Published on: February 2021
North Shore Electorate Australia Day Awards
Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (18:05:06):
On Australia Day we reflect on our history. We respect the stories of others and we celebrate our nation, its achievements and, most of all, its people. We acknowledge and celebrate the contribution that every Australian makes to our dynamic nation, from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—who are part of the oldest living culture in the world—to those who have come across the globe to call Australia home. Modern Australia has an Aboriginal heritage, a British foundation and a multicultural character. We honour the ancestors who were the custodians of this ancient continent and we pay tribute to those who enshrined freedom, fairness and unity in our Constitution. This Australia Day was recognised differently from previous years. With the COVID-19 pandemic still very much a part of our daily lives, we were not able to gather together for our usual large celebrations. Particularly absent were some of the wonderful events that we normally see on Sydney Harbour: the tall ships race, the harbour parade, and I always love the yacht ballet.
Fortunately, many councils were still able to host citizenship ceremonies to welcome our newest citizens, which to me is the most exciting part of the day. I was lucky this year to join Mosman Council to acknowledge our new citizens and welcome them, and in particular to celebrate this year's Mosman community award recipients. I congratulate Mosman's Citizen of the Year, Kathrina Doran. Kathrina was awarded for her outstanding community work, particularly restoring and bringing back to life the iconic 109-year-old establishment Mosman Rowers Club. She worked tirelessly with many others to save it for the benefit of the community. Kathrina herself was an immigrant to Australia, coming from Ireland. She spoke on the day about never failing to show kindness for people. She has a passion for our community and works with people to achieve outcomes locally.
Congratulations also to George Scammell, whom I have recognised in this place before. He was awarded the Mosman Young Citizen of the Year award. Many members in this place would recognise George and his siblings, Harry and Gracie. With the help of their parents, Amanda and Dave, they launched the Thank You Project Australia. This initiative saw students and young people from across the country write thankyou cards to our frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19. George spoke eloquently about how he and his siblings thought of this concept one night while sitting around the dinner table and how proud he was to receive the award, recognising his own work and also on their behalf. Both Kathrina and George demonstrate the prevailing virtues of kindness for others and community, both local and global, that we have all relied on throughout the past year.
I also acknowledge the North Sydney Council Australia Day ceremony and our new citizens in that local government area. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend because both ceremonies are held at the same time but I acknowledge Elle Prevost for representing me on the day. She is also married to a new citizen—her French husband, Emmanuel. She represented me and welcomed the new citizens on my behalf. I also acknowledge our mayor, Jilly Gibson, and deputy mayor, Stephen Barbour, who also participated in welcoming citizens to North Sydney. Just prior to Australia Day I joined North Sydney Council for its community awards ceremony. While we recognise the hard work and commitment of our community every year, it felt even more important this year to recognise those who have gone above and beyond throughout a challenging 2020. I congratulate this year's community award winners and thank the council for the work it does in bringing our community and our volunteers together.
This year two recipients were recognised for the North Sydney Citizen of the Year Award. Jane Boyd is a musical educator and through her unique teaching programs she has been able to enrich the lives of students and their families. Jane highlighted this by speaking about musical education being crucial to society. She spoke particularly about early childhood music learning and the work that she has done with the North Sydney Community Centre. The other recipient was Davie MacDonald and Zara, the therapy dog, who is a bit of a celebrity on Instagram. Zara and Davie support vulnerable people across our community. Zara, as a therapy dog, works with domestic violence survivors and victims at the Manly Courthouse and provides them with support. Zara also worked with Davie throughout last year's devastating bushfires by providing support at the refuge at the emergency bushfire recovery centre in Ulladulla. At the awards ceremony Davie spoke about the importance of family and identity, loss and grief.
The North Sydney Young Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Pratham Gupta, who is the former school captain of the Cammeraygal High School. He spoke quite a bit about creating community and finding opportunities to make a difference in our local community. Congratulations also to Sunny Lin Jiang and Pool Pod, who were awarded the North Sydney Environmental Citizen of the Year, and to the Student Green Team from Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College, who were awarded the North Sydney Young Environmental Citizens of the Year. I also congratulate Phoenix House and the Student Reference Group, who were awarded the Community Group of the Year.