Dungog Shire Australia Day Award Nominations announced

Published on 15 December 2022

Dungog Shire will recognise the contribution of several outstanding citizens from all facets of the community, with the presentation of the 2023 Australia Day Awards on Thursday 26 January 2023. Community spirit is in abundance across Dungog Shire, and these awards are a great way to recognise our unsung heroes and celebrate their contributions.  

Award winners will be recognised for their significant community contributions across categories including: 







Council’s Australia Day Committee has collated all the nominations and a judging panel has made their deliberations and I am pleased to announce this year’s nominees- a fantastic group of civic-minded residents, Dungog Mayor John Connors said. 

The 2023 Australia Day Award nominees are as follows: Owen Nicholson, James Ashton, Gwen Rumbel, Dungog Common Landcare Group, William Dowling, Lachlan Richardson, Stephanie Vasic, Georgia McDonald, Charlie Barnes, Susan Dillon, Robyn Kellar and Pauline Cambourne. 

“These citizens have achieved remarkable results across sporting, volunteer, environmental, business and community initiatives and this platform gives us a chance to say thank you,” Mayor Connors said. 

The awards allow Council to recognise the people in the community that work tirelessly to make our shire the wonderful place that it is to live and work. 

“Our annual campaign is our opportunity to recognise the unsung heroes of our community, the tireless volunteers, the passionate crusaders, the quiet achievers, and the dedicated sporting participants that turn up for our towns, their communities and neighbours, no matter what,” Mayor Connors said. 

The Australia Day Ceremony and Awards Presentation will feature an address by Australia Day Ambassador, Former NRL player and NSW Young Australian of the Year (2013), Corey Payne, an Acknowledgement of Country and address by Mayor Cr. John Connors, a flag raising ceremony and performances by the Megan Edwards. 




The aim of this award is to recognise contributions to the local community. In this regard the judging 

panel will be looking not only at the length or quantity of service but also at the quality of the 

service including individual acts of compassion, generosity, bravery, etc. 



The aim of the awards is to recognise contributions to the local community. In this regard the judging 

panel will be looking not only at the length or quantity of service but also at the quality of the 

service including individual acts of compassion, generosity, bravery, etc. 



This award recognises individuals and organisations championing litter reduction and/or 

environmental initiatives in their local community. Nominees may be recognised for work such as 

preserving the environment, innovative use of the Return and Earn scheme to fundraise for a 

meaningful cause and fostering partnerships that achieve litter reduction and recycling outcomes. 



The aim of the award is to recognise the contributions of individual sportspersons where the judging 

panel will be considering actual performance and sportsmanship within his or her chosen discipline. 



The aim of the award is to recognise the contributions of individual sportspersons where the judging 

panel will be considering actual performance and sportsmanship within his or her chosen discipline. 



Volunteers as an individual (not part of a group) where the judging panel will be considering not only 

the length of the involvement but also the significant contribution the individual has made to the 

quality of life and wellbeing of the people or places they volunteer for. 



Owen Nicholson 

A dedicated community volunteer, Owen has been instrumental in executing a number of community events for the town over a number of years. As committee secretary for Dungog Show, Owen bends over backwards to do what needs to be done to make the show a success, and has done for many years. He also helps organise Dungog Rodeo. 

Given the strange climate with COVID of late, he is a true community crusader, dedicated to creating a wonderful community atmosphere in the way of community events for the people. 


James Ashton 

James was instrumental in forming the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group. A former Paterson Village local, James knew too well the full effect of the potential quarry development.  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. He 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.  

Social justice and community crusader, James is a voice for the people and has fought hard for the rights of residents in the Shire. 


Gwen Rumbel 

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. 


Dungog Common Landcare Group 

The Dungog Common Landcare Group have worked tirelessly to enhance the environment value of the Dungog Common. Their regeneration of the area has restored the flora and fauna by eradicating non-natives, they have undertaken voluntary weed control and their erosion control measures have made the area thrive for all to use. The group have identified rare and endangered species a well as created a data base collection of every grass and tree within the common, which are now preserved at the Hunter Region Botanical Gardens. 


William Dowling 

Bill from Bandon Grove has had a lifelong interest in the flora and fauna of the shire. 

He 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. 


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. 


Stephanie Vasic 

A budding all-round sports star, Stephanie has been nominated for Junior Sports award for her excellence in primary school sport of many codes. She has a high-level of achievement and dedication to training for her ag (12). She was named senior girls athletics champion at Glen William Public School and went on to compete in six events at Port Stephens Athletics Championships. She is also a soccer star and has competed in all school finals for touch football in Sydney, where she scored the most tries and nominated player of the match. 


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. She was runner up champion at the zone championships and been chosen for representative netball and touch football teams, to name a few of her achievements. 


Charlie Barnes 

Charlie is a talented Rugby League player who demonstrates maturity and kindness well above his years. He is the captain of the Dungog High School U15s Rugby League team where he consistently shares his knowledge and skills and leads by example. Throughout 2022 Charlie was successful in trialling for multiple school representative teams, including Northern NSW. He also represented his school, nation, and community with pride in the 2022 Nations of Origin Tournament. 


Susan Dillon 

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. 


Robyn Keller 

Robyn serves the community and more specifically the youth of the Dungog Area through her tireless commitment to Scouts. She dedicates hours each week to not only planning and preparing the sessions for the children but also fundraising for the scouts. The fundraising she conducts allows for reduced fee payments for parents, which in turn increases participation and allows for children from homes with less disposal income to still participate. Robyn instils a sense of community in the children, encourages them to explore their strengths and to support each other to grow and develop. She ensures they are nurtured and under her guidance.  Through her dedication and commitment, Robyn is indubitably sculpting the leaders of tomorrow for the Dungog Shire. 


Pauline Cambourne 

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.  



Corey Payne, NSW Young Australian of the Year 2013 & Former NRL Player 

Corey is the Founder of the Future Direction Network. He is a passionate advocate of further education and has been recognised for his work in this field on multiple occasions. Currently, Corey works in retail operations where he is responsible for teams of people across multiple geographies. 

In 2013, Corey was awarded the NSW Young Australian of the Year for his work in helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds continue their education at university. 

In 2012, Corey was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to conduct global research into how sport is used as a platform to engage disadvantaged youth into further education. 

Prior to this Corey spent over a decade as a professional sportsman in the National Rugby League (NRL) representing the Canterbury Bulldogs, Wests Tigers and the St George Illawarra Dragons in over 130 matches. 

Corey holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Commerce with Merit from the University of Sydney, an MBA from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management and is a graduate of the HPI School of Design Thinking  and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Corey has also studied abroad in China at Tsinghua University where he completed a summer exchange. 

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