Each year the people of the Bellingen Shire are invited to recognise outstanding achievement or contribution to the local community by nominating fellow citizens for Australia Day Awards.
One of the most prestigious award is the Citizen of the Year, and recent winners include Michelle Stockton (2019), Anne Phelan (2018), Ben Perrim (2017), Marie Rowe (2016) and Evan McMillan (2015).
For 2020, there are three very worthy nominees: Jo Brotherton, Robert Canning and Barbara Moore.
To find out who has been chosen as our Citizen of the Year for 2020, come along to the Australia Day Community Awards at the Memorial Hall in Hyde Street, Bellingen at 6.30pm on Friday January 24.
Bellingen Citizen of the Year Nominees
Jo Brotherton is an executive member of the Urunga Mylestom Chamber of Commerce and a founding member of the Urunga Lions Club. Over the last five years, Jo has spent countless weekends and lots of her spare time fundraising for both organisations. She is heavily involved in events at Urunga including Carols in Urunga, Fathers Day Festival and Sculptures in the Park.
Jo has also been working towards making Urunga a more inclusive and dementia-friendly community. This has involved advising council and other organisations on appropriate equipment and designs for public amenities and infrastructure.
Jo is also a member of Open Arms Care, an organisation with branches for Disabilities Services in Nambucca, Ageing Services in Urunga and Children's Services in Bellingen. She has also been on the Urunga Wetlands Advisory Committee - helping to shape this once toxic wasteland into a premium nature-based tourist attraction for the town.
Robert has been an outstanding member of the Urunga, Bellingen and Coffs areas. He has become very well known as the didgeridoo man. He opened the 2019 Australian Day celebrations with his didgeridoo and has even done a private welcome to country for Jimmy Barnes' recent Coffs Coast tour.
Robert also runs and supports the MUDD programme for men with depression and has also been working in the Spirit of the Rainforest programs connecting people to their land.
Rob has always been a strong advocate for his Urunga community as well as the Aboriginal community.
Barbara has spent many hours assisting Bellingen Hospital Management, Bellingen Bush Regenerators and Bellingen Landcare. She continues in her position as President of the Bellingen Health Action Group (BHAG). She was officially recognised by the SES in a Commissioners Letter of Appreciation for her work with community engagement over many years.
In late 2009 NSW Health announced the imminent downgrading of our local hospital. Barbara Moore initiated a very energetic campaign called Save Our Services. Community support was very strongly with her and as a result of this campaigning new capital works, expanded services and regular maintenance resulted in an upgraded, not downgraded hospital. Barbara remains vigilant and continues to liaise with the Mid North Coast Local Health District on issues relating to services at the hospital.
As part of her commitment to our local hospital, Barbara organised funding for a community Wellness Garden in its grounds. She was able to get the additional support from Lions, Rotary, local businesses and volunteers. This turned a $5000 grant into a project with a materials and in-kind value of $90,597. The garden is used by patients, staff and visitors and is maintained by Barbara and the other volunteers of the Bellingen Health Action Group.
Over the past six years Barbara has assisted with the organising committee of the Bellingen Fine Music Festival. In the face of current significant health challenges she hasn't wavered from any of her duties.