Australia Day in the Hawkesbury

March 03, 2020

The electorate of Macquarie is full of hard workers who go above and beyond their paid jobs. The efforts during the recent fires and floods are proof that in the Hawkesbury in the Blue Mountains the community comes first. It's important that we pause to celebrate people who have made these communities what they are, just as Hawkesbury council did on Australia Day.

Mal Bobrige was awarded Citizen of the Year after 27 years of serving the local RFS. He joined the Rural Fire Service in 1980 and has been an active member at the Blaxland Ridge Rural Fire Brigade, being the longest standing captain after taking on the role in 1995 and holding it for 13 years. It's very appropriate that this year, after a fire-affected summer, Mal takes out Citizen of the Year. I note he's also a member of the Colo Heights RFS, so he's a man who plays many roles within that wonderful organisation and we can't thank him enough for his service.

The Young Citizen of the Year was given to Jesse Wijnans for his work in promoting inclusivity at McHappy Day, Hawkesbury Youth Fest and Hawkesbury Community Outreach Services.

Diane Sweeny was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award for her full-time commitment to the Hawkesbury City Salvation Army for the past six years. She coordinates the wonderful Hope Market run every Tuesday.

Madyson Disbray has supported aspiring artists in the Hawkesbury through the church bar's music nights and was awarded the Community Arts Award. We have fantastic musicians and Madyson provides a terrific venue in a lovely old converted church.

One of two local hero awards went to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Specific Resource Centre, an important resource in the Hawkesbury. Michelle New's hard work as founder and CEO of the centre was recognised. And Michelle is reaching out to bushfire victims as part of the recovery. Richie Benson also received the Local Hero Award for his hugely successful Koala Fest. I have been pleased to be at all his Koala Fests. He was also recognised for his work with Cumberland Reach Landcare, a group he founded as a 21-year-old to improve the riverbank. The Koala Festival is a terrific event, and I think more than 1,000 people attended last year to learn about the importance of preserving the local koala population—something that is now under terrible pressure in the wake of the fires.

Pink Finss is a much loved group in our community, having been around for a decade. They received the Community Organisation of the Year Award after expanding their services to cater for women with all types of cancer, supporting women and their families from the site of the old Hawkesbury hospital—a big congratulations to them.

Reducing, reusing and recycling was celebrated in the awards when Hawkesbury Remakery received the Environment Award. Their work has resulted in items being redirected from landfill and put into use in the repair cafe. The historic Loder house is now not only a sustainable space but one that encourages creatives to collaborate and cultivate their craft.

The Cultural Heritage Award went to the Hawkesbury Schools Harvest Project run by Windsor High. For 10 years students have explored and promoted local produce in their own classrooms and local primary schools, creating an appreciation for the Hawkesbury as the food bowl that it is. This is the second year running that Windsor High students have won one of the annual awards.

The All Abilities Sportsperson Award went to Renee Hardy, who's sporting journey I've followed for many years. She's the national hammer throw champion for her age. Sandy Freeman who's held two special Olympics world records in 200 metres backstroke and 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay also received that award. Madeline Boyle was awarded Sportsperson of the Year as one of the best archers in Australia. Jasper Sinclair won the Junior Sportsperson of the Year as captain of the North Richmond Cricket Club under 13s.

Congratulations to all these Hawkesbury achievers and to Hawkesbury City Council for recognising them at your annual awards, and also to Peter Frazer, a fabulous road safety advocate from the other side of my electorate in the Blue Mountains who was present for that event.