by Eden Hynninen
AFTER Friday’s heatwave the weather calmed for a warm and sunny Australia Day event at John Aitken Reserve in Gisborne.
Hosted by the GREAT Association, the morning offered free brunch prepared by the CFA, hand flags, tattoos and speeches from local members.
Bullengarook CFA member Philip Challis – who helped cook the barbeque – said he’d been involved in the Australia Day celebrations for the past five years.
“It’s a great family day. Ziggy our chef offered to cook this year so here we all are,” Mr Challis said.
“A few of us have been out all night fighting fires, we got home about 5.30am this morning but we are all really happy to be here celebrating.”
Federal Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell spoke at the event and said the day should be focused on unity.
“There has been a lot of division lately in politics, so I wanted to focus on all of us being together as one,” Mr Mitchell said.
“We’ve all come here as convicts, immigrants or are indigenous. We go around the globe and we’re proud to say that we’ve got the oldest living culture on earth, let’s celebrate that and be inclusive.”
Mr Mitchell said he was not wedded to a date for celebrating Australia Day but believed there should be a conversation about it.
“Do we move to March where the Australia Act was finally signed? Is that the day that we actually stood on our own two feet?” he asked.
“People say it’s the left political sphere that want to change it, but then you have people like Jeff Kennett who come forward and want to change it.
“I think the most important thing is that we keep a public holiday for the end of January (laughs) – have that extra time off after just coming back to work.”
Macedon Ranges Shire Council also announced the 2019 Australia Day Awards at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute on Saturday in five categories: Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Community Achievement, Arts Ambassador and Community Event.
Citizen of the Year Award went to Robert Renton, a pension and welfare officer at Kyneton RSL. Mr Renton is a Vietnam veteran who spends his time helping fellow veterans and war widows in the community.
Young Citizen of the Year Award was awarded to Jessica Cockerill-Wright and Shaylyn Blyth.
Ms Wright was the first woman in Kyneton CFA to be elected as Lieutenant and often attends schools to promote safety in the community.
Ms Blyth works with Cobaw Community Health’s House of Awesome, which aims to improve the mental health of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and queer young people.
Dr Jacqueline Ogeil, artistic director and co-founder of the Woodend Arts Festival, received the Arts Ambassador award. She has brought many artistic and cultural opportunities to the Macedon Ranges.
Community Achievement Award recipient Jason Azzopardi was recognised for his support of Macedon Ranges youth. He is co-founder of the organisation called KidzFlip – aimed at encouraging youth to respect themselves and their community.
The Community Event Award went to Malmsbury Town Hall 150th Birthday Celebration that celebrated the building’s long history.