PHOTOS: Inspirational ceremony honours region’s best
Lockyer Valley Regional Council CEO Mr Ian Church led the official ceremony at the Gatton Shire Hall on Tuesday.
Kelly McCarthy, custodial elder, delivered the Welcome to Country on behalf of Aunty Margaret McCarthy (Ugarapul tribe).
Mr Church said Australia Day was about reflecting on the nation’s past and present history, that stretches tens of thousands of years ago with the First Australians to now where waves of immigration have shaped Australia into being one of the world’s great multicultural success stories.
He added how pertinent it was to reflect on the year of extremes after fires, drought and the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Church paid tribute to the frontline workers and volunteers on the front line for their courageous contributions to supporting their communities.
“They have kept our nation going,” Mr Church said.
“We are all Australian’s and we all have a contribution to make,” Mr Church said.
The National Anthem was performed by Rheanna Leschke, with the audience reminded of the slight change of words to “we are one and free”, initiated by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the start of the year.
Australia Day Ambassador to the Lockyer Valley, Dr Tim Baker said January 26 was also a day to reflect on one of the nation’s core values, a vibrant and robust democracy.
“We are the envy of the world,” Dr Baker said.
Dr Baker told the audience Australia’s identity was not physical or ethnic, but being part of a big robust family, bound by shared characteristics.
“We should never take our freedom for granted,” Dr Baker said.
Dr Baker acknowledged the people who had to work on Australia Day so the community can be safe and looked after, including medical professionals, shop assistants and defence personnel serving overseas.
Mayor Tanya Milligan said the Lockyer Valley Australia Day Awards provided the opportunity to recognise “our people” who have “stepped up and added value to our way of life”.
Cr Milligan reflected on the impact locally of COVID-19, saying the closure of businesses, loss of employment and home schooling of children meant for a complex year for the community.
“We were all very hard hit, yet we saw neighbours step up,” Cr Milligan said.
The 2021 Australia Day award nominees were announced by the 2020 Citizen of the Year, Neil Simpson and 2020 Arts and Cultural award recipient, Grace Crichton.
A resounding piano performance by Madleine Yeo concluded the ceremony before award recipients and their families joined with members of the wider community in the park for morning tea.
More stories by Hugh Suffell.