Bundaberg’s Australia Day winners announced

January 26, 2023 6:34 am in by
2023 Bundaberg Region Australia Day Award winners: Citizen of the Year Trish Mears, Community Group of the Year Zonta Club of Bundaberg, Young Citizen of the Year Chloe Johnson and Senior Citizen of the Year Gail Zunker

Dedication and service to the Bundaberg community has been recognised at the local Australia Day awards.

The council-run awards celebrate the actions and abilities of groups and individuals who have enhanced the social connectivity of the community through personal contribution or through an event that has added value and enjoyment to the lives of others.

Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated those awarded and says this year, like in previous years, has included a high calibre of nominees who show fantastic community spirit.

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“Our region is made up of such a kind and generous community and this year’s Australia Day Awards is another great example of exactly that,” he says.

“Thank you to everyone who participated in the process, not just our winners but those who took the time to place a nomination to give our community champions the recognition they deserve.”

Trish Mears have been named citizen of the year. Trish has been involved with several committees and foundations over the years and is currently a member and secretary to Bundaberg Players Incorporated, chair of the Moore Park Beach Arts Festival and co hair of Relay for Life. She has held a number of roles with the Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce, is a board member of the Bundaberg Health Services Foundation and has an active role on the Rural Clinic School’s Community Engagement committee. Trish has also been commended on her fundraising efforts on the Sleepbus Campaign.

The Zonta Club of Bundaberg has secured the community group of the year award for members’ work to empower women through service and advocacy since 1990. Some of their recent activities include a 16-day activism campaign to end violence against women and girls, the refurbishment of the victim statement room at the Bundaberg Police Station and regular donations to Cancer Council and the Bundaberg Base Hospital’s Breast Care wards.

The region’s young citizen of the year is 22-year-old Chloe Johnson. The young business owner is president of the Childers Show Society and was instrumental in bringing back the long-standing event following the pandemic. Chloe is also passionate about rural living, providing artistic opportunities and experiences through events such as The Women’s Huddle and Brushes and Bubbles, which connect and inspire the community.

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Gail Zunker has been named senior citizen of the year with her volunteer work dating back to 1979 when she joined the Lions Club. She was involved in the inception of Meals on Wheels in Bundaberg and has been a member for the past 34 years. Gail also spends her free time volunteering with the Bundaberg Community Services Group, a non-for-profit organisation that is available to assist any other non-for-profit groups with fundraising ventures, catering and much more. She is also part of the vision impaired friendship group called the White Cane Organisation and reads for The Bundaberg Talking Newspaper.

Meantime, two locals have received one of the country’s highest honours, awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Robert Rotar has also been recognised for his work in the local performing arts sector. He’s been the conductor of the Bundaberg Youth Orchestra since 1991 and has mentored hundreds of people as a music teacher and through his involvement at eisteddfods.

Ellen Leis has also received the honour for her service to the Bundaberg community. She’s been heavily involved with the Brothers Bowls Club, athletics and little athletics as well as Fairymead Swimming Club.