Australia Day Awards: celebrating outstanding community contributions

21 Jan 2022 |

21 January 2022

Cue the applause! Southern Downs Regional Council is pleased to recognise seven of the region’s most dedicated and deserving community members and announce the winners of the 2022 Australia Day Awards.

Ceremonies in both Warwick and Stanthorpe on Wednesday 26 January will formally acknowledge the following category winners:

Citizen of the Year Award – Southern Region: Frances Hodgson

Citizen of the Year Award – Northern Region: Corina Graham

Junior Sportsperson of the Year – Southern Region: Jacob Kent

Sportsperson of the Year Award – Northern Region: Harriet Hudson

Junior Citizen of the Year Award – Southern Region: Teresa Pozzebon

Cultural/Community Event or Person of the Year Award – Southern Region: Judith Flitcroft

Cultural/Community Event or Person of the Year Award – Northern Region: Historic Leyburn Sprints

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi congratulated all the nominees and award winners for their contributions and said that each individual had an inspiring story of achieving great outcomes for their community over the years. 

“The Australia Day Awards are an opportunity to recognise and say thanks to the members of our community who go above and beyond the call of duty, driven by a genuine and selfless desire to make a difference,” Mayor Pennisi said.

“At the core of each nomination is a worthy nominee who has made an exceptional contribution and worked hard and tirelessly to achieve positive outcomes that contribute to the liveability of our region.

“I would like to thank all the nominees and winners for their commitment and dedication to the Southern Downs community and acknowledge the inspiration they each give me and their peers through their dedication.

“These people are testament to the proud community we have on the Southern Downs and demonstrate the real impact volunteers have on everyday lives.”

While Australia Day ceremonies in Warwick and Stanthorpe will also welcome the region’s newest citizens, Council will follow the latest health advice to deliver a COVID-safe event for the community. The events will take place outdoors and attendee numbers will be limited by invitation only. Council will update the community should any further developments occur.

Warwick Citizenship Ceremony & Australia Day Awards

From 9.00am at Leslie Park, Warwick

Stanthorpe Citizenship Ceremony & Australia Day Awards

From 4.00pm at Weeroona Park, Stanthorpe

Citizen of the Year Award – Southern Region: Frances Hodgson

A distinguished career in education and a tireless pursuit of community endeavours has seen stalwart Frances Hodgson awarded the Citizen of the Year Award – Southern Region.

As an active Rotarian for 25 years, Fran has been honoured with not one but two Paul Harris Fellowships over the years. Notably her volunteer work through Rotary during the drought was a lifeline to affected rural families, organising laundry vouchers, food hampers and free BBQs.

Fran’s commitment to the community is also evident through her service to Stanthorpe Meals on Wheels. She is currently the organisation’s President and has navigated the organisation during uncertain COVID-19 times to continue the vital service to Stanthorpe's aged and infirm. She has personally delivered Meals on Wheels for 25 years. She is also the President of the Stanthorpe Community Development Services’ Neighbourhood Centre. This organisation runs Kids Korner occasional childcare centre, provides food hampers to Stanthorpe's at-risk families and is a hub providing access for social workers, youth workers, counsellors, legal aid etc. The organisation is considered a vital part of the social fabric for the town and from all accounts, Fran leads it compassionately and professionally.

Growing up in Wallangarra, Fran is still very active in the local community. She is a long term member and current treasurer of the Wallangarra Jennings Progress Association. She was a keen participant in Council's Urban Design Framework several years ago and has been instrumental in securing several significant grants for improvements to the town’s hall and playground. She also volunteers at the Wallangarra Driver Reviver station and is a member of St Mary's Wallangarra Parish Council and can often be found fundraising at fairs and markets and organising Christmas Carols. In her church role, Fran contributes to keeping the town vibrant and socially cohesive.

Fran is also known for her international volunteer work and empathy for the disadvantaged. She volunteered for three years as a missionary teacher in one of the poorest central Pacific Ocean countries, Kiribati. She also spent six months as a rural volunteer in South Africa working with orphans and HIV sufferers and still fundraises annually for this community.

Citizen of the Year Award – Northern Region: Corina Graham

Corina’s dedication and passion for community involvement shines bright in the mental health and arts arenas.

As the founding president of the Demented Artists Group, she is the driving force behind supporting people recovering from mental health issues to regain social confidence. She played a key role in planning and organising the 2021 Queensland Mental Health Week Fair and is renowned as a strong local advocate on mental health issues and the breaking of stigma surrounding mental health.

Apart from being the driving force behind the Demented Artists Group Inc, Corina volunteers her time freely to several other local groups and organisations. Her appreciation for the arts has seen her gravitate towards the region’s vibrant arts scene. She is on the Management Committee of both the Warwick Art Gallery and the Celtic Fest. She is also a current member of the Warwick Potters Association, Warwick Art Group and the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Corina lives the motto of ‘paying it forward’. Using her own lived experiences, she selflessly encourages others to live their best life after mental health issues. As a strong advocate on mental health, she is often approached for comment by local media outlets. In these uncertain times, she is considered an inspiration by colleagues and peers.

Last edited date 24 May 2022