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2023 Australia Day Award winners announced

Australia Day Award Winners
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

The Bundaberg Region's 2023 Australia Day Award winners have been announced during a special ceremony held this afternoon at the Bundaberg Multiplex.

The Bundaberg Regional Council-run awards recognise actions and abilities of groups and individuals that 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 said this year, like in previous years, had included a high calibre of nominees who showed fantastic community spirit.

“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 said.

“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.

“A big thank you also goes out to the independent committee who had the hard task of choosing this year's award recipients.”

The 2023 Australia Day Award winners are:

Trish Mears – Citizen of the Year

Trish Mears is known throughout the community as a vibrant and very busy woman who is a big believer in giving back.

Over the years, Trish has been on several committees and foundations, all serving to benefit the community.

Trish is currently a member and Secretary to Bundaberg Players Incorporated, chair of the Moore Park Beach Arts Festival, and Co. Chair of Relay for Life, raising money for Queensland Cancer Council.

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.

To top it off, Trish’s fundraising efforts are second to none, working tirelessly on the successful Sleepbus Campaign.

Zonta Club of Bundaberg – Community Group of the Year

Since 1990, the Zonta Club of Bundaberg has been working tirelessly to empower women through service and advocacy.

They envision a world in which a women’s rights receive higher recognition and every woman can achieve her full potential.

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.

Chloe Johnson – Young Citizen of the Year

Chloe Johnson is a local business owner with a passion for the Bundaberg Region.

In 2019, at just 22, Chloe stepped into the role of president of the Childers Show Society.

Since then, the committee have faced their share of adversity, making the difficult decision to cancel the Childers Show in 2020.

Chloe’s confidence and commitment for the position resulted in an online show program, providing the community with a welcome distraction at the time.

She was then instrumental in bringing back the long-standing event, and through her innovation and respect for the event’s history, Chloe and the committee are busy preparing for this year’s 106th Annual Childers Show.

Chloe is also passionate about rural living, providing beautifully crafted artistic opportunities and experiences locally through events such as The Women’s Huddle and Brushes and Bubbles, which connect and inspire the community.

Gail Zunker – Senior Citizen of the Year

Gail Zunker has always loved giving back to the community with her volunteering journey starting in 1979 when she joined the Lions Cub.

It was the beginning of a passion for helping people and a love for giving back that spurred Gail to join many more groups as the years went on.

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, which has spent over three decades helping get the news out to vision impaired residents.

Gail is a person who goes above and beyond to help those in need.

Those who know Gail describe her as caring and calm and always willing to “get the job done”.

Most importantly, Gail has always been known to put other people’s needs before her own.

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