Wisbey leads Queen’s Birthday honours list in the south west

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Steve Wisbey, OAM, with Camden Hotel – where it all started for him – in the background.

Steve Wisbey found out he had been nominated for a Queen’s Birthday OAM honour when a “lovely lady’’ from the Governor-General’s office phoned him.

Wisbey asked if she was calling about the Governor-General attending the Battle of Beersheba breakfast he was organizing.

“Oh, no, it’s about your nomination for a Queen’s Birthday honour, she said.’’

And that’s when the zaniest volunteer worker in possibly all of Sydney, lost the plot and swore.

Swore as in “you must be flipping kidding’’ kind of way, that’s how shocked he was with what the nice lady from the G-G had just told him.

“She just laughed, and I guess she must get that sort of reaction all the time,’’ Wisbey says.

“Then, after I screamed and finally settled down, she told me that I couldn’t tell anyone.

“And of course they investigate you but luckily don’t talk to your ex or other people who don’t like you, and then you get a formal letter saying you’re now an OAM.

“The lovely thing was that I was nominated by Michael Lombardo and Norm Atkinson from CJD Volvo equipment at Smeaton Grange because I helped them out with a few fundraisers.

[social_quote duplicate=”no” align=”default”]”When I opened the letter I did a little dance for Mandy, my partner.[/social_quote]

“I was very excited; this is one of the highest honours in the land. And you do these things not expecting to get anything, but community is very important to me.’’

The 47 year old Wisbey was one of four civic minded citizens of South West Sydney who were among the 517 Australians recognised in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Order of Australia Honours and who can now put OAM after their names.

The president of the Campbelltown Rainbow Club for more than 10 years, Rodney O’Donnell, a founding member of Camden Lioness club Fay Rae, and the president and founding member of the Mandaean Australian Community Cultural Club, Dr Amad Ismail Mtashar, of Hoxton Park also become OAMs this year.

• Mr O’Donnell, of St Helens Park, received his OAM for service to the community of Campbelltown through charitable organisations. Since 2002 he has been the president, secretary and treasurer of Campbelltown Rainbow Club, a non profit organisation which offers swimming lesson for children with a disability.

• Fay Vera Rae, of Camden was nominated for an OAM for service to the community of Camden. She was the 2014 Camden Council Australia Day Citizen of the Year. A foundation and life member of Camden Lioness Club, she was also a volunteer with Camden Hospital auxiliary for 25 years between 1975 and 2000. She is a member of Pink Ladies, which help with meals for the elderly, Carrington Centennial Care, for more than 30 years.

• Dr Amad Ismail Mtashar, of West Hoxton, receives his OAM for service to multicultural relations, and to the community of South Western Sydney. He is a member of the Mandaean Human Rights Group and he also helped establish a Mandaean Saturday School. He has also been a Peace Ambassador since 2001 and is a member of the Iraqi Forum Committee.

Dr Mtashar is the chairperson of Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre, a member of Multicultural Community Committee, Liverpool City Council, 2010-2012, coordinator and producer, Liverpool Migration History Project, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2008. He is also a member of Liverpool-Macarthur Advisory Committee.

• The federal member for Macarthur between 2001 and 2010, Pat Farmer, has been made a Member in the general division of the Order of Australia. Farmer, who is listed in the citation as being from Maroubra, received the honour for “significant service to the community through fundraising support for charitable organisations, to ultra-marathon running, and to the Parliament of Australia.’’

The citation for Steve Wisbey, AOM, of Camden, says he receives his honour for “service to the community through support for charitable organisations’’.

Which really translates to the fact that if anyone asks him to help them he rarely says no and has been like that for more than 30 years.

In an article published in the South West Voice last November, Wisbey traced his volunteering roots back to a trip to PNG:

“When I was 16 my parents thought an experience helping others might be good for me,’’ he told the Voice.

“Maybe they knew what they were doing. I had to raise money for my airfare and accommodation and I went to Papua New Guinea and stayed for two months in the highlands working on a mission base during my Christmas school holidays.

“I went with a group of volunteers including tradies and we built house frames for accommodation, a dental surgery in the middle of a highlands jungle village and worked in the community.

[social_quote duplicate=”no” align=”default”]“It certainly had a lasting effect on the way I viewed the world and my role in it, not as a passive bystander but as an active participant that could make a significant impact on the world around me.’’[/social_quote]

Fast forward to the present, and the Voice asks Wisbey if this great OAM honour is likely to change his life:

That's more like it: Wisbey as most people know him, pulling on a zany post and an excitable look on his face.
That’s more like it: Wisbey as most people know him, pulling on a zany post and an excitable look on his face.

“No, I am still a very naughty boy,’’ he says followed with a roar of laughter.

“Seriously though, what I want to do with this honour is use it to promote the fact that an ordinary Australian male like me can make a contribution.

“I want to spread the word that while I am an ordinary Aussie male we can do extraordinary things together.

“I want to inspire young people to do the same thing.

“I think there’s a lot of young people who are really great and you see them on Facebook doing good stuff, but probably not enough.

“There’s so much they can get out there and do and feel good about themselves.

‘Remember that community work is great for you, for work experience, for life, for relationships.’’




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