Dungog Shire 2023 Australia Day Awards

Published on 26 January 2023

Citizen of the year 2023 James Ashton.jpg

Social justice crusader named Dungog Citizen of the Year

Dungog Shire has recognised an outstanding group of locals who have made big impacts to the community through social justice, environmental conservation, sporting excellence and significant community contributions with the presentation of the 2023 Australia Day Awards.

The prestigious 2023 Citizen of the Year Award has been awarded to James Ashton.

Social justice and community crusader, James was instrumental in forming the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group. He has proven himself a voice for the people, fighting hard for the rights of residents across the Shire in their opposition to the quarry expansion.Award winners across all categories who were recognised for their significant community contributions are:

  • JUNIOR SPORTS AWARD: Georgia McDonald
  • SENIOR SPORTS AWARD: Lachlan Richardson
  • VOLUNTEER SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY AWARD: Susan Dillon and Pauline Cambourne
  • 2023 CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: James Ashton

Each year on Australia Day, the Community Citizen of the Year Awards give local governments around the state the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution and celebrate community engagement of people within the community. Mayor of Dungog, Councillor John Connors, said the Awards provide an excellent opportunity to celebrate the contribution of shire citizens from all facets of the community.

Community spirit is in abundance across Dungog Shire, and these awards are a great way to recognise our unsung heroes and celebrate their contributions, he said.

“We recognise the contribution of all 2023 nominees to help make Dungog Shire the connected, respectful and united community that we call home and thank our award winners for their hand in advancing this,” says Mayor Connors.

“These are a chance to publicly recognise the tireless work of some of our unsung heroes and say a collective ‘thank you’.”

The Australia Day Ceremony and Awards Presentation was held at the James Theatre today and featured an address by Australia Day Ambassador Corey Payne, an Acknowledgement of Country, word from the Mayor John Connors, a flag raising ceremony and performances by the local singer Megan Edwards.

In addition, four new citizens hailing from the UK, Ireland and Canada were naturalised in a citizenship ceremony immediately following the awards presentations.

Read more about the 2023 Dungog Shire Australia Day Award winners:

1. WINNER: Junior Sports Award - Georgia McDonald

Georgia, 12, is a dedicated swimming star who also plays netball, touch football and competes in athletics. She has represented Glen William Public School at zone athletics, swimming, and touch football. Her passion and dedication make her a great role model for her peers.

2. WINNER: Senior Sports Award - Lachlan Richardson

A rodeo cowboy from Gresford, Lachlan has firmly cemented himself as one of the country’s best rodeo riders, placing second in the PBR Australian titles. He has ended the 2022 season in the top three in Australia. 

The 30-year-old is in excellent form and spent the year finishing either on the podium or within the top five at every event he competed on the rodeo tour. He is rumoured to be the one to beat on next year’s championship tour and is a great representative of the Shire.

3. WINNERS: Volunteer Service to the Community - Susan Dillon and Pauline Cambourne

The Australia Day committee was so impressed with the calibre of nominees, that they decided to give two Volunteer Service to the Community Awards.

Firstly, Susan has been a dedicated member of the Paterson River Pony Club for more than 20 years, initially as a parent, but then remained volunteering in the canteen long after her children moved on. 

She manages Gresford Showground canteen -known as “Sue’s Kitchen - for groups that make use of the showground including the Gresford Show, Rodeo and Campdraft events, the Mud Run, dressage competitions and motorbike championships each year. 

It’s always long days, and she makes sure to stay long into the evening to make sure everyone is fed. The culture at Paterson Pony Club is largely attributed to Sue’s strong example and good humour. Such is her passion for the ground that Sue became a member of the Parks Trust for the Showground.

Secondly, Pauline has volunteered every week for 10 years as treasurer and administrator of the Dungog Growers Stall, an initiative that increase the availability of locally grown primary produce in our community. She is the glue that keep and 25 volunteers together and her efforts have allowed the group to expand and thrive. 

A founding member, Pauline has helped grow the community project from one small stall into something that can be described as a vibrant growers market now filling the CWA courtyard every Saturday. Every Saturday for 10 years – that’s 500 Saturdays! - Pauline has turned up rain hail or shine to coordinate 45 growers who bring their local vegetables, fruit, honey, herbs and eggs for sale at the stall. Pauline ensures all the money raised by the committee from these market days gives back to the community.  

4. WINNER: Environmental Citizen of the YearWilliam (Bill) Dowling

With a lifelong interest in the flora and fauna of the shire, Bill, has been involved in several ecological projects from state forests and Barrington Tops conservation to his work at the Dungog Common. 

He is widely published, completing academic papers on species of flora and fauna and since 2002 he has been consulting to Roads and maritime Service of NSW on threatened ecosystems in and around important road development projects – the Bulahdelah Bypass was just one. He is also a contributor to the ongoing census of flying fox camps, monitoring locations and behaviours across the Lower Hunter. Bill also conducts educational walks and talks for school children and TAFE students, adult educators, and service clubs throughout the Common, all voluntary. 

5. WINNER: Young Citizen of the Year - Gwen Rumble

Gwen is a Year 11 student at Dungog High School and is regarded as a student leader, diligent to her studies and achieving much in her extracurricular activities. 

Earlier this year she received a Premier's ANZAC Memorial Scholarship for 2022, she was one of 20 in NSW to receive the Scholarship. She is also currently a member of the National Rural Youth Ambassador Program. 

6. WINNER: Citizen of the YearJames Ashton

Never one to accept the status quo, James is a voice for the people and doesn’t shy away from a David and goliath type battle, working tirelessly coordinating residents and being a spokesperson for many.  

A former Paterson Village local, James was instrumental in forming the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group, knowing only too well the full effect of the potential quarry development would have on locals way of life and community infrastructure.

He galvanised the community in its opposition to the quarry expansion, embracing the public’s concerns. He has given freely his time, shown considerable leadership and united the community with ease.

For more details on all 2023 Australia Day nominees and award winners visit council’s website or Facebook page.




Brooke Stevenson
Ph: 0407 240 211
Email: brooke@personacomms.com.au 


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