Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony - 2024

Published on 26 January 2024


Moorabool Shire Council presented the 2024 Australia Day Awards at the Australia Day Ceremony held on Friday 26 January, 2024.

  • Citizen of the Year – Emma Muir
  • Young Citizen of the Year – Ophelia Fernando
  • Community Event of the Year – Bacchus Marsh EasterFest
  • Mayor Award – David Hookey

Citizen of the Year – Emma Muir

Emma has united the community to form the Moorabool & Central Highlands Power Alliance, now known as the Regional Victoria Power Alliance, and is the founding and current chairperson. For the last 3 ½ years Emma has, through this group, been advocating for the Shire and community members, voicing opposition to the high voltage transmission project known as the Western Renewables Link (WRL). Emma has shown resilience in the face of adversity, considers others needs above her own, advocates for change, has united the community in a common cause, and taken action where others may only think about it. Emma has organised rallies in Melbourne and Ballarat, has held fundraising and community meetings, and has met with politicians and Council on numerous occasions. Emma is the Treasurer of the Pentland Hills Landcare group and is a member of the Grow West Implementation Committee. Her past involvement included Little Athletics, Myrniong Primary School, Bacchus Marsh Football Netball Club and Ballan Football and Netball Club.

Young Citizen of the Year – Ophelia Fernando

Ophelia was nominated for her unwavering dedication and tireless efforts in the service of community through St John Ambulance; her commitment to social justice within her school; and her contributions to youth development within Moorabool. Ophelia joined the St John’s Youth Program in 2019 and has developed into an effective leader within the program; she demonstrates integrity, compassion and empathy in her interactions with others and has volunteered over 150 hours providing first aid services at community events, putting into practice the skills learned through her training. Ophelia also collaborates well with first responders, nurses, paramedics and doctors at these events, showing her dedication to the field of health and her desire to continually learn and grow in this area. Ophelia demonstrates a strong commitment to her studies at St Francis Catholic College, while being involved in a range of leadership teams and extra-curricular groups. She has been part of the Social Justic Team and Student Representative Council, and established the first Debating Team in 2021. Ophelia was an integral part of the MSC Youth Action Group, completing various projects and grant applications. Ophelia demonstrated excellent leadership and time management capabilities, working collaboratively with those around her to ensure successful outcomes.

Community Event of the Year – Bacchus Marsh EasterFest

The Bacchus Marsh EasterFest is a community event that has been running for many years, raising funds for the Bacchus Marsh Hospital. The event is run by volunteers who dedicate many hours into the planning and running of the event, and is well attended by the public. The event provides the community much joy while raising funds for the hospital.

Mayor Award – David Hookey

David has resided within Moorabool Shire for 32 years; he has been a member of Ballan Rotary for 21 years, serving three times as President (1996-1997, 2006-2007, 2010-2011), and received the Paul Harris Fellow Award in 2009. He has been a member of the Ballan Mechanics Institute for five years, is a part of the Ballan Cemetery Trust (3 years) and a CFA member for 50 years. As a committee member of the Moorabool Wind Farm, he has been a tireless worker in the eradication of the European Wasp along the Werribee River, along with maintaining sections of the walking track along the river. David’s continuous involvement within the community demonstrates that he is an integral part of Moorabool Shire and deserving of recognition and reward.

Certificates of Achievement in the Citizen of the Year category were presented to Christine Tiehuis and Nikki Davey.

All award recipients were formally recognised at the 2024 Australia Day Awards held at the Bacchus Marsh Public Hall, Main Street,  Bacchus Marsh on Friday 26 January 2024.