More than 500 people saw fellow citizens recognised for their community service at Shepparton’s official Australia Day celebrations in the Queen’s Gardens yesterday morning.
Enjoying the shade of trees and a cool breeze, the crowd reflected Shepparton’s diverse multicultural community as young women from the Sudanese community handed out Australia Day badges and flags to award winners.
Shepparton Australia Day committee member John Harbord was master of ceremonies, using his decades of experience as a One FM radio host to warmly introduce speakers and performers.
Australia Day ambassador Huss Mustafa spoke of his arrival in Australia as a 10-year-old Turkish-Cypriot with no English-speaking skills.
‘‘It was a very difficult time. I was the only kid in the school who couldn’t speak English. My teacher told my mother not to expect too much of me,’’ Mr Mustafa said.
Today he is a senior executive with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia with 44 years of service, and is general manager of Multicultural Community Banking.
In 2014, Mr Mustafa was awarded the Order of Australia for services to multiculturalism and business.
‘‘I strongly believe Australia is the lucky country and the land of opportunity — I am living proof of this,’’ he said.
Wilmot Rd Primary School and Shepparton Agriculture Society supporter Sue Trevaskis was named Shepparton Citizen of the Year.
Shepparton Young Citizen of the Year is 18-year-old Shepparton High School student Brooke McCluskey.
Senior Citizens of the Year are Branditt Ave corner shop and post office operators Tom and Dianne Colbert.
Community Event of the Year: Shepparton Parkrun.
Sports Award: Special Olympics Australia Carer Alana Baldi. Arcadia’s Karreen Lucas was announced the overall Greater Shepparton Citizen of the Year, with Brooke McCluskey also named as Greater Shepparton Young Citizen of the Year, and the Tatura and Community Rotary Art Show won the Greater Shepparton Community Event of the Year title.
Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Kim O’Keeffe congratulated award recipients and acknowledged the outstanding contributions they have made to Greater Shepparton.
‘‘It is fantastic to see individuals doing great things for their community and it is important that we recognise and celebrate them,’’ Cr O’Keeffe said.