Australia Day Awards

Each year the tireless efforts and outstanding contributions of Macleay Valley citizens and community groups are recognised at Kempsey Shire Council’s Australia Day Awards ceremony.

We have many champions in our shire who do wonderful deeds in their community, who work quietly around our towns, drive kids to footy practice, deliver meals-on-wheels, perhaps volunteer with the RFS, the CWA or other community organisations, or just make a difference.

The Australia Day Awards are an opportunity for these people and community organisations to be recognised for their contributions.

2022 Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony

The 2022 Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony was held at the Slim Dusty Centre on 26 January 2022 with a free breakfast from 9am, entertainment and a morning full of celebrations. Sixteen of the shire's newest Australian citizens were also welcomed.

The Australia Day Ambassador for 2022 was Dr David Kirkpatrick. Although he is the son of our local legend Slim Dusty, he has certainly made a name for himself, not only as a singer but also as a medical doctor and Chair of the Slim Dusty Foundation. As you can imagine, growing up on the road with Slim and his wife, Joy, was not the typical upbringing but a unique Australian story that David shared with us.

The Australia Day Awards are administered by the Australia Day Awards Committee on behalf of Kempsey Shire Council. The committee selects each award category winner. Being nominated for an Australia Day Award is a great honour.

Kempsey Shire Council celebrated the 2022 Australia Day by presenting awards for:

  • Citizen of the Year
  • Local Hero (more than one of these awards may be presented).

Nominations closed on Friday 7 January 2022.

Join the Australia Day Committee

More information

The awards

Citizen of the Year Award

Do you know of someone who has contributed or given outstanding service to the community or been an inspiration to others, either during the last 12 months or over a number of years?

Nominate them for the Citizen of the Year Award.

Local Hero

In a year where group activities and annual events have often been disrupted, the committee is this year calling for nominations for Heroes of the Macleay.

Nominees can be young or old, volunteers or not, as long as they are people who have made a difference to the Macleay in the past year. Do you know someone or a group who made the community stronger, gave back or has been a role model for others as we’ve dealt with floods, COVID-19 restrictions and disruptions?

Nominate them for a Local Hero Award.

Tips for nominating

Each year, we sift through a large number of nominations for our Australia Day Awards. The ones that stand out aren’t always those that are the best written or have a long list of referees. The best nominations are those that tell a story, the ones that paint a picture of a great Kempsey resident making a difference.

So don’t be daunted by the task of nominating your inspiring colleague, local champion, friend or family member - or even yourself! You don't have to be a great writer or have a pile of information.

Just consider these tips for writing a stand-out nomination (we got them from the BIG Australia Day awards team and they know their stuff):

Open with the important information

Start with a clear and specific statement that outlines why your nominee is worthy of an Australia Day Award.This only needs to be one or two sentences. Ask yourself: What activities or actions has the nominee undertaken that stand out? What has the nominee accomplished that goes above and beyond their job description? What special skills or talents have they employed? How has the nominee changed their community? Why are you motivated to nominate this person?

Consider your audience

The people on our Australia Day Committee are everyday Kempsey residents from all walks of life. They hail from Council, business, not-for-profit organisations and community groups, and span various fields of endeavour and profession. Imagine you are talking to an intelligent, engaged audience but also people who DO NOT have specific expertise in your field. Spell out acronyms the first time you use them and avoid using jargon, overly technical language or terms that may not be familiar to people outside your industry. Don't assume we know how much time or effort something takes.

Share their story

Strengthen your nomination by painting a picture of the person. What motivates them to make a difference? What personal challenges have they overcome in their life? Why do they inspire others? How does this person make you feel?

Don’t just say it, prove it

Use real-world examples that demonstrate why your nominee is an inspiring role model. Whether your nominee is the first one to lend a hand at the local football club or the person staying back late each night in the lab, we want to know the stories of their life and the impact they have made.

Tell the facts

If possible, support your nomination with hard facts and reliable statistics. Can you provide specific measures of this person’s success?

Aim for quality, not quantity

A long nomination isn’t always a better nomination. Try to keep your sentences short and concise, and avoid repetition. Steer clear of detailed job descriptions or work histories.

Stick to the selection criteria

Our committee is looking for people who contribute, inspire and make a difference, so ensure your nomination addresses these criteria.

Think about a referee

It may help to name someone else that supports your nomination, who is aware of the nominee’s achievements and will be able to provide any additional information if required.

Check eligibility

Take the time to check that your nominee meets the eligibility criteria.

Be specific

Please be as specific as you can by providing examples which show how the person you are nominating has made an outstanding contribution. Generalised statements such as 'the nominee is community minded' or 'the nominee is willing to offer assistance whenever needed' may be true but they do not provide enough relevant information.

Read about previous winners 

Look at what the committee idenitifed as being important about the previous winners and how it was described.

2021 award winners

Citizen of the Year – Stafford and Dianne Everson

For over 40 years, Dianne and Stafford Everson, born and bred Macleay Valley residents, have contributed to the lives of Macleay Valley people.

Largely unrecognised for their charitable support of many groups across the shire, Dianne and Stafford have grown Eversons Food Processors from scratch, employing hundreds across the shire over many years.

They have never wavered in their support of various charities, community and sporting groups, and individuals in need during challenging times.

Throughout the bushfires they arranged food drops to the upper Macleay Valley, supported and donated to the local SES groups, and ensured that their 200 staff were kept employed even during the worst of the drought.

Despite any challenges they face personally or professionally, and within the context of 2020 and its issues, Dianne and Stafford have never wavered in their support of their staff and our community.

Young Citizen of the Year – Keely Lawrence

On top of working a full-time job as a veterinary nurse and studying veterinary technology, Keely Lawrence has found time to inspire us all as a champion of young people, the agriculture industry and the Macleay Valley.

As the reigning Miss Kempsey Showgirl, Keely has raised more than $17,000 for Dolly’s Dream charity and been named Chief Beef Steward for the 2021 Kempsey Show.

During the bushfires Keely was a front and centre volunteer in the evacuation centre and went on to volunteer with BlazeAid, repairing fences on properties throughout the shire.

Keely is an active member of the Kempsey Cancerian Committee and, having a family impacted by bowel cancer, Keely and her siblings have initiated an annual fundraiser for Bowel Cancer Awareness. In 2020, not deterred by COVID, Keely took the fundraising online and still raised almost $3000.

Community Group of the Year – Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club

The Kempsey-Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club is celebrating 100 years of service to the Macleay Valley this year.

The club is owned and run by its members, who have given thousands of hours service to protect our community through the decades. The organisation has a rich history, including many heroic rescues, and now has almost 200 members. The successful nippers program has attracted many new members to the club, keeping generations safe on our beaches.

At competition level, the boat crews have done the Macleay proud with both state and national recognition as recently as the 2018-19 season.

This past season, which was interrupted by COVID-19, members still managed to complete 2,104 hours of community service in patrolling and maintaining Crescent Head beach as a safe aquatic zone for residents and visitors.

The Australia Day Committee were very impressed with the nominations for this category and decided to award two Highly Commended Awards.

Highly Commended Awards (joint recipients) – Lilli Pilli Ladies and My Church Kempsey

The Lilli Pilli Ladies started as a small group of friends who had been impacted by cancer in various ways and wanted to help others. They provide support for those with cancer in the Macleay Valley through popular fundraising events such as morning teas, which they have held regularly over the years. This past year, they designed creative ways to fundraise while keeping the community safe.

My Church Kempsey, also known as the Macleay Coast Church, is an active and vibrant supporter of people in need around our valley, through food donations and fellowship. The popular youth group enables young people to take a break from difficult home lives by providing access to light-hearted fun and religious education. Welcoming of everyone, the group worked throughout 2020 to support many beyond the formal church.

Volunteer of the Year (joint recipients) – Andrew Kirby and Michael Kemp

Andrew Kirby is the type of volunteer who has his hand permanently up and often puts his own business behind the needs of his community.

He is integral to the Hat Head community, volunteering hours of his time with the Hat Head Surf Club and the Hat Head Triathlon Club.

Through the Tri Club he organises races and training, constantly motivating people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. He gives his time to guide and help new members wherever possible.

In August 2020 he coordinated a Dementia Duathlon with a group target of 1,000 km of riding and running to raise funds for dementia.

As an RFS volunteer, during the fires he protected the property of others through the night, then would barely make it home for a short sleep before working all day for his own business and repeating the process again for days on end.

Michael Kemp was integral in providing support to his local Wittitrin community during the Black Summer bushfires.

Throughout 2020 Michael continued to support the community by donating funds, materials and labour to build shelters over donated caravans. He personally built five of the shelters and creatively used remaining materials to supply an additional shelter to someone in need.

He has since joined the RFS and has provided initial support and funding to get the newly formed Wittitrin Progress Association off the ground, where he acts as the Communications Officer.

Additionally, through his business, Michael volunteers to speak at our local schools and community events on health and wellbeing.

Lifetime Achievement Award (a special category as nominated by the Australia Day Committee) – Kevin Farrawell

Previous winners

Read through the winners back to 1981 on our archive of former award winners.

Important awards information

Key dates

The committee made its determination on 11 January 2022.

The awards were presented at the Australia Day Awards ceremony at the Slim Dusty Centre on 26 January 2022.

Conditions of entry

  1. Entry in these awards is open to all persons who are residents of the Kempsey Shire on 26 January 2022. 
  2. Nominations must be made on the official form either online or in writing. 
  3. Nominations may be made by an individual or organisation. 
  4. You can nominate more than one individual, but a separate form must be completed for each nomination. 
  5. It is permissible to contact Council for advice regarding nominations. 
  6. All nomination information and materials submitted remain the property of the Kempsey Shire Council.  
  7. The Australia Day Committee has the right to vary the category if a different category is more appropriate.
  8. Nominations from the previous year may be reconsidered. Nominations are permitted for those previously nominated who did not win awards. 
  9. The Australia Day Committee's decision is final.


If you have any questions on the entry process, read our Tips for Nominating first.

If you can't find what you're looking for, please contact the Australia Day Committee by emailing or phoning 6566 3200.