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Graham Shinners is Colac Otway’s 2019 Australia Day Citizen of the Year
January 26, 2019

Beeac local and retired engineer, Graham Shinners is Colac Otway Shire Council’s 2019 Citizen of the Year.

Mr Shinners has served the community through numerous community and sporting organisations for the past 60 years and was instrumental in projects like the Beeac Windmill Park becoming a reality.

Mr Shinners was one of three people who received Australia Day honours at a ceremony at Apollo Bay. The other recipients were Rachel Woods, Community Service of the Year Award and Mick Melville, Sporting Service of the Year Award.

Mayor Jason Schram congratulated the people who received Australia Day honours, thanking them for their dedication to the community and welcomed those who became Australian citizens on Australia Day.

“Australia Day is a day to reflect on our heritage and welcome our newest citizens to the vibrant multicultural country we’re lucky to share.

“It’s also a day when we focus on our Colac Otway community and the outstanding contributions made by women and men in our region.

“As a community, Australia Day gives us an opportunity to show our gratitude to those who work tirelessly, often in the background, giving many hours of their time as volunteers to make Colac Otway a great place to live.”

This year’s Australia Day at Apollo Bay featured an address by Order of Australia Medal recipient Betty Kitchener who established the world’s first Mental Health First Aid program and has dedicated her career to expanding community understanding of mental health conditions.

Cr Schram paid tribute to the Apollo Bay community for the significant contribution they had made toward a great Australia Day event in 2019.

“Each year Council’s events team works with the community to put on an Australia Day event for everyone in the Colac Otway region. It was wonderful to see local groups such as Apollo Bay Community Choir, the Colac City Band and the Otway Ukuholics perform on the day,” Cr Schram said.

Citizen of the Year Award – Graham (Dick) Shinners

Mr Shinners has been described as a man who is admired, respected and a leader by example.

Wendy Parker of the Beeac Progress Association said that Mr Shinners has contributed over 60 years of continuous volunteer service to Beeac and the district.

“Three of the most important projects in Beeac in the past 30 years owe their existence to people like Dick Shinners,” Ms Parker said.

“The Beeac Community Centre, the Windmill Park and the Rural Transaction Centre; these three projects involved a vision, a plan and many volunteer hours to become a reality.

“Every resident of Beeac and district has benefited from Dick’s leadership and hands on work with these projects.”

The Windmill Park, which pays homage to the history of the town, is now a well-established tourist attraction.

Ms Parker said Mr Shinners used his skills as an engineer, volunteering the hours it took to put the windmills together, manufacturing the missing parts himself in his backyard workshop.

“He (Mr Shinners) always leads by example and puts in the longest hours. When things might not go as they should, Dick never walks away. If he believes the community will benefit he will see the project through,” she said. 

“His vast knowledge of local history is helping the next generation of volunteers. He is generous with his time and advice to ensure this generation of volunteers has the skill set and confidence to continue the many and varied tasks involved in the smooth running of organisations.

“Dick has been admired and respected over many years for his ability to draw in others as volunteers in community projects,” she said.

An extraordinarily active member of the community, Mr Shinners has been involved in a number of organisations and clubs in one form or another over the past sixty years including: Beeac Football Club, Beeac Hospital, Beeac State School, Beeac Hall, Beeac Recreation Reserve, Beeac Fire Brigade and the Beeac Progress Association.

Community Service of the Year – Rachel Wood

Colac’s Rachel Wood has been described as “a woman of great principle who has strong determination to support her community and provide opportunities for those who suffer hardship and social and financial barriers to success”.

This is how Beverley Rimmer described Ms Wood in nominating her for her Australia Day Award.

A member of the Colac Community Hub since its inception in 2007, Rachel has served as President four times and remains a member today.

The Community Hub is a not-for-profit, volunteer based organisation which aims to build an inclusive, connected and informed community by creating opportunities for learning and public participation and creation of diverse partnerships.

Former Manager of the Community Hub Tamara Stewart supported Ms Woods’ nomination for the Australia Day Award.

“Rachel’s achievements and skills extend way beyond her work as she also projects an inclusive and caring attitude to those she works with.

“She often goes out of her way to assist and support others and these characteristics have been instrumental to not only the success of Community Hub Inc. over its years of operation, but it also makes her a very deserving recipient of the award,” Ms Stewart said.

Ms Wood was awarded a life membership of the Colac Community Hub for her commitment to the organisation in 2017.

Community members and colleagues who nominated Ms Wood for the Australia Day Award acknowledged her countless hours of volunteer work and her willingness to undertake tasks that often go unnoticed and unrewarded.

Lyn Russell, who nominated her for the award, said Ms Wood works quietly in the background, supporting and sharing with others and doesn’t seek self-promotion or recognition.

“Through her voluntary work over the last 20 years, she (Ms Wood) continually advocates for individuals, supports and mentors others while building invaluable networks between community groups, organisations and clubs.

“Rachel has a passion for empowering the struggling and often hidden people in our community, empowering those disadvantaged financially, socially and educationally by giving them a voice by advocating for, supporting and mentoring them.

“Rachel gives people the skills and ability to deal with bureaucracy and assists them to navigate bureaucratic pathways,” Mrs Russell said.

Ms Woods’ work addresses broader social issues within Colac Otway Shire, such as her representation of the community to the G21 Taskforce for Addressing Disadvantage (which developed into the GROW program) and being a part of the Volunteer Youth Employment and Training Alliance Project, which aims to help young people in the region identify and map career and employment opportunities and support young people to access education and training.

Sporting Service of the Year – Michael (Mick) Melville

Swan Marsh’s Mick Melville has been involved in sport at a local level in Colac Otway Shire all his life, whether playing, coaching or in committee or managerial roles.

In nominating him for the Australia Day Award, Colac Sportsmen’s Club President Dennis Foley described Mr Melville as an inspirational role model who leads by example and is passionate about whatever task or job he puts his mind to.

“Mick is a very genuine and very humble person. He is very popular, very well known in the community and he is a general all-round nice person,” he said.

Mr Melville is also a strong advocate for young people becoming involved in sport, encouraging participation in local clubs and supporting kids in their sporting aspirations.

Mr Melville has been involved with the Colac Sportsmen’s Club for 17 years; as a committee member, president and secretary – a role he currently holds and has done for the last eight years.

According to Mr Foley, Mr Melville is a great champion of aiding the development of young people in sport in the Colac Otway region.

“Over many years the Colac Sportsmen’s Club has given financial support to many local young people of the Colac Otway Shire to help them pursue their dreams of playing sport at a higher level.

“The financial support has helped with travel throughout Australia and even overseas for competition in many different sports. Michael is very passionate in promoting this ideal,” Mr Foley said.

At a grassroots level, Mr Melville established and coached the Stoneyford under 16s cricket team for ten years, umpired junior cricket and coached and managed the Colac and District Cricket Under 16s Country Week teams at Warrnambool for two years.

A key figure of the Stoneyford Cricket Club, Mr Melville is a life member and has served on the committee and as secretary of the club over the years. His involvement with the club has been as selector, player and coach and captain.

Mr Melville was instrumental in the Stoneyford Cricket Club moving to the Pirron Yallock Recreation Reserve in the mid-1970s; the move created an opportunity to increase membership and players for the club, and saw the club grow from one team to five – three senior teams and two junior teams.

Mr Melville was also a member of the Pirron Yallock Recreation Reserve for 20 years – cutting the oval at the Reserve and maintaining the ground over that time.

As a young footballer, Mr Melville played in the Pirron Yallock Under 16 side before playing for the senior team for another 13 years. In his football career, Mick played 165 senior games, won Best and Fairest twice and was vice captain for several years.

These days Mr Melville plays lawn bowls and is member and pennant player for Colac. He’s also a long term member of the Colac Turf Club and has been for 50 years; he’s currently on the committee assisting with club maintenance prior to race days, trials and generally helping out.

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