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Australia Day Awards nominees

We congratulate all nominees to Maroondah’s Australia Day Awards. View all the 2021 nominees below:

Rebecca Burley

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Rebecca began placing letters with some sunflower seeds in the letterboxes of her neighbours to establish a local support network and spread some happiness; creating a sense of community and connection. 

What started in her own street in March 2020, grew to become the Sunflower Effect project, spreading beyond Rebecca’s local street and becoming part of the Be Kind Maroondah campaign.

The project saw packets of sunflower seeds attached to postcards distributed to many schools, preschools and residential areas, with students and families across Maroondah planting the seeds as a reminder to care for and be kind to one another.

The project has helped neighbours get to know each other while promoting a message of hope that will see the streets and community areas of Maroondah blooming with sunflowers during the summer month

Tanya Caneva

Tanya has provided support for her 90 year old neighbour, Loris, for many years but even more so during this COVID-19 lockdown time in 2020.

Tanya and her partner, Michael, have provided Loris with weekly roast lunches/dinners and desserts, check ins and friendship. During lock-down they extended this support to another neighbour who was in the middle of full renovations and was left without a kitchen and laundry due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Tanya and Michael generously provided home cooked meals which supported both of their neighbours during such a difficult year and allowed their renovating neighbour to maintain their remote teaching and disability support work with much less stress.

Anupa Shah

Anupa was born in Nairobi, Kenya and moved to Australia in 1999. After moving to Australia, she soon started volunteering her services to a range of organisations. She has recently completed a Diploma in Community Services.

Anupa works as a volunteer for the Sikh Volunteers Australia Organisation, a non-profit volunteer organisation focusing on reducing distress in the community by providing free food to disadvantaged families.

Anupa also participates in the Food and Blanket Drive Project where she provides support for homeless people, distributing home-cooked food and blankets. She also volunteers to visit older people in their homes who are isolated from society, providing a friendly face and conversation; and she provides respite support for foster families.

George Frederick Ward

George saw military service from 1974 to 1980 in 10 Fld. Sqn. RAE. He joined the Military Historical Society of Australia and has had over 40 years involvement holding the positions of President, Secretary and Treasurer.

George has been instrumental in the recording and registration of the range of historic memorabilia held and displayed at the Ringwood RSL, specifically in registering the details with Museums Victoria. He has ensured that the memorabilia is true and relevant, to the period or conflict displayed. He also holds membership of the Bayswater RSL where he was involved with the Militaria displays and provided voluntary work.

George’s dedication and attention to detail to ensure the history and heritage afforded all Australians by veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice will continue to be tools that educate future generations on the impact that Wars and conflicts have had on the way of life we enjoy today

Michael Woods

Michael provides support for his 90-year-old neighbour, Loris, who lives behind them in Bedford Road. Along with providing home cooked meals, Michael also checks in on her regularly and assists with any house duties and mowing lawns. 

I have known Michael for the two years I have lived next door in my unit. I have had no functional kitchen, due to a full kitchen and laundry renovation being placed on hold during the COVID-19 period of 2020. Michael, and his partner Tanya, who I have separately nominated, extended their support to me during this difficult time, providing me with home cooked meals. Michael has mowed my laws, poisoned weeds and generally checked in to see how I am with messages over the fence.

Michael Gordon

Michael is a student of the Croydon Community School who has shown great leadership, supporting younger students both socially and in their maths studies, as well as volunteering at his local football club. For much of this year Michael tutored and supported an 8 year old student with ASD, who was feeling isolated and lonely throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.

Michael planned and facilitated weekly sessions via ZOOM, and when finding out that the student was a fan of Yokai, he tailored the maths work on the characters to help engage the student.

Michael created a safe and trusting dynamic which was a very positive experience for all involved.

Kris Grunow 

Kris is a student of the Croydon Community School and is a passionate advocate for recognition, respect and understanding of trans/fluid/gender dysphoria. Kris has been a role model and great support for younger students experiencing gender dysphoria. 

Kris developed a pamphlet and provided a presentation to staff at the Croydon Community School, with excellent staff feedback regarding how helpful and informative the session was. More information sessions are planned for educators in the 2021.

Oliver Haley

Oliver has organically become a mentor and safety net for younger students across the Croydon Community School. Oliver is very good at bringing people together and has provided support across the school to isolated students.

During 2020 Oliver took an active role facilitating connections in the year 7/8 advisory, and during remote learning Oliver ran board game groups, which improved connections and was great fun. On return to school the board game sessions have continued due to popular demand.

Oliver is an advocate of fairness and equality; is passionate about aged care, youth, gender dysphoria and identity; and has volunteered at an aged care facility.

Acacia Ingram

Acacia is a strong role model at Croydon Community School and in the Maroondah area. Acacia participates in group work at Croydon Community School mentoring and supporting younger students. She does volunteer design work and has designed the graduating class “hoodie” and other design projects across the school.

Acacia contributed to the “We know your name but not your story” DVD project by Maroondah Youth Services during 2020, which trained 12 young people to become story capturers within their community

Acacia has participated in wellbeing groups at school and has done a significant amount of personal growth and is keen to help and support others in achieving a healthy life balance.

Lachlan Kennedy

Lachlan is an outstanding young person who gives 100 per cent to every opportunity he is given. Lachlan was one of the Heathmont College school captains for 2020 before he finished his VCE.

Lachlan is a current member of the Maroondah Youth Wellbeing Advocates program which provides two-way engagement between Council and young people. Lachlan has shown maturity in providing feedback on important Council documents and is always willing to share his opinion in a respectful manner. Lachlan also created a wellbeing project at school as part of the Maroondah Student Wellbeing Action Teams project.

Lachlan MC'd the 2020 Maroondah Youth Awards, has been involved in multiple video projects with Council, and is following his passion for working with people by studying a Bachelor of Youth Work in 2021.

Olivia Kiefte

Olivia is an exceptional young leader whose involvement in a wide variety of endeavours makes her an exceptional role model for other students. In school she was involved in the Year 10 Leadership team and the Student Wellbeing Action Team through Maroondah City Council. Olivia loves to play the piano, is involved in an acapella group and the NSC Jazz Band.

Outside of school Olivia is a Maroondah Youth Wellbeing Advocate, attending meetings and providing her opinion on issues and challenges facing young people in the Maroondah area.

Olivia has competed in public speaking competitions such as Legacy Public Speakers where she represented Victoria. Her team also placed second in the World Scholars Cup. In addition to this, she loves to play sports (particularly netball, field hockey, volleyball, athletics and surfing), and is also a netball umpire. Her positive, “can-do” attitude and active involvement makes her a highly valued member of the community. 

Levi Mugamu

This year, ANZAC Day looked very different in Australia. As we were unable to celebrate it together as a community, many people across the country honoured the day by listening to the Dawn Service in their driveways.

As a member of the Aquinas College Year 10 leadership team, Levi thought it would be great to get the school community involved in this initiative by using the hashtag #AquinasANZACSpirit. He promoted the event and spoke to his peers and encouraged them to get involved. At his own house, Levi, his parents and sister were pleased to see the majority of their neighbours also standing in their driveways listening to the broadcast service, making the early morning worthwhile. Later Levi wrote about the #AquinasANZACSpirit initiative and collected and shared some beautiful images with the College community.

Levi is a great student, classmate and role model, and as a member of the Year 10 leadership team, Levi has established a raft of activities both during and post lockdown to (re)build a sense of belonging and community. Just some examples include: Aquinas House Challenge during the second lockdown of which he was a driving force; Secret Santa and he came up with the idea of a Year 10 Funniest Moments in lockdown video.

Levi has been the recipient of numerous excellence awards at school and this year was presented with the Merit award for his VET Music Industry.

Isabel Santos

Isabel is a very community oriented young woman with a strong moral compass. She has shown great leadership at the Croydon Community School. Isabel always advocates for what is right and stands up for and is a supportive voice for marginalised students. She advocates for people to be treated equally and with respect.

Isabel has been a volunteer youth advisor with Maroondah City Council youth programs and prior to the COVID lock down she was volunteering at The Open Door - Croydon Soup Kitchen. She has studied Community Service and had plans to volunteer at Hope City Mission in 2021. Isabel presented a PowerPoint about stress to support others across the school during COVID.

Glen Park and Eastland Food Relief Collection Services

Glen Park Community Centre offers a food relief frozen meal distribution service for those doing it tough. However, the COVID-19 restrictions during 2020 have impacted the service, in particular the travel restrictions imposed under Stage 4 limited the ability to move around freely and safely.

Glen Park Community Centre pivoted its Order and Collect service to provide food relief meal distribution, to help keep those in need fed during the challenging time for Victorians.

The Centre partnered with Eastland and launched the Eastland Order & Collect service in May, allowing customers to place an order directly over the phone at any participating Eastland retailer and collect on the same day from the convenience and safety of their car through the Eastland Valet area. A no contact option was implemented for those travelling by public transport via a separate collection point in the Valet area. This was a first for both Eastland and Glen Park Community Centre.

This partnership has allowed Glen Park to be able to connect with people in need who may not have known about or had access to Glen Park Community Centre previously, enabling more members of the community who may be struggling to gain support and easier access given Eastland’s proximity to public transport.

Since the service launched almost 350 meals have been distributed to Maroondah residents in need and will continue to support the Maroondah community post this pandemic.

Wellness Weekend: encompassing various seminars, presentations and activities

The inaugural Wellness Weekend was a new initiative of Ringwood Church of Christ. The event was an open invitation to all people to take part in one or all sessions as an opportunity to improve their own wellbeing and to explore health in a variety of ways. Over 100 people participated across the range of programs, which aimed to support people in their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. 

Sessions included ‘Sleep Well’ with a trained professional, ‘Gut Health’ with an accredited practicing dietician (which included a breakfast), ‘Wellness Lunch’ with a psychologist speaking on Gratitude, painting for relaxation with a qualified art teacher, learning Mindfulness with a psychotherapist, ‘Creativity and Wellness’ with an author/poet, a group nature walk, and a Wellness Dinner focusing on men’s mental health.

Through these sessions, attendees were able to connect with themselves and others. By learning to look after ourselves well we are then able to help and serve others.

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