Campbelltown's top citizens for 2014 honoured on Australia Day

Georgia Mitranond and mum Eva Van Der Ree at the Australia Day activities at Hallinan Park, Ingleburn. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Georgia Mitranond and mum Eva Van Der Ree at the Australia Day activities at Hallinan Park, Ingleburn. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Familiar faces: Sandra McDonald and Rebecca Hatch congratulate each other at Sunday's ceremony at Koshigaya Park. Picture: Jeff McGill

Familiar faces: Sandra McDonald and Rebecca Hatch congratulate each other at Sunday's ceremony at Koshigaya Park. Picture: Jeff McGill

Thi Nguyen of Rosemeadow (left), a new Australian citizen, celebrating with her mum, Ngo Thi Binh, at Campbelltown's Koshigaya Park. Pic by Jeff McGill

Thi Nguyen of Rosemeadow (left), a new Australian citizen, celebrating with her mum, Ngo Thi Binh, at Campbelltown's Koshigaya Park. Pic by Jeff McGill

Justeene McKnight and John Durban at the Australia Day activities at Hallinan Park, Ingleburn. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Justeene McKnight and John Durban at the Australia Day activities at Hallinan Park, Ingleburn. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Francis Grant of St Andrews (centre), with young Patrick and Jada, celebrating being a new citizen at Campbelltown's Koshigaya Park. Pic by Jeff McGill

Francis Grant of St Andrews (centre), with young Patrick and Jada, celebrating being a new citizen at Campbelltown's Koshigaya Park. Pic by Jeff McGill

FOR some it was a celebration of our homeland, but for others Sunday marked the official start of a proud new life as Aussies.

One hundred and nineteen new citizens joined our community, with 56 people taking part in a naturalisation ceremony at Campbelltown's Koshigaya Park and another 63 at Ingleburn's Greg Percival Community Centre.

Beautiful Minds founder Sandra McDonald was named 2014 Citizen of the Year for her efforts to raise awareness of mental illness.

"I was really taken by surprise," she said.

"It was such a strong field of people — I think Campbelltown is very lucky."

Mrs McDonald said her association, based at Harmony House, had created a local model for government services and non-government organisations to work together on matters of mental health.

"Beautiful Minds are really agents for change in mental health and we've done that role really well. We've learnt a lot, but we've dived into that and it's strengthened our community," she said.

"People often come up to me and say it's changed my son's, my daughter's, my own life, and that's pretty amazing."

The organisation provided a model which could be replicated by other communities and would have a long-term effect in the Macarthur region, Mrs McDonald said.

"If you live in the community and you think something needs doing, just get in there and do it."

Rebecca Hatch, 13, of Leumeah, was named Young Citizen of the Year for involvement in the Gondwana National Choir, school leadership and debating programs and fund-raising.

Glen Alpine triathlete Natalie Van Coevorden was named Sportsperson of the Year and the Macarthur Football Association took out the award for Community Group Initiative of the Year.

Mayor Clinton Mead said the winners were excellent role models who showed what could be achieved with commitment and dedication.

"One of the great things about Campbelltown is the large number of people who dedicate themselves to projects and initiatives aimed at improving our city and the wider community," he said.

"The winners — indeed all the nominees — are the perfect examples of this and I congratulate all of them on their fine achievements."

Campbelltown's Australia Day ambassador Peter Wynn made a short but sweet speech in which he recalled his glory days as a Parramatta Eels player who faced the Western Suburbs Magpies.

He congratulated our city's newest citizens, saying they were "joining the greatest team of all — the Australian people".

Mr Wynn donated a Parramatta Eels jersey signed by rugby league greats including Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling and Steve Ella, to Cr Mead for the Campbelltown Council to use for a charitable cause.

Local Dharawal descendant Glenda Chalker offered a warm Welcome to Country but pointed out that many Aboriginal people regarded January 26 was "invasion" or "survival" day.

"I am a descendant of those traditional people who suffered fatalities from disease, massacres and in some cases starvation, because of the loss of their land which they depended upon for their survival, in the name of colonisation," she said.

She praised Sydney Swans footballer Adam Goodes who had been announced as Australian of the Year.

"I am sure his new role will be an inspiration to young Australians, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to stamp out racism once and for all."

Following official proceedings at Campbelltown and Ingleburn, revellers kicked on into the night with entertainment at Koshigaya Park.

The line-up included performances by Starz From Oz, Endless Summer Party Band, and the Macarthur Talent Showcase, before fireworks lit up the sky at 9pm.

And the winners were...

Citizen of the Year: Awarded to Sandra McDonald. Other nominees were Tony Anderson, Mark Baird, Denys Cato, Fatima Nazer Cheema, Ciminazer Cheema, John Dumesny, Peta Emery, Neal Gray, Sue Roberts, Marie Rutledge, Jaspreet Sethi, Soubankham Sikaypack, Joyce Tropman and Lyle Whan.

Young Citizen of the Year: Awarded to Rebecca Hatch. Other nominees were Paige Stewart, Zoe Stewart and Katie Woodger.

Sportsperson of the Year: Awarded to Natalie Van Coevorden. Other nominees were Cruise Tweedie, Matthew Thacker, Kara Styles and Shamiran Khamis.

Community Group Initiative of the Year: Awarded to Macarthur Football Association Inc. Other nominees were Minto Access Point, Harmony House and Afghan Fajar Association Inc.

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