Community spirit was in surplus supply at Cronulla Park this morning as residents from across the area joined together to applaud local civic-minded champions at the annual Sutherland Shire Australia Day Awards ceremony and welcome our newest Australian Citizens.
The Sutherland Shire Australia Day Awards program seeks to highlight some of the incredible efforts of people who are united by a common cause to improve the lives of many among the community.
This year more than 30 people and groups were nominated for their remarkable contributions to the community through their work or volunteer efforts.
Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce congratulated the efforts of all award nominees and recipients whose efforts often go without public praise.
“The Sutherland Shire Australia Day Awards program is a special opportunity for our community recognise the incredible efforts of fellow residents who truly make the Sutherland Shire a better place to live,” Mayor Pesce said.
“Each year I’m in awe of the depth of commitment and care for our community that is demonstrated by those who are nominated, and I thank everyone who shines a spotlight on these selfless contributions being made throughout the area by submitting a nomination.
“All of the nominees should take great pride in their positive influence locally, which continues to help make Sutherland Shire a more vibrant and supportive place to live.”
Prior to the award ceremony, 100 residents from 28 different countries celebrated taking their final steps toward becoming Australian Citizens, with Mayor Pesce leading them through their Pledge of Commitment.
“We are fortunate to be part of community which is home to many local residents who hold such pride in the cultures they have come from, while contributing so much to the place to which they’ve come,” Mayor Pesce said.
“It’s always a pleasure to lead Council’s Citizenship Ceremonies and meet with residents who are united by a commitment to Australian values and their love for living in this beautiful part of the world.”
Please see the following 2023 Sutherland Shire Australia Day Award winners:
Citizen of the Year
Ken Warburton is a long-standing Sutherland Shire resident, and passionate advocate and fundraiser for people with disability. He is the founder and director of the Pre WWII-Car Show and a Sylvanvale Member. The car show has raised over $120,000 and welcomed over 5,000 attendees at the 2022 show. Ken’s event promotes inclusion, social wellbeing and harmony by drawing together people of all ages and abilities from many diverse parts of the community. By raising funds for Sylvanvale, his work improves access to important community services and equipment for people with disability.
Young Citizen of the Year
Joshua Craig has been supporting the Sutherland Shire community through the NSW State Emergency Services (SES) Cronulla unit for over years. He also volunteers to promote fan experiences and engagement at the Sharks home games. He has offered assistance when people have been in car incidents or broken down, provided first aid in incidents at the beach and at sporting events, and offers support to help young kids to find a job or write a resume.
Community Group of the Year
Rotary Club of Caringbah
Rotary Caringbah has more than 40 active members who are passionate about supporting the community through a range of national and international projects, including Rotary Care Packs, Sutherland Food Services, BBQs, Project Youth, Activus Transport, Kingsway Care, Kurranulla Aboriginal Group, Sutherland Hospital, Sutherland Food Services, Dandelion Monthly, Adopt-A-Tree, Caringbah Community Markets, End Polio Now, ShelterBox Disaster Relief, Australian Rotary Health, and supplying goods to Tonga. Over the decades, the members have donated millions of dollars to local community groups, disaster relief and humanitarian projects such as Project Youth’s Cafe Y program, Cancer Council, Walk for Respectful Relationships, Lismore floods, enrichment and leadership training, and U-Turn-The-Wheel Coordination. The club has also established a “Yarning Circle” at Kirinari Hostel in Kirrawee, engaging local Indigenous groups.
Environmental Citizen of the Year
Through ‘Plastic Free Cronulla’, which was co-founded in 2019, Kal has delivered positive environmental changes. Kal presents at schools and works with the state government to inform legislation changes. Kal’s environmental leadership saw him selected for the 2022 World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council. Sutherland Shire businesses have implemented environmental changes due to Kal's involvement. Recently Kal was invited to attend the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference as a delegate. He has been a part of the Cook Federal Electorate Stronger Communities Grant Panel, plays first grade water polo with Cronulla Sharks Water Polo, is a Water Polo NSW culture ambassador and a strong advocate for sportsmanship and respect in sport. Kal has recently graduated from the University of Sydney where he was awarded the University of Sydney Blue and Gold scholarship and the Unibank Leaders Scholarship.