2021 Brimbank Australia Day Award Winners

The winners of the 2021 Brimbank Australia Day Awards were announced at a special Citizenship Ceremony held on Tuesday 26 January 2021 held at Kevin Wheelahan Gardens in Sunshine.

Brimbank Mayor, Cr Ranka Rasic presented the awards to the category winners.

Brimbank Citizen of the Year: Uncle Graham (Boots) and Aunty Joyce Cooper

Uncle Graham (Boots) is a proud Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti man and Aunty Joyce is a proud Yorta Yorta woman from Northern Victoria, and they are local Brimbank Aboriginal Elders well known in the community.

They have both taken the lead in supporting their communities, and have gained recognition as custodians of knowledge and lore, ensuring it is passed on from generation to generation.

In 2020 they went above and beyond in their contribution to the Brimbank community and continued to work with various service providers to advocate for the needs and improvements in service delivery for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

As respected Elders, they are pivotal in helping tackle broader community issues such as health, education, unemployment, racism and oppression; making many people feel positive and connected with the community.

Over many years they have run community programs such as working with young people to share and preserve their culture, led the Dreamtime at ‘the G’, participated in various community committees, advocated on behalf of the community, acted as role models, and have fostered 87 children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Brimbank Young Citizen of the Year: Otto Riddell

Otto is a young leader who inspires and empowers youth across Brimbank through activities with the Crystal Queer program and the headspace Sunshine Youth Advisory Group.

In the Crystal Queer program Otto has been able to share the journey as someone who identifies as being both transgender and asexual, and through input to the program has empowered, educated and advocated for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Otto has been key in building events for the Crystal Queer program including a trivia night and art exhibition, involvement with community consultations and focus groups and was a driving force in the Brimbank Youth Services: LGBTIQA+ survey completed last year.

Otto’s non-judgemental attitude and openness inspires others, both young and older, to see things from a different perspective.

Otto has an ability to bring people together and encourages them to open up, and to speak their truth.

In the headspace Youth Advisory Group, Otto has not only advocated for positive change to the LGBTQIA+ community, but also for children at school and those who identify as having disability, such as autism.

Otto has been a valuable and insightful contributor to the many projects that headspace and the Brimbank community is involved with.