Two local lymphoedema advocates, a scout leader, a young humanitarian, a volunteer mental health and wellbeing coordinator and a recycled clothing event are among the 2021 City of Mount Gambier Australia Day Award winners.
Mayor Lynette Martin OAM said the awards recognise individuals and organisations that have made a noteworthy contribution during the past year, and/or provided outstanding service over many years, to the local community.
“It is so important to recognise the members of our community who go above and beyond normal employment duties and dedicate their precious personal time to give back to our city in a myriad of ways,” Mayor Martin said.
Australia Day Citizens of the Year – Dulcie Hoggan and Pamela Moulden (dec)
Over the past four years, local women Dulcie Hoggan and the late Pamela Moulden advocated to parliamentarians for a statewide lymphoedema compression garment subsidy after developing the debilitating condition in their arms during treatment for breast cancer.
“Lymphoedema is caused by an accumulation of fluid in parts of the body. If it’s not looked after using specially fitted compression garments that can cost thousands of dollars each year, it becomes a chronic disease which can cause serious complications if left untreated,” Dulcie said.
“I have experienced ill-fitting sleeves which make my condition worse and the high cost means that I couldn’t replace them when needed. It’s something that happens and there is no discrimination of age, gender or whether or not you’ve got finances to support yourself or not.”
Both Dulcie and Pam saw the injustice that the garments were subsidised in other states, but not in South Australia. In conjunction with the Lymphoedema Support Group of South Australia and the Mount Gambier Breast Cancer Awareness Group, the pair lobbied tirelessly to help ease the huge financial burden for cancer patients.
“I undertook most of my treatment in Victoria and if I lived in Portland, I would have received the garments for nothing through the Medicare system. I thought, I’m going to go and talk to Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell about this and so did Pam and he realised the extent of the problem.”
Pam’s husband of 48 years Ian Moulden said his late wife was determined to get the subsidy through parliament, even when she herself was ill and fighting the return of cancer.
“Pam worked so hard to push for it, she wrote lots of letters, she was like a dog with a bone if she got her teeth into something and she wouldn’t let go,” Ian said.
Pam bravely fought breast cancer for five years and sadly passed away on 13 April 2020.
As a result of both Dulcie and Pam’s efforts, Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell campaigned for a subsidy to be introduced in South Australia, a motion which was given the go ahead in State Parliament in September 2018. In July 2020, the Federal and State Governments announced a joint commitment of $4.5 million to boost current schemes to subsidise compression garments for lymphoedema and establish a scheme in South Australia with a focus on delivering better services closer to home.
“The subsidy was Pam’s mission and I’m so proud of her. She would be proud too, but she didn’t ever think about the glory, she just went out and did it,” Ian said.
“I zoomed in on her behalf for the official announcement and the Health Minister brought it up in parliament and acknowledged how much Pam contributed to the decision, so she was recognised.”
The Lymphoedema Compression Garment Subsidy Scheme is now offered to South Australians and includes ongoing, sustainable access for eligible individuals to receive up to two sets of ready to wear custom made garments, every six months.
“This is a win for everybody, this is for the state. Both Pam and I had that same view of how important the subsidy is and now other people can have a better quality of life,” Dulcie said.
Dulcie is now in remission from cancer and enjoys a busy life with a job at Bunnings and her two children, their partners and three grandchildren.
Award for Active Citizenship - Nel Jans
“For the first time this year we introduce the Award for Active Citizenship which recognises individuals who deliver outstanding work for the community. It was open to all, including non-Australian citizens and we have a very deserving winner for this honour, the volunteer Coordinator of the South East Junction Mental Health Activity and Resource Centre Nel Jans.” - City of Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin OAM
Nel Jans and her husband John immigrated to Australia from the Netherlands in 2008 and made Mount Gambier their home. Soon after, Nel began work with the Skilled Migrants Friendship group, formed as part of Lifeline. In 2010 she became the South East Junction Mental Health Activity and Resource Centre Coordinator. Country Health SA withdrew funding for this position in 2012 and Nel decided to continue in the role as a volunteer, providing up to 40 hours of her time each week to ensure her clients continued to receive much needed support.
Since then, Nel has been the main driver of the organisation which provides support to people with mental health issues.
“The Junction is a volunteer-run organisation made up of 20 volunteers that isn’t funded, we totally rely on grants and donations,” Nel said.
“We provide activities and support to people with mental health issues focusing on things like cooking, healthy living, exercise, positive psychology and mental wellbeing in Mount Gambier and Millicent. Lifeboat SE and Limestone Coast Meditation Community are affiliated with the Junction. Over the years we have forged many valuable partnerships.”
Nel has a wealth of knowledge in the area of mental health and is dedicated to using her skills to help people manage mental health issues and live their best life.
“I’ve worked in the industry for more than 40 years across the whole spectrum as a homeopath, naturopath, mental health nurse, social worker, general nurse, so in that sense I’ve seen it all. I am good at reading people and I can easily see where their potential is and I try to empower them to give things a go and then it’s up to them if they want to go for it or not.”
“I had one woman who couldn’t even go to the shop or even leave the house when she first came to the centre, and then she ended up becoming a volunteer for us, so I know it works.”
The passionate mental health advocate believes that self-empowerment and instilling confidence in people are the keys to help people overcome mental health issues.
“We don’t label people as their diagnosis; they are people and they are capable. I ask them to think about what they are good at. So many people have a lot of potential, and sometimes they need to acknowledge their potential and feel confident about it.”
In her spare time, Nel set up a social group for Dutch residents living in the region and co-authored a book ‘Dutch Odyssey’ which contains stories related to Dutch migrant settlement in the South East of South Australia.
“Elly Anderson and I spent five years seeking out stories from first and second generation migrants for the book. The stories outline examples of courage, hardship, humour, determination and achievement,” Nel said.
Nel said she was pleased that migrants can now be recognised for their contributions to the community within the Active Citizenship category as part of the Australia Day Awards.
“I feel very honoured for this acknowledgement of my work at the Junction and it’s great that the Active Citizenship Award recognises non Australian citizens as many migrants go over and above within the community to fit in to their new communities and give back.”
Senior Citizen of the Year – Alan Warden
Alan ‘Woody’ Warden has been a Scout leader in Mount Gambier and Millicent for 34 years, acting as a role model and mentor to thousands of young people in the community.
“Originally it was something to do, but it grows on you and the kids grow on you too,” Alan said.
“If I give a kid a piece of rope to tie a knot and they can’t do it and if I sit there and show them how to do it and they end up doing it, the smile on their face is worth $1 million. It’s just a great feeling to have the privilege of helping someone learn.”
Alan is known for his dedication to scouting and works tirelessly to ensure local youths have the best possible experience, often assisting other scout groups within the region as the need arises.
“I am now mentoring the children of previous youth members so I must have done something right to bring them back.”
“When you see that the kids are doing well and achieving, it’s nice to know that I had something to do with that.”
The former boilermaker would often take unpaid leave from work to attend scouting jamborees in Sydney, Adelaide, Elmore and Special Needs Camp in Victoria.
“I am retired now, but I haven’t got any time to do anything as I’ve been working for Scouts,” he joked.
For the past 20 years Alan has organised scout participation in the annual ANZAC Day street march in conjunction with the RSL and assisted with local events and activities including the annual Christmas Parade, Generations in Jazz and the Fringe Festival.
“This is my town and I’m proud of it. Somebody has to do it, if you can’t help, you can’t sit there and complain about what is going on.”
The 76-year-old also enjoys helping out on the gate at the Borderline Speedway.
“I do it because I want to do it, not because I have to.”
Alan says he was shocked to learn that he had been awarded Senior Citizen of the Year, but was honoured to receive the award.
“I thought it was a joke and luckily I was sitting down. These sorts of things never happen to me, they happen to someone else. I’m not looking for recognition, but it’s nice to get it.”
Young Citizen of the Year – Faith Monger
At just 19 years of age, Young Citizen of the Year Faith Monger embodies the spirit of humanitarian service to the local community.
“My parents Frank and Raelene have always contributed to our community, so I was always expected to join in,” Faith said.
“My earliest memory is painting the fence at the Lake Terrace Cemetery when I was about eight or nine years old.”
Since then, Faith has been involved with community groups and causes such as Variety Club for Kids donating 40 centimetres of her hair to the Hair with Heart program, the Australian Red Cross, Mil Lel Tennis Club and the Rotary Club of Mount Gambier West.
As a result of her community mindset, Faith received an Order of Australia SA Branch Student Citizenship Award highly commended certificate and was the recipient of the Service Clubs Association of South Australia Allan Sloane Young Citizen Community Service award.
Nominator Ross Parkinson OAM describes Faith as a gifted musician with a passion for learning, performing and mentoring her peers in the art of music.
“Faith is part of the Mount Gambier City Concert Band, the Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra and she has been involved in musical productions as a performer, sound engineer and musical score conductor,” Ross said.
Faith achieved Australian Music Examination Board piano sixth grade honours in 2020.
The former Grant High School student completed an administrative traineeship at the school during her gap year in 2020 and will soon move to Adelaide to study a Bachelor of Music at the Elder Conservatorium of Music.
“I don’t have an end goal at this point. I’d like to do some work in sound engineering, I’ve done a little bit of that. I’m not opposed to teaching, but not straight away,” Faith said.
Faith encourages young people to get involved in local groups and give back to the community.
“If you are involved in a community group, in a sporting club or organisation, you don’t just get to sit there and enjoy it, it’s usually run by volunteers or very few paid staff, so you can’t just sit on the sidelines and hope that things happen. You’ve got to get in there and do something, even if it’s only putting the chairs away afterwards, or cleaning the door handles on the way out to help other people so that everyone shares the load.”
“You’ve got to ask, what can I do? How can I help? Then it’s very easy to get engaged rather than sit on the sidelines,” Faith said.
Community Event of the Year Award - Recycled Runway
The Recycled Runway event was first held in 2013 at the Mount Gambier Library as a one-off event during Environment month to highlight the issue of textile waste as one of the largest contributors to landfill.
“Over the past eight years, the event has grown to become one of the social events of the year delivering a message about the importance of sustainability and engaging with many facets of the community to raise funds for ac.care and the Uplift Project,” Recycled Runway committee member Leanne Dunn said.
A dedicated committee of volunteers ensures Recycled Runway continues to grow and educate the community on textile waste and sustainability.
“The event has evolved into a year-round affair incorporating a sustainable fashion scholarship, upcycling workshops, fashion parade and participation in the annual Christmas Parade.”
The event was key to Mount Gambier’s success in the Sustainable Communities Awards and formed part of City of Mount Gambier’s winning entry in the 2019 KESAB Sustainable Communities (Tidy Towns) awards.
“Following the success of the state awards, the Recycled Runway committee made a presentation to the national judges which was instrumental in the city taking out the national Resource Recovery and Waste Management category,” Leanne said.
Despite a year of uncertainty in 2020, the committee hosted a successful COVID-19 safe event Recycled Runway – Art Deco inspired by Agatha Christie which showcased local talent, encouraged recycling and raised a record amount of more than $7000 for ac.care and the Uplift Project.
“This year’s event really brought the community together. The design and construction phase of the competition gave participants something to focus on during lockdown.”
Entries came from further afield than in any other year and included entrants from as far away as Adelaide. Additional collaborative entries in newly modified categories of unmodelled, high school, novice, open and experienced were also received.
“A local mother collected a bag of clothes in the open category as a way of helping her daughter to learn to sew. She came back the next day as her other three children all wanted to take part as designers, sewers and models, it was a real family affair,” Leanne said.
The decision to proceed with an event during the COVID-19 pandemic presented its challenges, but the committee ensured the event adhered to all government requirements including COVID-19 marshal training and social distancing.
“Food was served in compostable containers and drinks were served to those who didn’t bring their own wine glasses, in glassware sourced from second hand stores. Despite having over 200 guests at a catered event, there was only one small garbage bag of waste that wasn’t compostable or recyclable.”
The Australia Day Awards are administered by local government authorities throughout the State on behalf of the Australia Day Council of South Australia.
The City of Mount Gambier Australia Day breakfast and awards presentation will be held at the Cave Garden on Tuesday 26 January 2021 from 7:30am.
The entertainment lineup includes local musicians Trish Thompson and Isaac Bruggemann, Gabriel Strachan and Strings Attached.
Breakfast will be available for purchase from Lakes Rotary Club with all proceeds to go to Foodbank and Sunset Kitchen. Prizes will be provided for the best dressed Australian outfit.
The official flag raising and awards ceremony will begin at 9:15am.
As part of the COVID safe plan, all attendees are required to sign in at one of four entry points.
Media contact: City of Mount Gambier Media and Communications Coordinator Sharny McLean on 8721 2401 or email@example.com