As part of the events, Council presented its annual Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Community Group of the Year, and Sustainability Awards. We also recognised our first Local Hero and our most recent Good Neighbour. The Awards recognise residents and community groups in the City of Glen Eira that have significantly contributed to the local community.
Thirty-four individuals and community groups were nominated for Citizen, Young Citizen, Community Group of the Year and Sustainability Awards.
Citizen of the Year — Jenny and Brett Inder
The 2023 Citizen of the Year Award winners are Jenny and Brett Inder, a joint nomination. Together they have supported their community for over 30 years in countless and far-reaching ways with both formal and informal contributions, and always with dedication and commitment to people's wellbeing.
Being passionate about community connections and environmental sustainability, Brett and Jenny co-created the Murrumbeena Food Co-op which supports over 200 people each year to access affordable food and to connect with others. Ensuring the co-op space is welcoming and inclusive for all locals, the Inders are committed to sourcing low-cost fruit and vegetables, with the remaining produce regularly distributed to asylum seekers, and more recently to Ukrainian refugees.
Jenny and Brett have volunteered for decades to run and support Tradewinds, donating their time to pack fair trade tea and coffee orders for individuals, community groups, businesses, and churches all over Australia. Volunteering allows the cost of these fair-trade products to be kept low in order to grow the fair-trade movement and support farmers in developing nations such as East Timor and Sri Lanka.
Jenny has been co-coordinating the Sew Inspired Patchwork group weekly for 15 years, since its inception. She has been integral to building a community of over 20 women, where they create beautiful items and provide mutual support. Jenny has also donated her time for over a decade as the Volunteer Treasurer for Murrumbeena Baptist Church.
For 20 years Brett has been a key organiser of the Murrumbeena Community Carols and is the Treasurer of A Starry Night in Murrumbeena Christmas event. This event has been a place of community gathering and celebration for thousands of people over the years.
Citizen of the Year runner-up — Joanne Levy
Joanne has undertaken incredible work for many years to help many families. As founder and President of the Sassoon Yehuda Sephardi Synagogue/Sephardi Association of Victoria, Joanne has used her corporate background and managerial expertise to not only address the needs of the Sephardi community in Melbourne but also the wider Jewish community. Her efforts have provided 4000+ kosher meals, care packs, and outreach (calls, visits and outings) to people in financial need and those experiencing family illness, bereavement and loss.
Young Citizen of the Year — Benjy Orwin
At only 13 years of age Benjy Orwin has been running the Socks4Support charity for five years. During this time, he has promoted, collected and distributed socks to support many people and communities in need. His dedication to making a positive difference within his community and beyond has resulted in a total collection of 34,880 pairs of socks, with no intention to stop anytime soon. Benjy has committed many voluntary hours whilst juggling school attendance.
Benjy has been a regular speaker at events encouraging young people to stand up and make a difference. Benjy encourages others to support people in need, advocating for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. Benjy encourages other young students to get on board and collect socks for his Socks4Support charity and he has teamed up with other organisations to ensure that these socks get to disaster areas in need as quickly as possible. As one person voiced, “not only do these socks meet our physical needs, but to know that a younger person is out there advocating for us, brings a sense of mental wellbeing in times of suffering.”
Socks4Support has donated both locally and internationally supporting residents of public housing towers during COVID-19 lockdowns, the Dandenong Ranges areas affected by storms, an orphanage in Russia, a youth hostel in the UK and a shanty town in South Africa. Socks4Support has collaborated over the years with organisations including Souper Kitchen, Dean's Disaster Relief, Avalon Charity, Bayside Community Emergency Relief, Impact and Theodora's Cheerful Givers.
Young Citizen of the Year runner-up — Chantelle Malton
Chantelle Malton goes above and beyond to improve the mental health of young people in the City of Glen Eira. In just 18 months she volunteered 190 hours across the Youth Advisory Committee at headspace to amplify the youth voice. Chantelle is committed to raising awareness amongst young people of the services available to them. Informed by her own experiences Chantelle is breaking down the stigma around accessing mental health support, supporting the LGBTQI community and working to reassure young people that it’s okay to reach out for help.
Community Group of the Year — Bee Warriors
We received eleven very worthy nominations for Community Group of the Year 2023
This group was created by nine 10-year-old school children with the desire to make a difference in their local and wider community by helping to save and protect bees. The group’s members have committed their efforts to creating awareness, spreading their message and displaying their passion to many other young children (and adults alike) demonstrating that anyone can make positive change.
This year Bee Warriors has had many achievements including planting 100 trees at Yarra Yarra Golf Course, and helping to plant 1,000 plants at Council’s Planting Day at Boyd Park Murrumbeena to create an urban forest that will assist in maintaining and providing new habitats for local wildlife. The group has raised funds and awareness for wildlife conservation at Bentleigh Sunday Market and talked to students about their experiences to inspire other young people to make a difference at their local primary school.
Bee Warriors’ work has helped an unlimited number of native wildlife – flora and fauna – and has brought countless smiles and happiness to so many people. Bee Warriors has contributed to sustainability of our native habitats and wildlife with passion and inspiration to assist change in the minds of adults and children alike, change that is required to achieve a more sustainable environment and way of living for us all.
Bee Warriors is led by Piper Ralston and includes Mali, Evie, Abi, Tiffany, Lyla, Emma, Lauren, Eira, Nikoletta and Winter.
Community Group of the Year runner-up — Bayside Community Emergency Relief
Bayside Community Emergency Relief helps those experiencing hardship and tragedy with relief and aid. The charity has been operating at a hectic pace since the 2020 bushfires. The charity facilitates specifically targeted donations and requested goods, creating comfort packs with many essential items as well as items designed to ease anxiety and provide mental health stimulation and support. These packs assist those in need including vulnerable elderly residents and family violence survivors (especially children) and families.
Community Group of the Year runner-up — Peninsula Community Legal Centre
Peninsula Community Legal Centre is an independent, not-for-profit organisation providing free legal services to Melbourne's south-eastern communities since 1977.
The organisation offers visiting services, legal services in family law, family violence, tenancy, fines, and rooming houses. It provides legal information, advice, casework, duty lawyer services and court representation. Glen Eira residents can access daily telephone intake/triage sessions, visiting services and court-based services at the Moorabbin Specialist Family Violence Court and the Dandenong Family Law Court.
The Centre assists people at risk of homelessness, helps families stay together or reunite, protects women and children from family violence with Court Orders, safeguards children’s welfare, and minimises financial hardship for vulnerable people to improve their capacity to fully participate in community life.
Sustainability Award — Glen Eira Emergency Climate Action Network
The Sustainability Award was open to both groups and individuals in the community and received nine very impressive nomination. We are very lucky to have so many incredible individuals and community groups amongst us who are leading the way to creating a sustainable future.
The winner of the inaugural Sustainability Award 2023 is Glen Eira Emergency Climate Action Network (GECAN). This group is Glen Eira’s key community champion for climate action, biodiversity protection and restoration and sustainable living.
Reaching large numbers of Glen Eira locals through their events, newsletters, meetings and Facebook group, GECAN has significantly increased community awareness and action on climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable living. GECAN works collaboratively with Council and other community groups in Glen Eira, Victoria, Australia and even globally to bring new information and approaches and greater advocacy strength to Glen Eira and beyond. The Network combines informative and fun events with thoughtful and expert informed submissions.
GECAN participates and provides valued contributions in many Council and State government strategies, programs and events. They have been active members of Council’s Environment and Sustainable Transport Advisory Committees over many years, supported Glen Eira Council’s Urban Forest Strategy and nominated many trees for protection under the Council’s Significant Tree Register. They have advocated for protecting and enhancing biodiversity and passive open space, for lakes and heathland in Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.
GECAN supports other community groups and has worked with the Save the Trees group and Glen Eira Bicycle Users Group advocating for Queens Ave Caulfield East to both save the trees and build safer bicycle links. The group has assisted Glen Eira College Parents Association to help students and parents plant home grown and indigenous plants along Booran Road.
Local Hero Recognition — Kate Beckett
We launched a new Local Hero Recognition Program at the Awards ceremony. This program has been introduced to recognise individuals who have performed an act of bravery that has made a significant impact on the local community or a person(s) life.
It is evident we have some incredible people who live in Glen Eira and this includes some heroes among us who can now be nominated for their special acts of courage and bravery. Our first Local Hero is Kate Beckett. Kate has been recognised for her efforts to save a neighbour. On a Sunday in March 2022 at her home in Caulfield North, Kate who is a mother and intensive care nurse was cleaning the windows of her flat when she was alerted to a fire by a piece of ash that passed her window. She looked out and noticed a house was on fire.
Kate seized the moment and rushed over to knock on the front door of the house to alert the residents. That day she bravely and safely helped a man and woman out of their burning house.
Good Neighbour Recognition — George Roth
This year we are also refreshing the recognition of Good Neighbours. This Program recognises people who provide support, assistance or build relationships with people who live around them so that they feel safe and connected. They are friendly and helpful individuals who demonstrate exceptional neighbourly behaviours and inspire and support their neighbours through their acts of kindness.
This year we invited the most recent Good Neighbour Recognition recipient, George Roth, to join the ceremony. George was nominated by Wendy Dainty for being a great neighbour to Wendy’s 93-year-old father, Joseph Jones for over 20 years. George and Joseph have forged a wonderful mutual friendship in that time with George dropping in regularly with food for Joseph and often staying to have a beer and a chat. George will check to see if Joseph 'needs anything up the street' and Joseph knows he can call on George if he ever needs anything They look out for each other; Joseph would be hard pressed to find a more caring, compassionate and supportive neighbour like George.
Nominations for the Citizen of the Year program 2024 are now open.
Nominations for the Volunteer Recognition Program will be open later in the year.