Bass Coast local legends celebrated
Bass Coast Shire Council announced the winner of its 2022 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year at a presentation on Wednesday, 19 January.
Carol Blair from San Remo was announced as the 2022 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year.
Ms Blair was recognised for her passion to make a difference, and the contribution she has made to her community through countless hours of volunteering. Ms Blair has held numerous volunteer roles within the Bass Coast community including Chair of the Bass Coast Community Foundation, President of the Bass Coast Community Health Service Committee, involved in Creatively Connecting Communities Bass Coast and President of the San Remo Foreshore Committee just to name a few. Ms Blair is currently heavily involved in Women for Change, a working group and sub-charity of the Bass Coast Community Foundation which raises awareness and advocates for women and girls in our community who are facing gender inequality.
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan, congratulated Ms Blair on the Award, and thanked her for her commitment to serve the Bass Coast community.
“These Awards are all about recognising the contribution of ordinary Australians who go above and beyond expectations. Their achievements and contributions to our community often go unrecognised, but have a far-reaching effect” Cr Whelan said.
The Mayor acknowledged and congratulated all the nominees for the Awards: Michael Cannata from Dalyston, John Eddy from Ventnor, Klaus Edel from Inverloch, Maddy Harford from West Creek, Amy Jones from North Wonthaggi, Lija Matthews from Wimbledon Heights, Liz Purvis from Wonthaggi and Graeme Sprague from Kilcunda.
“Every year it is a privilege to acknowledge the many individuals in our community who quietly give countless hours to our community across a wide range of activities and services. Though different in their roles and contributions, these people have one thing in common, and that is they are humble and do not expect recognition” Cr Whelan said.
“I would like to thank all of those that took the time to submit a nomination to help us to recognise those in our community who give so much of themselves.” Cr Whelan concluded.
In recognition of their achievements, this year’s Citizen of the Year received a painting by local Coronet Bay artist, Baden Johnson. Baden has developed an interest in capturing the ever-changing scenery and sunsets of Bass Coast since moving to the area.
For more information on the winners and nominees, please see below.
Winner – Carol Blair from San Remo, nominated by Nina Barry-Macaulay.
Carol is a humble and generous person. She is driven by her passion to make a difference, and to contribute to her community. Carol's professional and community background gives her a firm grasp on the inequalities and disadvantages prevalent in our community, and she has quietly and wholeheartedly committed much of her life to achieving improved life outcomes for those less fortunate. Carol has demonstrated this many ways: as a community leader and role model, as an advocate and confidante, and as an encourager and mentor.
When Chair of the Bass Coast Community Foundation, Carol dedicated hundreds of hours to building and facilitating partnerships with donors, local organisations and people in the community, with the sole purpose of creating improved opportunities for those experiencing disadvantage.
Carol has been heavily involved with community volunteer work. She has been
President of the Bass Coast Community Health Service Committee
Involved in Creatively Connecting Communities Bass Coast
President of the San Remo Foreshore Committee
Director of the Bass Coast Community Foundation
and involved in other organisations.
Carol is also heavily involved in Women for Change, a working group and sub-charity of the Foundation. Carol is thrilled by the strong female leaders in our community. She is passionate about continuing to advocate for, and raise awareness of, women and girls in our community who face gender inequality.
Nominee – Michael Cannata from Dalyston, nominated by Andre Durkin.
Michael is a devoted and caring husband, father, grandfather, and a great friend to all. Michael is well known around the area for providing security services and front of house duties at places like Bass Coast Health’s vaccination clinic, the Wonthaggi Workmen’s Club, the Phillip Island Penguin Parade and many more businesses and organisations as the face of Shadow Protective Services.
In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Michael was the first person you would see when you entered the Bass Coast Health Wonthaggi COVID Vaccination Clinic, always with a welcoming smile under his trademark moustache. He has been a concierge, temperature taker, confidant, and an extremely calming influence on people who just needed a little bit more help. Michael has borne the brunt of people’s frustrations, and never has he altered in his demeanour. His gentle, encouraging manner helped ease people’s concerns, frustrations and anxieties, always with a smile felt from behind his N95 mask. While maintaining his calm and gentle exterior, he always manages to maintain order and control in any situation, keeping everybody safe.
No matter who you mention Michael’s name to, or mention the “bloke from the Vaccination Clinic”, everyone knows and comments what a great bloke or beautiful man he is. Michael, throughout these tough two years of most people’s lives, has been, and is one of, Bass Coast’s unsung heroes and is very deserving of recognition for his amazing contribution to the Bass Coast community.
Nominee – John Eddy from Ventnor, nominated by Ross Lloyd.
John has made significant contributions in volunteer capacity to the Bass Coast Shire community in conservation, education and research.
John has been responsible for the revegetation of 11 significant sites on Phillip Island and two on the east coast of Western Port Bay. This includes seed collection, plant propagation, preparing grant applications for funding, manufacturing plant guards, planning planting layouts, weed control as well as organising and supervising volunteers. At a time when staffing was required John assisted in supervising at the "Barb Martin Bush Bank", this being a community nursery producing plants native to the region. John was instrumental in establishing the "Significant Tree Register" project that aims to provide a greater level of protection for significant trees and vegetation.
John’s passion for education has shone through when organising and leading the Phillip Island Conservation Society's "Seasonal Walks", and along with his wife, Christine, conducted "Children's Environment Mornings" for Primary School aged children. He has organised community plantings and provided practical instruction on planting mangrove seedlings to secondary school students. John is always willing to share his knowledge on environmental issues, plant selection, propagation and planting techniques.
As a champion for the environment, John has been involved with many local organisations including the:
Phillip Island Conservation Society
Ventnor Coast Care
Friends of the Scenic Estate
Friends of Churchill Island
as well as others.
Nominee – Klaus Edel from Inverloch, Nominated by Terry Hall.
Klaus is a remarkable fellow who has used his heart and hands for the betterment of people in Inverloch, and the wider Bass Coast region, through his commitment to deliver physical, emotional, and environmental benefits to his fellow citizens.
Klaus supports his community through delivering loads of firewood to the elderly and disadvantaged to warm their winter nights. He also drives local disadvantaged school-aged children with disability to and from camp at the Lions Children's Village in Licola.
Klaus has also worked on numerous projects with children at the Bass Coast Specialist School and local elderly citizen’s home units, including building a chicken run and raised garden beds to contribute to learning and better quality of life.
Last but not least, Klaus is also known for his involvement with the Inverloch Lions Club as secretary from 2019 to 2020 and as Club Present for two years. When the Inverloch Farmer’s Market fell on hard times, Klaus was the lead of re-establishing it into a profitable, well-run market, where only local growers could sell their produce with all funds returned to the community’s benefit.
Having secured government funding for the project and Klaus’ dedication, we now have the Inverloch Sound Shell in The Glade for local residents and visitors to the area to enjoy.
Nominee – Maddy Harford from West Creek nominated by Deb Watson.
Maddy moved to Bass Coast over 14 years ago and hit the ground running as an active new citizen in the region. She brought with her a rich professional history and a passion for building community that translated into her becoming a member, or founding member, of a variety of community groups in the area, and for many of which she took on a leadership position. Maddy works incredibly hard to achieve positive outcomes in everything she does. She embodies her beliefs and is able to inspire others to do the same.
Through Maddy's professional life in education, government and senior management roles she developed a range of skills that have proven invaluable to the community groups Maddy has worked with, helping them to secure funding, develop good governance including strategic planning, managing volunteers and staff, and running effective budgets.
Maddy’s past and present roles in the community are numerous and diverse, and just a sample include:
Chair of the South Gippsland Bass Coast Local Learning and Employment Network
Chair of Bass Coast Adult Learning
Tutor for the L2P program
Founding and active member of the Bass Coast Climate Action Network
Founding member of the Bass Coast Refugee Sponsorship Group.
Nominee – Amy Jones from North Wonthaggi, nominated by Scott Edwards.
Amy is an inspirational role model and Bass Coast is richer by having her as part of our community. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extremely busy and challenging time for Amy and her role at the Salvation Army, with responsibilities for food relief and psychosocial support for our community. Throughout these challenging times, Amy has consistently gone above and beyond her regular duties.
These include responding immediately to every email requesting supplies, answering phone calls at any time of the day and delivering food parcels personally in her own vehicle anywhere in Bass Coast, and even further on occasion. Amy also insists council officers keep her in the loop with anything she may be able to assist with. She is an enthusiastic member of the Bass Coast Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee and volunteers to be a part of any other relief meetings that are held.
Amy is deeply invested in the health and wellbeing of our community. During the storm event and associated power outages in June 2021, Amy provided personal support, refreshments and comfort to affected residents at the Wonthaggi Union Community Arts Centre. When Amy found out the Civic Centre was a COVID exposure site in October 2021, she offered support through Council staff for anyone requiring food relief if they had to quarantine.
Another example of above and beyond is Amy opening the thrift shop in the middle of the night to source replacement clothes and toys for a family who lost everything in a house fire.
Nominee – Lija Matthews from Wimbledon Heights, nominated by Emily van der Walt and Mat Bowtell.
Lija goes above and beyond what is expected of a Bass Coast citizen through her extraordinary volunteer service in our region. Following the tragic death of her best friend, Samantha Fraser in 2018, Lija became determined to find a way to ensure no other woman would become a victim of family violence. She committed to driving an initiative called “Change for Sam”, a way to connect local community service organisations, raise community awareness and identify gaps to enable better response to incidents of family violence.
Lija has been able to coordinate Bass Coast Health, Victoria Police, Bass Coast Shire Council, family violence agencies and services to all come together to improve the fragmented and difficult pathways women face when help is needed. Lija has demonstrated ongoing dedication towards ensuring all women feel safe and supported when dealing with the challenges of family violence, identify service gaps and better align delivery of services in our region. She has initiated “kindness cards” and a “Kindness Award” to be distributed amongst the community.
Lija has been able to give meaning to Sam’s tragic death, not only as a legacy for her children, but for the benefit of future generations, as a society where everyone feels safe.
Nominee – Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Purvis from Wonthaggi, nominated by John Williams.
Liz has been crocheting for 50 years and has won numerous prizes for her work including the Royal Melbourne Show. Liz, despite several recent health issues, single-handedly initiated the Baby Bootie Program at Bass Coast Health Hospital in April 2021.
In July of last year, this was extended to the Baby Bundle Program where every newborn at Wonthaggi Hospital receives a parcel of handmade knitted and crocheted goods, plus a special card labelled ‘Every Child is a Gift’. This bundle includes baby booties, bonnet, mittens and sometimes a headband and blankie as well. This has been mostly self-funded with nearly 200 packages made since the program started. Liz dedicates herself to crafting approximately 6-8 hours a day, which gives her great purpose and satisfaction while bringing much joy to the parents of newborns.
Liz has undertaken this mammoth task of providing gifts made with love for newborns in the Wonthaggi Hospital Maternity wing as a way of giving back to the community in gratitude for the service from the hospital.
Nominee – Graeme Sprague from Kilcunda, nominated by Ashley Lamers.
Graeme is a very pro-active and well-respected member of the local community. Over the past 45 years Graeme, or Inspector Sprague as he was known before retirement, has dedicated himself to both the Victorian and Bass Coast community. Graeme finished his Police career, working from the Wonthaggi Police Station between 2012 and 2016.
Upon his retirement, Graeme continued to serve the Bass Coast community through many avenues, not least of which includes President of the Rotary Club of Wonthaggi, Assistant Governor for Rotary, Bass Coast Shire Council Events Committee, 3mFM Radio Board, Bass Coast Shire Emergency Management Committee as well as ongoing work to improve road safety for pedestrians in Kilcunda.
Graeme has been awarded the National Service Medal as well as many others.