07 February 2024


A number of exceptional residents from Macquarie were recognised in the Australia Day honours this year, and it's with a great sense of pride that I speak of them here tonight. Our Blue Mountains residents receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia included Elizabeth O'Callaghan for service to education and Victor O'Callaghan for service to restorative practices. I know of their work for the Springwood East Timor Support Group, but they are also involved in many other groups in many community roles across Western Sydney. Joy Connor, who's received a Medal of the Order of Australia, I've also known for many years for her work as founder and member of the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. She is a fierce advocate for refugees and asylum seekers. Joy's social justice work includes years with organisations across Australia and
Papua New Guinea. The late Chris Murphy, a giant in the Australian music industry, whose management, among many, guided INXS and the Models, has been posthumously recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to the music industry.

Superintendent Sonya Tabor has received the Australian Police Medal for, amongst other things, her work for the safety reform that she was involved in so that the police affected by disasters, like a pandemic or a devastating flood, can access additional welfare support from their workplace.

In the Hawkesbury, Saint Albans resident the retired New South Wales state librarian Dr John Vallance, who in the Macdonald Valley might be better known as the man brave enough to be Santa Claus in the middle of summer, has been recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to education, to library services and to the arts.

Roberta Colbran, Bobby, was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in honour of her 50-year contribution in the Hawkesbury district as a volunteer in the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. During this time, Bobby has held many roles, including her current role of deputy captain. Now in her mid-80s, she has only fairly recently been banned from the truck, I'm told. Her medal is in recognition of the enormous hours and energy she continues to put into the vital Rural Fire Service.

Warrant Officer Paul Ernest has been awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross for his outstanding achievement in aircraft maintenance reform and other roles within the Royal Australian Air Force.

I'd also like to commend ex-Blue Mountains resident Noel Hiffernan on receiving an Order of Australia Medal for his advocacy and service for people with a disability, which really means that he's been fighting for accessibility rights and equality of life for people with a disability since his own car accident in 1971, which resulted in midthoracic paraplegia. These are such deserving honours recipients, and I'm very proud to have them as residents or former residents of the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury.

I also want to congratulate the Hawkesbury Council citizens of the year. Citizen of the Year Keith Acton: while he would rather not have been centre of attention, certainly deserved recognition for his 17 years of volunteering with the RFS as a joint member of both Wiseman's Ferry and Lower Macdonald brigades, not to mention his unpaid extra work at Wisemans Ferry Public School and arranging Anzac Day commemorations plus much more. Gemma King, who I first met when she was fundraising for youth mental health through Laps for Life—and she is now on the board of our new Hawkesbury headspace—is fittingly Young Citizen of the Year. It was a tie for the Local Hero Award between Scott Hinks, recognised for his big contribution to the Richmond Lions Club and a myriad of involvement in other issues, and Rochelle Miller, whose most recent advocacy with all levels of government was triggered by the floods which isolated her community of Lower Portland. She was instrumental in getting the issues resolved.

Sportsperson of the Year, Melissa Crane, has made a huge contribution to Pitt Town District Sports Club and the Football Club, and managed to have eight girls from the club lead the Matildas into the FIFA Women's World Cup semi final last year. The Kurrajong Nursing Home Auxiliary a caring community run aged care facility was awarded the Community Organisation of the year to its volunteers. Windsor High School's Thursday Lunchtime Interest Group received the Arts and Culture Award for offering an inclusive program to get students to try new things. To all the recipients, thank you for your passion, dedication and service, we are richer because of you.

View Susan delivering this speech in Parliament here.