Citizen of the Year
Graeme Packer of Kiama is our Australia Day Citizen of the Year.
Mr Packer is well known as the organiser of the Salvation Army’s fundraising efforts in Kiama, most notably its Red Shield Appeal.
Graeme works tirelessly for six months each year on the Appeal, recruiting collectors, speaking with business and community groups, speaking at school assemblies and generally ensuring that people are aware that the Appeal takes place.
He’s been collecting for the Appeal for 35 years, 20 of those in Kiama, but reckons he is just a novice compared to his wife who has more than 50 to her credit.
Mr Packer is also an active member of the Kiama RSL and was the Foundation President of Seaside Mixed Probus Club.
“I really enjoy living in Kiama,” says Mr Packer.
“I love the fact the place is still small enough you can get to know people and together you can get things done.”
Senior Citizen of the Year
Tony Mitchell has won the award this year for his passionate work to promote responsible dog ownership.
He founded the Kiama Dog Training Club in the early 90s, was a founding member on Kiama Council’s Dog Committee, and is a life member and one of the founders of the Wollongong Dog Sports Club.
He actively assists Kiama Council with various events such as Dog’s Day Out and the Sustainability Expo, and still regularly competes in agility competitions around the state with his dogs.
Mr Mitchell is also a dedicated volunteer for the Delta Society – a national not-for-profit organisation which provides animal-assisted therapies for the sick and elderly. Tony visits guests and residents at Carunya and Bluehaven Nursing Home (two support units for those with dementia).
He is also an active volunteer and member of a number of other organisations.
Young Citizen of the Year
It was Troy Bartrim’s active involvement in scouting (he received his Queen’s Scout Award in 2016) which led him to first become involved with the Kiama Community Garden and discover his love of permaculture and sustainable gardening practices.
He has continued to be an active volunteer at the Garden, as well as a member of the Hillside Native Food Forest Landcare Group, running workshops although he is only 20.
His enthusiasm has led to a parks and gardens traineeship at Shellharbour Council.
“I’ve always liked volunteering for things,” he says. “I guess I’ve been brought up to see it as the right thing to do.
“I’m always encouraging other young people to come down to the Garden and get involved.”
Community Group of the Year
For 60 years, CMRI Gerringong has been raising funds to help the Children’s Medical Research Institute find cures for childhood genetic diseases and birth defects.
Over that time the group has raised more than $2,000,000 to help research to protect future generations of Australian children.
It has also become an integral part of the Gerringong community, with generations of women working together to fundraise each year.