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New citizens welcomed and remarkable residents honoured at Harvey Australia Day breakfast

Craig DuncanHarvey-Waroona Reporter
2024 Harvey Community Citizen of the Year Robert Newby.
Camera Icon2024 Harvey Community Citizen of the Year Robert Newby. Credit: Jon Gellweiler

The Harvey Recreation and Cultural Centre was packed with Australian pride on Friday morning, as residents gathered to celebrate Australia Day.

The community has come together for more than 30 years, to welcome Australia’s newest citizens, celebrate exceptional residents and pay their respects to Aboriginal heritage, past, present and emerging.

Master of ceremonies David Marshall said it was a day of celebration across Australia, filled with diversity and vibrancy.

“Every one of us is an individual. Across the country there is so much diversity, so much vibrancy, and it’s wonderful that we can join together today to respect each other and celebrate,” he said.

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Retired major Laurie Fraser leads the flag-raising ceremony.
Camera IconRetired major Laurie Fraser leads the flag-raising ceremony. Credit: Craig Duncan

Retired major Laurie Fraser led the flag party, joined by representatives from Harvey Lions club, Business Professional Women’s and the Harvey Aboriginal Corporation.

The flag party was also joined by special guest Cody Birch who has volunteered with a range of organisations around the shire, and runs the sports show on Harvey Community Radio.

Mr Marshall said Mr Birch’s volunteering within the Harvey community has been “outstanding”.

Cody Birch and his mother Julie.
Camera IconCody Birch and his mother Julie. Credit: Craig Duncan

Aboriginal elder Lesley Ugle welcomed the crowd to Noongar country, saying she was proud to be a “born and bred Harvey person”.

“Back in the days when I was growing up in this town, I was never allowed to speak my language,” she said.

“Now I stand here proud in front of you, speaking my language and talking about this country.”

Aboriginal elder Lesley Ugle.
Camera IconAboriginal elder Lesley Ugle. Credit: Craig Duncan

Ms Ugle spoke sombrely of Capt. Arthur Phillip, raising the Union Jack at Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.

She encouraged local councils, organisations and West Australians commemorating the day to recognise the special place First Nations people have in the country’s history.

“Be sensitive to the feelings of those people who may see the day as one of mourning, and to see the day as an opportunity to promote an understanding, respecting and reconciliation for all Australians,” she said.

“No matter where, or when your Australian story began.”

Harvey Shire president Michelle Campbell concluded the ceremony extending her congratulations to the newly naturalised citizens.

Harvey Shire president Michelle Campbell.
Camera IconHarvey Shire president Michelle Campbell. Credit: Craig Duncan

Australia Day committee chair Paul Beech announced the winner of the Harvey Citizen of the Year Award, Robert Newby.

Mr Beech said this award was a testament to Mr Newby’s active citizenship and positive influence to the town of Harvey.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to work alongside Rob, with his knowledge and experience,” he said.

Mr Newby has been volunteering within the Harvey community for decades, chairing the fundraising committee for the Harvey Recreation and Cultural Centre, the very building he would be awarded in, among other extensive accolades.

Mr Newby said it was an honour to receive the award, coming as a humbling surprise.

“I certainly feel proud and humbled to have been singled out among so many other worthy people,” he said.

“The challenge I put out to everybody here is, if you can contribute to the community in some small way, I say put your hand up and have a go.”

Harvey Citizen of the Year recipient Robert Newby.
Camera IconHarvey Citizen of the Year recipient Robert Newby. Credit: Craig Duncan

Harvey Rotary Club president Robyn Coleman announced the winner of Rotary Community Service Award, Rosa Commisso.

Ms Coleman said Ms Commisso’s knowledge, selfless service and willingness to go the extra mile make her an icon within the Harvey community.

“The locals and regulars alike feel comfortable that she knows their orders and always makes them feel right at home,” she said.

Rosa Commisso was unfortunately not able to receive her award, so it was accepted by Paul Commisso on her behalf.

Mr Commisso said Rosa would have been very proud to receive the award, and they were grateful for all the support within the community.

Rotary Club president Robyn Coleman with Paul Commisso, collecting the award on behalf of Rosa Commisso.
Camera IconRotary Club president Robyn Coleman with Paul Commisso, collecting the award on behalf of Rosa Commisso. Credit: Craig Duncan

Once the awards had concluded, Mr Marshall entertained the crowd with a quiz, made up of questions from this very paper, with the coveted prize of Australia Day merchandise.

Mr Marshall joked, saying the paper flags and koala clips are currently, “a better investment than cryptocurrency”.

David Marshall revealing soon to be “endangered” Australia Day merchandise.
Camera IconDavid Marshall revealing soon to be “endangered” Australia Day merchandise. Credit: Craig Duncan

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