Each year I find the candidates seem to get more and more inspiring.
This years Local Hero was a young lady who embarked on a mission named The Brainwash Project in 2012 to create a small magazine that explored the negative impact the media has on body image for young girls. After its success, She launched a petition that asked women’s magazine Cleo to include a disclaimer in their publication to inform readers that some images within the magazine are digitally altered. The petition received more than 20,000 signatures and attracted national media interest. Upon this response, this young lady independently financed a trip to Sydney to meet with the editors of Cleo. Here, they agreed that the Cleo Photoshop Guidelines would be included in every edition from December 2012. She then set out to create her own magazine for teenage girls. In conjunction with more than 100 volunteers, created a 188-page, colour magazine and managed to raise $5,000 to print 300 copies. Her hope is to have the magazine stocked in local schools so that teenage girls have an alternative publication to read that she and her classmates never had.
The Young Citizen of the Year was equally inspiring. She was a year 12 student with Crohn’s disease who has channelled her desire to better the community in a number of ways, including raising funds for important causes. By organising cupcake and milkshake drives—which required many hours of baking in her own time—she raised almost $2,000 for the Cancer Council and Heart Foundation. She has also raised funds for other worthy causes, including the Epilepsy Foundation and Breast Cancer Foundation. She has generated awareness and funds for a number of causes relating to gender issues, including preventing violence against women and White Ribbon Day. In addition she has recently designed a line of water bottles as part of an important project to foster healthy and equal relationships among young people.
The volunteer of the year was a young mother of three, who has been an active member of The Basin fire brigade for more than 15 years. She has also served as an Operational Fire Fighter which requires her to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Her desire to educate children on fire safety saw her create the ‘Captain Koala and Friends’ show, which she wrote, directed and performed. In addition to serving both The Basin Playgroup Committee and the Colchester Park Preschool Committee, this amazing lady has also raised funds for a number of charities, including Red Cross Red Shield Appeal, Riding for the Disabled, Animal Welfare Refuge and The Good Friday Appeal.
Finally the Citizen of the Year was an 81 year old gentlemen who has dedicated more than 50 years to sport and athletics clubs in Knox as well as being heavily involved in U3A Knox (University of the Third Age in Ferntree Gully). This man now leads four classes every week, a commitment which requires many hours of daily preparation.
It is very humbling to be around such incredible people who give so much of themselves and their time to our community. I left feeling as I always do after this event, inspired and in awe at such selflessness and generosity.