Australia Day Awards Announced

Sam Shalders

Posted Thursday 26 January, 01:00pm

At the Official Australia Day Ceremony, Mayor Cr Paul Hooper announced and congratulated the winners of this year's Ararat Rural City Council Australia Day Awards.

This year these awards have been selected and provided by Ararat Rural City Council on behalf of the National Australia Day Council.

2017 Ararat Rural City Council Australia Day Award Recipients 

ARARAT AMBASSADOR - Dianne Radford

It is very fitting to award our inaugural Ararat Ambassador Award to a person who has devoted the best part of her life to making Ararat and the surrounding communities a better place. The year’s Australia Day Awards were an opportunity for Ararat Rural City Council to acknowledge people who put back into our community every day, working tirelessly behind the scenes to achieve great outcomes. Though humble, Dianne Radford deserves recognition, and is a worthy recipient of the Ararat Ambassador Award.

Her achievements are many. Dianne was an integral member of the team that oversaw the redevelopment of the East Grampians Health Service to the state of the art facility it is today.

She has worked closely with many community groups and individuals particularly where there are positive outcomes for the community. Being involved in initiatives like raising the vital funds for the helipad at the hospital to being involved in programs that community can get involved with such as the ‘Sharing the Journey’ art project that were created by cancer survivors have always been close to her heart.

She also has great passion for Ararat’s youth, working with VCAL students over the years and coordinating the annual ANZAC visits to the Shrine of Remembrance for local secondary students as part of Ararat Legacy, which also sees her caring for widows of departed war veterans.

Dianne established the Women, Wisdom & Wellbeing Dinner, which has become an annual get together for women of the region, attracting up to 300 and last year celebrating its 15th birthday, while she also coordinated the establishment of the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation – Ararat Branch, which we can all agree has done many great things for Ararat.

Last year alone, Dianne worked on the Grampians Ride to Remember, 50th anniversary celebration of the Laurel Clubs, Blue Ribbon Gala Night, Ararat Legacy House Opening, AME Systems & Ararat Legacy Memorial Gardens Project, Legacy Junior Public Speaking Awards, AME’s Women’s Wellbeing Weekend and a major two day event for AME Systems.

The time and effort she contributes to all the projects she is involved in is a testament to the patience and support of her wonderful family and close friends. Looking back on all she has achieved, it is very clear to see the love she has for our town and its people.

COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD - Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool Committee

The Community Spirit Award recognises an individual, group or organisation that has made a significant and ongoing voluntary contribution within our municipality and for the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool Committee, this has been the case for the past five years. This dedicated small group of five members has been a voice for the community and are an outstanding example of what communities can achieve. The committee, made up of Ambrose Cashin, Sandy Laidlaw, Rhonda Holtz, Kylie Walker and Maddy Vernon, engaged with the community, as well as Local and State Government to oversee the upgrade and reopening of the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool.

Since reopening its gates this summer it has already proven to be a wonderful asset and further enhancement to what is now a magnificent Alexandra Gardens precinct. The Committee have been at the forefront of this project, but it is impossible to separate the contribution of the community, as donations have been made from a wide range of people from local trades and businesses to school students and pensioners to the generous support of Ararat Community Enterprise. Thanks to the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool Committee another chapter has been added to the facility’s proud history and they have ensured the next generation are able to enjoy their summers in a safe and welcoming environment.

INSPIRED HEALTHY LIVING AWARD - Kelli Felini

Our Inspired Healthy Living Award goes to a worthy recipient, who has inspired countless members of the Ararat community to lead a happier and healthier lifestyle during her 10 years in the Personal Training industry.

Kelli Felini’s passion, dedication and drive to improve not only the physical health, but mental health of people from all walks of life in the Ararat Rural City is outstanding.

She has been an integral part of the Ararat Active8 Program since its inception in 2014 and constantly strives to create a safe environment where her clients feel comfortable and supported. Kelli’s involvement within the community is far reaching, spreading the healthy lifestyle message through her association with local schools, corrections and the disability sector, as well as everyday mums and dads. She has been a strong leader in our cultural change to become Ararat Active City and is often spotted utilising Alexandra Gardens’ assets including paths and new exercise equipment.

Her promotion of health and wellbeing extends beyond purely a fitness focus, as she has become an active fundraiser for women’s cancers. A former Mother’s Day Classic Ararat Ambassador and committee member, she raised $10,000 for the Breast Cancer Network in 2014 as the organiser of the Rockers for Knockers Ball and backed this effort up in 2016 with a further $9000 for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre through her involvement with two charity walks, while also offering support to the Ride of Rhonda campaign in the same year.

MULTICULTURAL HARMONY AWARD - Father Andrew Hayes & Manzoor A Mian Jp

The Multicultural Harmony Award this year recognises a joint collaboration between two Ararat religious groups determined to not only tolerate each other, but to work together to ensure people of all race, colour or religious creed feel included in our society. Father Andrew Hayes and Manzoor A Mian Jp have led this movement which has seen a strong friendship formed between Ararat Christians and Muslims, and seen many social events and meals together in Ararat and Melbourne. Both religious groups in recent times have been involved in a number of fundraising efforts to establish the new Ararat Mosque, including a concert at the Performing Arts Centre which raised $7000.

Father Andrew believes the Ararat community’s positive attitude towards different cultural beliefs is something to be truly proud of and together with Manzoor, the pair have created new awareness and understanding. They are proud every year now on Australia Day Ararat’s Muslims and Christians are joined together to pray and The Quran has even been read from the pulpit at St Mary’s Church. May the partnership and more importantly the friendship between these two religious groups continue to go from strength to strength.