First Broadford Scout Group was recognised for its dedication to the local community with the Broadford Outstanding Citizen Award. ​

By Colin MacGillivray

Townships across Mitchell Shire presented their own community awards last week in addition to the municipality-wide awards presented by council on Australia Day.

While the council awards were presented as part of the Broadford Australia Day Festival, local organisers also recognised some of the biggest contributions made by the Broadford community.

The 1st Broadford Scouts were named collective winners of the Broadford Outstanding Citizen Award.

The group was recognised for its dedication to the community.

Scout leader Craig Waters said the award was ‘very humbling’ for him and the group.

“For the group to be recognised is fantastic. There’s a fantastic group of leaders and a great bunch of kids,” he said.

“We help out [the Good Friday Appeal for] the Royal Children’s Hospital every year with the Lions Club and we raised a record amount last year.

“We do a lot of community service, we do camping, climbing, canoeing, abseiling – you name it, we do it.”

Mr Waters said the group tried to instil strong community values in its members.

“We’re heavily involved in the community and do projects like helping out with people’s gardens or fixing their house up. We work with the Salvation Army in that area,” he said.

“One time we rejuvenated the gardens of the senior citizens’ centre because they were looking a bit ratty.

“Wherever anyone needs help, we’ll help. It’s about teaching the kids that it’s not all about them. If everyone works together, it’s amazing what we can achieve.

“The community has done so much for us, and we want to do what we can for them.

“We’re raising tomorrow’s leaders – not just Scout leaders, but world leaders and community leaders.”

John Brissett and Cedric Brown were also feted with Australia Day awards.

Mr Brissett was acknowledged for his work with several groups including Broadford Men’s Shed, Broadford Historical Society, Mitchell Bushwalking Group and Broadford Fire Brigade.

Mr Brown was also recognised for his involvement with a range of community and recreational groups including shooting, fishing, football, athletics, cycling and swimming clubs, as well as Broadford Historical Society, Broadford Progress Club, Broadford and District Community Health Centre and Broadford Fire Brigade.

Broadford Australia Day Festival organiser Rose King said the event had been a big success.

Several community groups set up market stalls alongside food vans, with face painting and musical entertainment for children, as well as a car show. The Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell served a barbecue breakfast for early attendees.

“We had loads of people coming in and lots of attractions. There [were] a lot of market stalls, a lot of free entertainment and people have really enjoyed it, especially the families – we’ve seen a lot of families,” she said.

“I think older people are tending to stay away because of the heat and the fact that some of them are feeling a bit anxious about being out in crowds.

“We’ve been lucky … to get national Australia Day funding as well as funding from Bendigo Bank, which meant that all the kids’ entertainment could be provided free.

“I think there are a lot of families doing it tough at the minute, so a bit of free entertainment for the kids is a pretty nice thing to have on offer.”

Darlene Gunter, second from left, and Rob Jensen, second from right, were presented with Wandong-Heathcote Junction Community Service Awards on Wednesday last week. The pair are flanked by Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell and Mitchell Shire Cr Louise Bannister. ​

Other towns including Seymour and Wandong also presented community awards.

Wandong Australia Day organiser Allen Hall said the event had gone ‘very well’.

“We had about 75 people there and [Member for McEwen] Rob Mitchell gave a speech,” he said.

“[Cr] Louise Bannister did the presentations for us.”

Wandong-Heathcote Junction Community Service Awards were presented to Rob Jensen and Darlene Gunter.

Mr Jensen was recognised for helping found Wandong-Heathcote Junction Community Group with his wife Olga in 2001 as part of an effort to oppose an unwanted development.

Mr Jensen has served on the group’s committee and been at the forefront of community group projects such as the Pickett Walk and Say G’Day Trail developments, Clean Up Australia, Tidy Towns, National Tree Planting Day and many more. He was also one of six residents who designed and oversaw the construction of the Bushfire Memorial Park.

Ms Gunter’s award was presented in recognition of her work with the LB Davern Reserve committee of management and Wandong Warriors Junior Football Club.

Ms Gunter has performed many roles with the Warriors, including as team manager, secretary and treasurer. She also helped with sponsorship for an incentive program to encourage players to train.

Seymour’s celebrations were hosted at Kings Park by the Rotary Club of Seymour.

Seymour SES unit controller Christine Welsh received the Community Service Award for her dedication to the unit, helping the region respond to dangerous storms during 2021.

Police Officer of the Year Awards were presented to Leading Senior Constable Brooke Malane, who won in 2020, and Leading Senior Constable Christopher Cummins for 2021.

The day included a jumping castle, a footrace, sheep shearing and other community displays, as well as a barbecue lunch and flag-raising ceremony.