Australia Day Citizens Ceremony and Celebration

Australia Day 2023 in Wingecarribee Shire's historic Berrima Village

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

Wingecarribee Shire 2023 Australia Day Citizen of the Year John Creighton Wombat Care Bundanoon.jpg  

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

 Wingecarribee Shire 2023 Australia Day Ambassador Mel Thomas.jpg

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

Young Citizens of the Year Honour Roll

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

Citizens of the Year Honour Roll

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 

2023 - John Creighton