Aboriginal rights activist Kerriann Dunn has been crowned Citizen of the Year at the annual Lake Macquarie Awards.
Ms Dunn was handed the city’s top honour on Friday night for her work with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) – a non-profit organisation that provides advice on education and training issues in order to represent the Aboriginal community’s viewpoint.
She currently serves as vice president on the AECG’s local committee at the Itji Marru Aboriginal Resource Centre in Morisset.
“My motivation in all that I do in the community is to make a difference,” Ms Dunn told Newcastle Weekly.
“It’s the way I was raised and I’m so thankful for this opportunity to show my kids that all it takes is commitment to help others.”
Ms Dunn also volunteers at Southlake Marketplace; with the Southlake Community Drug Action Team; Morisset High School Parents and Carers; and is a senior team leader at the Lake Munmorah Foodbank.
She said the award could help shine a light on those causes close to her heart.
“With the support of their mob and the greater community, young Aboriginal people can be inspired to create bright futures for them and their communities through learning,” she said.
“[Since] we started Southlake Marketplace six years ago, we have helped to provide food security to more than 115,000 families in west Lake Macquarie and northern Central Coast.
“Can you imagine what it would be like to not know how to feed your family and children? The most vulnerable in our community deserve, and need, this support.”
She added another goal was to help Community Hair Project founder, Christine Mastello, grow the unique service. It provides dignity and human contact for the homeless, survivors of domestic violence and people down on their luck, one hair cut at a time.
Other award winners on the night included Young Citizen of the Year Ky Willott, who was an ambassador for his family, sport and country while in South Africa as part of the Australian School Boys’ hockey team.
Trampolining champion Ty Swadling won Sportsperson of the Year, while Jessica Pickering and Ky Willott claimed the Junior Sportsperson of the Year gong.
Volunteer of the Year went to Patricia Buttsworth, and the Norm Johnston Memorial Administrator/Volunteer of the Year was won by Brett Austine.
Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie won the Community Group of the Year award; Masters Sportsperson of the Year went to Jenny Enderby; and Bryce Webber received the International Children’s Games Fair Play Award.