Barely half an hour after presenting the 2023 Australia Day awards, Campbelltown Mayor George Greiss returned to the auditorium of the Greg Percival community centre looking very different.
For the gongs he wore the chains of office over a business suit, but for the ceremony in which 85 residents became Australians, Cr Greiss wore the full mayoral regalia, including the bright red robe.
He had never worn these before and had decided a few days before January 26 that the citizenship ceremony would be the appropriate time to do it.
“I am not sure if I will ever wear them again, but we’ll see,’’ Cr Greiss told the South West Voice in Macarthur.
The mayor in his splendid robe marched into the auditorium behind the local pipe band, ahead of several other dignitaries, including local MPs Greg Warren and Anoulack Chanthivong, as well as several Campbelltown councillors.
Earlier in the day, Cr Greiss named Brian Laul as citizen of the year.
Mr Laul received the award in recognition of his work across a range of community initiatives.
“Mr Laul is a passionate advocate for the Campbelltown community, championing a range of events and programs, particularly focused around diversity, young people and multiculturalism,’’ read the citation.
“He also runs community programs connecting people to important services and information.’’
Mr Laul was among five citizens and one community organisation recognised across the six categories.
“Today is a wonderful day because we recognise those people who made a difference in Campbelltown during the past 12 months,’’ Cr Greiss said.
“The Australia Day awards recognise people in our community who go the extra mile.
“There was an amazing selection of people nominated across each of the categories, so it was incredibly difficult for our panel to pick someone for each of the awards,” Cr Greiss said.
“I’d like to congratulate our winners and thank all the nominees and everyone who put in the time to nominate them for their contributions to Campbelltown,” he said.
Kyla Hodges was named Young Citizen of the Year for her work as an ambassador and committed fundraiser for the Bravery Buddies, a charity that supplies companion dolls for children going through cancer treatment or with alopecia.
Community Group Initiative of the Year was awarded to Horizon Youth St Andrews, who work with young people from all cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds and family structures to guide and mentor them to make healthy life decisions.
Campbelltown Ghosts All Inclusive Scout Group leader Reece Riley received the Disability and Inclusion Award for his commitment to providing opportunities for children of all abilities to participate in recreational activities and form social connections in a safe and inclusive environment.
Environmental Citizen of the Year was awarded to Deb Evans-Clark for her long-standing commitment to the Campbelltown City Council Bushcare program as part of the Noorumba and Scattergood Reserve groups and for her work as a wildlife carer with Sydney Wildlife.
Talented netball player Lachlan Arbuckle was named Sportsperson of the Year in recognition of his selection in numerous representative teams and work coaching and umpiring the sport.
In other Australia Day award news, Liverpool Catholic Club director Phil Coleman received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the community through the Catholic Church and to the club industry.
Mr Coleman, a founding member of the club, has been a director since 1982 and a life member since 2008.
Also receiving an OAM was Lieutenant Colonel Christopher John Holcroft (retired), from Hammondville, for service to youth and to the community.
Mr Holcroft, a former local journalist, is the director of communications and media at the Australian Navy Cadets.