2020 Australia Day Awards winners

  • Citizen of the Year: Veronica Whittaker
  • Young Citizen of the Year: Ellie-May Maguire
  • Community Event of the Year: 91st Red Hill Show
  • Community Inspiration Award: Valerie Rowe
  • Community Inspiration Award: Harrison Hansen
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: William Mackenzie
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Jean Stirling
  • Acknowledgement of Excellence Award: Uncle Bob's Club Annual Good Friday Wheelbarrow Push

Thank you to all winners and nominees for their commitment to our community. Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition. 

About Veronica Whittaker – Citizen of the Year


Veronica is being recognised for her work with Clothes4U, a not-for-profit boutique providing clothing to those in need.

In 2013, local women got together to discuss how they could help disadvantaged women and girls on the Peninsula. Their idea was to pamper women who were fragile and raise their confidence. Veronica became President of Clothes4U and led the team. There is now the same service for men. 

Both men and women can be clothed, fitted with shoes, under garments and toiletries. There are educational programs to assist with interview preparations and a free hairdressing service for clients on a weekly basis.

Veronica achieved a non-profit status and Clothes4U became a registered charity, eventually receiving deductible gift recipient status.

About Ellie-May Maguire – Young Citizen of the Year

Ellie-May, aged 22, is being recognised for her advocacy in juvenile diabetes research, her contribution to JDRF Australia (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), her involvement with the local Type 1 Diabetes community, and her own career as a Paramedic. 

Ellie-May is a lead campaigner for Victoria advocating for Type 1 Diabetes research, she is a mentor to the younger community living with Type 1 Diabetes, and she is the public face of JDRF at Kids in the House in Canberra. 

She was also involved in securing bipartisan support from the Government for $54.5 million in funding for clinical research to prevent, treat and cure Type 1 Diabetes.

About 91st Red Hill Show – Community Event of the Year

The 91st Red Hill Show was held on 9 March 2019 and run by the Red Hill Horticultural Society which was formed in 1896.

The Red Hill showgrounds were transformed into a colourful, appetizing and entertaining spectacle, attracting around 11,000 people – many of those making the trip from Melbourne and further afield.

There were 96 trade sites, 450 exhibitors and 1,500 exhibits, championed by 150 volunteers and supporters.

Peninsula producers were the focus of the celebrations and the newly created Mornington Peninsula Paddock was full, with gourmet food and 5-star producers. 

The show is focused on social sustainability and community building and provides an opportunity for community groups to fundraise and/or promote their organisations.


The Selection Panel in its consideration of nominations for the 2020 Citizen of the Year Award came to unanimous agreement that there were candidates who warranted consideration beyond the scope of the current award categories. 

Based on the exceptional merits of these candidates, and in recognition of the significant contribution to the community, the Selection Panel unanimously agreed on three extra awards – Community Inspiration Awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards and an Acknowledgement of Excellence Award.


About Valerie Rowe Community Inspiration Award

Valerie recently set up Seawinds Capel Sound Boomerang Bags – a group that sews reusable bags to reduce plastic bag use.

Valerie coordinates the group and works with the community to see where else help is needed. She recently coordinated swags for the homeless on the Peninsula foreshore and organised cancer bags for people receiving intravenous treatment to be mobile.

Another of Valerie’s initiatives is ‘Boomer Bears’ which are small handmade teddies used by Emergency Services when attending difficult family scenes and car accidents to reduce stress on young children. 

These free bears are made using recycled fabric and the local services have said it gives their staff and volunteers a real lift in sad situations.

As well as managing the Angel Op Shop in Rosebud and increasing their profits for local charities, she organises fundraisers for families in need, volunteers for any emergency event and is a foster mum for dogs for kids with disabilities.

About Harrison (Harry) Hansen – Community Inspiration Award

Harry is only 16 and has just completed Year 10 at Western Port Secondary College.

Harry was one of the Year 10 leaders and has been involved in mentoring programs for challenging Year 3 and 4 students to support their successful transition into secondary schooling. 

With the support of other Year 10 leaders, he essentially ran the Year 7 camp and helped organise and run Community Days, such as R U OK Day, and ran school tours for prospective parents and students. 

He has participated on many committees organised by school leadership seeking feedback about college initiatives and is also involved in the Youth Advisory Council. 

About William (Bill) Mackenzie Lifetime Achievement Award

Bill has had a very long and full life, being greatly involved in the Mornington and Frankston Rotary Clubs and establishing the Mount Martha Rotary Club, foundation member of Mount Martha Probus, member of Mount Martha Bowls Club, founding member and elder of Mount Martha Uniting Church and secretary of Mount Martha Book Club.

Bill is very community minded and is a firm believer in volunteering his time fundraising for many organisations, handing out ‘how to vote’ cards on election days, running book stalls, taking parishioners to appointments, and opening his home to bible study classes. 

He also established Kankama in Mornington, which provides a day service to adults with an intellectual disability across the Mornington Peninsula.

Bill has been a very committed and dedicated member of the community for nearly all of his 95 years.

About Jean Stirling – Lifetime Achievement Award

Jean has been recognised for her exemplary and dedicated service to the Sorrento community through 65 years of active volunteering roles.

Jean was a foundation member of the Sorrento Ambulance committee where funds were raised for the purchase of land and building of an ambulance station which opened in 1965.

Jean was Secretary of the Sorrento Presbyterian Church committee Church Ladies Guild for 25 years and organised fetes and flower shows to support church activities.

She was also Secretary of the Sorrento Red Cross committee and arranged for the first visits of the mobile blood bank to Sorrento.

Jean has also been involved with the Sorrento Op Shop and Nepean Historical Society and has been recognised for her work with both of these organisations.

She has spent 91 years of her life living in Sorrento and surrounding areas, has maintained a lifelong commitment to service to the Sorrento community and still volunteers at 95. 

About Uncle Bob's Club Annual Good Friday Wheelbarrow Push – Acknowledgement of Excellence Award

For more than 60 years the Uncle Bob’s Club has raised money for the Royal Children’s Hospital.  The Peninsula members of the Club are made up of less than 20 members, many in their 70’s and 80’s. 

The group’s main event has been the 29-kilometre Good Friday Wheelbarrow Push from Sorrento to Safety Beach.

The community drops money into the barrow and into the collection tins of the walkers as it passes by on its six-hour journey. 

While the barrow is being pushed, a contingent of fire trucks from the CFA drive around the streets also collecting on behalf of Uncle Bob’s Club, and other volunteers, including members of other service clubs, assist by collecting at traffic lights between Mornington and Rosebud.

Over the years the event has raised well over $2 million, with last year’s event raising over $90,000.