Wingecarribee's 2023 Australia Day celebrations began with a Citizenship Ceremony outside the historic Berrima Courthouse Museum on 26 January 2023 to welcome more than 50 new citizens to the region.
Residents, friends and families made the most of a stunning Summer’s day with a variety of venue pop-ups, picnics in the park, and talks with local RFS volunteers about planning and preparing their properties for bushfires.
The celebrations were an all-new experience in 2023, with the whole of Berrima village used as a gathering place from early in the day and a village trail created to encourage people to stroll from one end of the heritage village to the other, with pop-up activations along the way.
John Creighton named 2023 Citizen of the Year
Pictured: Wingecarribee's 2023 Citizen of the Year John Creighton.
A local legend affectionately known as ‘The Wombat Man’ was recognised as the 2023 Citizen of the Year during a Citizenship Ceremony at historic Berrima Courthouse on 26 January 2023.
Wombat Care Bundanoon founder John Creighton was named Wingecarribee Shire's 2023 Citizen of the Year during Council's Australia Day ceremony.
It was love that lured New Orleans-born John to Australia, where his love of Highlands wildlife has since led to decades of devoted care for wombats across Wingecarribee Shire.
Humbled to have been recognised by his community, John said he didn't see his award coming.
"It’s heartening for me to know that the wombats I work to save matter to my community too. It makes the work I do all the more meaningful for me.”
John works tirelessly to save our local wombat population from mange and other factors that threaten their survival. Heading out at a moment’s notice in the middle of the night for rescues comes with the territory, and in his time-out from caring for wombats, John visits schools to share his knowledge with the next generation.
The Citizen of the Year Awards recognise people who have made a significant contribution to the Wingecarribee Shire Community, with recipients announced each year on Australia Day.
Wingecarribee's 2023 Australia Day Ambassador
Pictured: Wingecarribee Shire 2023 Australia Day Ambassador Mel Thomas of KYUP! Project.
Domestic violence campaigner, journalist, and founder and CEO of KYUP! Project Mel Thomas has been named Wingecarribee Shire’s Australia Day Ambassador for 2023.
Each year, more than 100 remarkable Australia Day Ambassadors participate in Australia Day activities around NSW, sharing meaningful stories and connecting with communities. Ms Thomas will attend Wingecarribee's 2023 Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony to be held at Berrima village on 26 January 2023.
Ms Thomas’ work has involved moving beyond awareness campaigns into strong-hearted action to break the cycle of family and domestic violence at the grassroots. The award-winning martial artist, speaker, writer, and mother of two founded KYUP! Project - pronounced KEY-UP and named after the martial arts power shout - based on the principles of self-worth and the basics of self-defence.
KYUP! works to close the "confidence gap" and help victims deal with past or present violence. During the school holidays, the organisation has run workshops in Mittagong, Lake Illawarra, Nowra, and Goulburn focusing on girls' empowerment and personal safety.
When the pandemic hit, Ms Thomas turned her attention to victims forced to work from home and the impact of family and domestic violence in the workplace and subsequently founded Your Buddy Check, an innovative traffic light compliance system aimed at delivering awareness, policy, training, and tech to promote safer workplaces and protect and maintain victims’ privacy and dignity.
Your Buddy Check assists boards and management teams in Australian workplaces to meet compliance obligations and improve outcomes for victims facing with family and domestic violence.
Ms Thomas has been an Ambassador for the Australia Day Council since 2018. In the same year, Mel was named Cosmopolitan magazine’s Game Changer of the Year in the magazine's 2018 Woman of the Year awards.
In 2017, Mel was recognised for her work as the Commonwealth Bank Australian of the Day and was also a nominee for Australian of the Year.
2023 Australia Day photo gallery
1982 - Judy Bailey
1983 - James Armstrong
1985 - Julie-Anne Armstrong
1986 - Kim Garske and Darren Saunders
1987 - James Peters and Amanda Stead
1988 - Diana Garrett and Andrew Simmons
1989 - David Lawler
1990 - Matthew Casson
1993 - Wendy Missingham
1994 - Kellie Pyne
1995 - Joshua Combes
1996 - Not awarded
1997 - Not awarded
1998 - Lisa Turczynski
1999 - Ben Shephard
2000 - Melia Condon
2001 - Michael Burge
2002 - Jennifer Purcell
2003 - Karen Webb
2004 - Travis Holland
2005 - Melissa Perrine and Brooke Eccleston
2006 - Belinda Miller and Brendan Smith
2007 - Ross Muller
2008 - Meghan Barrell
2009 - Samuel Wade
2010 - Leslie Jonson-Hoye
2011 - Emily Farrar
2012 - Brittany McCrea
2013 - Erica Longhurst
2014 - Jack Moran
2015 - Luke Webb
2016 - Amelia Brook
2017 - Zoe Brain
2018 - William Koek
2019 - Darcy Howard
2020 - Caitlin Gallagher
2021 - Charlotte Gillespie
2022 - Jeremy Millward
1982 - Dulcie Waite
1983 - William Hudson
1984 - Graham Brown
1985 - Mac Cott
1986 - Peg Charlesworth and Wesley Thomas
1987 - Charles Krenkel and Gladys Thorpe
1988 - Jess Kerr and Les Lambert
1989 - Bonnie Pierce and John Springett
1990 - James Armstrong and Judy Browne
1991 - Clarice Boyd and Charles Tate
1992 - Arthur Thomson
1993 - Janet Greason
1994 - Roger Gough
1995 - Laurie Curley
1996 - Barry Butterfield Jnr
1997 - Richard Ruhfus
1998 - John Paddison
1999 - Jone Armstrong
2000 - Joan Compagnoni
2001 - Trevor Bensley
2002 - Shirley Beaumont
2003 - Dennis Brown
2004 - Freda Ayoub
2005 - Brian Whyte
2006 - Margaret Maclean
2007 - Grace Avery and Terry Oakes-Ash
2008 - Petrea King and Berlio O’Brien
2009 - George Schofield
2010 - Gordon Lewis OAM
2011 - Velma Mulcahy
2012 - Jennifer Bowe
2013 - Marie Hodgson
2014 - Leonie Knapman
2015 - Harlan Hall
2016 - Kathy Roche
2017 - Dr Allan Beavis OAM
2018 - Aunty Wendy Lotter
2019 - Hans Radowitz
2020 - Sidney (Sid) Jeffery
2021 - Catherine Constable
2022 - Eric Savage