Nominations for Cowra’s 2017 Australia Day Awards

Cowra Council has had a great response to calls for nominations for our 2017 Australia Day Awards with candidates from a variety of backgrounds, Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West said.

"We always have a significant number of great candidates and this year it will be just as tough for the judging panel. The range of community members and initiatives that have been included is outstanding," Cr West said.

Community Group of the Year

Cowra No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) – Josephite Foundation

The Cowra NILS service has been quietly going about their business for 14 years.  NILS provides small loans with no interest added to those on Centrelink benefits.  The assistance provides a helping hand to those in need when purchasing household items. It not only offers a satisfying outcome to the recipients, NILS provides a friendly face, financial budgeting advice and confidence in their independence.

Cowra Evening Branch of the CWA of NSW

Cowra has long recognised the CWA as a social and driving force for NSW women. We've all heard the term 'not just scones' when the CWA is mentioned.  The Evening Branch is exactly that — not just scones.  These ladies developed and hosted the NSW CWA State Conference in May 2016 which saw over 700 people stay in Cowra, an estimated boost of $2.5 million (Cowra Business Chamber figure).  The group also provides financial support to many local, national and international programs including Black Dog Institute, Cowra Eisteddfod, SES, Suicide Prevention Australia, school packs and mother/baby packs for PNG, local school annual awards, Cowra Show Society and Education Grants.

Cowra Uniting Church Food Hall

Cowra Food Hall is a six-year-old organisation run completely by volunteers. The Food Hall provides food and household items at a significantly reduced cost to low income earners. It opens for three hours per week but volunteers spend many more hours coordinating and training for the service.  Morning tea and a chat are part of the weekly program, much more than just a food service.  Clients are increasingly joining the volunteer ranks, showing added confidence and a growing network of friends.

Cowra Information & Neighbourhood Centre

The Cowra Information & Neighbourhood Centre has been a part of town for more than 30 years, with a large contingent of volunteer workers. The Centre manages or auspices many services and programs including: family support, home modification to help keep disabled and elderly people at home for as long as possible, community transport for the disabled and elderly, community events; and Indigenous community links service. The Centre provides a welcome place for everyone.  You can come along to a knitting group, morning tea, parenting class, kids craft, get help with your tax or participate in a youth program.

Dr Warren Whiley Memorial Award

Heather Kiely

Heather Kiely has been a part of Cowra's artistic and cultural arena for more than 40 years.  As a porcelain artist, she has willingly shared her expertise through teaching and supporting artistic projects.  As an advocate for arts she has offered support to several mediums such as painting, judging floral shows, photography, fabric painting, tailoring and dressmaking.  Heather has been a member of many organisations including Cowra Women's Hockey, Cowra Garden Club, Lachlan Cubs and Scouts Leader, Friends of the Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Australasian Porcelain Artists Association and Graduate Member of the Teachers Institute of Porcelain Art.  She generously provides advice to high school art students when requested.  She has exhibited her work in many areas and even provided a commissioned piece to Royal Dalton.

Gay Hilton

Teaching at Cowra Public School for forty years, Gay is no stranger to the Cowra community.  Her extraordinary singing and choral talents have been shared with students throughout her career.  Gay is an inspirational teacher, and just as importantly, an inspiring conductor in Verse Speaking and Choir.  Cowra Public School groups trained by Gay have a reputation with Eisteddfods of being of high quality and skill.  Gay has also been a performer in M&D Society productions and local choirs.  She has been nominated for her acting ability in the prestigious Canberra Amateur Theatre Awards, recognising her proficiency.  Gay is a member of the Cowra Evening Branch of the CWA and is praised by her peers as loyal, affectionate and a wonderful role model to all.

Young Citizen of the Year

Maddison Johnson

Maddi Johnson has achieved a phenomenal amount of tasks for someone so young.  She is a leader of the Cowra Youth Council, Senior School Prefect and has just completed her HSC.  Maddi has been a driving force within the Youth Council, assisting on projects such as the 'Colour Me Happy' running event, Back2Cowra Family Fun Day games, World Peace Day Colouring Competition, Respect-Ed White Ribbon Day event and youth movie nights.  During 2016 she represented Cowra at the National Youth Science Forum, and travelled to the US to attend the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Forum.  Maddi recently was awarded the Lion Youth of the Year Award for Cowra as well as the Youth Peace Ambassador Award.  Maddi achieved all of these things whilst holding a part-time job, participating in Netball and Swimming Club competitions too.  Maintaining her busy schedule is not only challenging but seen as a wonderful example to all.

Cowra Citizen of the Year

Fran Stead

Fran is the Manager of the Cowra Information & Neighbourhood Centre (CINC).  She has held the role for over two years and lifted the service profile and engagement considerably.  Fran's welcoming nature has been recognised by many visitors to the centre.  Since her employment as Manager the CINC has sought greater service delivery objectives, particularly in the youth engagement area.  Fran works with all facets of the community - government agencies, education, tourism and business to offer Cowra the best support network possible.  The CINC works to overcome problems within the community such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and provide opportunities for social activity.

Marc McLeish

Marc is one of Cowra's proudest people. He loves to give to the community and supports anything that makes Cowra grow and thrive. Marc has been a contributing member of an outstanding number of organisations including Cowra Band, Cowra Pitch Fork Event, Cowra Junior Rugby League former President and coach, Cowra Junior Cricket committee and coach, Cowra Musical & Dramatic Society performer and member, PCYC volunteer Touch Football referee, Cowra Magpies Rugby League former President and player.  Marc has also volunteered his time to fundraising activities for St Raphaels, Cowra Netball, Cowra Youth Council and Cowra Christmas Night Markets. His nomination this year noted his development of the 'Back to Cowra' Reunion. This activity, held over one week, was initiated by Marc to reunite old friends and recognise our culture and history. Marc formed the original committee, managed the logistics, promotion and created an inclusive event for all. He donates his time, financial support and equipment to so many activities he must find little time to sleep!

Lisa Lette

Lisa Lette is one of life's quiet achievers.  She settled in Cowra in 2012 with her family and transferred her membership in the NSW SES to the Cowra Unit.  Lisa's passion for the SES has helped grow the Cowra Unit to increase membership numbers and greater community awareness.  Lisa has stepped into higher level duties and distinguished herself during challenging emergency events.  During the recent floods Lisa was tasked with Incident Control in the absence of her superior officers.  She excelled in managing difficult Flood Rescues, liaison with Emergency Service Personnel, tasking duties to SES volunteers and providing responses to community members.  Lisa is known for a smile when times are tough and for providing help when requested.  Lisa's superior officers have recommended her for a Commendation due to her unequalled service.

Pat Charnock

Pat loves Cowra, loves sport and loves to help! Pat has been a swim coach for the Stingrays Swim Club for many years.  His students have achieved significant success under his guidance.  Pat has also coached junior squash for over 10 years.  This commitment requires a two hour program every week to encourage and develop young players.  He is a life member of both the Cowra Squash Club and Cowra Stingrays Swim Club for long-standing contributions.  Pat's latest challenge is as President of the Cowra Nature Based Adventure Playground Committee.  This committee has devoted countless hours to researching a playground that supports the local ecosystem, utilises natural settings and engages all age groups — a significant feat of planning.

Mike Holloway

Mike Holloway has always been an active community member, making significant contributions in particular with Rotary.  Mike recently undertook a major fundraising activity for the Headspace service in Cowra, raising over $30,000.  The 'Hands Up for Headspace' project involved arranging donations, sales and events with funds used to provide an ongoing service for local young people.  Mike initiated the 'Books for Babies' program which grants a book to every newborn baby in Cowra, giving out over 2000 books to date.  PCYC has also been a beneficiary of Mike's dedication.  He contributes considerable time to establishment and upkeep of the PCYC Young Road facility.  Holman Place School has also received Mike's support to install a wheelchair swing for disabled students.  Mike is currently engaged in a Rotary Timor-Leste school facility development.

Robyn Coffey

Robyn is a well known and highly-respected member of the Cowra community.  She is employed in Aboriginal education at Cowra High school and uses her skills to develop student and community relations. She has previously been nominated for a Secretary's Award for Excellence in Education and an Indigenous Education Award.  Robyn's role at Cowra High takes a significant amount of her time but she contributes enormous energy to community activities outside of this. Robyn was a strong campaigner for Cowra Council to permanently display an Aboriginal flag and supports community events by performing 'Welcome to Country' when she can.  Her commitment to positive relationships in the community extends to support of young people, services and schools, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Robyn is always a friendly face and is passionate about Cowra.

Alison Rutledge

Alison Rutledge has extraordinary stamina and expertise for helping others.  She is a stalwart of the St Raphaels P&F, driving the Food Garden project from initiation to completion.  Her input didn't stop there.  She assisted the school to utilise all facets of recycling and environmentally friendly watering to enhance the garden's output.  Alison joined the Woodstock Show Committee to develop new ideas for inclusion in the program, providing much-needed financial support to the Woodstock Swimming Pool, Historical group and Woodstock School.  Alison also works on the family farm, educates schools on recycling and supports many school garden projects.

Rowena Casey

Rowena Casey is the consummate organiser and contributor for any group she joins.  Rowena has been a committee member of Carinya Early Childhood Services, Cowra Public School P&C, Cowra Swimming Club, First Cowra Scouts, South West Life Education Committee, Cowra Inner Wheel Club, Cowra VIEW Club, Cowra Eisteddfod and CWA of NSW Cowra Evening Branch.  During 2016 Rowena was elected President of the CWA State Conference Organising Committee which was held in Cowra.  The Conference took two years to plan and saw over 700 attend.  Cowra Business Chamber estimated a boost to the Cowra economy of $2.5 Million as a direct result.  Her previous roles in CWA are extensive, including South West Group Representative, State Executive, State International Officer and delegate to the Pacific Area Conference of the Associated Country Women of the World.  She has also assisted the CWA Show Catering Committee Tea Rooms at the Royal Easter Show.  Rowena is an Elder of the St Peter's Presbyterian Church and volunteers in the Committee of Management.