The City of Knox is a prestigious city in Melbourne’s Outer East but on Australia Day this year, breakfast at the Civic Centre had all the friendly exuberance of a country town. This was very much due to the relaxed and enjoyable presentation skills of the Mayor Tony
Holland and Cr Karin Orpen, Chair of the Knox Australia Day Awards Committee.
The buzz started as people came into the foyer, catching up with old friends. Seated around the big tables were many winners of previous awards and many leaders of long-standing volunteer groups in the city. The presence of Knox councillors and staff
as well as local and federal MPs gave the sense that ‘we are all in this together’.
Guest Speaker and Australia Day Ambassador was Dr Linny Kimly Phuong founder and chair of the Water Well Project, a not-for-profit organisation, made up of volunteer doctors and allied health professionals, which delivers interactive health sessions to migrants, refugees and asylum seeker communities throughout Victoria.
Then came the Award announcements. Nominees included Ferntree Gully residents, Murray Snell (Knox Historical Society), Sandra Goodwins (Rowville & District Senior Citizens) and Anne Boyd, editor of FTG News.
A surprise announcement was the introduction of a new category: Elder Citizen of the Year.
The citation for each nominee revealed such amazing stories of generous volunteering that
choosing gave the committee many headaches.
The 2016 Knox Australia Day Award recipients are:
- Citizen of the Year: Helen & Daniel Sefton (joint recipients) for work with Boronia CFA, St John’s Ambulance and other causes
- Young Citizen of the Year: Isabella Fias, musician, for performing at retirement and nursing homes and at the Basin Music Festival
- Volunteer of the Year: Anne Boyd, editor of FTG News, and Board member of Mountain District Learning Centre
- Local Hero: John McLeod for long standing service to Boronia Fire Brigade and RSL
- Elder Citizen of the Year: 90 year-old Beryl Ower for outstanding (and entertaining) service at the Sherbrooke Private Nursing Home.
The morning concluded outdoors under the gumtrees in bright sunshine with the solemn raising of the flags and the singing of the National Anthem.
Later in the day at a citizenship ceremony more than 100 Knox residents from 33 countries officially became citizens of Australia.