HomeCommunitySenior Citizen of the Year – Carey Mitchell

Senior Citizen of the Year – Carey Mitchell

Carey Mitchell Australia Day Awards
Burnett Heads Rural Fire Brigade First Officer Carey Mitchell was named Senior Citizen of the Year in a special ceremony at the Bundaberg Multiplex on 25 January 2024. Photo: M Everett.

Burnett Heads resident Carey Mitchell has been awarded Senior Citizen of the Year in the 2024 Bundaberg Region Australia Day Awards.

At 76 years old, Carey has made significant contributions to the Bundaberg Region community over his 20-year career as a volunteer with the Queensland Rural Fire Service, much of that time based in Avondale and the last five years as First Officer with the Burnett Heads Rural Fire Brigade.

Carey has played a pivotal role in transforming the Burnett Heads unit, which he said had also been deployed as a surge unit to assist in other areas.

“I've been to several deployments, Rockhampton floods a couple of times, Saint George floods for eight or 10 days,” he said.

“We went to Chinchilla and Tara earlier on last year, spent eight days out there with the big fires out there, and that just is giving back, helping.

“We did 91 fires since the 1 August [2023].

“Some of these jobs are 150 kilometres away because those people are worn out, we've gone way out there, helped them.

“And that gives a lot of satisfaction.”

Carey intends to step back a little this year and work more in the background, encouraging younger members to develop their skills and new members to join up.

Carey Mitchell
Carey with his Senior Citizen of the Year Award. Photo: contributed.

“I still stay and try and mentor and help the others and make sure they all become better firefighters, and they all get home at night,” he said.

“It's very important that their families or partners are behind them because it can be a difficult job, you get called out at 3 [pm] in the afternoon, you might not get home until midnight.

“But it's very rewarding when we can save people's property, people's livestock, people's grass for their cattle.”

Carey said he was totally blown away to be awarded Senior Citizen of the Year.

“Just achieving the nomination was fantastic,” he said.

“It's just too much.

“I'm just still shocked to be quite honest.”

Carey has some advice for people wanting to make a positive difference in the community.

Join the Rural Fire Brigade, give it a try,” he said.

“I know there's a lot of people that would like to be able to do it.

“Age has got nothing to do with it, even if you've got a disability or something like that, does not stop people if they've got the heart for it.”

By awarding Carey Senior Citizen of the Year, the region recognises and celebrates Carey’s willingness to put his heart into the community for over 20 years.