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Looking for Wollongong’s most selfless

The 2012 Citizen of the Year is Grant Plecas of Tarrawanna.

NOMINATIONS for the 2013 Australia Day Awards are now open.

Each year, Wollongong City Council recognises the achievements and contributions made by the community through the Australia Day Awards.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the awards are an opportunity to recognise individuals or organisation who has made a significant contribution to the city.

“We’re looking for inspirational role models; people who have demonstrated excellence in their field, had a major achievement or made an outstanding contribution to the well being of the community,” Cr Bradbery said.

“And this year we have a new category, the Sports Award. We are looking to recognise those people who have contributed significantly in the development of sport as either an athlete, coach, manager or has raised the profile of their chosen sport in the city.”

While Australia Day may seem a long way away, now is the time to consider who you wish to nominate under the five award categories of:

  • Citizen of the Year
  • Young Citizen of the Year
  • Cultural Award
  • Community Award
  • Sports Award

Nominations close on December 7.

“In our communities there are many people who give of themselves and achieve  outstanding levels of success in the community through their selfless work.  They achieve success through their efforts in a range of disciplines, whether it be academia, professional or undertaking significant community work.  By nominating these achievers they can be given the recognition they deserve and serve as an inspiration and role model to all Australians,” Cr Bradbery said.

The 2012 Citizen of the Year is Grant Plecas of Tarrawanna, who is a dedicated volunteer. Grant has organised the Relay for Life in NSW since 2001, an event which raised more than $400,000 for cancer research last year alone. The father of five also assists with the Mothers Day Classic in Wollongong and fundraising events such as Pink Ribbon month and the annual Great Ocean Pool Crawl.

This year’s Cultural Award winner is El Salvador-born Gerardo Guevara, from Figtree. Gerardo arrived in Australia as a young boy and acted as the sole provider for his family after his father passed away. Gerardo is now a teacher of students with special needs at Keira High School and is passionate about teaching. With a Masters Degree in Creative Arts and a Diploma in Education, Gerardo has curated a number of exhibitions featuring his students’ works.

Makenzie Russell, from Gwynneville, is the 2012 Young Citizen of the Year, having been recognised for her leadership at school and in the community. Makenzie initiated an indigenous awareness campaign as part of NAIDOC week highlighting the education gap between indigenous and non-indigenous children. She is also involved with fundraising activities such as Good Sam’s Day and the Op Shop Ball.

The 2012 Community Award winner is the Migration Heritage Project (MHP) which aims to protect and promote the heritage of the Illawarra’s diverse cultural communities. The MHP undertook a range of projects last year, including producing a heritage story book and e-book and organising the ‘Generations’ exhibition at Wollongong City Gallery.

To download a copy of the application form, visit Council’s website.

About Mick Roberts

A newspaper journalist, writer and local historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in the Sydney and Illawarra regions of NSW for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides authoring a number of history books, Mick has owned and operated several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limted), Sydney based, City News, and is now with Torch Publications.

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