Skip to main content


2022 Australia Day COTY Awards Nomination Website Feature

The Australia Day Citizen of the Year Awards Winners 2023

Citizen of the Year

Heidi Wolff 5130

Georgi Thomas

Mr. Georgi Thomas is a very giving person. As a matter of fact, he’s given back to the City of Salisbury community in many generous ways. For over 6 years Georgi’s been serving the homeless and promoting recycling through projects such as The Mustard Seed Family Project, Paid 4 U Café, Foodbanks and Latte 4 U.

Arriving in Australia in 2016, Georgi, his wife Minu and children Evangeline and Evan became permanent residents in 2019. Whilst on his work one day that year he noticed a homeless man eating food out of a bin. After a chat, Georgi felt he needed to do something to give back to the homeless. So the family began collecting bottles and cans from local beaches and community bins.

Later that year, the not-for-profit Mustard Seed Family Project was established where funds received from recycling those bottles and cans funded produce to be “paid forward” at the Paid 4 U Café. The name of this unique café which supports struggling families says it all. Since opening in June 2021, more than 100 meals have been paid forward and a Foodbank has recently opened at the café.

During the 2019 Bushfires and Covid-19 pandemic, Georgi was able to support over 3,000 families with food kits, blankets, sleeping bags and Christmas gifts. Paid 4 U Café also offers Barista skill development training. In October 2022 the café launched a coffee van, Latte 4 U offering free hot coffee for those sleeping rough. The van has proved to be very popular at local community events and can be booked for private, social and community functions.

In 2022, Georgi won The Andamooka Community Project Award where the Paid 4 U Café was recognised as a community project with a significant benefit. All of Georgi’s projects are supported by Local, State and Federal Governments as well as local community businesses.

Young Citizen of the Year

Heidi Wolff 5117

Madeline Prince

Madeline Prince is passionate about her community and making a difference in our society with a selfless attitude to improving the quality of life for others and the environment around her.

An outstanding young active citizen, Madeline takes pride in her work and volunteering with the City of Salisbury. Since joining the Youth Council Committee she has been involved in many events, projects, workshops and exhibitions promoting opportunities for young people. She donates and raises money for charities that include supporting young people and nations in poverty. But older people haven’t been forgotten. Madeline assists a number of Senior Citizens in her community with tech and documentation support.

One of her biggest contributions is to the Biggest Morning Tea which assists the Cancer Council with research and support. A cause that is dear to her heart, each year she raises over $2,500 by hosting events. She also provides support for events such as R U OK Day and Harmony Days which promote awareness of mental health and inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians regardless of culture or language.

A long-standing member of the Adelaide Zoo, Madeline is a very active volunteer for environmental causes. Her work on the Youth Council resulted in advocating for trial disposable mask bins for the City of Salisbury, due to the impact of COVID and the consequences mandatory masks had on our environment. The successful motion has since been rolled out across several City of Salisbury sites. Madeline is recipient of the Muriel Matters Award, a Catholic cause promoting Women’s Rights through selfless acts, strong faith and community connections.

And these are just some of her many achievements. The generous contributions Madeline has made to the City of Salisbury Community have proven to show leadership, creativity and initiative. She has enhanced our community vision improving our quality of life in the City of Salisbury through learning and education, volunteering and community safety and awareness.

Senior Citizen of the Year

Heidi Wolff 5123

Geoff Meikle

Musician, mentor, conductor, teacher, volunteer - Geoff Meikle has lived in Salisbury most of his adult life. He has been an active citizen throughout this time and is highly regarded in the wider Salisbury community. He contributed to his community for many years with his entertaining involvement in the Salisbury Brass Band as a player, conductor and MC at community events. He brought the joy of music to many people who wouldn’t otherwise get an opportunity to hear a band.

Geoff dedicated 20 years’ of service to the Salisbury East High School running the music program for a number of years. He was responsible for many student performances at local schools and community events with the SEHS Concert Band. As a school teacher he positively influenced the lives of hundreds of students in the world of music, a number of whom were disengaged with the schooling experience. He went above and beyond to improve student outcomes and create long lasting community connections.

Today Geoff is a volunteer driver on a regular basis for the City of Salisbury going above and beyond caring for the people he transports by being very thoughtful and attentive. Waiting in the courtyard for his passengers while they finish off Bingo for example is important to them as they enjoy social interaction with others.

Geoff formed the ‘Itty Bitty Band’ which started as a street band a few years ago, playing at various venues around Salisbury such as the Old Spot Markets, the Parabanks Shopping Centre and recently for the Port Adelaide Football Club supporters. He is regularly asked to perform on Trumpet at ANZAC and Remembrance Day ceremonies and does so with utmost commitment and professionalism.

Geoff plays occasionally at the Jack Young Centre where he entertains seniors, adding to their quality of life, promoting overall mental and physical health and putting a smile on their faces. Geoff’s contribution to his community and his thoughts about building community capacity, make him a truly worthy Citizen of the Year.

Community Event of the Year

Heidi Wolff 5104

Dog’s Day Out

The highly successful Dogs Day Out at Mawson Lakes run by the Lions Club of Salisbury, attracted thousands of local people and their dogs, as well as many others from near and far. It was a welcome return to a dog friendly based event for dog lovers everywhere!

It was the perfect setting for all breeds of leashed friendly dogs and their owners to mingle in a safe and organised environment. After the restrictions of COVID 19 it filled a gap especially given the loss of community events. Everyone enjoyed the day and spent money at surrounding businesses, making economic impact. The Lions Club is receiving calls to hold Dog’s Day Out more than annually. The good news is, it’s back on track. Being a free public event no doubt added to its huge success.

The event highlighted the need for appropriate dog and cat management and welcomed the City of Salisbury team, including holding an education stall. It also provided a significant opportunity for community building and connection. Held in Mobara Park and the Denison Centre, there were loads of stalls with everything to delight man’s best friend, from pup-cakes to coats, toys and treats.

To add to the appeal of the day, there were also dog trainers, behaviour advisors, breeders and therapists on site to give advice and assistance. Several dog rescue organisations were there with some lovely dogs looking for their ‘furever homes’.

A local vet was also available for advice and vet checks, along with discounted microchipping at the Paws & Claws stall. But humans weren’t forgotten – there were food stalls for them too!

Well deserving of The Community Event of the Year Award, Dogs Day Out, staged by the Lions Club of Salisbury attracted visitors from as far away as Barossa Valley, and generated plenty of social media. It is anticipated that this event will become a regular feature in all dog lover’s calendars.

Active Citizenship

Heidi Wolff 5110

Qasem Bahmanzadah

Qasem Bahmanzadah was born in Ghazni Afghanistan and lived in Pakistan for a few years before arriving in Australia as a refugee in 2008. Without knowing a word of English, he not only went on to complete a Bachelor of Aviation at Uni-SA, he also became a great mentor, team leader and friend of the Salisbury community. He is an active citizen and outstanding role model volunteering with the City of Salisbury using his skills and experience to empower youth and help those in need.

Qasem’s focus has been on youth leadership and development programs, educating the young disadvantaged about everything from leadership, teamwork, communication, conflict resolution and management, public speaking and interpersonal skills. But it doesn’t end there. Qasem has even shared the importance of knowing basic first aid and CPR and assisted in providing different events for students throughout the semester while easing their destress during exam times.

As a Peer Leader and Youth Ambassador for the Australian Refugee Association (ARA) Qasem has had the opportunity to share his story to the wider community and raise awareness for asylum seekers and refugees. Qasem hopes that one day he can set up a program to empower disadvantaged women and youths in Australia and developing countries. It really says a lot about Qasem’s great heart and compassion for the future of mankind.

Qasem is equally as passionate about Indigenous employment, having been a mentor for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), assisting year 8-12 students with their schoolwork, learning more about the first nations people, and sharing his own story.

Qasem’s community involvement and leadership has been recognised with the prestigious Minister of Education's Award of Leadership in Languages and Cultures; the Governor’s Multicultural Award in Youth Category and Finalist for Rotaractor of the Year Award for his work with the Rotary; the People Choice Award for Young Achiever Awards and a Finalist for the Young Achiever Awards. Qasem doesn’t look for recognition but he is happy when his work is celebrated in the community.

Mayor’s Commendation

Heidi Wolff 5135

Nomiki Thomas

13 year old Nomiki has achieved quite a lot for her age: The ‘Dame Roma Mitchell Award for Academic Excellence’ (when aged 9); two academic scholarships; The ‘Sylvia Ann Bedford’ Handbell Prize; ‘2019 Perfect Score Trophy’; Walkerville Council’s 2022 Young Volunteer Award; 2022 Children's Week Awards and the Inspiring SA Women's Awards nominations.

A budding author, Nomiki’s short story ‘Golden Handkerchief’, was shortlisted and published by Write 4 Fun in 2020.

In 2021, as part of Nomiki’s Year 7 curriculum at St. Andrews School, she was required to complete a personal project. With her passion for writing she decided hers would be to write and publish a book and donate part of the proceeds of the small number of copies printed, to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Nomiki received full marks for her project and very positive feedback for her book entitled ‘Goodbye’. The story is of Anna, a young girl who after being told that her father had died, opens a letter and what she uncovers changes her life.

This has encouraged her to continue with her fundraising efforts for this wonderful cause, create awareness and hopefully inspire other young people to follow their dreams, as well as helping others. To date Nomiki has donated $1,000 to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, from the sale of her book and she aims to keep building on that in 2023.

She also hopes that her donations will help to address the educational disadvantages faced by Indigenous Australian children and young people by providing access to books and literacy programs. Nomiki’s dream is to become a doctor when she grows up, to help people in need. She hopes to encourage other kids to follow their dreams, despite any social or economic limitations.