ALL corners of the Grant District Council were represented in the district’s annual Australia Day awards, highlighting the broad reach of volunteerism and community projects.
A select group of guests were invited to Tuesday’s ceremony at Mount Gambier Regional Airport, which replaced the traditional community barbecue lunch due to COVID-19 protocols.
The intimate event hosted award nominees and their families, with a large portion of the crowd comprised of Country Fire Service volunteers from the Kingsley and Mount Gambier groups.
The personnel were on hand to receive the inaugural active citizenship award, highlighting their service to the Grant District region as the primary emergency service for fire, vehicle accidents and other emergencies.
The two volunteer groups feature a combined 300-plus personnel, who respond to incidents within the council area.
Councillor Kylie Boston also acknowledged 65 volunteers who were deployed to other regions across the horrific 2019/20 fire season, amassing 21,000 hours of service on firegrounds in addition to time spent coordinating and preparing for the fires.
Kingsley CFS group officer Grant Fensom heaped praise on the district’s CFS volunteers, labelling them the backbone of their communities.
Highlighting the selflessness of their actions, Mr Fensom said volunteers went to the aid of others with no expectation of something in return.
“I hope that people see it and respect what we do,“ Mr Fensom said.
The Port MacDonnell Bay Escape was then named community event of the year, edging out the Yahl Soldiers Memorial Hall for the accolade.
Bay Escape committee member Ryan Donovan graciously accepted the award, expressing disappointment the event would not be held in 2021 due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
“A few of us got involved over the last couple of years to try and change the direction and see what we could do and I think we are pretty happy with where we’ve ended up and we’re looking forward to coming back bigger and better next year,“ Mr Donovan said.
The district’s young citizen of the year honour was bestowed upon Libby Altorfer, a 24-year-old Allendale East mother of two.
Ms Altorfer spoke about her introduction into volunteering through the Country Fire Service, more recently joining the SA Ambulance Service while juggling parenthood.
Ms Altorfer said she simply joined both organisations to do her part in the community.
“I’ve always said that if my house was burning or my child needed medical attention, I would hope there would be people there to help, and I wanted to be one of those people to do my bit for the community,“ she said.
Outside of volunteering, Ms Altorfer is a university graduate and is an educator at Moorak Primary School.
Rounding out the award ceremony was presentation of Grant District’s citizen of the year, awarded to artist and mentor Jeremy Ievins.
Mr Ievins has championed numerous community projects in the council area, largely focused on youth, the environment and mental health.
He was selected as citizen of the year among respected company, with Mil Lel A&H Show Society treasurer Liza Kirby and esteemed Boandik Elder Aunty Michelle Jacquelin-Furr also nominated.
Introducing Mr Ievins to the stage, Cr Boston said the award winner was a true inspiration to the community and a wonderful role model.
Mr Ievins’ projects include the Tarpeena Skate Park mural, the Waves of Wellness program, the Fight for the Bight campaign, as well as collecting foam boxes to be recycling into surfboards and saved from landfill or the environment.
With a diverse range of achievements, Mr Ievins said it had been fun along the way.
“I’ve always found it rewarding, helping out the community,“ Mr Ievins said.
“I feel really honoured to be receiving this award and it’s awesome recognition for some of the community projects I’ve been involved in.“
Congratulating recipients, Grant District Mayor Richard Sage said it was important to recognise all nominees on the day.
“It is always a difficult decision to choose one winner from such a deserving group and this year was no different,“ Mayor Sage said.
“All nominees should be proud knowing they make a positive difference to our community.“