Passion awarded

Bernadette Joiner was awarded the Arts Ambassador Award as part of Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s Australia Day awards for her work at Dromkeen, connecting the community through art. Ms Joiner is pictured with her grandchildren Eli and Zoe.

MACEDON Ranges Shire Council recognised its 2021 Australia Day award winners including Citizen of the Year Award winner Amanda Gauci and Arts Ambassador Award winner Bernadette Joiner.

Recipients were presented with their awards at a ceremony at Kyneton Town Hall on Tuesday morning.

Ms Gauci, who moved to Gisborne in 1983, immediately involved herself in local environment groups, including taking on the president’s role of both Friends of Gisborne Botanic Gardens and Friends of Daly Nature Reserve.

She also continued her love of native flora by assisting the 1st Gisborne Scouts in creating a native garden to enhance the scout hall.

Ms Gauci also helped lead nature walks for Gisborne Primary School, and as a registered wildlife carer, she cared for weak and injured wildlife.

“I’m very excited about [being awarded Citizen of the Year], and I look forward to the many opportunities it will present to me and community groups in the area,” she said.

“I think it’s established a well-needed awareness in community groups and we’re building the resilience in the Macedon Ranges and taking care of wildlife.

“It’s about persistence and being truthful, whether you like the truth or not – what are you going to do about it? Everyone has a gift they can contribute, it’s about realising that gift and not being afraid to come forward.”

Arts Ambassador winner Ms Joiner is known for having a passion for creativity and using her love for a variety of arts to develop a connection with old and young members of the community.

Ms Joiner, along with her husband and sister-in-law, bought Dromkeen, Riddells Creek, where she operates several workshops and classes, invites special guests to host shows, and builds relationships with the community around her.

In addition to connecting accomplished writers and illustrators with visitors, Ms Joiner enjoys talking to visitors about the history of Dromkeen and the literary treasures that have found their way to the property in recent years.

She also assists with learning opportunities in a range of creative pursuits, including blacksmithing and weaving.

Dromkeen’s main art gallery is a space for exhibitions, where many Macedon artists have had their work showcased.

Ms Joiner said her award meant she had a ‘wonderful opportunity’ to promote the arts and the impact they had on people of all ages.

“The young and old are welcome. This is really what I live for and it’s the thing that motivates me, along with the love of my family and dear friends,” she said.

“For me, I know in the past when I was younger, the opportunity to participate in arts was limited and based on the socioeconomic group you belonged to.

“But what I can do here is provide experiences for everybody, and it doesn’t matter how much money you have.

“Arts shape culture, and of course arts record history over decades. It helps to impact people’s lives.”

Ms Joiner said she always remembered one story that moved her and demonstrated the impact of arts.

“One day we had this mural painting outside in the garden. The air was still, and we were out underneath some pine trees,” she said.

“This little girl came over to me, and I said, ‘how are you?’ and she whispered, ‘my mum’s very sick’. It really moved me.

“Here we had given her an opportunity to leave that at home and be in a beautiful creative space, and it was a reminder how important creativity is to [children’s] wellbeing.”

Ms Joiner said Dromkeen had several events coming up in 2021 and people could visit to find out more.

Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to Miranda Johnson-Jones, who has worked as a youth advocate targeting improved services for regional mental health, and developed a campaign addressing sexual assault.

The Community Event Award went to Summer Living in Woodend, operated by Woodend residents working in emergency management roles and volunteer groups who came together to focus on what living in Woodend in summer meant for the community.

Kyneton Agricultural Society took out the Community Achievement Award, after members past and present ensured the tradition of an agricultural show operated each year, gathering community groups, farmers, makers, and entertainers to bring the show to life.