Citizen of the Year: Rod Boyd JP
Born and raised in Brimbank, Rod is a proud local who loves the diversity of the area and has seen many transformations over the years. He and his wife have always lived in Brimbank, raising their children and grandchildren here. In fact, back in the 1970s, he served the western suburbs as a member of the Victoria Police before moving into other positions, including as a radio announcer with Melbourne’s 3UZ.
For the past 21 years he has been General Manager of Western Radio Broadcasters – Stereo 974, where he has nurtured, mentored and increased the ethnic language broadcasting across the station to cater to the needs of the community. Stereo 974 is one of the longest established community broadcasters in Victoria. It has a vast demographic and the multicultural division is now spread over 12 different languages. It was early in his time at the station when Rod recognised that emerging communities didn’t have a voice, so, along with ethnic speaking residents, has tailored Stereo 974 to become the newsletter of the airwaves.
For many years, Rod has been a tireless worker for his community in general and in his capacity as a Justice of the Peace. He is known for giving generously of his time for the purpose of helping others, working extensively with English and ethnic speaking communities.
Following the Coode Island fire in 1991 and subsequent inquiries that revealed information was not freely available, he created a warning system at the radio station to convey emergency information over the airwaves. Stereo 974 was in fact the first Emergency Response Broadcaster in Victoria.
The fruits of Rod’s hard work can now be seen Victoria-wide through the establishment of the Radio Network as a source of immediate information alerting the community to emergency events.
Rod was also instrumental in the creation of the state-of-the-art community broadcasting studios in Brooklyn where Stereo 974 broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with volunteer radio announcers and producers.
Both Rod, and Stereo 974 have received a number of awards for Multicultural Broadcasting as well as support from Emergency Services and local and state governments.
One of the many achievements in Rod’s community service was the implementation of a small business program in the Young Offenders Unit at Port Phillip Prison. The program he created was called Doin’ Time and was based on business principles and practices where all inmates took on a range of roles from General Manager to Human Resources.
The name Doin’ Time is a registered trademark and the program screen prints t-shirts which are sold with the proceeds going to various charities. To date more than $150,000 has been raised.
Over the past few years Rod has also been actively involved as a community representative for the new Ravenhall Correctional Centre.
Young Citizen of the Year: Michael Lim
Since 2013, Michael has made an outstanding contribution to the Brimbank community. He has been an influential leader and positive role model through volunteering, community engagement and advocacy.
Michael has demonstrated a pattern and long-term commitment to empowering and improving the lives of disadvantaged young people while working to develop the strength and resilience of his local community.
At the age of 21, Michael became the CEO of Community Health Advancement and Student Engagement (CHASE). CHASE is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve health literacy among disadvantaged young people in Melbourne’s west.
CHASE currently works in conjunction with Victoria University Secondary College, Copperfield College, St Albans Secondary College, East Keilor College and Brunswick Secondary College. It achieves its aim through education, peer to peer mentoring and community engagement.
CHASE provides a year-long mentoring program that connects tertiary educated students with disadvantaged secondary students.
In 2017, CHASE engaged with over 300 students and 100 mentors. CHASE is growing rapidly every year, connecting with more students, schools and mentors.
Michael has been a Brimbank Youth Ambassador since 2016 and has advocated for the voice of young people with elected councillors, local community organisations and council staff.
He is a member of the Brimbank Learning and Employment Steering Committee (BLESC) and is involved with research and policy internships with Melbourne University. He has also been an active Ambassador for the NITOR Program since 2013. NITOR is a school-based program based in Brimbank that aims to improve the educational, academic and professional outcomes of disengaged Year 10 boys. Michael himself was identified as an at-risk student in Year 10, and graduated from the program in 2011.
It is his own experience of marginalisation that inspires him to increase opportunities for young people in Brimbank. He strongly believes that disengaged and disadvantaged students don’t lack ability, they lack opportunity.
Michael’s passion to re-think and build equitable systems providing opportunities and voice to structurally disadvantaged young people is evidenced through his substantial involvement with the Foundation for Young Australians, Melbourne CityMission, Western Chances, CHASE, NITOR and Brimbank City Council.
Michael’s positive contributions and passion for his community stem from an intrinsic motivation and deep desire to enhance social cohesion, cultural diversity and prosperity amongst the citizens of Brimbank.
Lifetime Achievement Award: St Albans Community Centre Cooperative Ltd
St Albans Community Co-operative Pty Ltd was founded in 1974 and over the past 44 years, a tireless group of local people have raised funds to get community projects and much-needed infrastructure off the ground in St Albans. The members of the Co-op have identified community need and taken positive action to find and deliver solutions.
For many years, the group was led by much-loved president Jack Sheridan, who was also a Mayor of Keilor before the council amalgamations. Jack passed away in February 2016 and his last legacy to the community was to finalise the donation of $2.5 million towards the building of Brimbank’s first ever performing arts venue.
The 200-seat Bowery Theatre where we gather today was officially opened in February 2017 and the late Jack Sheridan is remembered through the naming of the Centre’s atrium.
St Albans Community Co-operative has been a donor partner for over 10 years with Western Chances, who provide scholarships to young people experiencing financial disadvantage. The Co-op has donated $210,000 for scholarships to students residing in the 3021 postcode.
Other projects they have helped establish and support include the St Albans Community Health Centre, the Adult Migrant English Centre, Horizons Disability Support Group, the Migrant Resource Centre and the Sunshine Hospital.
Down to just five remaining members, and now led by secretary Ken Hovenga, the other members are Christa Lanzendoerfer, Alan Aisthorpe, Colin Thorpe and Marija Keller. Most of them are in their late 70s and 80s.
It will soon be the end of an era for the St Albans Community Co-op as they have struggled to find young people to take over their lifetime’s work. But, they have left an outstanding and rare legacy, made a valuable contribution to their community and positively changed the lives of many.
Mayor’s Outstanding Contribution Award: Sebastian ‘Sam’ Agricola
Sebastian ‘Sam’ Agricola has devoted the past 16 years working with the community, politicians and businesses to improve the image, look and function of St Albans.
During that time, he has also been President of the St Albans Business Association and is one of St Albans most staunch advocates. He pioneered the St Albans Lunar Festival, which now attracts more than 70,000 people annually and has been active in fundraising and philanthropy.
His outstanding contribution to the community has resulted in CCTV being introduced to St Albans and he lobbied all tiers of government to remove the railroad crossing at St Albans Railway Station.
Sam also advocated and won the support of traders and Council to establish a special rate levy to market and promote the St Albans Town Centre. He has worked tirelessly with traders to instil pride in their businesses and their local area and has fought hard, in conjunction with Brimbank City Council, to keep bus stops in Alfreida Street.
His love for St Albans is clear to everyone who knows him and his determination and drive to make St Albans a better place has earned him the support of his community.
Community Sport Achievement Award: Ian Mackenzie
Ian Mackenzie has spent countless hours volunteering for the St Albans Football and Cricket Clubs, and especially coaching the Football Integration Development Association team in recent years. The Victorian Football Integration Development League provides Victorians with an intellectual disability the opportunity to participate in Australian Rules football at a competitive level.
Ian has been a wonderful inspiration and role model for everyone associated with the clubs, but particularly for the Development League team.
The team members all look up to Ian, and through their participation in the sport have developed their confidence, self-esteem and life skills, as well as the many health benefits that come from regular competitive sport.
In fact, under the leadership of Ian, the St Albans team won the first premiership in their short history last year.
A pillar of the community, Ian also works closely with the St Albans Sports Club and has spent a lot of time helping Scope with balloon football and cricket activities for those with disabilities.
Community Wellbeing Award: Za Tuah Ngur
Za Tuah Ngur is well-known by service providers and families in the Brimbank community. While service providers know her as Nguri, Burmese Chin families know her as Sayama Nguri. Sayama means teacher in Burmese and is a term used for highly respected females of senior rank or age.
Nguri has earned this title with her contribution over the past nine years as a community leader and mentor. Nguri has been employed by a number of organisations during this time including Council, VICSEG, New Hope and as a church pastor within the Burmese community and President of the Chin Women’s Association.
The focus of Nguri’s work and life has been to support and educate newly arrived Burmese families and help them to understand and adjust to Australian culture and local services.
Nguri has founded a playgroup for Burmese families and co-facilitates parenting programs. She also supports families who have children with disabilities at Sunshine Special Developmental School and has been instrumental in developing community gardens at Sunshine Harvester and Sunshine Special Development School.
She assists in story time sessions at Brimbank libraries and supports talks on the importance of bilingualism. She has been the driving force behind many initiatives in Brimbank to support and connect communities.
Cultural Achievement Award: A tied result with awards presented to Rita Seumanutafa and Tracee Hutchison
Rita Seumanutafa is a highly regarded leader in the Islander community and recognised Ethnomusicologist of traditional Samoan music. She is a passionate advocate for the engagement, creation and enjoyment of performing arts for multicultural communities.
Among other commitments, Rita is a founding board member of mentoring organisation BridginWorx, a festival committee member at Immigration Museum and an advisory committee member at Melbourne Museum. She is also the founder and Managing Director Of PICAA Inc (Pacific Island Creative Arts Australia Inc).
Through Rita setting up PICAA, more than 10,000 people have had the opportunity to experience traditional Samoan music, dance and storytelling.
Her projects promoting multicultural arts in Brimbank reached an audience of over 1,000 in 2017.
Rita has extensive experience working with youth in Brimbank and is an outstanding role model in the wider community. Through her leadership and actions, she has provided opportunities for her community members to connect and create support networks to find solutions to issues and use
education as a pathway to breaking barriers.
During her 15 years of service to the community, Rita’s involvement in artistic events and performances has reached in the vicinity of 25,000 people.
Tracee Hutchison is a television and radio broadcaster, journalist, commentator, producer/director and author with a national and international media profile. For many years she has used her network and influence in advocacy for Brimbank through her role on the Board of Music Victoria, where she is Chair of the Women’s Advisory Panel.
She also serves on Music Victoria’s Heritage, Awards and Regional Advisory panels. In July 2015 she was appointed CEO of the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival and she is currently head of Journalism at the Australian College of the Arts.
She has been a passionate advocate for social justice issues throughout her career and is proud Ambassador for The Big Issue’s Women’s Subscription Enterprise.
Tracee is committed to the community benefits of the arts and the importance and value of all forms of the arts in the western suburbs. She was a founding member of the Bowery Theatre STACC Community Consultative Committee in the advisory role of an industry expert.
She has used her extensive industry connections to support a showcase of the Bowery Theatre to the arts industry. Significantly, many high profile people have discovered the Bowery through her invitation.
Tracee has also capitalised on her broadcast channels to position Brimbank as a new and vibrant arts precinct to a wide audience. And she has helped staff recruit and secure industry experts to the Bowery STACC Community Consultative Committee.
She remains an avid supporter of emerging artists and students and a valued mentor to young performers.
Educator of the Year: Jacinda Richards
Jacinda is the founder and CEO of L2R Next Gen Inc which she established in 2009. L2R is a grassroots not-for-profit organisation providing opportunities for young people to participate in free weekly hip hop dance workshops in Melbourne’s west.
The classes include young people from culturally and linguistically diverse, newly arrived and at-risk communities. In addition to free dance classes, L2R aims to create a safe environment where young people can gain valuable connections and friendships, learn new skills in the arts and increase their confidence and ability to fully participate in their communities.
With extensive professional dance experience spanning many genres, Jacinda has worked all over the world. Since 2009 she has worked as the Community Development Officer at Western English Language School (WELS) in both the Braybrook and Wyndham campuses. It was through her work at WELS that encouraged her to develop and establish L2R.
Among other projects in 2017, Jacinda delivered the Bowery Dance Project at STACC, and the 3021 project which provided free weekly hip hop classes over terms 2 and 3 at STACC. She is a committee member of the Western Youth Arts Network and works extensive hours each week as a volunteer to run L2R.
She has received funding from the Sidney Myer Foundation to pay her salary as the CEO for just one day per week. The other six days is all volunteer work.
L2R dancers have performed all over Melbourne including at the Premier’s Gala Dinner, New Year’s Eve at Federation Square, Victoria’s Multicultural Festival and the AFL’s Multicultural Round. More than 120 young people from the west between the ages of 7 and 25 are currently involved in her programs.
Environmental Achievement Award: St Albans Meadows Primary School
St Albans Meadows Primary School has demonstrated a commitment to continuous environmental improvements by implementing a number of programs to educate and engage students in conservation, preservation and sustainability practices.
They have done this through:
- Growing foods organically to reduce the school’s environmental footprint,
- Lunch-time environmental groups,
- In-school water conservation measures,
- Nude Food litter reduction,
- Commitment to Resource Smart management system,
- A kitchen garden program, and
- Strong sustainability curriculum focus
St Albans Meadows Primary School has been instrumental in championing the significant reduction of its landfill waste by setting up a collaborative school approach. Each classroom has landfill, compost and recyclable bins where students learn by incorporating good waste
habits into their everyday school life.
The school also promotes citizen responsibility by incorporating classroom knowledge into practice. Students are given a voice on how they would like to shape their sustainable kitchen garden, chicken coop and watering system utilising rainwater.
The students are involved in the planning, growing, harvesting, preparing, sustaining and sharing the produce. By doing so, they learn about the food chain system, plant life cycles, eco-systems, environmental impacts and the benefits of healthy eating.
The St Albans Meadows Primary School embraces environmental sustainability, conservation, preservation and social inclusion through learning and teaching best practices throughout the school as one community.
Essential Services Excellence Award: Georgie Hall
Georgie Hall was the third female to be appointed within the Metro Region of Ambulance Victoria, commencing in January 1987. In 1995, she was the first female to be appointed as a Team Manager.
Georgie has managed the Sunshine Branch for the past 23 years and has been on Brimbank’s MEMP committee for the same period of time.
In her role as Team Manager, she has mentored staff members who have gone on to become Mobile Intensive Care paramedics, Air Ambulance paramedics, Group Managers and Team Managers.
Georgie has been an active member of the community and tireless Brimbank worker for the past 30 years as a paramedic and member of a range of committees including the local MFB and Police.
She has provided great support, leadership, guidance and valuable information to these committees on issues related to public health and community wellbeing.