Penrith City Council has bestowed the Australia Day Awards honours to outstanding locals in recognition of their contribution to the City.
Penrith's Citizen of the Year has been awarded to Mrs Farah Madon who has dedicated much of her time to supporting people with a disability throughout Penrith. As an advocate for the rights of people with a disability, she works on a local and national level to ensure that the built environment and services are equally accessible to all regardless of their physical abilities.
Local Appreciation Awards were presented to Ms Grace Brinckley OAM, Ms Joh Dickens, Mrs Marlene Harris, Mr Sean Hogan and Ms Melissa Spurrier for their dedication. Their achievements make a real difference to real people, providing traineeship opportunities, mental health support for men, Christmas presents for disadvantaged children, work attire for women in refuges, fundraising for homeless and sick people and bringing hope to elderly residents through social activities.
The Community Group Award was also conferred, with Orchard Hills Rural Fire Brigade receiving their nomination for 48 years in service and outstanding contribution to the Penrith community.
When Council called on the community, they wanted to know who made you proud to be an Australian living in Penrith. The unfailing dedication of the nominees is enough to make anyone proud.
Penrith Citizen of the Year: FARAH MADON
Mrs Farah Madon supports our local residents living with a disability and champions accessibility equality for all on a national level.
Farah has dedicated herself to supporting people with a disability who live, work or utilise services within Penrith and surrounding areas. As a committee member of Penrith Disabilities Resource Centre and Chairperson of Penrith Disabilities Action Forum she has been a key voice in advocating for and representing the needs of local residents with access needs. As a long-serving community representative member of Penrith City Council's Access Committee, Farah's knowledge and input has been invaluable in assisting Council to continue improving access for people of all abilities across the City.
Farah is Vice President of the Australia Association of Consultants in Access Australia, the peak national body for access consultancy and a major partner in advancing equity of built environment for people with a disability.
Penrith Community Group Award: ORCHARD HILLS RURAL FIRE BRIGADE
Orchard Hills Rural Fire Brigade has been serving the Orchard Hills and Penrith area for 48 years. The Brigade, full of dedicated men and women from all walks of life, ranges from 12-year-old volunteers to those with more than 20 years of service.
Available 24/7 and attending to emergency callouts throughout the district, as well as raising funds and awareness at community events throughout Penrith, Orchard Hills Rural Fire Brigade are an asset to our community.
Local Appreciation Award: GRACE BRINCKLEY OAM
Ms Grace Brinckley OAM has been improving the lives of Penrith's senior citizens for the past 35 years. Playing a key role in the formation of the Penrith Seniors Centre and the Pensioners and Seniors Club Inc., she has acted with the Centre Management Committee since it formed in 1988 and has been Treasurer, Secretary, Vice Chair and, most recently, Chair.
Grace was vital in the creation of the seniors' dance group; the Blue Gum Frail Aged Friendship Group (ran for 22 years); a bush band that played at nursing homes, hospital and schools; a folk dancing group; seniors' march group and seniors' ukulele group. Her work was recognised when she received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her projects.
Local Appreciation Award: JOH DICKENS
Ms Joh Dickens has owned her local florist and balloon business for 30 years. Joh is always the first to volunteer her time, and over the years has donated to dozens of charities and organisations including Penrith Panthers Women in League, Luke Priddis Foundation, Music for Life Charity Ball, OZWAC, The Haven, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy and the Thorndale Foundation. Joh also donates her time supporting her industry and fellow florists, providing traineeship opportunities and serving on the Interflora state Board and the Professional Florists Association committee for many years.
Local Appreciation Award: MARLENE HARRIS
Mrs Marlene Harris has volunteered her time for many years to help disadvantaged children, and women and children affected by domestic violence. Marlene has worked tirelessly to collect and make toys to ensure no child is forgotten at Christmas, bringing joy to children most in need. She also collects quality work wear that women in refuges can use to help gain employment and start to rebuild their lives. Marlene has a passion for bringing joy and hope to women and children in need, and her enthusiasm inspires others to follow in her footsteps.
Local Appreciation Award: SEAN HOGAN
Mr Sean Hogan is a single father of two children who, despite his full time commitment to his own family, devotes much of his time to support men and boy's mental health. After the tragic death of his son's childhood friend and losing members of his local AFL team to suicide, Sean approached GOTCHA4LIFE and local football clubs to talk about how they could work as a community combat the epidemic of men and boys suicide and support positive mental health. Together they held footy fundraising days in 2017 and 2018 which raised over $40,000. Sean has also organised sportsman lunches and 'A night for blokes' events that raise money and awareness, and teaches local boys and men that it's OK to not be OK. Sean's passion and selfless work has made an enormous impact in the lives of men and boys in the community.
Local Appreciation Award: MELISSA SPURRIER
Ms Melissa Spurrier has played a key role in the creation of 'Our Community Cares Penrith', a community force that gives the homeless, elderly and sick the support they need to feel a sense of worth. With first-hand experience of the impact of illness, Melissa brings an empathy to her work that helps people feel a sense of belonging within the community.
The charity actively fundraises through a range of activities including an annual high tea. Last year, among other causes, they raised vital funds for chemotherapy patients of a local cancer centre and worked closely with Relay For Life.