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
- Applications open: 1 January 2023
- Applications close: 30 November 2023
- Awards ceremony: 26 January 2024
How to apply:
- Read the Port Stephens Annual Awards Guidelines (PDF 166KB)
- Visit portstephens.smartygrants.com.au/AnnualAwards and complete the online application.
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.
Citizen of the Year – Brooke Roach
Brooke Roach has dedicated his life to creating a better future for everyone in the local community, with a particular focus on young Aboriginal people.
Brooke works as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer at Hunter River High School and has volunteered his time to lead the Raymond Terrace Magpies Rugby League Football Club as its President, co-coach the premiership-winning C-Grade Men's team, work with community organisations, and introduce sports and the associated discipline to many people's lives. Brooke is an advocate for better access to services for Aboriginal people across our whole community, and continues to inspire.
Brooke is a Raymond Terrace legend, hard worker, a community leader and aspires to make life better for others. He has made a lasting impression through his passion to improve the wellbeing of people in Port Stephens.
Young Citizen of the Year – Emma Newcombe
Emma Newcombe is an outstanding student, contributing positively to the local community through a wide range of activities and volunteer work.
Emma has been a driving force in the development of the Café Alesco, becoming an integral part of its operation and management. If you’ve ever visited Café Alesco in the Raymond Terrace Library you might recognise Emma from front of house operations and her excellent customer service skills.
Alesco aims to reduce barriers to accessing education, so students are able to engage and participate in education to the best of their abilities, whilst gently challenging their potential.
Emma upholds Alesco’s values, is respectful and is always willing to help her teachers, peers, local community and encompasses the Alesco spirit in all she does – overall she’s an outstanding young lady.
Freeman of Port Stephens – Darrell Dawson
Darrell has been prominent in protecting native wildlife and habitat for the benefit of the Port Stephens community. Through his involvement in numerous committees, he’s been instrumental in the development of some of the most iconic environmental features of Port Stephens. This includes the protection of the Tomaree National Park and working towards protecting the waters of Port Stephens from pollution and large scale commercial aquaculture development. He was also instrumental in the protection of the Mambo Wetlands and large areas of local Koala habitat.
Darrell successfully established the grassroots organisation EcoNetwork Port Stephens Inc. in 1993 that now represents 30 affiliated community groups, and businesses and has a membership of approximately 3000 individuals in Port Stephens.
This has all been done with the aim of bringing together the various active environmental and sustainability groups in the LGA, under one network.
Sportsperson of the Year — Jodi Cassar
Jodi Cassar has been an active role model for netball in Port Stephens for over 3 decades now and is the current President of Port Stephens Netball Association.
Jodi spends many hours of her time ensuring that grassroots participation in the game of netball is provided for girls and boys, young and old across our community.
Accessibility and inclusion is an important role of the game that Jodi promotes with all programs offered under Netball NSW, being offered at Port Stephens Netball Association. This includes the recently introduced Inclusive Netball Uniforms policy introduced by Netball Australia and the growth in boys and mens pathways. She’s also helped to instigate the inclusion of Acknowledgement of Country prior to all meetings and at the commencement of each playing day.
Jodi is a Life Member of Medowie Netball Club and also Port Stephens Netball Association and was awarded the Netball NSW Dot McHugh OAM Administrators Award in late 2022 in recognition of the outstanding leadership and management of the administration of netball in the Port Stephens community.
Cultural Endeavour — Gabrielle Carrick
For the last 2 years, Gabrielle Carrick has been the graphic designer for all Tomaree Museum Association (TMA) exhibitions and artistic presentations. Gabrielle leads the design exhibition team for TMA pop up museums, such as D'albora Nelson Bay, Port Stephens Art Competition and the exhibition at the Nelson Bay Visitor Information Centre.
Gabrielle has volunteered her time and used her considerable expertise gained through a lifetime of work in this area to produce very professional results for the TMA and the Port Stephens Community.
Her contribution and passion towards the preservation and promotion of Port Stephens cultural and artistic heritage is outstanding.
Environmental Award — Casey Freeman
Casey Freeman is a young mother to 3 girls and is a passionate Koala carer, volunteering with the Koala rescue team at Port Stephens Koala Hospital. With her work, she actively contributes to the Conservation of the Port Stephens Koala population.
Not only is Casey an active volunteer, she’s passionate about making a difference in Koala conservation and, with her daughters, she developed, manufactured and installed Koala signage across the LGA to help drive Koala awareness. These signs were recognised and supported across the LGA.
Casey is now working with council staff on a new program of Koala awareness signage.
Port Stephens Medals
The Port Stephens Medal is awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community.
- Heather Buckingham
For the last 30 years, Heather Buckingham has played a major role at the St John's Parish Pantry. Heather is a continual force, collecting donations and volunteering every week to provide food and kindness to needy families. For most of her 30 years with the pantry, Heather has coordinated Christmas Hampers for families who can’t afford to buy gifts.
Heather has dedicated decades of work to our local community including welcoming and supporting families by helping with employment and study, providing guidance with life in a new country, celebrating birthdays, including them in family Christmas celebrations and even attending school grandparent days.
- Robert Bull
Robert Bull was a founding member of the Raymond Terrace Men’s shed in 2010, and has been president of the shed 9 times. He’s now an active and lifetime member in Raymond Terrace and also a member of Australian Men’s Shed Association.
As initiator of the Raymond Terrace men's shed band, Robert has been responsible for the shed performing at many external public functions and nursing homes within the community.
He works closely with the Raymond Terrace RSL in planning Anzac Day ceremonies and instigated the men’s shed contributions at the Back to King Street Heritage Festival.
Robert’s contribution to the Port Stephens community doesn’t end there – he’s also a major contributor in providing meals at a local cafe for members of the community in need.
Citizen of the Year – November Sheehan
November Sheehan is the founder of Heart Letter Pen, an online initiative created during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist people feeling lonely, anxious and isolated. Humble, but infinitely encouraging, November donates significant time to manage the group’s Facebook page, coordinate drop-off and collection of boxes across the local community, and individually check, sort and mail card batches.
Young Citizen of the Year – Brigid Douglas
Brigid Douglas is a volunteer gymnastics coach at PCYC Port Stephens, generously volunteering an estimated 350 hours a year to support programs for young people. Brigid has built wonderful relationships with her students and the community, and is an example of hard work and dedication to the sport of gymnastics. Brigid also helps with the club’s school holiday programs and works closely with NSW Police on the Fit for Life program.
Sportsgroup of the Year – Clontarf Foundation
The Clontarf Foundation helps to improve the education, discipline, life-skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. The Foundation has helped to make a difference in the lives of young people in Port Stephens by running programs with students at Hunter River High and Irrawang High School.
Cultural Endeavour – Madeline Crockett
Madeline Crockett gives back to her community by volunteering her time at the Twilight markets in Fingal Bay. Among her many duties, Madeline helps to organise signs and COVID-19 updates, filling market spots, advertising via social media and providing updates to the community. Previously Madeline spent time volunteering to assist her fellow students with their school assignments.
Environmental Award – Leonie Bryson
Leonie Bryson is the vice-president and a key member of Climate Action Port Stephens. Leonie has been actively involved in educating the Port Stephens community about climate change and sustainability and has worked on events such as School Strike for Climate. Through her dedication and hard work, Leonie secured grant funding to install renewable street furniture in Raymond Terrace – known as a Smart Solar Bench – that uses energy from the sun to enable users to charge their phones and connect to Wi-Fi.
Freeman of Port Stephens –
- Kevin Stokes
Kevin Stokes is a founding member of the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. A passionate advocate for the environment, Kevin has spent more than 36 years volunteering at the Gardens. He has worked tirelessly to develop and maintain the Gardens’ traditions, its volunteer basis and its focus on displaying and conserving Australian plants.
- John Nell
As a former Councillor, John Nell contributed 34 years to Port Stephens Council both as an East Ward Councillor and Mayor. He is the second longest-serving Councillor on Port Stephens Council. John is passionate about the Port Stephens environment and was a long-standing member of many committees including the Marine Park Committee, Estuary Management Committee and Tomaree Sports Council. During his tenure, he was a strong advocate for the environment and oversaw improvements to Nelson Bay town centre, more shared paths and new sporting infrastructure.
- Ken Jordan
Ken Jordan was first elected to Port Stephens Council in 2004 and represented the West Ward community for 17 years. He served as Deputy Mayor from 2011 to 2012 and was an active community group member. Ken was passionate about creating greater job opportunities for local young people.
During his tenure, he helped to reshape the developer contributions plan to increase funding for local projects and was a strong advocate for the Men’s Shed movement locally. He was also a passionate member of the Seaham Park & Wetlands Committee and West Ward Sports Council.
- Dennis Peters
- John de Ridder
- Andrew Smith
- Medowie Girl Guides
- 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.
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.