Citizen of the Year shows community spirit through meaningful action

Saturday, 26 January

Well-known event manager and community volunteer Aliison Kelly has been named Lismore’s 2019 Citizen of the Year.

Aliison was one of 10 individuals and groups recognised at the Australia Day Awards ceremony today, where Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith also welcomed 19 new Australian citizens in the annual Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony.

Aliison has volunteered her time, energy and skills over many years with community groups and organisations in the arts, events, koala conservation, horticulture and bush regeneration.

She has been secretary of Lismore’s Friends of the Koala for four years and is a long-time volunteer with LightnUp, helping to produce and coordinate the annual Lismore Lantern Parade.

Aliison was a producer’s assistant/production manager with the team that created the internationally-acclaimed dirtgirlworld and has been associated with numerous projects with Screenworks.

She is festival manager for the annual Lismore Friendship Festival held in Spinks Park and works with the volunteer organising committee of Carnevale Italiano at New Italy Museum.

Aliison is passionate about the natural environment and has worked with councils and landowners in the region to improve land management practices as well as designing effective waste management and water-saving programs at events she facilitates.

She also uses her extensive skills in logistics, placemaking, site management and administration to train volunteers so they can better organise and operate their own community events.

“Aliison’s friendly, practical demeanour has helped energise many events, markets and workshops in this community over many years, and her strength and resilience has helped many projects come to fruition,” her nominator said.

“She is generous, honest and approachable, and it is long overdue that she was recognised for her unfailing contribution to so many community-based programs conducted in Lismore and district.”

Mayor Isaac Smith said the Australia Day Awards judging committee was impressed by the Citizen of the Year nominations in 2019, with many dedicated community volunteers and groups in the running for this year’s top award. However, he said the sheer breadth of Aliison’s volunteer work made her the clear choice.

“Aliison is well-known to many people in our community and I am very pleased to name her the 2019 Lismore Citizen of the Year,” Isaac said.

“She has given her time and energy to many local causes and willingly shares her professional skills with community groups and volunteers to build capacity within those organisations.

“Anyone who knows Aliison knows that she always contributes with a smile, and genuinely loves working with others in the community. She is driven by a love of people and a totally unselfish desire to make her community a wonderful place to live, connect and celebrate. She is a truly deserving winner of this award.”

Other 2019 Australia Day Award winners are:

Young Citizen of the Year: Lily Harrison
Lily is a socially aware young local who began volunteering with the Red Cross Blood Service café when she was 15.

In early 2016, she became aware of a young Aboriginal woman who gave birth to a stillborn baby. She made a maternity pack of products for the grieving mother and since then has made around 100 maternity packs for women using the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Service.

That same year she started collecting sanitary products and basic toiletries to make into care packs she called PeriodPacks for homeless and vulnerable women. She then distributed the packs to women’s centres, community groups and Aboriginal healthcare workers for women across the Bundjalung nation.

This year she teamed up with local businesses to become collecting points for donated products. She also worked with Boomerang Bags volunteers to make more than 800 drawstring bags to put the donations in.

Lily has also been the Northern Rivers ambassador for raising over $5000 to provide educational scholarships for girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda.

She was a recipient of the NSW Order of Australia branch 2018 John Lincoln Youth Community Service Award and also received the 2017 ADF Long Tan Youth Leadership and Teamwork Award.

In 2019 she will be studying her HSC but is still determined to continue collecting, making and distributing PeriodPacks.

Aboriginal Citizen of the Year: Malachi Canning
Malachi Canning is testament to what dedication and perseverance can achieve.

This 12-year-old Indigenous para-athlete lives with an intellectual disability and has been in foster care since he was three. He suffers from foetal alcohol syndrome and ADHD, and wears a hearing aid and glasses. But since competing in athletics at the age of seven, he has flourished.

In 2018, some of his achievements include: winning gold for discus and achieving three personal bests at the PSSA State Athletics in Sydney; winning a Premier’s Sports Certificate for Athletics; competing in six events and winning six medals at the CIS State School Athletics in Sydney; competing in four events and winning four medals at the State Little Athletics in Sydney; being awarded a Newcastle Variety Hearts Scholarship for sport; and being named Lismore’s Little Athletics Athlete of the Year 2017/18.

These accomplishments show Malachi is well on the way to achieving his dream of representing Australia at the Paralympics. This young man strives to be the best person he can be and has shown unwavering commitment and dedication to reaching his sporting goals.

Services in Community (Individual): John Maloney
John has been a bell ringer at St Carthage’s Cathedral for the past 35 years and has been part of the St Andrew’s church bell ringing team for more than two decades.

He has also volunteered in community radio broadcasting for 35 years and this dedication was evident during the March 2017 flood when John stayed at the station for three days, working throughout the night to let people know what was happening.

In 2014, John founded the Facebook group ‘The good old days of Lismore’ which allows its 14,000-plus members to share photos and enjoy discussions about the history of Lismore. Due to its overwhelming success, he also started ‘The good old days of Casino’ Facebook group which now has more than 6500 members.

These online groups have brought much joy to thousands of people and their popularity has led to the organisation of a ‘Good old days’ band concert.

Services in Community (Group): 1979 Terania Forest Blockaders
This year marks the 40th anniversary since the successful protest action that saved a piece of pristine rainforest on the North Coast and led to the eventual creation of the Nightcap National Park.

The Terania Creek protest marked the first time citizens physically defended a rainforest by placing themselves in front of police and loggers.

Those participating in the blockade in 1979 developed a new technique of non-violent direct action, which has been used in this region throughout the past 40 years right up to the successful Bentley CSG blockade in 2015.

The technique has also been used further afield with non-violent direct action taught by blockade veterans to protesters on the Franklin River blockade and at the Daintree rainforest campaign in the 1980s. Environmental groups in the USA and UK have also used these techniques.

The most important legacy of this group is the Nightcap National Park itself. This ecologically diverse wilderness area is valued for its natural heritage and is now World Heritage-listed.

Sportsperson of the Year (Senior): Paul Leadbeater
Paul had a busy year in 2018 with many outstanding achievements in hockey including representing Australia in Spain and in the over 60s NSW Men’s Masters Team.

Paul is president of Far North Coast Hockey and was instrumental in the success of Lismore hosting the Australian Men’s Masters Hockey Championships in September/October last year. He worked tirelessly to ensure it was a success while also playing in a gold medal-winning team.

The championship attracted more than 1800 participants to Lismore, bringing huge economic benefits. It was hailed a success by both Hockey Australia and Australian Men’s Masters Hockey, which will allow Lismore to host more events in the future. There are already a number of championships scheduled for 2019.

Paul has also represented NSW in Masters Hockey for the past 20 years and was selected as a shadow player for the Australian Team in 2019.

He is a life member of Far North Coast Hockey and Northern Star Club, which is testament to his commitment not only to the sport but to the local sporting community.

Sportsperson of the Year (Junior): Matilda Elliott
At the age of 15 this brilliant young sportsperson is showing incredible promise in her chosen field of netball.

Her achievements in 2018 include: representing the North Coast as a member of the North Coast Academy of Sport at the National Youth Championships in Maitland where she was named Most Valuable Player; being named Most Outstanding Netballer of the Year with the North Coast Academy and winning the North Coast Academy Darrell Chapmen Athlete of the Year award for 2018; receiving the prestigious 2018 Young Sportswoman of the Year award at St John's College Woodlawn; and being named the NSW Institute of Sport scholarship recipient for 2018, allowing her to train in Lismore and Sydney over the next 12 months.

For much of 2018, Matilda travelled to Sydney most weekends as part of the trial and selection process for the Under 17 NSW State Team, often resulting in schoolwork and assignments being completed in airports or on planes. She demonstrated great resilience and worked hard to balance her school studies and sporting commitments during this time.

Matilda has now been named one of 20 players in the 2019 NSW Talent Development Squad.
She is a quiet achiever who has shown incredible determination and focus to achieve her netball dreams.

Sports Team: Lismore Swans Australian Football Club Women’s Team
The members of this local sporting squad are great role models for team spirit, good sportsmanship and proving that hard work can pay off.

They are an inclusive team with players from all walks of life, and represent Lismore with pride when they travel to other towns and regions.

The Lismore Swans Australian Football Club was established in 1984 and was always a premier team for Lismore, however it was the decision to form a women’s team in 2015 which saw an influx of fresh ideas from new members who were eager to assist the club and drive it forward.

Since then the team has won the last two Queensland Women’s Football Association Northern Rivers Premierships, including the inaugural 2017 Premiership. They are the benchmark team to promote women’s Australian Rules football in the region, as they were the first women’s team established between the Gold Coast and the Central Coast.

The team’s success is not only on the football field. Their culture is built strongly on inclusion and team spirit, and they have a proven ability to develop players, empower them to play competitive football, and work hard to give players opportunities they may not otherwise have had.

This sporting team is not only having success on the field, but is a great ambassador for the city of Lismore.

Sustainable Environment: Vivian Martin
Vivian is a long-time supporter of arts and Landcare, and is one of the founders of the South Lismore Duck Pond and the longest serving volunteer at the site.

Vivian has been instrumental in turning the South Lismore Duck Pond from an overgrown an unused mess into a beautiful recreation park with the removal of more than 1000 coral trees and the planting of more than 2500 trees and shrubs.

Vivian was also vice president of the South Lismore Duck Pond Landcare Group from 2007 to 2018 and is now secretary.

He has also been the Lismore coordinator of National Tree Day for the past five years, is curator of the Tursa Art Prize at the North Coast National, and volunteers at the Fox Photo Den Studio Café.

Vivian is a dedicated advocate for the regeneration of our local river systems and a passionate supporter of the arts.

Arts/Cultural: Ted Trudgeon
For almost five decades, Ted has promoted local history through his professional work as a teacher and his voluntary work with the Richmond River Historical Society, which he joined in 1972.

He held the office of president for 18 years from 1983 to 2001 during which time he oversaw an active publishing and display program, as well as the major move of the society’s premises from the Trench Building to its current home in the former Council Chambers. He then became the honorary secretary from 2001 to 2004.

After stepping down from these positions, Ted has continued to play a central role in the society’s work. He is currently the museum coordinator, membership secretary, public officer, assistant to the treasurer, keeper of organisational memory, and, most importantly, a font of local historical information. He has produced many historical exhibitions at the museum, given talks, and produced a number of books, booklets and papers on Australian and local history. He is frequently being consulted and interviewed by researchers, community organisations, students and media outlets for assistance and informed comment on local historical matters.

Ted particularly excels at inspiring school children with his love of history. Over many years the museum has hosted school groups, which have been led Pied Piper-like by Ted as he takes the children on magical tours through the rooms of historical artefacts, sharing stories and instilling the children with a strong sense of this place where they live. Each year, Ted conducts tours with around 300 primary school children and 250 high school students.

Ted’s dedication and commitment to preserving and sharing our history makes him a true local treasure.

Main image: 2019 Australia Day Citizen of the Year Aliison Kelly.

Secondary image: Australia Day Ambassador Melanie Thomas and Mayor Isaac Smith (centre) with Australia Day award winners (l-r) the Lismore Swans Australian Football Club Women’s Team, Malachi Canning, Lily Harrison, Aliison Kelly, John Maloney, Ted Trudgeon, Hugh Nicholson on behalf of the 1979 Terania Forest Blockaders, Vivian Martin and Paul Leadbeater. Absent was Sportsperson of the Year (Junior) Matilda Elliott.


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