Australia day awards
The Australia Day Awards recognise outstanding achievements, which show results of good citizenship, determination, creativity, enthusiasm, commitment and a demonstrated search for excellence.
Each year the awards are presented during Maitland's Australia Day celebrations.
Council welcomes nominees from a wide variety of areas including the arts, sport, schools, the environment and community service. Achievements which will be recognised include a single outstanding achievement in the last year or numerous achievements made over many years.
2020 award recipients
Citizen of the Year: Dr Helen Tolhurst
Helen is a former GP of 18 years and keen artist who, after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in January 2019, decided to do something to improve our community's capacity to support and understand the challenges that people with Parkinson's face.
Through determination and leadership, Helen helped establish networks and support groups within our community for those living with Parkinson's Disease and their families.
Helen also uses her passion for art to raise awareness about Parkinson's in her most recent art exhibition, where all proceeds also went to the Maitland Parkinson's Support Group.
Young Citizen of the Year: Ally Meyn
Ally Meyn is passionate about improving the lives of those less fortunate or disadvantaged within the community.
In 2020 alone, Ally contributed to successfully supporting over 300 disadvantaged, disabled, or vulnerable members of our community find meaningful employment while also building awareness within the business community about the value of employing those with special needs. Ally also mentors local youth to help them achieve their employment dreams and is the President of the local Business Network International Group.
2019 award recipients
Citizen of the Year: Wilma Lilley
Since moving to Maitland 23 years ago, Wilma has been involved with groups which provide support for children, the vulnerable, older people and people living with a disability.
A Rutherford Lioness member for several years, Wilma has held the positions of Secretary and President with the group and was the recipient of the Helen Kellar Award for her services to the Lions Club. She has also fundraised for several charities including brain cancer, SIDS and other local causes.
Wilma has volunteered with Lower Hunter Peer Support at community centres and out in the community on outings and annual camps, and Lower Hunter Temporary Care which provides in house respite for families with school aged children with a disability. Wilma was also a board member for Volunteers for Palliative Care for 10 years, served as Benhome Auxiliary Board President and has contributed to Community Care, Transport Carers Group and Brunch Club. Congratulations Wilma.
Young Citizen of the Year: Hayley Johns
Hayley has been an Ambassador for Regional Youth and delegate for the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW Next Generation. In October last year, Hayley was selected to participate in UNICEF Australia's NSW Drought Summit. The Summit saw children and young people come together with decision makers to discuss the challenges they face living with drought in NSW and how responses can be improved.
Hayley is currently studying at University of Newcastle and is the Student Ambassador for the School of Health Sciences, Podiatry. Hayley is also an Ambassador for the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme and an Ambassador and Alumni of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award.
2018 Award Recipients
Citizen of the Year: Belinda-Jane Davis
In 2018 Belinda, who lives on a farming property near Hinton, wrote important stories of people on the land in a unique way that contributed towards building a strong, supportive community around our farmers.
Her work at the Maitland Mercury also involves making connections with local groups such as Slow Food Hunter Valley and in 2018 she clearly demonstrated her support of the Earth Markets. Her stories have galvanised the community in supporting their local farmers and thereby helping to ensure that Maitland is food secure. Her work in this area has highlighted the rich diversity that exists locally and has helped in the development of the artisanal producer and farmer, which will develop as a major economic and tourism asset to the people of Maitland.
In 2018 Belinda also won a Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism for her drought campaign ‘The Big Dry’ which is a tribute to her tenacity and her view that it is her obligation as a journalist to bring the drought to the forefront of our minds.
Young Citizen of the Year: Kelci Brain
Passionate 15 year old Kelci Brain has been a member of St John Ambulance (NSW) - Maitland Cadet Division for over four years. Kelci has proficiently climbed the ranks as a cadet, completed over 800 volunteer hours with the organisation and plans to study to become a qualified paramedic on the completion of high school.
2017 Award Recipients
Citizen of the Year: Amorelle Dempster
Amorelle has become the driving force behind the ever evolving Earth Markets which have become so popular at The Levee. The markets have successfully reconnected local producers with local customers and they’ve also given a helping hand to the disadvantaged in Maitland. As the Leader of Slow Food Hunter Valley, Amorelle has brought together a passionate group of volunteers who simply want to spread the Slow Food message.
Young Citizen of the Year: Christopher Teasdale
Nominated for his inspirational leadership qualities, Christopher served as school captain of Maitland Christian School. He is also a talented sportsman and represented his school and community at the finals of the CSSA Soccer State Championships, where he set the highest example of conduct and mateship amongst his peers. In addition, Christopher also has made two trips to Woolaning where he made invaluable links though sport and activities, which became a passion for him in advocating for diversity and people’s rights.
2016 Award recipients
Citizen of the Year: Mrs Beverly Steggles
Born in Maitland, Bev has a strong connection with her family and has worked hard to take care of them. Bev has a philosophy based on ‘giving back’ and has been heavily involved in the Maitland Black and White Committee, World Vision, the building of the Op Shop at Beresfield/Thornton Anglican Church, and she is also the coordinator of the Samaritans Grandparents as Parents program. Bev also assists with other community initiatives including Mission Lunches, the Monday Club, book clubs and school awards.
Young Citizen of the Year: Ms Sammy Seth
In her role as Youth Ambassador for the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network, Sammy has met young migrants and refugees and launched a petition which pushes for more Intensive English Centres (IEC) to be set up in regional NSW. She is an advocate for lowering the voting age to 16 and has been an integral part of Youth Parliament for four years. She is a student of CHAKRA dance school, a community leader for the Oaktree Foundation and has won awards for her public speaking.