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East Gippsland Shire announces Australia Day Award winners

Tuesday 23 January

East Gippsland Shire Council has announced the winners of its shire-wide Australia Day awards at a civic ceremony held in Lakes Entrance today.


The 2018 Citizen of the Year is Gerry Ciavarella of Eagle Point, joint Young Citizen of the Year is Aislin Jones of Lakes Entrance and Jack Peterson of Bairnsdale. The Mallacoota Winter ‘Saltstice’ was named Community Event of the Year.


In congratulating the winners of the shire-wide awards, Mayor Cr Joe Rettino said Council once again received a high number of quality nominations across the three categories.


“These awards celebrate the achievement and contribution of local residents by profiling leading citizens and groups who are role models for us all.


“Each year the task of choosing this award recipient is particularly difficult, given the outstanding contributions made by the nominees, and this year was no different,” Cr Rettino said.


“It not only recognises those who inspire us through their achievements; but it should also challenge us to make our own contribution to improve the communities in which we live.


Australia Day Awards winners and officials


East Gippsland Shire Council announced its shire-wide 2018 Australia Day Award recipients at a civic ceremony today. Pictured (left to right) Aislin Jones (Young Citizen of the Year); Gerry Ciavarella (Citizen of the Year), Cr Joe Rettino (Mayor), Jack Peterson (Young Citizen of the Year), Gary Gaffney (East Gippsland Shire Council CEO), Tom Nation (representing Community Event of the Year – Mallacoota Winter ‘Saltstice’ Youth Festival) and Tim Bull MP (Member for Gippsland East).






Gerry has been a music teacher for 22 years at Bairnsdale Secondary College.  He is a band master and mentor to so many children in our Shire.  He is also an area music coordinator for many other schools in East Gippsland.

The Bairnsdale Secondary College Swing Band swing band (which is led by Gerry) is constantly in demand as it performs at many community functions throughout the year and interstate including the Paynesville Music Festival and the Merimbula Jazz Festival.

Gerry’s energy and commitment to promoting music throughout East Gippsland is outstanding and he has been a great positive influence on many of our region’s young residents.

A common theme that was evident throughout the nominations that Gerry received was the he was not just a fine musician, but a very humble man who is giving of his time for the development of his students and the entertainment of others - a true ambassador for East Gippsland.





Aislin Jones has made an outstanding contribution to her sport and is currently a member of the Olympic Shooting Team. Aislin made history in Rio when she became Australia’s youngest ever Olympic shooter when she contested the skeet event at the 2016 Games. 

Her dedication and commitment is testament of her sporting ability to excel in these sporting events.

Along with her family, her many hours and kilometres of travelling to attend her practice sessions and her attending the various shoots in Australia and the world, she is also currently managing her schooling at a senior level at Nagle College as well as her sporting commitments to the sport of shooting. Aislin and her family’s attendance at these events are all self-funded except for a small amount of regular sponsorship. 

Aislin is a quiet achiever with high expectations of herself. Through her experiences she has become a role model for our region’s youth.  Aislin has given hope to many experiencing the distance that she travels from East Gippsland to Melbourne.  She has shown us all how you can succeed living and growing up in country Victoria.


Jack Peterson has been involved in a number of community events and organisations in a voluntary capacity, but none bigger than the Bairnsdale Agricultural Show where he is President this year. 

It was through Rotary he volunteered to attend the Bairnsdale Show Crisis meeting in 2015.  Jack was concerned about the Bairnsdale Show’s possible demise because when he was a child growing up in Omeo, he loved the local show and very much appreciated that it was saved from extinction by some local volunteers including his family.  In response to that meeting, Jack volunteered to join a new Bairnsdale Agricultural Show committee that included a number of young people.

It was with this newly formed committee with a combination of young ideas and enthusiasm together with some of the older members expertise which has seen a successful turnaround for our show. 

Jack comes from a very strong community-minded East Gippsland family who has shown great community spirit and commitment.





The Mallacoota Winter ‘Saltstice’ Youth Festival was an event organised in 2017 by the Mallacoota Year 9 students that attended the School for Student Leadership Snowy River Campus.  The event which consisted of a social movie night, surf day and beach games and required the students, led by Tom Nation and Mali Hodson, to plan and implement a weekend of events that brought together youths in the area for a range of positive winter activities. 


This required students to work with local community members in the planning process and the pull off an event that catered for a range of youths across East Gippsland.  By implementing this event, the students provided a fun and positive event for the youth of East Gippsland.  They influenced others by providing positive healthy fun and inspiration to other youth in their community to show that they were capable of making similar events happen.


East Gippsland Shire Council is supporting local volunteer groups to host the following free community events for Australia Day on Friday 26 January, where local citizen award winners will be announced:


Bairnsdale: Breakfast 7.30 - 8.30 am followed by official proceedings, Main Street Gardens Rotunda.

Bruthen: Barbecue 11.00 am - 2.00 pm. Official proceedings from 12.30pm, next to Mechanics Hall.

Cann River: Breakfast from 10.00 am. Games and health checks until 1.00 pm, Mick Baum Park.

Lindenow: Breakfast at Lindenow Hall 7.30 - 8.30 am. Ceremony at Amy Shand Park from 8.30 am.

Lakes Entrance: Breakfast 8.00 - 10.00 am followed by official proceedings, Mechanics Hall.

Mallacoota: Breakfast and games from 8.30 – 11.00 am. Official proceedings from 9.30 am, Mud Brick Pavilion.

Orbost: Breakfast 7.30 am, with games from 8.00 am. Official proceedings begin 9.00 am, Forest Park.

Omeo: Breakfast 8.00 - 9.00 am followed by official proceedings, Court House Gardens

Paynesville: Breakfast 8.00 - 9.00 am followed by official proceedings, on the foreshore near Craft Centre.




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