2015 Brimbank Australia Day Award Winners

Citizen of the Year: Kim Thien Truong

Deer Park resident Kim Thien Truong was a refugee who escaped Vietnam in 1980 to start a new life.  On the voyage to Australia she endured terrible hardships such as hunger, overcrowding, sickness, death, thunderstorms and pirates before being shipwrecked on a deserted island off the coast of Malaysia.

Since settling in Australia as A widow with a young family and elderly mother, she has been determined to give back to the community.

In 2009 she established the Kim's Foundation of Hope to raise funds to bring sick, orphaned and disabled children from Vietnam to Australia for expert medical treatment they couldn't access in Vietnam. 

Kim opens her home for patients to stay during their time in Australia. Her work also raises funds to build bridges and water wells and provide housing in the most impoverished villages. She provides scholarships so poor children can continue with schooling.

In Australia she helps new residents of Brimbank adjust to the way of life in a new community by providing workshops and seminars on how to be involved and how to contribute to environment and sustainable issues.

Kim also raises funds for the Royal Children's Hospital and the Cancer Foundation and is a part-time project officer for the Australian Victoria Vietnamese Women's Association, where she takes a leading role on environmental and family violence issues.

In the past she has been the recipient of numerous community awards. In 2007, The Age newspaper nominated her as one of the top 100 most influential people in Melbourne.

Young Citizen of the Year: Maima Massaquoi

Maima was originally a refugee from Liberia.  She was born in Guinea, Africa in 1996 and came to Australia nine years ago. She is an outstanding young role model and an active community member.

A resident of St Albans, Maima volunteers as a Youth Leader with Brimbank Youth Services and has previously been awarded for youth leadership by her local church. She has exhibited her fashion designs in festivals around Melbourne and is part of a successful dance troupe that performs at many community events, bringing ongoing cultural vibrancy and excitement in Brimbank.

Already a respected emerging cultural leader in the community, she has the potential to change people's perceptions of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women and those from refugee backgrounds. 

Her vision is to be a successful woman that others look up to.  She completed her VCE in 2014 and has applied for a place in Theatre at VCA and fashion at RMIT.

Environmental Achievement Award: Friends of Iramoo

Previous award winners Friends of Iramoo have again made an outstanding contribution to the preservation of Brimbank’s natural heritage. In 2014 the self-governed group went international to showcase how they work in Brimbank.

A dedicated volunteer group, the Friends developed an annual calendar of events to educate, get community involved, share expertise and resources. In 2014 they presented their program of events at the international IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature) World Parks Congress. 

The Friends of Iramoo demonstrate far reaching benefits for understanding the natural environment of Brimbank, challenging the ‘industrial’ perception of Brimbank and creating yet another good news story for Melbourne’s West.

Friends of Iramoo events attract both local residents looking after their ‘patch’ and specialists/grassland lovers from outside Brimbank.

Cultural Achievement Award: Loketi Niua Latu

Derrimut resident Loketi Niua Latu is passionate and committed to Asia Pacific culture, not only to practise as an artist herself, but to get others involved to celebrate and share their culture with Brimbank and beyond. 

She is an Artist, Founder and Chair of the Australia Pacific Arts Network. She encourages Pacific people in Brimbank to celebrate and share their culture locally, nationally and internationally.

Recently, she curated the Melbourne Tapa Project, which explored the migration journey of four local Pacific communities told through 20 metres of beaten bark. 

As a result of this work she was approached by Craft Victoria to exhibit this local project in their Flinders Lane Gallery showcasing Brimbank to a wider arts and culture audience. 

Through her drive and leadership the Pacific Islander community is celebrated and appears at numerous, festivals, arts and culture events in Brimbank.

Educator of the Year: Yvonne Reilly

Glasgow-born Yvonne teaches at Sunshine Secondary College. A mother of three, she is a trailblazer with her innovative teaching methods in mathematics.  She has made an outstanding contribution to education throughout her career and demonstrates strong leadership.

Yvonne applies her expertise in a high needs local school, and also shares her programs with others nationally and internationally.

Her work in teaching maths and numeracy has been featured in national current affairs and news television programs and articles in the Age newspaper. Fifty-six schools and other teaching organisations have visited Sunshine Secondary College to see her program in action and learn from the outcomes. 

She is regularly invited to be a keynote speaker at international teaching conferences.

The numeracy outcomes have improved considerably for Sunshine College Students under Yvonne's Leadership. In fact, the school was mentioned as one of only five in Australia to be a 'turn-around school'. The results of the maths program were highlighted in the 2014 Grattan Report.

Lifetime Achievement Award: llan 'Titch' Williams   

Born and bred and a lifetime worker in Sunshine, Titch Williams is a founding member and trainer at the Albion Football Club. He was instrumental in starting up this proud club over 54 years ago so others could enjoy, belong to their community and play sport.

He also formed the Sports Trainers Association. Titch has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to creating opportunities for others to participate in sport and to develop links and friendships in their own community. He still rarely misses a game.  Famous for his role as club trainer, Titch has trained at over 2000 games.

Not only has he given over half a century of volunteer service to Albion Football Club, he has been a long-serving and high level member of St John First Aid since he joined as a cadet at only 13 years of age.

Titch has been recognised numerous times over the years for his community spirit and love of the West.

Essential Services Excellence: SES Brimbank Unit

The Brimbank SES is an essential part of our community. Brimbank's SES volunteers have dedicated over 15,500 hours this year in emergency response, education and training to the Brimbank community. The value of this work each year is around $750,000. Without local and dedicated volunteers, many in need would not get the help they need. Much of their work is afterhours and in hazardous and frightening conditions. 

Some examples of their tireless work this year include:

  • two major storm incidents with clean-ups and responses lasting over a 36 hour period;
  • providing four search crews and supporting the police through two serious missing person incidents;  
  • setting up an incident point to assist police in major crime scene and assisting fire crews at bushfires.