Meet your Australia Day Awards recipients

Published on 26 January 2022

Citizen of the year Garry Munday

Residents who have helped the Kempsey Shire community in an array of tremendous ways were acknowledged at the annual Australia Day Awards.

On Wednesday morning these hard working and dedicated community members were celebrated as the recipients of the annual Australia Day Award at the Slim Dusty Centre.

Kempsey Shire Council Mayor, Leo Hauville, described the nominees’ ongoing contributions to the shire as inspiring.

“Thank you. All of you. Reading and hearing about your ongoing contribution to the lives of people in our area, it is clear you are all heroes.”

The creative talent behind The Island of Doctor Moron, Chris and Lyn Dockrill, were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their years of contribution.

Former teacher and avid local historian, Garry Munday, was announced as the 2021 Citizen of the Year.

The calibre of nominees for the Citizen of the Year award was assessed as being so high that the Australia Day Awards Committee recognised all the Citizen of the Year nominees with Local Hero Awards in addition to the other winners.

Eight high quality nominations for Local Hero were submitted and it was agreed that each had made the community stronger through their support.

Council congratulates the following award recipients.

Chris and Lyn Dockrill – Lifetime Achievement Award

Chris and Lyn Dockrill are household names in the shire through both their community spirit and roles at local schools but it’s their creative works that have truly helped put the Macleay on the map.

Together, Chris and Lyn have always been long term promoters of the Macleay Valley, bringing unique arts and theatre experiences to our regional towns. As incredibly talented writers, producers and directors Chris and Lyn have created a range of stage productions including the successful rock musical The Island of Dr Moron. In fact, this musical was first written for Kempsey High School’s annual school musical in 1998 where Chris taught drama and English and the production was so popular that over 2,000 people came to see the show. A film version of this has now been screened in 10 countries, 16 international film festivals and won several awards.

As educators, widely published authors and promoters Chris and Lyn have been adding tremendous value to life in the shire over many years coordinating countless community projects and environmental advocacy. Just one example is the special screening of The Island of Dr Moron, where all proceeds were donated to the PCYC Kempsey so the club can continue its vital work.

Another is donating the $10,000 proceeds from the sell-out season of their 2020 stage show Flame Trees, inspired by the Cold Chisel song of the same name to support the Bandbox Theatre.

The Dockrills do not charge royalties or for their time producing these shows.

As authors, educators and ambassadors for the performing arts Chris and Lyn Dockrill have promoted the Macleay Valley, reinvested in our facilities and supported many others to learn and hone their craft.

Garry Munday - Citizen of the Year

As a teacher, sportsperson, historian, author, volunteer and Rotarian, Garry has played a positive role in the lives of many in the shire since he took up residency here in 1977.

He has been involved with many local sporting clubs including Kempsey Cannonballs and Mid North Coast Rugby Union where he has life memberships at both and still motivates school children and sportspersons in the Macleay Valley.

Garry retired from teaching in 1999 and from here, he followed an interest in the Macleay Valley’s history volunteering for the Macleay Valley Historical Society where he is currently the Vice President. He has produced many journals documenting past events that shaped the Macleay today.

Moira Hodgekiss – Citizen of the Year nominee - Local Hero Award recipient

Moira pioneered and has run iCare from MyChurch Kempsey for 15 years, working tirelessly every week to reach struggling people and families in the shire with food and love. Moira’s love in action has inspired people to help others, with many individuals donating food, toys and gifts to iCare.

Moira and her incredible team are consistently helping provide support and connection for people within our community that are facing hardship.

Barry Heien – Citizen of the Year nominee - Local Hero Award recipient

For the past 38 years, Barry has been part of every SES flood response in the Macleay assisting with river and storm rescues as well as removing trees and patching roofs. As a flood boat captain and trainer, Barry has been crucial in training the next generations on his extensive knowledge of the Macleay River and how it reacts during a flood. He still today travels away from the shire to aid other regions in their flood and storm responses.

Bob Donato – Citizen of the Year nominee - Local Hero Award recipient

Bob inspires others through his energy, commitment and reliability to get things done. His volunteer roles in the successful running of the Trial Bay Triathlon and South West Rock Running Festival are substantial, organising logistics such as road closures, merchandise and event set up.

He has been a volunteer in the NSW Rural Fire Brigade for 25 years with 12 of these years spent with South West Rocks Rural Fire Brigade. Bob has trained and volunteered for Lifeline to assist people reaching out for support.

As a passionate volunteer Bob’s community spirit helps ensure the Macleay Valley continues to thrive.

Lisa Domeny – Citizen of the Year nominee – Local Hero Award recipient

Hailing from Arakoon, Lisa brings joy and inspires people across the globe through her charity Team Golden Oldies, dedicated to raising awareness of senior dogs in pounds and encouraging people to consider rescuing them. Senior dogs are often in pounds for the longest amount of time.

Through Team Golden Oldies, Lisa and these loveable senior dogs visit nursing homes, hospitals and schools spreading love to those that need it. The Team Golden Oldies charity helps pay vet bills for life saving surgeries for local dogs whose owners otherwise could not afford it. When these senior dogs pass, Lisa writes a book featuring moving messages and photos of that dog with profits from each book injected back into the charity.

Kevin Weismantel - Local Hero Award

Kevin was nominated for his assistance during the 2019 bushfires and 2021 floods. He delivered emergency fodder and hay using his own vehicles and gathered an army of people to help make this happen. While there was considerable stock lost in the events, Kevin‘s actions saved many animals.

Kevin did this for the community at no cost preserving local’s livelihoods and sparing them the severe mental anguish that they were under. The enormous hours on the ground organising loads, phone calls and sourcing fodder from across three states was at Kevin’s own cost and inspirational.

Claire Martin - Local Hero Award

After having a child with Down Syndrome, Claire Martin has devoted years to advocacy for Down Syndrome Australia contributing to positive change locally and nationally, helping to organise the NSW Step Up for Down Syndrome event.

Claire has organised major fundraising events, developed a photo book and gift hamper for delivery to other parents whose babies are diagnosed with Down Syndrome and inspired local specialists to increase training in this area. Her advocacy has started the conversation

for acceptance and diversity in communities, inspiring people to speak up for the rights of others.

Adam Smeaton – Local Hero Award

You may have seen Adam keeping the Kempsey Shire community up to date on river levels in Bellbrook when the Macleay Catchment receives substantial rainfall. Many people rely on Adam’s prompt and informative updates, especially during natural disasters such as the 2021 March Flood event.

Adam is a stalwart of disaster recovery efforts in the Bellbrook community. After the 2019 fires he worked tirelessly to source materials, donations and people to build shelters and shade awnings for people living in vans. He assisted the Red Cross in delivering supplies to isolated families after the fires, helped again in 2020 during the Devils Nook landslip and the 2021 floods.

A true community contributor Adam participated in the Shave for Cancer fundraiser, advocates for mental health support services and is actively involved in the RFS.

Jo-Anne Kelly – Local Hero Award

Jo-Anne Kelly is an inspiration to many in the community through the work she does with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal services, working to provide an understanding of the rich culture of Dunghutti/Thungghutti people and contributing to Kempsey’s diverse community.

Through the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, Jo mentors young indigenous leaders supporting them to create events and funding applications. Throughout the changing COVID-19 impacts Jo has brought service providers together, created and delivered learning packs, holiday programs and support to families in need.

Jo has co-designed with local Elders meaningful, educational workshops to ensure non-Aboriginal services know how to be culturally safe and work in a sensitive manner, creating lasting change.

Taylah Moffit –- Local Hero Award

At a young age, Taylah has demonstrated what can be achieved by volunteering in a small community. In 2021, Taylah was awarded NSW Junior Life Saver of the Year. This award recognises the achievements and contributions of the state's most outstanding under 14 years members. Since joining Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club’s Nippers in Under 7's, Taylah has enjoyed participating each year and is involved in all areas of lifesaving- patrolling. Her dedication has seen her awarded Nipper of the Year, Club Carnival Champion, Mid North Coast Branch Female Champion Competitor, and Club Highest Point Score winner for the past 4 years.

Reuben Jones – Local Hero Award

Reuben has been an inspiration to the young people of our community, encouraging positive attitudes and future pathways, particularly for those involved in Rugby League in Kempsey.

As President of the Kempsey Dragons Junior Rugby League Club for many years Reuben has dedicated many hours to giving back to the community through providing transport to and from football matches and encouraging all players to grow their abilities and to lead healthy lives. Taking on the role of President of the senior club Macleay Valley Mustangs in 2021 he has created a family orientated culture and created a pathway to keep locals involved in the game.

Having Reuben as an outstanding role model, believing in their talents and accomplishments has built great rapport and trust with community members.

Suzanne O’Leary – Local Hero Award

For over 40 years, Sue has been passionate about families being able to maintain employment by having access to quality childcare. As a family day care provider during 2021 she has enabled many families that are essential workers to continue working throughout the pandemic, even though this may put her at risk of exposure. Her commitment to providing safe and loving care includes before and after school, day and weekend care when needed.

Anika Vidler – Local Hero Award

As manager of Kempsey PCYC, Anika has been instrumental in bringing the community together and making a difference in the lives of young people, increasing participation in PCYC programs by 234%.

In 2021, she organised food drives to assist over 125 disadvantaged local families, coordinated safe driver, employment and cultural programs. In addition, she continued to build resilience in the community through programs such as Fit for Life which picks kids up from their homes and brings them to the PCYC for an exercise program. Following this, the children are provided with a healthy breakfast then dropped at school.

Going above and beyond her role Anika has an unwavering passion for empowering young people of the Macleay and ensuring they have opportunities to succeed.