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East Gippsland Australia Day Award recipients announced
Date of Issue: 
January 24, 2023

East Gippsland Australia Day Award recipients announced

More than 150 people celebrated the outstanding contributions of 19 individuals, who earned 22 nominations, and community events at East Gippsland’s annual Australia Day Awards, held at Newlands Arm Community Centre on Saturday, 21 January.

Hosted by East Gippsland Shire Council, the shire-wide awards tapped into the Australia Day theme of “We’re all part of the story – reflect, respect, celebrate”.

Held in Newlands Arm for the first time, the awards included a Welcome to Country by well-respected Gunaikurnai community member Kaylene Williamson, a flag unfurling by the Bairnsdale Scouts and Paynesville Sea Scouts, entertainment by East Gippsland Brass, and an Australia Day address from local ambassador, Helen Martin.

The Newlands Arm Residents and Ratepayers Association had sausages and bacon-and-egg rolls sizzling throughout the morning and a local coffee van enjoyed a busy time making coffees.

Mayor, Cr Mark Reeves was impressed by the calibre and contributions of the nominees and recipients.

“These individuals represent everything great about our region and about being Australian,” he said. “Despite different backgrounds, talents and interests, each has contributed to our community.

“They are wonderful role models for our region and very much deserving of this special honour.”

“This was evident in the nominations across the three award categories – Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, and Community Event of the Year”.

“The quality of nominations this year was fantastic. Hats off to all finalists and to everyone who took the time to nominate such worthy people and events,” Cr Reeves said.


The 2023 Citizen of the Year award went to Sarsfield's Simon Hof

Citizen of the Year - Simon Hof

Simon has been helping Sarsfield’s recovery from the Black Summer bushfires. As part of the Sarsfield Community Association, Simon has led the committee with enthusiasm and dedication to obtain the best future for Sarsfield.

He has been passionate in driving surveys to find out what was important to the wider community as he always advocates the role of the committee is to serve the community.

Simon has inspired many people to step up into leadership positions on the committee.

He inspired the rest of the committee to keep fighting when a grant application for a new hall, playground, and community space was denied on a technicality. He kept the committee positive and drove public awareness of the issue – to the point the decision was reversed.

Simon has been president of the Sarsfield Community Association for two years and is also president of the Sarsfield CFA.

Nominees: Val Asmus, Garry Ball, Ann and Stan Barker, Amanda Bodinnar, Trevor Clues, Marion Dawson, Tarsha Dixon, Ryan Findley, Tracey Le Maitre, Rodney O’Connell and Maureen Webb.


Tillyrose Hambling is a fundraising dynamo

Young Citizen of the Year - Tillyrose Hambling
Tillyrose is a fundraising dynamo. She is a fundraising leader for her school and has raised funds for multiple foundations throughout her young life.

Tillyrose was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age seven. When she was nine, she raised $1500 for charity by cutting off her waist-length hair. The hair was used to make wigs for sick children.

Taking part in STEPtember, Tillyrose and her family raised $3000for a cerebral palsy charity.

The MS Readathon has also benefited from Tillyrose’s charitable endeavours – with almost $2000 raised over three years.

Tillyrose has been an active member of Girl Guides for seven years and is working towards her Junior BP Badge, which takes its name from Lord Baden-Powell and the guides’ motto of Be Prepared.

Tillyrose is an exceptional young woman who has stayed positive and supportive of others despite her own challenges.

Nominees: Morgan Chester, Olivia Lay and Ava Aly-Mehlert.


Bairnsdale’s National Tree Day event is organised by Bairnsdale Urban Landcare Group

Community Event of the Year - National Tree Day
Bairnsdale’s National Tree Day event is organised by Bairnsdale Urban Landcare Group. Each year, the group works with the Bairnsdale Scout Group and the community to educate and provide a hands-on opportunity for the public, especially children and youth, to revegetate and maintain the Mitchell River Walking Track.

The event has demonstrated excellence in drawing together a diverse range of people from the community.

An annual event over the past decade, its ongoing legacy is the natural environment that has been created as a consequence of the mass-planting events. This, in turn, has created a wonderful outdoor venue for recreation and leisure.

Nominees: Metung Fun Run and Outer East Gippsland Youth Fest.

In celebrating all finalists and award recipients, Cr Reeves said volunteers give so much of their time, passion, and dedication to helping others, which is highly valued and does not go unnoticed.

The presentation of the awards was broadcast live and is available to watch online at Council’s YouTube channel at

Council holds the shire-wide awards prior to Australia Day to allow winners and finalists the opportunity to attend celebrations in their own communities on Australia Day, 26 January.

Saturday’s event was supported by the National Australia Day Council.


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