15 November 2023

Australia Day awards a chance to thank a community champ

| Vanessa Hayden
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Group of people with citizens' awards

Aimee Riley (kneeling, left) won Greater Hume Shire’s Young Citizen of the Year Award at last year’s Australia Day celebrations and says it’s important to highlight the good work being done by volunteers in their communities. Photo: Greater Hume Shire.

Do you know a ”top citizen” in your local community? Someone who goes above and beyond to give back to others?

Shires across the Riverina are ramping up the call for entries into the 2024 Australia Day citizen award celebrations, with nominations set to start closing in the coming weeks.

The Australia-wide awards acknowledge and celebrate exceptional individuals and groups who enrich their communities through significant contributions.

Greater Hume Shire resident Aimee Riley is one person who knows what it means to be nominated for, and win, an award.

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She received her shire’s Young Citizen of the Year Award in January and said she wasn’t aware she had been nominated until a letter arrived in the mail.

“It was a nice surprise and I was certainly pretty elated to win,” she said.

“You don’t do community work for the recognition, but it’s kind of people to think that I was deserving of the award and I’m very grateful to the people who did nominate me and to the judging committee for accepting me as the winner.”

Aimee’s nomination highlighted her “giving heart and passion for community appeals”.

She was involved in Jindera’s 150th-anniversary celebrations, was elected to the committee of the Jindera Museum and applied for and was successful at receiving a grant for new netball courts and clubrooms in the town (to name a few of a lengthy list of volunteer achievements).

She said the award was not about her “singularly”.

“The award wasn’t just about me, but also recognition of the bunch of people that are helping me as there’s always others that I’m working with.”

Aimee encourages people to get involved and nominate someone they think is doing great work in their community.

“These sorts of awards and nominations, and the exposure of the work that people are doing, sets a really good example and standards for others who might want to get involved and find out where they can start,” she said.

“For me, part of what I do is try to encourage the younger generation to get involved and continue the community work that generations gone by have done, so that we can maintain the momentum going into the future for our small towns.”

Each shire has a range of categories that can include citizen and young citizen awards, sports volunteer and/or sports person of the year, club member, community group, event or project, and environmental organisation recognition.

Entries can be completed online through your local shire’s website. You can’t do a nomination anonymously and will be expected to provide your contact details.

You will need to describe the achievements of the person/group you have nominated and you may be required to outline things such as the impact they had, how they made a difference, what obstacles they have overcome or how they have gone the extra mile.

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According to Aimee, it’s important to highlight the work of volunteers.

“For me, community work and the people involved in the community are so vital to keep organisations locally going.

“Whilst most people don’t do it for the accolades, it is nice to be able to recognise people and also give them the exposure and the opportunity to tell their story.”

A highlight for Aimee was working on Jindera’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

“That was an absolute joy to be a part of and I was the youngest person on the committee.

“It was very special being able to learn a lot about the history of the town and by extension, the history of my family.

“Having people around me that had grown up in the town and were happy to ‘pass the baton’ to me as the next generation was really humbling.”

To find out more about the awards in your area, contact your local shire. But don’t delay, nominations close soon!

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