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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 Port Stephens Annual Awards Policy and 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.

Freeman of Port Stephens — Sally Dover
Sally Dover served as an elected Councillor for 13 years from 2004 to 2017 and as Deputy Mayor for a total of 4 years in 2007, 2010 and 2012 (2 years). 

Freeman of Port Stephens — Geoff Dingle
Geoff Dingle served as an elected Councillor for 13 years from 2004 to 2017.

Citizen of the Year — Colleen Mulholland-Ruiz
A member of the Raymond Terrace business community for over 20 years, Colleen is an active patron of the Raymond Terrace Community Positive Behaviour for Learning Committee. The PBL program is an evidence-based, whole school framework which aims to improve learning outcomes for students through creating safe, effective teaching and learning environments. PBL has now been extended into homes, businesses and the wider Raymond Terrace community, thanks to the initiative and determination of Colleen. Colleen is a tireless advocate, not only for PBL, but has a positive, passionate and ongoing involvement in many other community groups including sporting groups, Service Clubs and support groups such as Grandparents as Carers.

Young Citizen of the Year — Mackenzie Bell
In 2017, Mackenzie completed her second swim in the MS 24 hour Mega Swim at Sydney Olympic pool. Mackenzie was 2 years old when her mother Deanna was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Mackenzie raised a huge $1860! All funds went towards the MS 'Go for Gold' Scholarship program and services that directly assist those living with multiple sclerosis while the search for a cure continues. As well as raising money for MS, Mackenzie supports the RSPCA Million Paws Walk, to fight against animal cruelty, a cause for which she is a passionate advocate.

Sportsperson of the Year — Colin Machon
Colin has been involved with the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League organisation for 25 years as Chairman and patron. As Chairman, Colin drove growth and expansion of the competition — the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League is now the largest senior rugby league competition in the world. Colin has overseen the growth from a men's competition of 3 divisions to now having 5 divisions in 2018, as well as 2 ladies tag divisions and a ladies tackles competition. There were approximately 850 registered players in 2008, which as of 2017, rose to 1721. 

Cultural Endeavour — Robyn Killen
Robyn is the Secretary of the Port Stephens Community Arts Centre looking after all legal aspects to with the centre's building and conduct of members. The arts centre has around 400 members spending their time to make the centre a place worth visiting. Robyn, with her background in real estate and strata title, has a gift of keeping the arts centre a safe and harmonious space with a strongly upheld code of conduct. Robyn also advises and helps on the biennial Port Stephens Art prize bringing her vast experience and wealth of knowledge to the table.

Port Stephens Medalist — Geoffrey Basser
Geoffrey has been involved with Tomaree Business Chamber, Nelson Bay "Now", the Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association and both Nelson Bay and Salamander Bay Rotary. He has championed, organised and developed a number of projects including 'Project Neighbour' — a series of public forums for men's health awareness and the End Polio Now fundraiser, to name a few. In 2013, Geoff encouraged a group of Rotarians to look at the significant lack of services in youth mental health. COPSY was established out of this initiative to find the best possible mental health service for youth in Port Stephens.

Port Stephens Medalist — Leon Lindsay
Leon is a true community leader and has been heavily involved with the Probus Club of Port Stephens from 1989 to present. Among his many contributions to the club and the community, he served a term as President. Leon actively supported and encouraged the change to a mixed gender club which enabled the club to grow into the strong organisation it is today. He founded the Volunteer Driver Pool Service which offers transport to Probus Club members who need to get to out of area medical appointments and hospital visits. Leon often took on this role himself looking after club members as well as his Fingal Haven neighbours.

Port Stephens Medalist — Peter Clough
Peter has dedicated much of his time to bringing life and vibrancy to the Tomaree Peninsula through his tireless work on festivals and events through his involvement with the Nelson Bay Town Management Group, the Nelson Bay Rotary Club, and now, the Tomaree Business Chamber. The events Peter organises bring extra income to Port Stephens and provide an array of benefits to local business, particularly hospitality and retail, enabling these businesses to remain viable and increasing employment opportunities in the region.

Port Stephens Citizen of the Year Alicia Cameron with ambassador Ron Delezio and Mayor Ryan Palmer
All of the Annual Award winners together holding their certificates by the river
Port Stephens Citizen of the Year Alicia Cameron with ambassador Ron Delezio and Mayor Ryan Palmer
All of the Annual Award winners together holding their certificates by the river


Community Development and Engagement Unit
Phone: 02 4988 0255
Email: awards@portstephens.nsw.gov.au