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Annual awards

There are people in our community who go that little bit further, open their arms a little bit wider and give that little bit extra to inspire us all to make every day better.

We value the outstanding contributions made every day within the Port Stephens community. The Port Stephens Annual Awards presented on Australia Day each year provide an opportunity for Council to formally recognise the amazing efforts of groups and individuals from around our region.

Making a nomination

Nominations can be made at any time of year and are open now. Please use the online nomination form to submit your nomination.



A distinguished citizen who has contributed eminent service to the community over many years.

A citizen which has made a significant and demonstrable contribution to the community over the preceding 12 month period. The nominee should be an inspirational role model who has made a positive impact on the Port Stephens community.

Awarded to a young citizen (25 years or under) who has made a significant and demonstrable contribution to the community. The nominee should be an inspirational role model who has made a positive impact on the Port Stephens Community.

Awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community. Nominees should demonstrate community leadership, promote the principles of cultural diversity and social equity; showing a tireless approach to community life and participation.

Awarded to individuals who have exhibited outstanding service to the sporting community of Port Stephens or who have attained a high level of achievement in the wider sporting community.

Awarded to individuals who have exhibited outstanding service to the cultural community of Port Stephens or who have attained a high level of achievement in the wider cultural community.

Awarded to individuals, organisations or groups who have shown significant service to the environment of Port Stephens over the past 12 months. This could have been demonstrated by efforts to preserve the environment, reduce litter and improve recycling outcomes or the use of the Return and Earn scheme to fundraise for a meaningful cause.


The nominations are reviewed by an assessment panel made up of the Mayor, General Manager, 3 Councillors, 3 community members from the Port Stephens Australia Day Coordinating Committee and 1 Freeman by invitation of the Mayor.

The Assessment Panel is responsible for choosing the category for which the individual’s or group’s nomination will be assessed and awarded, with the assessment based on information provided by the nominator. Panel members are forbidden to base their decisions on existing or prior knowledge of the nominated person.


All nominations are strictly confidential and the information provided will be used only to assist the assessment panel in their determination. The person being nominated should not be approached for information or advised of their nomination at any stage. This avoids embarrassment or disappointment should an award not be recommended by the assessment panel.

For more information, please read the guidelines.

Previous winners

Citizen of the Year — John Chambers

Since he retired from school teaching, John has thrown himself into supporting his local community. John has implemented many community programs to support our most vulnerable including a driver training program; a furniture bank which sees John collecting, storing and distributing household furniture to families in need; and a host of other initiatives. John spends a staggering 40 plus hours a week volunteering.

Young Citizen of the Year — Daniel Howard

Daniel has been a basketball coach and mentor with PCYC for the past 9 years since he was 16 years old. In April last year, in response to COVID lockdowns, he launched Coach Dan Skills and Drills on YouTube and Facebook to keep in touch with local basketball teens. His channels have attracted over 400 followers and helped to motivate local teens to keep fit during the lockdown.

Port Stephens Medals —

The Port Stephens Medal is awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community.

  • Dennis Peters

Dennis is the recently retired captain of the Raymond Terrace Fire and Rescue team. For 23 years, Dennis has been on the front line in countless firefighting and rescue efforts in our area. Passionate about community education, Peter has also been a local voice educating young people and our community about the importance of fire safety.

  • John de Ridder

John has been the president of Caring for Port Stephens Youth (COPSY) since 2016. Passionate about mental health and wellbeing in young people, John has been an active member — advocating and seeking financial support for this important local charity. He was instrumental in securing funding and establishing a free counselling service for young people in the Tomaree area in 2019 and a telehealth service in 2020.

  • Andrew Smith

A proud Wonnarua man, Andrew is a well-respected community leader in our area. Andrew has been the CEO of Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council since 2006 and has been instrumental in the Land Council going from strength to strength. He is dedicated to advocating for and strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, and to protecting and fostering Aboriginal culture and identity.

  • Medowie Girl Guides

The Medowie Girl Guides has been part of the Port Stephens community for over 40 years. A dedicated group of leaders and volunteers give their time to help teach young women new skills, develop independence, build confidence, make friends and become active community members.

Sportsperson of the Year — Maya Stewart

A Nelson Bay local, Maya has been involved in sport since she was a child including touch football, surf lifesaving and netball — but rugby union is where Maya has found her strength. Through hard work and a dedicated training schedule, Maya found herself on the starting side of the NSW Waratahs team who play in the Super W rugby union competition. Maya is currently vying for a spot in the national Wallaroos squad to participate in the upcoming Olympics and Rugby World Cup.

Cultural Endeavour — Kay Newton and Peter Robinson

Kaye and Peter personify community spirit — they have volunteered tirelessly over the years on many projects and contributed to historical education in our area. Kaye and Peter have been active members of the Raymond Terrace and District Historical Society, King St Preservation and Action Group, and The Australian Heritage Festival. They initiated and coordinated the Back to King Street Fair in 2015 — a large family-friendly historical event in Raymond Terrace which has grown each year in popularity.

Environmental Award — Lia and Ryan Pereira

Lia and Ryan are the founders of Sea Shelter — a not-for-profit marine conservation, research and rescue organisation. They are passionate about preserving the local environment and supporting threatened and endangered animals through breeding programs, research, rehabilitation and rescue.

Citizen of the Year —  Alicia Cameron
Alicia is the founder of Plastic Free Port Stephens. Alicia established Plastic Free with the aim of supporting Port Stephens residents and businesses find innovative ways to reduce single-use plastics and educate the community on waste reduction and eco-friendly plastic alternatives.

Young Citizen of the Year — Tasmyn Fellows
Tasmyn, of the Raymond Terrace Junior Rugby League Club, is an outstanding role model for women in sport. At 17 years old, Tasmyn coached a team of 11 year old girls, most of whom had never played rugby league before. The team played against all-boys teams and Tasmyn successfully coached the girls to make it to the second round of semi-finals. Well done Tasmyn on inspiring this young group of rugby league players!

Freeman of the Year — Lorraine Nicol
Lorraine has been described as ‘a ‘pocket rocket of our community — small in stature and large in energy!’ Over many years, Lorraine has given her time to organise countless functions and events, fundraising thousands of dollars for Port Stephens charities. Lorraine is a past president of the Nelson Bay VIEW club, was on the founding committee for the Breast Cancer Support Group, is an active member of the Christmas Bush Garden Club and the current Chairperson of Corlette Hall and Headland Committee — to name a few.

Port Stephens Medals — awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community.

  • Kenyon Windeyer is said to be the backbone of the Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network. Ken has been instrumental in championing several Network initiatives including Suicide Prevention training and the annual Boat Harbour Walk With Us event, raising suicide awareness and promoting community connections.
  • Donald ‘Steve’ Jones has worked tirelessly for the Seaham community as Fire Chief for over 30 years. Steve has been responsible for fighting and coordinating fires, organising the all-important local Christmas Santa run and — despite now being in his mid-60’s — is still being deployed to fight fires. A great effort! Well done Steve.
  • Mambo Wanda Wetlands, Reserves and Landcare Committee has been quietly working to conserve and protect the Mambo Wanda wetlands since 1999. The Committee has been responsible for tree planting, weed reduction, revegetation, rejuvenation of native gardens, water quality testing and koala tree planting. The Group has been the recipient of several significant grants to support their ongoing work, as well as several awards including a highly commended in the Keep Australia Beautiful awards.

Sportsperson of the Year — Dion Cooper
Since joining the Nelson Bay Rugby Union Club in 2009, Dion has supported the running of the club in every way you can imagine — from coach, assistant coach, manager, trainer, referee, junior and vice president, secretary to grant writer, grounds manager, merchandise coordinator and line marker! Always willing to put his hand up, Dion is an outstanding example of local volunteering.

Cultural Endeavour — Rhys Fabris
Rhys is a talented local artist who uses his creative expertise to add colour and life to our town centres. Rhys is responsible for several murals across Port Stephens, including works at the recent Anna Bay 7 Day Makeover.

Environmental Award — Nigel Waters
Nigel is a community champion of Port Stephens who has given his time to numerous volunteer groups including EcoNetwork Port Stephens, Port Stephens Greens, Climate Action Port Stephens, the Tomaree ratepayers and Residents Association, and the recent Anna Bay 7 Day Makeover. Nigel is passionate about making Port Stephens a great place!

Citizen of the Year — Ben Niland
Ben Niland is the secretary of the Medowie Sports and Community Club and chairman of the Port Stephens Council Audit Committee. He is involved in all manner of local sporting activities through leadership and sponsorship. Ben envisioned and established a fundraiser ‘Medowie, Bale out the Drought’ which raised over $80,000 for rural aid to go to drought affected farmers.

Young Citizen of the Year — Amy Dufour
Amy Dufour started playing touch football at the age of 8. Since then she has played as a park player for Nelson Bay Touch and has represented Australia in competition. Amy is a consistent role mentor to younger players of touch football and is well known for her fair-play and abundance of natural talent on the field.

Sportsperson of the Year — Graeme Chamberlain
Graeme Chamberlain is a local Ironman who pushes himself to be his best while also encouraging others in our community to achieve more personally through his work as a volunteer. Graeme is the Club Captain at the Birubi Point Surf Lifesaving Club and is a member of the Tomaree Tri Club and the Nelsons Bay Hash Harriers.

Cultural Endeavour — Michael Francis
Michael Francis is a member of the Board of Directors of the Port Stephens Community Arts Centre, an organisation that he has been involved with for over 20 years. 1420 members and counting of the Port Stephens Community have been members of the Arts Centre throughout Michael’s tenure. Michael is a natural leader who has promoted artistic culture in Port Stephens significantly through his work in the community.

Port Stephens Medalist — Hunter Region Botanic Gardens
The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens were established at Heatherbrae in 1985 and serve the people of the region as a focus for the appreciation, study, research and enjoyment of horticulture and botany through the growing and display of plants. The gardens are managed, maintained and developed by a non-profit company of around 200 dedicated volunteers.

Port Stephens Medalist — Michael Murray
Michael Murray has brought this wealth of experience and organisational professionalism to the Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network, where he has served as the chairperson for the past 12 months. The PSS PN enables volunteers from the community to be involved in activities that can lead to them finding additional meaning and purpose in life.

Port Stephens Medalist — Lee Anlezark
Lee Anlezark is the outgoing president of the Tomaree Parkinson’s Support Group – an organisation that he established 10 years ago and led with optimism, hope and enthusiasm. Living with Parkinson’s himself, Lee fully understands the need to encourage healthy living, healing and well-being to improve the quality of life and health outcomes for those affected by Parkinson’s in our community.