Casey’s top citizens honoured

Melanie Bramble's dedication to sustainability and recycling has earned her Casey Environment and Sustainability Champion at the City of Casey 2023 Community Awards. 280796_06

The City of Casey recognised and celebrated a record number of outstanding individuals and groups for going above and beyond in their contribution to the community at the 2023 Casey Community Awards on Wednesday 25 January.

Council held a special gala celebration event to announce the recipients of this year’s awards and acknowledge all the worthy finalists across the eight categories.

Jo Ann Fitzgerald was named the 2023 Casey Citizen of the Year, Peter Cahill the Casey Senior of the Year, Tanisha Dooley the Casey Young Citizen of the Year, Liesel Kippen was named Casey Woman of the Year, dance group Bandok Tati was the winner of the Lindsay King Art Award, Melanie Bramble was named the Environment and Sustainability Champion and the winner of the Casey Diversity and Inclusion award was the Afghan Australian Philanthropic Association.

Not-for-profit organisation Food Pantry was announced the 2023 Casey Community Group of the Year. They were awarded this for their work in supporting Casey residents with food, supplies, and essentials.

Maggie Ma’s art program with young Casey girls and women on the spectrum was awarded Highly commended in the Equity and Inclusion award, as was The Friends of Wilson Botanic Park, whose work supporting Berwick’s Wilson Botanic Park was highly commended in the Environment and Sustainability Champion award category.

City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff PSM announced the winners and congratulated all the nominees for the well-deserved recognition.

“It’s fitting that we celebrate the individuals and community groups who give so much to our community and make Casey such a wonderful place to live,” Ms Duff said.

“Today we celebrate the many people who give their time, passion and energy to help build a better community here in Casey.

“I’d like to congratulate our 2023 Casey Citizens of the Year, along with the award winners and all the nominees for these prestigious awards. Thank you for the contribution you all make to our community.”

2023 Casey Community Award recipients

Casey Citizen of the Year – Jo Ann J Fitzgerald

Jo Ann is the heart and soul of Neighbourhood Watch Casey (NHW) which has flourished under her leadership. A lifelong public servant, she works tirelessly to ensure the group grows, stays together, is relevant and meets regularly. Jo Ann has established good partnerships with council, police and local businesses to ensure the best outcomes for the community.

She manages the group and its community events, including Safe Plates Day, community safety information, and the group’s Facebook page, sharing timely and relevant safety information with Casey residents.

She also sits on Council’s Casey Community Safety reference group to ensure NHW has a voice and is represented.

Casey Young Citizen of the Year – Tanisha Dooley

Tanisha is a mentor with the Casey Youth Action Committee making positive contributions to the group, showing exemplary leadership and a willingness to give her time and support to others.

She also tutors on a weekly basis at the Aboriginal Gathering Place in Doveton, using her teaching skills to support young community members with homework assistance. She makes a positive contribution to the lives of young people in Casey.

Casey Senior of the Year – Peter Cahill

Peter has been a volunteer English language tutor with the Adult Migrant English Service for 17 years. He is a star volunteer and always goes above and beyond developing material to ensure his students can continue practicing and learning.

During lockdown and social isolation, Peter ensured his students were engaged and encouraged to participate. He created various activities via Zoom and Facetime to help his learners continue to practice and grow even under difficult conditions. He also workshops ideas with his students to get the best out of them and ensures he is using the right tools to support them.

Casey Woman of the Year – Liesel Kippen

Liesel is a teacher by profession and serves as an inspiration to others by making a difference in people’s lives. She raised over $17,000 for the homeless. Liesel also coordinated a care day for the vulnerable in our

community before Christmas, offering hot meals, food hampers, clothing, blankets, toiletries and gifts for those who would otherwise go without.

She consistently volunteers with a soup kitchen, raises funds for homelessness, collects and distributes warm clothing, has a voice on the Casey Council Libraries group and supports overseas charities too.

Liesel demonstrates compassion and positivity in everything she does for our community.

Casey Environment and Sustainability Champion – Melanie Bramble

Melanie takes recycling seriously, at home and in the community. She funds many different hard-to-recycle recycling options for the community, with her house being the drop-off point. She is passionate about recycling, and coordinates with her children’s school and her workplace to make sure everything that can be recycled is recycled. She also promotes other recycling programs available to Casey residents.

Melanie runs a Facebook page promoting local recycling options available to Casey residents. She has reduced waste in her own home and is keen to learn more about waste and recycling so that she can improve on her efforts, promote the services she offers, and share her wisdom.

Casey Diversity and Inclusion Award – The Afghan Australian Philanthropic Association (AAPA)

The AAPA provides support and information about education, health, police, housing, and employment to newly arrived Afghan migrants and refugees.

Older members of the community are encouraged to stay connected and young people are engaged through sport, specifically soccer, as well as music and dance that enables Afghan culture and heritage to be celebrated. The group supports diversity and inclusion for all, in particular women, who under the Taliban regime were forbidden education, medical support and employment opportunities.

Lindsay King Art Award – Bandok Tati

Bandok Tati is an Aboriginal dance group based in the City of Casey – Boonwurrung/Bunurong Country. They are a group of young men aged from 8 to 21 years old who aim to bring more awareness to their culture through song and dance. They pride themselves on their authenticity and power to share their personalities and smiles with everyone they meet. They hope to inspire the broader community, and eventually the world, to learn more about the beauty of the oldest surviving culture in history, Aboriginal culture.

Casey Community Group of the Year – Berwick Church of Christ Food Pantry

Food Pantry volunteers have been providing crisis care to the community in the form of fresh and non-perishable food, toiletries and nappies for the last ten years.

The Food Pantry team have created an environment where clients are respected, valued, accepted and cared for during their time of need.

As well as the practical support they provide, the team works to brighten the lives of those they serve emotionally. Their dedication is demonstrated by providing a comfortable waiting space, ensuring privacy is upheld, and supporting specific dietary requirements. The volunteers show their exceptional service and commitment to those going through financial hardship in our community daily.