Skip to main content

Australia Day Award Winners Announced

Australia Day Award Winners Announced
24 January 2019

Three community minded citizens and a popular local event will be recognised as part of the City of Mount Gambier Australia Day Breakfast celebrations to be held at the Railway Lands on Saturday 26 January 2019.

“The Australia Day awards recognise individuals and organisations who have made a noteworthy contribution during the past year, and/or given outstanding service over a number of years, to our local community beyond normal employment duties,” City of Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin said.

Senior Citizen of the Year will be awarded to Lakes Rotary Club stalwart Graham Robinson.

Graham has been involved with the club for more than 20 years and received Paul Harris Fellow recognition for his substantial contribution to educational programs.

“He’s what I call a ‘can do’ rather than a ‘gonna’, he’s an engineer by trade, a retired TAFE lecturer and he can build anything. He’s a very good organiser and a good leader,” Nominator Phil Richards said.

Graham takes the Rotary International motto ‘service above self’ seriously and thinks nothing of putting in 25 to 30 hours a week as a volunteer to assist many organisations throughout the community.

He volunteers at the Mount Gambier Police Station for five hours every Monday morning to assist with customer relations.

“I find it very rewarding, I happen to be a Justice of the Peace which also enables me to certify documents and statutory declarations at the same time,” Graham said.

“You always get back more than you put in. To me it might be a small thing, but it could be huge for someone else.”

Graham has initiated successful local programs including the annual Science and Engineering Challenge at Tenison Woods College and the road safety car headlight check initiative.

“He has put in many hundreds of hours of service for the benefit of the community over the years and he’s an unsung hero as far as I’m concerned,” Phil said.

With a long list of volunteering efforts, Graham remains humble about his input into the local community.

“In reality, I don’t see what I do as being special. Lots of people do lots of things for lots of organisations, it doesn’t matter what it is, and to be singled out I guess I’m surprised, but I’m happy to receive the award,” Graham said.

Citizen of the Year will be awarded to local volunteer and business owner Sharon Tuffnell.

Sharon was nominated by Ross Parkinson OAM for her community spirit, giving nature and ongoing generous support within the local community.

“Sharon is a dedicated St John Cadet Officer and the effort she puts in to her cadets is absolutely outstanding. She is a wonderful leader, she is very caring and she applies opportunities for cadets to develop as young people not only in first aid, but their leadership skills and their inspiration to do good for others,” Ross said.

As a Grade Five Divisional Officer at the Mount Gambier St John Cadet Division, Sharon provides support to enable young cadets to travel and compete in state first aid and allied competitions.

“Our Cadet Division has grown to about 28 cadets and I see that my role is preparing the youth for their future, mentoring them, giving them leadership opportunities and setting them in good stead for community involvement,” Sharon said.

Sharon is passionate about supporting the growth and development of local members of the community.

“You just feel rewarded when you can help others and the community by attending events and mentoring the kids.”

“This award is not about me, I do it for them, I do it for St John and the cadets and the adults in our division and our region. It's about setting them up for their future life, whatever they’d like to do.”

Young Citizen of the Year will be awarded to Joseph McMahon.

The 15 year old Grant High School student is dedicated to community service throughout the region, inspired by a desire to help others.

“He is a stand out young leader with a humanitarian streak that runs very deep in his soul and all his endeavours are pitched at helping others and the quality of his involvement in the community is amazing for a young man,” nominator Ross Parkinson said.

Joseph is a well-respected member of the St John Ambulance Cadet Division and completed Certificate Three in Basic Health in 2018 to become a certified First Responder.

“I hope that I can inspire more of our youth to get out there in the community. In the future I hope to become a paramedic or work within the medical industry because I’m really passionate about helping others,” Joseph said.

Demonstrating natural leadership and a genuine interest in making a positive difference within the community, Joseph has been a member of student representative committees and participated in a range of extra-curricular activities including public speaking, drama, sport and music.

This year Joseph will prepare for the World Challenge where he will be joined by 10 other students to work with undeveloped communities in Cambodia and Vietnam to develop solutions to local environmental priorities.

Volunteering can help you in so many ways, it can help you make new friends, meet new people and have new experiences that you may have never had before.
- Young Citizen of the Year Joseph McMahon

Joseph was also awarded South Australian Young Citizen of the Year (commendation) at a presentation at Government House in Adelaide earlier this week.

“I was very honoured and speechless to receive this award because it’s such a big honour and I felt really proud and very inspired to keep volunteering and do a lot more.”

“We have a very fine young man in our midst and we’ll see a lot more of Joseph in the future,” Ross said.

The Community Event of the Year will be awarded to the 2018 Mount Gambier Fringe Festival, the second annual event of its kind held in the city.

Mount Gambier Fringe was organised by a small committee with the aim to change the artistic and cultural landscape of Mount Gambier.

“We had a fantastic team of people as part of the committee, they were extremely passionate and determined to make this a fantastic event for our community,” Fringe Mount Gambier Event Coordinator Monica Hart said.

In 2018, the committee delivered an extensive program including 24 performing arts events, six visual art / film events and two literary events throughout the city.

The feature weekend held in March attracted an audience of 12,500 people commencing with the ‘Lift-Off Street Party’ which transformed Commercial Street East, and in partnership with businesses and performers, provided dynamic entertainment for all ages and set a new benchmark for street parties in the city.

The Saturday Showcase event highlighted both local and national artists across a variety of genres encouraging performers and audiences to be brave, be bold and ‘come out and play’.

“A big thank you to everyone in the community, our businesses, our audiences, anyone who has shown support for Fringe Mount Gambier, we really appreciate it, it makes the hard work we do so much more worth it and we just encourage you to get out there and be involved,” Fringe Mount Gambier Ambassador and Artist Liaison Louise Adams said.

The awards ceremony is a key component of the City of Mount Gambier 2019 Australia Day Breakfast.

“I am looking forward to seeing a strong crowd of people at the Railway Lands from 7:30am on Saturday for breakfast and local live entertainment and to join in the celebrations acknowledging the contribution of these people to our community. The awards presentation will then begin at 9:15am,” Mayor Martin said.

Media contact: City of Mount Gambier Media and Communications Coordinator Sharny McLean on 8721 2401 or

2019 Australia Day Community Event of the Year

2019 Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year

2019 Australia Day Senior Citizen of the Year

2019 Australia Day Citizen of the Year