The Australia Day Citizen of the Year Awards Winners 2022
Citizen of the Year
“Eunice is an amazing individual” – these are the first words in her nomination. A dedicated volunteer, she has spent more than six years in the 'Gaining Your L’s Road Safety Program' at the Bagster Road Community Centre.
Her great rapport with the community and ability to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds has helped more than 350 people gain their L’s in 2021. Always eager to see her students succeed, she regularly offers additional tutoring sessions to students, some are non-English speakers or have other barriers such as mental health or learning difficulties.
Eunice has proved to be a natural leader during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when despite a significant drop in volunteer numbers, she stepped up and volunteered almost five days a week.
Giving back to the community, whether it’s through her donation of time or expertise, it’s never too much to ask for Eunice, who has even given up space in her home to store 99 plastic storage tubs full of goods for community hampers. She works with a local charity to sort and collate these goods into hampers to bring Christmas joy to families and the disadvantaged.
And as always, Eunice does all of this with a smile.
Young Citizen of the Year
Sofina Le, 22, was proudly born and raised in the City of Salisbury and is an active citizen who enhances community life through her countless hours of volunteering.
After volunteering at the Jack Young Centre as a Café Assistant in 2017 she progressed to administration assistant, a position she held until 2020. It was during this time that she became passionate about working in aged care. A passion that led her to volunteer with the ACH Group Help at Home, where she regularly visits a senior resident for social companionship. A role she continues to this day. In fact, she has made a number of great friendships through this program and doesn’t see it as volunteering anymore.
Her hard work and ability to lead by example has been recognised by her fellow peers who have elected her to Chairperson of the Salisbury Youth Council. While working full-time, Sofina has devoted time and energy to the City of Salisbury by volunteering at events, working parties and more.
Through the Salisbury Youth Council, she has been involved in a long list of activities, including the 2020 Multicultural Project Team, which at the height of the COVID pandemic, developed a survey to understand how connected and safe young people felt in the community. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and first-generation young people were also targeted for the survey and it was presented to the Australia Refugee Association.
It goes without saying that Sofina gives 100 percent in everything she does, she is community-minded to the core and always says “yes” whenever a helping hand is needed. This unique characteristic for someone her age has seen her complete the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award and receive highly regarded feedback from multiple organisations like Headspace and Every Life Matters, where Sofina is a youth reference group member advocating for youth mental health.
Senior Citizen of the Year
Pieter (Pedro) Dawson
Pedro served as a National Serviceman during the Vietnam War, where almost 60,000 Australians served in the eight-year conflict. Settling in the City of Salisbury in 1972, he has lived at his current residence in Braham Lodge since 1982.
For almost a decade, Pedro has provided an outstanding service as part of the Vietnam Veterans Association Northern Suburbs Sub-branch Inc.
He has served as Treasurer for two years and then became President in 2010, a role he continues to perform today. The 120 Veterans, family members and friends have seen Pedro progressively transform the branch into a high-performing Incorporated Body and Registered Charity.
Pedro has worked tirelessly on a purely voluntary basis, attending the clubrooms 5 days a week for hours each day, to provide an environment where Veterans can talk and share their experiences.
The clubrooms operate mostly as a drop-in service for people to visit to pay respects in the Memorial Garden or simply socialise with fellow Veterans. An advocacy service is available on Tuesdays and regular lunches on Wednesday for approximately 35 attendees. These regular services and activities can only happen because Pedro opens the clubrooms each day and diligently looks after the cleaning and maintenance.
Pedro is very respected by members and has become a role model and mentor to many, actively helping Veterans find purpose and friendship in life.
Each year, the Veteran’s take a vote for President and the fact that he has been voted in unanimously each time just goes to show how loved and respected he is.
Community Event of the Year
Celebrating 80 years of the Edinburgh defence precinct
Over 1,000 people attended the Edinburgh Military Vehicle Museum Defence Day to celebrate 80 years of the Edinburgh Defence Precinct with activities and fun for the whole family.
Held in a group of historic WW2 era buildings within the Defence precinct of Edinburgh Parks, the vehicles on display are not just restored to look at, they are rebuilt to authentic running condition and the collection ranges from the First World War to current times.
All these buildings and vehicles are heritage listed and 82 vehicles were on display on the day – 46 are owned by the museum trust and a further 36 were brought in for the day.
Live music created a friendly atmosphere and walking around the event there were constant surprises with action packed military vehicle rides, interesting displays and amazing exhibitions by talented artist Barry Spicer.
More than 450 people supported the event from various community organisations, acknowledging the many connections the Edinburgh base has with the border community and its enrichment. Volunteers were present from Barkuma, Centrelink, SES, CFS, St Johns, Defence Bank, Veterans SA, Cadet units (Army/Airforce/Navy), local schools and the Salvation Army.
The interactive day was well planned and had entertainment for the whole family. It was great to have the opportunity to take the family out for a great day out and show them a heavy slice of the City of Salisbury’s history at a minimal cost.
Adelaide Dragon Football Club
All from the Bhutanese refugee background, the boys from the Adelaide Dragon Football Club work tirelessly to engage the Bhutanese South Australian youth in sporting activities for better outcomes in their mental wellbeing, physical health, connectedness and belonging.
Despite working full-time and having their own academic and family commitments, the older boys in the leadership team are active and positive role models to the younger ones, mentoring them and building a close-knit support network, with the intention of deterring young members from anti-social behaviour like drugs and crime.
Fundraising tournaments have become a fun way for the Club to give back, with funds raised for bushfire victims in Australia, earthquake victims in Nepal and other donations going towards refugee camps and funeral costs for grieving families.
A very relevant cause the Club has led with a passion is connecting the Bhutanese community with accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccination and going as far as hosting a special forum in partnership with Settlement Council of Australia, HOST International and Refugee Health Service. This forum was organised to inform and educate community members, for whom English is their second language, on the COViD-19 vaccination in a comfortable and familiar setting.
Linking with Host International once again, the Club provided funding and much needed food vouchers to the not-for-profit organisation to be given to Afghan evacuees recently arrived in Australia. With most of the members coming from a refugee background, they sympathise with the struggles of new Australians attempting to make a home in Australia and adjust to the different weather, language and food.
Periodic blood donations through Red Cross is another commitment for the Club, as is their support for important cultural and traditional celebrations and events throughout the border community.
Parents, families and the community at large recognise the contribution made by the Club – as does a long list of local charities and organisations. The Club leaders are good role models and inspire other young people to follow in their footsteps, pay it forward and respect others.
The boys love their football, but they love being a Dragon even more!
Salisbury Community Achievement
Radwa is credited with developing relationships between refugees and the community. Coming to Australia as a refugee herself upon fleeing war torn Syria, she understands the challenges of integrating into the Australian lifestyle and adapting to the culture.
One of her most prominent roles in the Australian-Syrian community is her role in supporting women and encouraging them to develop their English language skills. This has led her to organise relaxed educational sessions for non-English speakers about how to access health and pharmacy services and where to find the products they’d used (or ones similar to) those found back in the middle east region.
Radwa has also worked with the Australian Refugee Association in presenting road safety and fire safety advice videos after a house fire burnt down her new Australian home. Understanding that the migrant population are less aware of these risks, due to their new environment and how different it is from their home country, she has passionately educated many new arrivals about the dangers.
Sharif has volunteered at pretty much every event the City of Salisbury has hosted since 2019.
He is always the first one to put up his hand and help out at events and is a valued member of the events team who enjoys creating memorable experiences for the community.
In his other role as ambassador of the Salisbury Youth Council, he supports and guides his fellow colleagues and other volunteers. With a strong passion for sustainability, you’ll often catch him making sure things like cable ties and bottles and cans are recycled correctly after an event.
Sharif demonstrates professionalism, courtesy, friendliness and compassion when dealing with all of our community. He is also the first to try new things and is eager to learn Australian slang and sayings (and have a laugh about how strange they sound).
Most of all, he loves meeting new people and now boasts a new confidence when introducing himself; a skill learnt during his many hours of volunteering and work within the youth council.