Press Release For: Media
Sunday, 26 January 2020

Local individuals and groups that have made a positive, active contribution to the Mandurah community have been recognised during a special Australia Day ceremony on the Eastern Foreshore this morning.

The Citizen of the Year Awards foster, recognise and celebrate significant contributions to community life and active citizenship in all local government areas of Western Australia. The awards have been running since 2003.

Mayor Rhys Williams congratulated the 2020 Citizen of the Year winners who were selected from a record number of nominations, and recognised their outstanding ongoing commitments to the Mandurah community.

“It’s a great honour to acknowledge extraordinary local people who have given so much of their personal and professional lives to help others,” Mayor Williams said.

“Mandurah is such a special place, made greater by our incredible people.

“Quite often these champions go about making their contribution without being recognised but Australia Day is a fantastic day to celebrate their important role in our community.”

The 2020 Citizen of the Year winners are:

Community Citizen of the Year – John Lawrence
John has spent more than 10 years working as volunteer treasurer with The Compassionate Friends Mandurah Inc. He has been described to continually show understanding and empathy despite not being a bereaved parent himself. The Compassionate Friends Mandurah relies totally on donations and fundraising efforts to meet the costs of grief support services provided to bereaved families in the region following the death of a child. John has also supported a range of other organisations including PEACH, Mandurah Muscateers, WA Mums Cottage, South Mandurah Uniting Church and South Mandurah Tennis Club.

Community Citizen of the Year – Youth (under 25 years) - Rp van der Westhuizen
Rp moved to Mandurah at the age of 12 from South Africa, speaking English as a second language, and is described to have wholeheartedly launched himself into community life. He involves himself in community groups that not only fill his interests but also aim to help and empower others. His involvement includes Mandurah Performing Arts Centre Young Ambassadors, who are establishing themselves as a link between youth and the arts at MPAC, Act Belong Commit Ambassador for YOH Fest, and Mind The Change’s situational theatre production A Year With Frog And Toad, rehearsed and performed at Mercy Place Mandurah with and for the residents.

Community Citizen of the Year – Senior (over 65 years) - Gary Russell-Brown

Gary has been described as going above and beyond with volunteering his time and supporting the community to become more accessible and inclusive. Gary recently volunteered at the Mandurah Children’s Festival’s sensory rest-stop, and John Tonkin College’s Education Support Centre expo, helping to facilitate a stall for the Inclusive Mandurah group. Gary is a member of the City’s Access and Inclusion Advisory Group and the independent Inclusive Mandurah group, a committee member for the Sail into Life project, and a volunteer for Fishability in Mandurah since 2012. Gary is a highly valued volunteer who is always happy to assist in ways that support the community to become more inclusive and accessible for all people.

Active Citizenship Award – Group/Event - Story Dogs Mandurah

The Mandurah Story Dogs team, under the dedicated supervision of Amanda Milroy, are tireless in their support of local children in the Mandurah area. The group volunteers to provide literacy support in schools and public libraries for children aged seven-10 years. Story Dog human and canine volunteers put the fun back into reading in a safe, non-judgemental environment for students who struggle to read or are reluctant readers. Story Dogs volunteers dedicate their own time while juggling personal commitments. Dogs are kept immaculately groomed and trained in order to take part in the program, and the team always pull together to ensure children are given the opportunity to access the support of the Story Dogs program to improve literacy for children in our community.

The winners were presented with a medallion and certificate in recognition of their community pride and spirit.