Four outstanding Ku-ring-gai nominees received their awards at a special ceremony on 26 January.
The Ku-ring-gai Australia Day Local Citizen of the Year Awards are presented each year in recognition of groups and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the local community.
This year four awards were presented – Citizen of the Year; Young Citizen of the Year; Environmental Citizen of the Year and the Mayor’s Award for an Outstanding Contribution by a Community Group. The awards were presented by Mayor Pettett and Ku-ring-gai councillors at the Australia Day citizenship ceremony.
Local Citizen of the Year: Community Group
The Mayor’s Award for an Outstanding Contribution by a Community Group was presented to the St Ives Lifestyle Disability Support Team. Over 40 volunteers and staff in the team help people of all ages with cerebral palsy and other complex disabilities achieve their goals and passions in their life.
The team facilitates activities such as gardening, cooking, crafts or going on excursions for their clients. Their aim is to ensure those with a disability are not held back and can take part in regular events and activities.
Local Citizen of the Year: Environmental
Ku-ring-gai’s Environmental Citizen of the Year is Arden Liceralde, a Year 5 student at Sacred Heart Pymble. Arden volunteers in the community garden near Blackbutt Creek in Gordon. She established a plant exchange stall where the local community can donate a plant or seeds to the garden or exchange them for bonsai clippings that Arden cultivates. Through her Instagram account @littlemissbonsai Arden shares her love of gardening and her passion for improving the local environment with other young people in the community.
Local Citizen of the Year: Young Citizen
The Young Citizen of the Year is Justin Qin. Justin is a year 10 student at Barker College and passionate about equality, writing and debating, Justin represented Ku-ring-gai at the NSW youth parliament and during his tenure, wrote a report on alleviating and advancing workplace equality in NSW. At his school Justin advocates for initiatives to combat toxic masculinity. Justin also represented Ku-ring-gai and NSW at the National Evatt competition in 2022. This competition saw thirty teams from across Australia compete in a series of UN debates on topics relating to international relations and global politics.
Local Citizen of the Year
Ku-ring-gai’s 2023 Citizen of the Year is Tony Pang. As a leading member of CASS since 2012, Tony has overseen the volunteer organisation grow into a major social and welfare services provider for the community, especially those residents of East Asian background. Under his leadership CASS provides residential aged care, childcare, aged and disability services, settlement and health services, training and cultural events.
Tony Pang has also worked tirelessly on behalf of migrants through his volunteer roles and advocacy on behalf of the Cultural and Linguistic Advisory Board of the NSW State Library, the Justice Multicultural Advisory Council with the Department of Justice and the Chinese Australian Forum. According to Tony, his goal has always been to bring the community together regardless of background and to help migrants from multicultural backgrounds integrate into Australian society.
Mayor Jeff Pettett said that all those receiving this year’s awards had demonstrated great community spirit and a willingness to push through any challenges.
“I congratulate the winners and all the many hundreds of other volunteers who work round the clock to help local people.”
“It’s way for our community to thank and recognise these special people and I encourage others to nominate for next year’s awards.”