By Jackson Russell
Residents across the region have been recognised for their service to their community, as part of the Australia Day awards.
Mernda resident Rosanna Baini, vice-president of the Australia Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the Lebanese community of Victoria.
Also recognised with OAMs were Peter Crook of Kinglake, for his service to the Kinglake community as well as veterans and their families, and Doreen Gunn of Seymour, for service to aged welfare.
Ms Baini has supported many different parts of the greater community, including the Lebanese community, women and youth.
As well as being a founding director and current vice-president of the Australia Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ms Baini has also been commissioner of the Victorian
Multicultural Commission, was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2002 and made a Victorian Ambassador for Women in 2017.
Ms Baini said her service to the community started at home from a young age.
“Dad came out in the 1940s and we grew up with people coming in and out of our home straight off boats. They would stay for a week or two and end up leaving two years later,” she said.
“We grew with compassion and looking after each other. I’ll take someone off the street and have a meal with them if I see they’re distressed or needed something.”
Ms Baini said she had always encouraged people to share their culture but also to embrace Australia’s culture.
“Embrace whatever you can to showcase the type of people we have in this country,” she said.
“I’m Lebanese and love the culture but Australia has its own culture that should be embraced.
“We’ve got tall poppy syndrome in this country and it’s important to keep lifting people up.”
Meanwhile, Ms Gunn was recognised for her involvement in the Karingal Seymour Elderly Citizens’ Hostel since the 1970s, working as a supervisor until her retirement in 1993 but remains a volunteer to this day.
She has also volunteered at Barrabill House Aged Care Home since 1993 and was named International Women’s Day Senior Woman of the Year by Mitchell Shire Council in 2009.
Ms Gunn said she couldn’t believe she was awarded an OAM but was honoured.
“Working there, you realise they need you and you get a lot out of it,” she said.
“I’ve met a lovely lot of people, the staff and residents. You hear all their history and it’s kept me going too.
“I’d like to thank the management at the hospital and Karingal. It’s been part of my life and I’m thankful for that.”
Mr Crook has been a member of the Yea-Kinglake and Whittlesea RSL sub-branches since 2007 and still serves as master of ceremonies for Yea-Kinglake’s Anzac Day commemorations.
He has also been involved with the Whittlesea Kinglake Anglican Church since 2007 and co-ordinated the fundraising for the replacement of St Peter’s Memorial Anglican Church, which was destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, handcrafting furniture for the new church using the burnt remains of the old church.
Before moving to Victoria, Mr Crook was a volunteer for Queensland’s Rural Fire Brigade in Mackay.