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Australia Day Eve 2023 - Distinguished Through Service – Buloke Australia Day Award Winners

Distinguished Through Service – Buloke Australia Day Award Winners

Publish date: 9pm Wednesday 25 January 2023

Several of Buloke’s outstanding contributors were recognised for their dedication to the community at Buloke Shire Council’s Australia Day Eve Awards, presented at the Watchem Hall on Wednesday evening.
Julie Coffey of Birchip, was named Citizen of the Year, Ella Sheahan of Dumosa, was named Young Citizen of the Year, and Event of The Year Award was ‘Anzac Day 2022 - Wycheproof RSL’.


BSC_Aust_Day_Eve_2023_ JulieCoffeyandEllaSheahan

Pictured: Citizen of the Year, Julie Coffey of Birchip and Young Citizen of the Year, Ella Sheahan of Dumosa.

Citizen of the Year

Citizen of the Year, Julie Coffey, is the quintessential team player and mentor, approachable and always helping others to always feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves.
Life Membership is the highest honour bestowed upon an individual who demonstrates exceptional, loyal, outstanding service, and provides measurable benefit to an organisation. Julie is the recipient of not one, but remarkably, three life memberships for her incredible contribution to her beloved Birchip-Watchem Netball Club, Birchip Lawn Tennis Club and North Central Netball Association.
Julie has also been heavily involved with the Birchip Leisure Centre, serving on the committee for over 20 years, many of these in executive roles. She has also held the positions of Secretary of Birchip Agricultural and Pastoral Society for nine years, then as Treasurer for a year, before it was formally dissolved.
Julie began her commitment to the Birchip Netball Club as a young netballer in 1976, and established a long playing, coaching and administrative career, winning numerous awards including, but not limited to: three Premierships; and as a member of the North Central A-Reserve team, winning Country Week in 1985.
Her impartiality, thorough knowledge of sporting by-laws and constitutions at League level, ensured clarity at meetings when needed, and fairness as the Club’s Dispute Liaison.
It is her open mindedness and consideration for listening to others that has earned the admiration and respect of her community.
Julie asks questions instead of providing answers, supports ideas instead of judging them, and facilitates their development instead of dictating what has to be done.
She is an ‘ideas coach’ and has sewn this mantra into Birchip’s fabric throughout all her volunteer associations over the last four decades, creating a wonderful learning culture.
Her love and pride in her town is profound. She takes every opportunity to post photos and interesting information on the “I Grew Up in Birchip” Facebook page, reflecting a proactive community to encourage new residents to come and share in the experience.
Julie more than lives up to the selfless archetype of having a ‘heart of gold’ by putting her heart into everything she does.
She was the main point of contact for over two months assisting Blaze Aid volunteers in 2016, which had established a base camp at the Birchip Tennis Club, whilst they repaired fence lines impacted by flooding in the community.
Those who nominated her for the Buloke Shire Council Citizen of the Year Award, remarked that her optimism and boundless energy has never waned, nor her infectious passion and generosity.
Julie is a deserving recipient of this award as an exemplary leadership practitioner in Buloke, having mastered imparting knowledge and helping others discover it themselves. 


Young Citizen of the Year

Young Citizen of the Year, Ella Sheahan’s character strengths embolden courage, honesty, perseverance and zest. These strengths have underpinned her selfless drive to help others, as well as provide inspiration to them.
Ella completed her secondary education at Wycheproof P-12 College, last year, however she also dedicated the year, as a School Captain, to pursuing social justice for others.
When concerns were raised that bed numbers may be reduced at the Wycheproof Campus of East Wimmera Health Service, she promptly put pen to paper to seek government intervention. Her message drew the attention of the local member of parliament, who responded to her perceptive and spirited pleas by visiting the school to discuss the concerns with her directly.
Her efforts showed tremendous courage, speaking out as a health service employee, where she had worked for three years, in the interests of her community, work colleagues, and the aged care residents in her care.
Ella had previously attended a nine-week leadership camp, which had helped to develop her skills and confidence. However, her kindness and passion for helping others have always been her defining attributes, propelling her forward in the direction of physical and psychological wellness from an early age.
Her empathic nature could be attributed to living as a type one diabetic, yet Ella has managed this disease without complaint, and instead inspires those around her to be motivated to get up in the morning and live life with adventure.
Her approach to tasks are never half-hearted. Ella enjoys her sports and excels in all of them. She has represented her school in swimming and running at state level, and often makes a point of running around Mount Wycheproof at least 3-4 times a week, as part of her preparation, to motivate others and promote the town.
Ella also performs flute in the school concert band.
Selected as Captain of her local netball team for three consecutive years, she also has coached the Under-17 girl’s side, gaining her C-grade coaching badge, last year, which contributed to earning her the Junior Distinction Award at the Nullawil Netball Club in 2021.
Ella also is a Lifeguard at the Wycheproof Swimming Pool, and her willingness to always take on extra shifts when no one else is available, to ensure it remains open is a testament to her dedication to community.


Event of the Year

Each year the Wycheproof RSL Sub-Branch conducts an ANZAC Day ceremony.
The 2022 event was particularly significant, with the unveiling of a sculpture within the new Avenue of Honour at the northern end of the township.
The event also featured a guest speaker of the armed forces from Creswick, performances by the Wycheproof-Charlton Brass Band and the singing of the National Anthem.
The event drew a large crowd. Attendances have steadily climbed over the past five years as a result of these reinvigoration activities undertaken by the branch, and in spite of the challenges of the COVID pandemic.
The community was encouraged to explore the township more widely, walking through the new Avenue of Honour, and to view information boards, visit the Museum, and partake in a community barbecue in the park.
Australia Day Ambassador, Major General David McLachlan AO, was the guest speaker as part of the Australia Day Ambassador Program. David has set an example of distinguished service and outstanding leadership since being called up for national service in 1956. His work since retiring from the Army in 1994, he has become a passionate and hardworking advocate for returned service persons, inspiring positive change in their everyday lives.



Pictured above: Mayor Cr Alan Getley and Graeme (Tige) Allan representing the Wycheproof RSL Sub-branch.

Australia Day Ambassador

Bart Maxwell Turgoose is an influential driver of youth issues in the Wimmera. He became an Australia Day Ambassador at the age of 16, after a string of achievements in leading community engagement and advocacy for a number of organisations, with all three tiers of government.
His most notable achievement to date was being awarded ‘National Young Legend of the Year’, which not only recognised his significant advocacy work, but also for founding his own businesses “Worm King” selling worms. This business not only underpinned the successful expansion of Horsham’s major fishing competition, but also saw his business becoming a bespoke supplier of eco-fertiliser to agriculture industry in the Horsham region.
His passion for clay target shooting prompted him to launch “Barts Clay Target Adventures”, which encourages young people to join in clay target shooting and promote pathways through being outdoors.
Bart developed an early interest in social media and photography, and through his association with volunteer groups, generating content and imagery for them, this interest has spilled over into another business sideline in the Wimmera Shire, promoting business and tourism activities.
Pictured below: Australia Day Ambassador, Bart Maxwell Turgoose (right), with Mayor Cr Alan Getley at the Australia Day Eve event at Watchem.