2012 - Australia Day Winners

Major Award – Citizen of the Year (Co-Winner)

Lorrel Samson OAM

Lorrel is, and has been, a tireless worker for the Traralgon community. As an active member of the Uniting Church in Traralgon she organises book sales, catering for weddings and funerals amongst others. She is very conscientious and is always there to give a welcoming smile to everyone. She generously gives of her time, looking for nothing in return.

Lorrel is also well known for her passion for the Scouting movement.  Alongside her husband, she has been involved with scouts for over 40 years, encouraging the young with her work as a Scout Leader for the 1st Traralgon Scouts.  If you are lucky enough to know Lorrel, you will only be full of admiration for her generosity of spirit and giving nature.

Lorrel encourages her scouts to be active in the community, with their participation in Australia Day activities, in particular at the civic function; and also other community events such as Clean Up Australia.  She is always there when needed.

Major Award – Citizen of the Year (Co-Winner)

Barry Whitehead

Barry Whitehead has lived in Latrobe City for 35 years, and during this time has firmly established himself in his community.  He has, without fail, shown himself to be a man of great integrity and commitment.  He is a committed family man, a hard-working individual and a generous supporter and provider to the Latrobe City community through a wide range of activities.

Barry is widely known throughout the region for his participation in the arts (theatre, radio, dance) sport (football, basketball) and as a local newspaper columnist; and for his willingness to act as MC or host for many sporting, school and fundraising events.  This is all carried out in addition to his full-time employment as HR Manager for Apprenticeships Group Australia.  Barry is an excellent ambassador for the region and a great role model.

Some of the events Barry freely give his services as MC include:

Latrobe City Australia Day Awards (10 years plus)
Latrobe Regional Hospital Annual Gala Ball (2009-10)
Gippsland Associated Theatre Awards (since mid 1990’s)
Latrobe City People’s Choice Awards (2010-11)
Multicultural Festival at Gippsland Immigration Wall
Black Saturday 1st Anniversary Memorial Service
Christmas in Yinnar
Gippsland Theatre Festival (2006-8)

Major Award – Young Citizen of the Year

Ellen McDonald

Ellen McDonald, is a 21 year old woman from Moe.  Over the last two years Ellen has made a significant contribution to the young people of the Latrobe Valley community through her involvement as a volunteer with headspace Central West Gippsland and the ’HYPE’ FreeZa committee.

Ellen is an intelligent and articulate young woman whose character and maturity conceal the challenges she has overcome.  Exposure to drug use and violence saw Ellen exit her family home at age 15.  Ellen moved into supported accommodation and later independent housing whilst supporting herself to continue her education.  Ellen currently attends GippsTAFE and is continuing to pursue her goal of becoming a vet nurse.  In addition, Ellen supports her younger sister who has resided in her care since the age of 17.

Ellen’s early life, her role in raising her sister and her experiences of care provided by local support services have given her insight into the challenges facing many young people.  Ellen has demonstrated a commitment to repay the support she has received through her support of Headspace and the local FreeZa committee ‘HYPE’.

Ellen has recently accepted the challenge to become one of the pioneer members of Headspace’s new Youth Action Group. This will further enhance Ellen’s leadership skills through opportunities in public speaking, youth development, health promotion and community awareness.

Major Award – Community Event of the Year (Co-winner)

Good Friday Family Day

The Good Friday Community Family Fun day attracts local people and travellers who stop and spend and hour or two enjoying the activities on Good Friday every year.  For the locals it not only provides an activity for the whole family on a day when there are not many options for things to do or places to go, but is also provides a great focal point for all the community and helpers to meet, and join in the community sprit.

It also provides a rest break for those travelling long distances as they pass through our region on the way to their holiday destination, as well as an opportunity to stop and take a look at Traralgon and meet members of the community.

We have many regular visitors who come back year after year especially to participate in our Good Friday Community Family Day where all money raised is donated to the Good Friday Appeal, in aid of the Royal Children’s Hospital.  The REG Cork Club has achieved the Premier Fundraiser Award 16 times, and Top Country (Non-Metro) Fundraiser Award 32 times. These achievements bring Christine Unsworth (Good Friday Appeal Director) and Emoke Bakacs (Deputy Director) to our community to present the shields.

Total fundraising this year was $78,012.82, and a total of $1,554,546.61 has been raised since 1973.

Major Award – Community Event of the Year (Co-winner)

Gippsland Immigration Wall of Recognition Multicultural Festival

The Gippsland Multicultural Festival 2011 was a unique festival that occurred over three consecutive days in March 2011.  The Youth Multicultural Festival with the theme of ‘Bridging the Multicultural Generation Gap’ occurred on the first day.

This event showcased talent from school children from across Gippsland as well as students in research and education, by generating an interest in their heritage, foreign languages and contemporary society.

The Long Table Lunch which also formed part of the Gippsland Food and Wine Festival, served ethnic cuisine using local produce from the region.

On the third day, the multicultural celebrations occurred in the Gippsland Immigration Park with ethnic performers, food stalls, displays, activities and an unveiling ceremony to reveal new names on the wall.  This community celebration of multiculturalism was possible through the work of the Gippsland Ethnic Communities’ Council (GECC) in partnership and co-operation with a number of organisations including the Immigration Park Committee, Department of Education Early Childhood Development and GippsTAFE.

The generous contribution and support from many local businesses and organisations have made this multicultural celebration a success.  This event is expected to grow and attract more domestic and international tourists to the region

Major Award – Community Service of the Year

Geoff Bell

Geoff has been a devoted member of the Morwell Lions Club for over 40 years. You can always rely on Geoff to work on any project at any time.  He is always the first to put his hand up to help.  And he is always there to nurture new members.  His work within the community is legendary and he is well known in Morwell.

He still works two days a week helping deliver medications to elderly citizens in Morwell who are unable to walk to the local chemist.  I would back Geoff to know more about the streets of Morwell than any man alive.  After 40 years of service there is not much that Geoff has not done for Morwell and the Lions Community.

Latrobe City Award – Citizen of the Year

Dr Graham Dettrick

Dr Graham Dettrick’s contribution to the training of teachers at Monash University Gippsland Campus began right from his arrival in the Valley in 1974. He was elected as Chairperson of Maryvale High School Council and the Maryvale High School Curriculum Committee for ten years before its transition to the now Kurnai College.  Many of his students continue to contribute to the local community.

He was a member of the German Club Executive for many years and was Secretary before his academic work took him overseas for extended periods.  Although retired, he still contributes to the community as a volunteer in his role as Chairperson of the Gippsland Ethnic Communities’ Council (GECC), the Board of Management for Old Gippstown in Moe, the Monash University Human Research Ethnic Committee in Melbourne, the Latrobe City Business Tourism Association, Latrobe City Settlement Committee, and the Latrobe City Cultural Diversity Reference Committee.

His most demanding and significant work since February 2004 has been through the GECC, the peak organisation for ethnic communities’ advocacy and multiculturalism in Gippsland. He has developed and supported a number of initiatives and programs that provide the opportunity for different ethnic groups to work together, thereby promoting multiculturalism and harmony in the community.

Latrobe City Award – Young Citizen of the Year

Tim Olorenshaw

During the Black Saturday bushfire, Tim stayed to defend his father’s property, unfortunately, with no success.  Tim was lucky not to lose his own life during that terrible day.  A few weeks after the fires devastated the community Tim managed to get an apprenticeship with local builder Shayne Cheney so that he could begin to rebuild local properties that had been devastated by the fires.  Since then, Tim has been involved with the re-building of at least eight homes in Callignee and Koornalla.

As well as his work as an apprentice and lifeguard at the Latrobe Leisure Centre in Morwell, Tim has managed to find time to voluntarily help two elderly, health-compromised neighbours to build the basic dwellings in which they live.  He has also built himself a basic dwelling on his father’s property which he has called home of the past two years.

Tim is a quiet achiever who has diligently gone about the task of re-building homes whilst personally developing his own set of skills which he will be able to use well into the future.

Latrobe City Award – Community Event of the Year

Austral-Asia Quest – Filipino Fiesta Festival

The Austral-Asia Quest involves contestants from ethnic backgrounds enhancing their abilities, talents and learning to win back self-confidence by representing their own cultural heritage through dancing, signing and arts.

The event, which is sponsored by Latrobe City Council, the Multicultural Affairs Commission as well as small and large businesses both from Melbourne and the local area, aims to improve the contestant’s ability to interact socially and to perform confidently in front of the large audience of around 500-600.  The event promotes multiculturalism, unity and peace.

Contestants vying for Ms Austral-Asia Quest compose of women who aim to become an ambassador for their home country.  They compete in various categories such as sports uniform, gown and talent, with the winners of each category crowned accordingly. 

Latrobe City Award – Community Service of the Year

Jerry Baladjay

Jerry has been the SPAG (Samahang Pilipino sa Gippsland) chairman for almost 10 years and has actively promoted the rich cultural heritage of the Filipinos. He has the ability to interact and connect people.  He has been instrumental in promoting tourism to the valley by receiving assistance from the organisers of the Filipino Fiesta in Melbourne to help with the Filipino Fiesta in Gippsland.  He also instigated the inter-league basketball games competition in Gippsland and bowling amongst friends of all nations held at the Morwell Tenpins.  This group now has 25 members.

He became a dedicated chairman of the Filipino Australian in Gippsland which continues to grow from strength to strength, with 120 members to date.  He welcomes and helps people of any nationality, especially new migrants.  Jerry is works closely with Centrelink and Workways and has helped small businesses in the valley by promoting it through the Association.  Jerry is always open and has a helping hand to offer to everybody, no matter their nationality.

Latrobe City Award – Community Service of the Year

Dianne Rayner

Dianne Rayner provides a service to the community in an unassuming manner.  She deserves recognition for her personal time given, her generosity and the unconditional humility she has towards others. She is always there to support families who need short term help or a non-judgmental shoulder to cry on.   She only has to hear of a person being admitted to hospital and she is there while offering accommodation in her own home to the family if needed.

When she lost her nephew she made sure her family was looked after, offering help to her sister by doing her shopping, cleaning her home and making sure the extended family were okay.

There are not many who would give their personal time to care and share with others.  She never has a bad word or breaches the confidentiality of those she helps.  Dianne’s service is not direct or measurable to the city but her efforts are performed in a quiet honest manner which can only be an asset to the community through personal contribution and effort.

Latrobe City Award – Community Service of the Year

Strzelecki Stringbusters

For the last seven years the Strzelecki Stringbusters have been giving free family orientated musical performances to community organisations including:

Bushfire Recovery – Gippsland Bushfire Concert and more than 12 recovery or remembrance concerts at Callignee, Balook, Koornalla, Traralgon South, Boolarra, Yinnar and Warragul.
Yinnar & District Community Association - Christmas in Yinnar, Australia Day, Great Victorian Bike Ride Yinnar and other community events.
Churchill & District Lions Club - Camp Quality Fundraisers and other community events.
Community music nights - for the past three years the Stringbusters have organised and provided their services for free on the last Wednesday of the month at the Yinnar Community Hotel.  
Various Elderly care facilities and hostels – Yallambie Village, Mitchell House, Hazelwood House, Heritage Manor, St Andrew’s Ages Care, Yarram Ages Care and Gracevale Lodge.
Special Needs and Community Support Groups - Traralgon Special Development School, I Gain special needs groups Morwell, combined Baringa/Cooinda Hill Christmas functions and more
The Strzelecki Stringbusters have provided exceptional service to Latrobe City by building strong community spirit in exceptionally difficult times after the bushfires.  Even though some band members suffered losses themselves, the sad times were made easier by simple music and smiling faces. 

Latrobe City Award – Community Service of the Year

1st Traralgon Scout Group

The 1st Traralgon Scout Group, currently at 100 members, has for 80 years provided service to the young people in the community through its scouting programs run by volunteers.  In turn these youth members returned their contribution to the community through the valuable life skills and understanding, learnt through the scouting program.

The group provides scouting to people aged from five to 26, focusing on a wide variety of training and experiences such as self-reliance and confidence building, incorporating outdoor activities, skills and initiative development, teamwork, fun games and leadership development activities.

There are many activities in the program, ranging from attendance at ANZAC Day activities, acting as flag bearers at Citizenship Ceremonies, taking part in Clean Up Australia, assisting at Carols by Candlelight, attendance at National and World Jamborees, participating in exchange programs, youth forums, leader training and conferences and adventurous activities.

Much of the success of the group depends on the enthusiasm, dedication and support of volunteer leaders and parent committee involvement. The 1st Traralgon Scout Group was established in 1924 and has been an active participant in the life of the community ever since.

Related Links