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Waroona Shire residents gather to celebrate community champions this Australia Day

Craig DuncanHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Residents gather to celebrate Australia Day in Waroona.
Camera IconResidents gather to celebrate Australia Day in Waroona. Credit: Craig Duncan

Five residents and two community groups were recognised for their service to the community during the Waroona Shire Council’s annual Australia Day awards.

Sitting beside the Waroona Memorial Hall on Friday, a crowd gathered to celebrate the national day after enjoying a community breakfast, a street parade and free entertainment.

Official proceedings began with a Welcome to Country from Aboriginal Elder Robert Jetta.

Local Aborigonal Elder Robert Jetta welcoming Waroona residents to country.
Camera IconLocal Aborigonal Elder Robert Jetta welcoming Waroona residents to country. Credit: Craig Duncan

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He welcomed the crowd to the land of his ancestors.

“Through history, till today, we stand together, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, because we are one,” Mr Jetta said.

Cadets from the Waroona Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services raise the Australian flag.
Camera IconCadets from the Waroona Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services raise the Australian flag. Credit: Craig Duncan

The flags were raised by volunteers from the Waroona Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services and members of the Waroona Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation.

Members of the Waroona Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation raise the flag.
Camera IconMembers of the Waroona Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation raise the flag. Credit: Craig Duncan

Though the event was slightly marred by a couple of passing drivers shouting anti-Australia Day slogans, overall the morning was a celebration of the Shire of Waroona’s most impactful residents.

Shire president Mike Walmsley welcomed the crowd and reflected on what evoked a sense of Australia.

“The endurance of our traditional custodians, the fortitude of early explorers, the perseverance of early settlers, no matter what your history is … you can be proud of the fact you are all made of these inherent qualities that make us unique,” he said.

Cr Walmsley paid special tribute to Australian females.

“We have, as Aussies, been blessed with some of the most courageous, talented, tough and intelligent females in existence,” he said.

Cr Mike Walmsley
Camera IconCr Mike Walmsley Credit: Craig Duncan

Four residents were awarded the Shire of Waroona’s Meritorious Community Service Award for volunteering within the community.

Lilly Della Franca was the only winner in the under-25 category, for her extensive volunteering within the Waroona Leos Club, helping establish a free program to provide tutoring to local children, among several other accolades.

Ms Della Franca thanked her family for being there to support her, alongside the club.

“Without them, I wouldn’t be standing up here today,” she said.

Alison Birch, Barbra Bennett and Lyndie Ward all received accolades in the over-25 category.

From left to right, Laurie Snell, Lily Della Franca, Members of St Vincent de Paul Waroona, Barbara Bennett, Lyndie Ward and Alison Birch, winner of various awards.
Camera IconFrom left to right, Laurie Snell, Lily Della Franca, Members of St Vincent de Paul Waroona, Barbara Bennett, Lyndie Ward and Alison Birch, winner of various awards. Credit: Craig Duncan

Ms Bennett has volunteered at the Waroona Visitors Centre for over 25 years, and contributed to the community in countless ways.

Cr Walmsley said “Barb is an absolute gem and the community is lucky to have her.”

Ms Birch was awarded for her volunteering with the Waroona Basketball Club and helping run the Waroona Show.

She she was very humbled and fortunate to receive the award.

The final recipient, Ms Ward, volunteers with a range of groups within the shire and spent more than 23 years working with Waroona Meals on Wheels.

Cr Walmsley said “we are so lucky to have a beautiful spirit like her in our community”.

There were two winners of the Australia Day Active Citizenship Award for Groups or Events this year.

The first was presented to the All Australian Car Day, for promoting Australian automotive history and supporting tourism in Waroona.

Group member Naomi Purcell said they were proud to win the award and are proud of the impact of the event in the past 10 years.

“The things we get out of doing a community event stretch far beyond having cars on an oval, that really gives us a sense of community,” Ms Purcell said.

The second group was St Vincent de Paul Waroona.

Vinnies distributed 180 Christmas hampers to the community last December, assisting 400 individuals and spending nearly $30,000 last year assisting families and communities within Waroona.

Vinnies volunteers Kathy Gurr said the award was very humbling, thanking past and present members of the group.

She said the support Vinnies gives to the community “is not a hand out, it’s a hand up.”

The Senior Community Citizen of the Year was awarded to Laurie Snell.

Ms Snell was an elected member of the Waroona shire for 12 years, working on countless committees to improve the shire.

Cr Walmsley said Laurie has a big heart and a passion for not only the community, but the environment and its inhabitants as well.

All community award winners with shire president Mike Walmsley and Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke.
Camera IconAll community award winners with shire president Mike Walmsley and Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke. Credit: Craig Duncan

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