Australia Day celebrated in Bundaberg Region

Community service awarded

Australia Day
Mayor Jack Dempsey with Australia Day award winners from the Bundaberg Region.

The 2019 Bundaberg Region Australia Day Award recipients were announced at a special ceremony this morning that also welcomed 23 new citizens.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said there was no better day to recognise our community champions than January 26 – a day when the region comes together to celebrate the wonderful community we call home. 

“It is with great pride that I presented three local champions and an outstanding community event with much-deserved recognition through Council’s Australia Day Awards,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“Nominated by their peers, these awards represent the highest local honour a Bundaberg Region resident can receive.

“Today we recognised residents whose work embodies everything it means to be Australian. They offer mateship to those that need it most, they persevere through hardship, show dedication, skill and commitment, contribute to our local economy or they simply bring a smile to people’s faces.

“Contributions of talent and time such as these enrich the social fabric of our community and make the Bundaberg Region an ideal location to live, work and raise a family.”

Mayor Dempsey said welcoming new citizens was also a highlight of his Australia Day celebrations with this year’s ceremony especially significant as it marked 70 years since Australian citizenship was introduced into law.

“We welcomed 23 new citizens from 12 countries who are now calling the Bundaberg Region home,” he said.

2019 Australia Day award winners

Community Event or Group of the Year
Bundaberg Netball Association

As a major feature on the junior netball calendar, this year’s Primary Schools Cup was the first time Netball Queensland had allowed the event to be hosted in a regional location.

With over 83 teams registered made up of 1300 young athletes, the cup showcased our first class netball facilities and the beautiful Bundaberg Region to many visiting families. 

This event provided a boost for the local economy injecting money into the accommodation, retail and hospitality industries.

It also provided local athletes with the opportunity to participate in a state competition. 12 local schools – this highest number to date – registered teams for the cup.

Events of this calibre can assist to introduce young players to the sport and peak their interest in being active. 

All funds generated from the Primary Schools Cup are channelled back in to the sport and the development of players, officials and volunteers. 

Congratulations to the association, which is a not for profit organisation, and to all of its members and volunteers who work tirelessly to promote the sport as well as the region.

Young Citizen of the Year
Billie Morgan

Australia Day awards
Mayor Jack Dempsey (right) with Young Citizen of the Year, Billie Morgan (centre).

Billie has been a volunteer at Bundaberg Riding for the Disabled since she was in her early teens. 

Diagnosed with Irlen’s Syndrome, a visual processing disorder, Billie is now 17 years old and is the youngest coach at the Bundaberg Centre. 

This was recently recognised when she was awarded the 2018 Riding for the Disabled Association of Australia Young Coach of the Year.

Billie also won the 2018 RDAA National Video Competition, with a video on her role in the Bundaberg Centre.  She was rewarded for this, with a place at the National Coaches’ Conference, which is held bi-annually in Victoria.

Taking on a range of responsibilities including horse care, arena set up and client support, Billie shows attention to detail and safety while taking care to develop an interesting and well set-out arena for the enjoyment of clients. 

Billie has also helped to spread word about the association throughout the community, helping to prepare the annual Pageant of Lights float entry and taking miniature ponies to visit students at the Bundaberg Special School. 

Billie regularly attends working bees and fundraising activities for the centre.

Always happy with a vibrant personality, Billie has been an asset to the association with her positive, ‘can-do’ attitude.

Senior Citizen of the Year
Clem Soppa

Born in Bundaberg in 1932, Clem has dedicated a lifetime to bringing joy to the Bundaberg Region community through music.

Clem’s introduction to music and bands started at an early age when he was invited to join a Scottish drum band. He went on to play in the Bundaberg Boys Band, the Bundaberg Federal Band and the Bundaberg Municipal Band.

Among his most treasured memories is his participation in the live band that played regularly at the Palais dance hall during the 1950s and 1960s. 

Clem recalls the wonderful atmosphere in Bourbong Street when the Palais dance was in full swing with all the windows and balcony doors open allowing the music to spill out and fill the street below with music.

Another notable occasion was when Clem performed at a concert held at the Moncrieff in honour of a visit by the Duchess of Kent as part of the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations. 

As a multi-instrumentalist playing piano, trumpet, clarinet, flute and saxophone Clem has played for many special occasions and is well known for his outgoing personality and bright, fun-loving musical style. 

After taking a keen interest in Jazz music Clem became one of the founding members of the Jazz Katz. That band has endured the years however Clem is the only participating original member.

Clem also volunteered on the organising committee and as a participating musician for the 66th Australian Jazz Convention that was hosted in Bundaberg in 2011.

Clem continues to enjoy performing and entertaining for special occasions and at local aged care facilities.

Citizen of the Year

Russell Cobb

One of the founders of the Anglican soup kitchen known as Dorcas, Russell has dedicated countless hours to helping the homeless and less fortunate. 

The Bundaberg born and bred father and grandfather is well known throughout the region as a former high school teacher at both Isis and Kepnock state schools and as a volunteer at church activities that serve the Bundaberg community.

Through the Dorcas soup kitchen Russell helps to feed those in need and is a strong supporter of fundraisers and appeals for the homeless. 

In addition to dedicating more than seven years to the soup kitchen Russell was also involved in last year’s blanket drive with the CrossRoads Biker Church.

He was instrumental in leading the Anglican Church bells project. 

When the Bundaberg Christ Church was constructed in 1920, it was planned to hold a peal of six bells. However with the depression and a war interfering with these plans, only one bell was installed in the church tower.

Nearly 80 years on Russell helped import the remaining five bells from Europe. They are called the ‘peace bells’ and are an offering of peace to commemorate the Armistice Centenary.

Russel continues to serve the church and his community, helping those in need.