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A Spectacular Night At The Darebin Community Awards

Every year the Darebin Community Awards highlight the wonderful and impactful contributions our community members make to the City of Darebin. This night was no exception. A large crowd of community people, organisations and amazing nominations and deserving winners was broadcast live on 3KND. KoolNDeadly supporting community.

The presentation night presided over by Darebin Mayor Councillor Lina Messina and MC local, three times Gold Medal Australian Paralympian Carol Cooke AM, was this year nestled within the FUSE Darebin program. FUSE is Darebin’s new biannual arts festival and highlights the many talents and creative endeavors of the Darebin community.

Mayor Messina said the achievements of all nominees deserved to be celebrated and were a testament to the love and care shown throughout the entire community during yet another difficult year.

“It’s a privilege to preside over these awards and acknowledge the many wonderful contributions that individuals and groups make to enrich life in Darebin. Through these awards we celebrate local heroes who have shown great leadership, compassion, and kindness,” she said.

The awards were held at Darebin Arts Centre, Cnr Bell and St Georges Road Preston, on Thursday 24 March 2022.

Winners are:

Sustainability Award category In the Sustainability Award category, there were two nominations the Committee decided were bringing to life the Council goal to create a Sustainable City through local projects that address climate change. The Committee awarded both a Community Group and an Individual in this category.

Sustainability Award for Group of the Year Friends of Edwardes Lake The Friends of Edwardes Lake are a committed group of volunteers, dedicating to preserving, restoring, and caring for the diverse ecosystems of Edwardes Lake and Edgar’s Creek wetlands and surrounds, through activities such as weeding, planting, litter collections and education.

By educating the community in environmental conservation, they provide opportunities to participate in the restoration and maintenance of the biodiversity corridor and promote recreational opportunities to observe nature.

A local resident said: “The park would not be as nice without their contribution which is entirely voluntary. They should be commended for their efforts.” The Group are always on the lookout for more volunteers to become environmental guardians by joining Friends of Edwardes Lake.

The winner of the Sustainability Award for an Individual: Marcus Seal Marcus Seal is a sustainability champion who creates projects and activities which deliver genuine and measurable action in response to environmental issues. Marcus is the owner of Darebin business Rock Posters, a printer and installer of street posters Australia-wide. Marcus is transforming traditional practices and processes in his endeavor to become more sustainable.

Marcus’ achievements in sustainability are many. By purchasing more than four tonnes of Australian made, 100% carbon neutral paper Marcus has offset more than 10 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Through recycling up to five tonnes of local office wastepaper destined for landfill, he saved an equivalent of 14 tonnes of CO2 landfill emissions. Marcus is pioneering the use of post-consumer-waste paper, while sourcing vegetable-based inks to replace toxic products used by industry.

A local one-man crusader, Marcus is making a real difference in sustainable practices in Darebin and beyond.

Citizen of the Year This year the Committee decided to give a special commendation award in the Citizen of the Year category. This commendation was awarded to Fiona Macrae Fiona Macrae is the founder and host of Private Parts a web series and online community facilitating conversation around the ‘private parts’ of our lives and society, often with regards to invisible health conditions. Private Parts is an inherently collaborative space to converse, question, share knowledge and support one another, a space that removes the stigma of shaming people into silence over topics pertaining to their disabilities, trauma, sexual and mental health.

Fiona has gathered a community of local likeminded people living with chronic conditions to share skills and resources to make this project possible. The entire project is curated and created by volunteers who are passionate about change.

Winner of the Citizen of the Year Sue Johnson Sue Johnson is a composer, musician, musical director, and educator. She has been leading community choirs and providing welcoming, inclusive spaces in Darebin and surrounds for well over a decade. Sue has been a support and lifeline for many over the past two years, persevering in running her five choirs during the Melbourne lockdowns. Sue is highly skilled at facilitating superbly inspirational collective singing experiences. She has provided performance opportunities in the community, most recently at the Our Songs project, singing in pop-up events across Darebin.

Choir singing synchronises the heart, soothes the soul and provides joy and that is what Sue has done, and continues to do for Darebin.

The winner of the Young Citizen of the Year Kalep TeoKoitu

Kalep is part of the Decibels Youth Music program, a place for people aged 13 to 25 to make and record music, learn skills, and connect with others who love music and the arts. He brings a caring attitude, enthusiasm, and determination to the program.

As a resident Young Producer, he offers mentorships to Decibels participants, fine-tuning their music production skills within Drill and Hip-Hop genres. He uses his love of music to connect with participants whilst providing opportunities and creating roles on projects.

An emerging leader and role model and worthy winner of the Young Citizen of the Year.

Community Group of the Year, again the committee decided a special commendation should be awarded in this category and that was awarded to: Your Community Health Throughout the pandemic Your Community Health has stepped up, consistently supporting at-risk Darebin communities to maintain the best possible health and wellbeing, while delivering and maintaining integral day-to-day services.

Staff have empowered the most vulnerable s members of our community to connect them with crucial support and care, ensuring equity of access and provision of information.

Your Community Health ensured our older vulnerable clients and those with disability remained socially connected in creative ways: knocking on their doors, dropping off morning tea, waving happy birthday signs outside their homes and, facilitating community conference-calls and visits.

Your Community Health also supported people to receive vaccinations and testing in easy-to-access community settings, such as the Islamic Museum of Australia and rooming houses.

A Special Commendation for an exceptional organisation during exceptional times.

The winner of Community Group of the Year Alex Makes Meals Alex makes meals was founded by Alex Dekker and Neraj Galagedara in early 2020, during the height of COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Alex Makes Meals is a charity group making and delivering high quality meals to vulnerable individuals across Melbourne.

Alex, a university student at the time, could not visit his immunocompromised parents or his sister, who was working at a hospital. Sensing the stress his sister was under, he decided to make a meal for her and her workmates. Alex’s lasagna was a hit, so he kept on cooking and Alex Makes Meals was born!

No longer a one-man operation and successfully operating from the Darebin Arts Centre, Alex Makes Meals is a movement driven by dedicated volunteers providing over 300,000 warm, tasty meals to homeless and disadvantaged youth. In under two years this group has had a significant impact on not just the Darebin community but also wider Melbourne.

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jon Hyde Jon has been a fixture of the local sporting scene and involved locally with Holy Trinity Cricket Club for over fifty years. He has been a successful player, coach and committee member as well as a board member of the North Metro Cricket Association for over 10 years.

Jon has been instrumental in the development and implementation of a junior program, and the first Holy Trinity female cricket program.

Jon continues to support the female program at Holy Trinity Cricket Club, driving much of its success.

Jon brings skills, knowledge, experience, patience, and passion to coaching and is a true all-rounder. Thanks Jon, on behalf of the hundreds of Darebin cricket enthusiasts you have coached and encouraged over the years.

A local hero and deserving member of the lifetime achievement award.

CALD Elder Community Leader of the Year category. The Committee again made the decision to award a present a special commendation in the CALD Elder Community Leader of the Year Special Commendation awarded to Martin Nguyen

Martin is a valued participant in Darebin’s Decibels Youth Music programs, always demonstrating care, enthusiasm and a positive mindset that flows on to other participants. He includes others in conversation and encourages them to participate whilst being mindful of the difficulty some participants have in sharing work and collaborating.

Martin always takes time to share his knowledge and encourage others. Martin volunteers weekly at Holy Name Church with a community group Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement. He arranges community events and fundraising activities to benefit his community and for other causes such as bushfire appeal.

Martin has successfully raised funds to take his youth group on an interstate trip to Perth and has also started a youth choir. Martin is a caring and responsible young adult who dedicates a lot of his personal time to the needs of others. He is an exceptional role model and a valued member of the Decibels community. An emerging Culturally And Linguistically Diverse Elder Community Leader and worthy of a special commendation.

CALD Elder Community Leader of the Year, the winner Rosa Vasseghi

Rosa became a refugee after she was imprisoned and tortured for following her Bahai faith in her hometown of Mashhad, Iran before being exiled in India.

Unable to return home, Rosa applied for refugee status, arriving three years later in Melbourne alone, without any English, and with a suitcase of trauma.

With her ongoing commitment to her faith, and resilient determination Rosa found friends and impressively completed a ‘Bachelor of International Community Development’.

Rosa has worked as a Community Guide, has written and published books, and in 2014 established ‘Ava’ the Iranian Women’s Choir.

Welcoming asylum seekers and refugees, Ava provided opportunities for empowerment, hope, connection, skill development and confidence building. The group gained funding and evolved further, expanding their repertoire to tapestry workshops and opening membership to all women experiencing social isolation, allowing for cross-cultural support and connection.

Today, 10 tapestry groups across Melbourne with 125 women from diverse backgrounds are working together creatively, with a focus on skill acquisition, knowledge of rights, awareness around matters of family violence and gambling and linkage to support services.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Emerging Young Community Leader of the Year Rose Stewart Rose Stewart is a proud Taungurung and Gunditjmara woman, currently in Year 12 at Northcote High School. A keen footballer and cricketer, playing for Darebin Falcons and Holy Trinity Rose is quiet, mature and has excellent leadership skills. Rose works at both Clothing The Gaps and The Koorie Circle, squeezing driving lessons in in her spare time.

Rose has helped lead and grow The Koorie Circle family business which now has a store front on High Street. She is successfully managing a lot of responsibility for a young person and has made finishing school, staying active and finding time to be with friends.

The community is incredibly proud of Rose and the young woman she has become. She is respectful, community oriented and has a kind soul. Rose has a bright future ahead and we look forward to seeing what she does next!

Awarded posthumously, the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Leader of the Year winner, Aunty Cindy Bux Vale Aunty Cindy Bux 6 August 1961 – 17 December 2021

A proud Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta Aboriginal woman.

Aunty Cindy has now passed and is resting in the Dreaming. Vale Aunty Cindy Bux. 6 August 1961 – 17 December 2021.

A proud Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta Aboriginal woman.

Aunty Cindy was the Programs Coordinator of Gurwidj Neighbourhood House, managed by the Aboriginal Advancement League.

Darebin Council’s relationship with Aunty Cindy began with her work at Gurwidj, where she provided care, support, and advocacy to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. She was an esteemed and loved Elder who gave so much to her community. Aunty Cindy was an artist, teacher, cultural educator, and a leader in her faith. She was a strong, generous, loving, warm, funny, vibrant, creative woman, who reached out and taught those who worked with her to listen, to respect and create honest and meaningful opportunities for First Nations women.

Many staff at Darebin worked closely with Aunty Cindy to develop ideas and initiatives. She never said no when we approached her with a new collaboration, but always made certain the idea and work was on her terms and the journey one of cultural respect for her and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“If I can be a light to people, because it’s a dark world out there, I will be a light.” – Aunty Cindy Bux

Stories of Us Film featuring Aunty Cindy Bux. A warning that the names, images, and voices of people now passed and resting in the Dreaming are in the film.


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