Michael Wardle and Samantha Charles named Baw Baw's Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year
 Baw Baw News  

By // 06:06, Sunday 26 January 2014

PREVIEWaudayrecips2014MICHAEL Wardle of Drouin and Drouin West’s Samantha Charles have been named Baw Baw’s Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year for 2014.

Mr Wardle and Ms Charles were among a number of people and community events to be recognised at the council’s annual Australia Day awards, which were held in Warragul on Thursday night.

Jacob Bush of Drouin and Beth Sheffield of Trafalgar received Australia Day Medallions, the Jindivick Country Market was awarded Community Event of the Year and the Warragul Cycling Club was presented with the Community Contribution Sporting Achievement award.

On the night Baw Baw mayor Murray Cook said Mr Wardle’s heavy involvement in local sporting clubs, especially the Drouin Cricket Club, had earned him the recognition.


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Pictured: Mr Wardle speaking at the awards event. All photos and video by William PJ Kulich.

“Michael is often described as someone who acts with integrity, who is loyal and who is very passionate about the clubs and communities which he is part of,” Cr Cook said.

“It’s not unusual to find Michael working on cricket matters at 10.30 at night.

“Michael is also a committed mentor, spending time helping some of the players to take on leading roles within their local football and cricket clubs.”

Mr Wardle told The Warragul Citizen he was “very honoured to receive the award” and had been helped by those who volunteered before him.

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Pictured: Narracan MP Gary Blackwood and Mr Wardle listen to Cr Cook speak.

“Sport’s been an [important] part of this area right from when I was a kid,” Mr Wardle said.


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“I was pretty fortunate that a lot of people before me put a lot of time and effort in to run the sports and it’s just continued on, and I’ve continued on the tradition of helping and running sport.”

You can hear more of what Mr Wardle said by watching the videos above.

Young Citizen of the Year

Cr Cook said Ms Charles had been chosen as Baw Baw’s Young Citizen of the Year for her dedication to helping local youth through volunteering and working for Youth Foundations Neerim District.

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Pictured: Ms Charles speaking at the awards event.

“As a volunteer facilitator at Youth Foundations, Samantha has assisted other young people to achieve their goals by organising events, evaluating grant applications, promoting youth as a positive voice in the community and supporting youth-for-youth community strengthening projects,” Cr Cook said.

“We’re not sure how she finds the time with all the exciting things she’s been doing since leaving school in 2008, but Samantha has also been working at Lyrebird Aged Care in Drouin to pay her way though university and plays A Grade netball for the Neerim South Football Netball Club.

“Through her endeavours, Samantha has employed her outstanding leadership skills and brought her innovative approach to many projects and events that have benefited her community.

Ms Charles told The Warragul Citizen she had been motivated to do the work she had done by her own experience growing up in a regional area.

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“I think because when I was growing up in the community I didn’t have sorta much to do, so I just want to give youth in the community something to do,” Ms Charles said.

“Youth are hard to sort of get them engaged, but we’ve got a good strong group at the moment which wants to get involved which makes it a little bit easier.”


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Ms Charles said the biggest issue in the area was the lack of non-sport activities for youth.

“They just don’t have anything to do. If they don’t play sports they don’t have anything to engage them with the community, they just go to school and go home… and they want things to do,” she said.

“At the end of last year we did a youth forum and got about 50 responses from the youth as to what they want in the district, so we’re working on that with the youth to… try to get them up and running.”

You can hear more of what Ms Charles said by watching the videos above.

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Medallion winners

Mr Bush was awarded his medallion for work with youth, sporting achievements and involvement in Christian groups.

“Jacob used his passion for cricket and his enjoyment of surfing to reach common ground with some local boys who were living in much less fortunate circumstances,” Cr Cook said.

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Pictured: Mr Bush speaking at the awards event.

“During his time [in the Northern Territory as part of a school cross-cultural understanding program], Jacob ran children’s programs, became involved in the local school and interacted with local indigenous young people.

“Using this insight and his natural ability to lead, Jacob has since become a volunteer in the Junior Youth program run by the Community Church Warragul and a volunteer camp leader in Christian Youth Camps Ministries.”

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Ms Sheffield received her medallion for three decades of volunteering in the Baw Baw Shire, including extensive work with Growing Together Baw Baw, the Warragul Community House, the L2P driver mentoring program and disability support services.

“She has spent many hours guiding and developing successful applications for community grants and worked on multiple projects, including planning for funding, design and promotion of the new community garden in Eastern Park, Warragul,” Cr Cook said.

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Pictured: Ms Sheffield speaking at the awards event.

“Beth’s belief in the value of community gardens and her tireless working this area has been an asset to both the Growing Together Baw Baw group and the Baw Baw community.

“It’s Beth’s passion for disability, youth and health work and her ability to give everything she has to her every endeavour that sets her apart from the crowd.”

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Community group awards

The Jindivick Country Market was awarded the Community Event of the Year award for the tireless work of volunteers.

“The market has been operating for the past 18 months and has a regular following from local community members,” Cr Cook said.

“With its community feel and social atmosphere the Jindivick Country Market showcases the incredible local produce, businesses, talents, natural beauty and creativity that Jindivick has to offer.

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Pictured: the announcement of the Community Event of the Year award.

“Ultimately, it is the tireless efforts of the volunteer committee, the involvement of all stall holders, and the market visitors that have made, and continue to make, it a wonderful, unique and successful event month after month.”

The Warragul Cycling Club received the Community Contribution Sporting Achievement award for its road safety work.

“The Upright and Insight program, funded in part by the Transport Accident Commission, aims to educate, train and mentor riders, develop a culture of adherence to road rules, promote legitimacy of cyclists as road users and foster respect between cyclists and drivers,” Cr Cook said.

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Pictured: representatives of the Warragul Cycling Club (centre) accept the club’s award.

“The program acknowledges the stark differences between cycling safety issues in metropolitan areas and rural areas and focuses on training and mentioning cyclists to navigate the challenges of on-road cycling in rural surrounds.

“In Baw Baw Shire, cycling is the most frequently engaged event, with around 10 per cent of our population participating. For this reason and more, it is very important to ensure cyclists are both aware of the road rules and are adhering to them.

“Returns on their hard work and positive impacts on local cycling culture are already evident with cyclists reporting safer bunch rides and more consistent adherence to road rules. Undoubtedly, the Warragul Cycling Club’s… initiative is an outstanding demonstration of the capacity for a club to positively influence cycling safety and local attitudes toward cycling.”

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Pictured: the Warragul Municipal Band play at the event.

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Pictured: Cr Cook speaking at the awards event.

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Pictured: Mr Blackwood speaking at the awards event.

Correction: when this article was first published it said Samantha Charles was from Yarragon. She is from Drouin West.

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One response to “Michael Wardle and Samantha Charles named Baw Baw's Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year”

  1. diane logan says:

    Heartiest congratulations to all recipients of awards this Australia Day – well done for your community efforts; every good wish for the future