Community Award recipients announced

Australia Day celebrations across the Alpine Shire were a time for reflection, appreciation and togetherness today.

28 January 2021

Communities gathered in Bright, Myrtleford, Mount Beauty, Harrietville and Mudgegonga to celebrate what it means to be Australian, and to connect after a difficult year.

Alpine Shire Council Mayor John Forsyth said it was the ideal day to recognise the difficult times that communities have faced and overcome in the past 12 months.

“It has been heartening to see so many members of our community come together to share breakfast and morning tea and celebrate the commitment and generosity of our Community Award nominees,” he said.
“I admire the strength and resilience of not only the volunteers and achievers we have celebrated today, but also of the Alpine Shire community as a whole.

“As we move towards COVID Normal, I’m heartened to see our communities continue to support and take care of each other in the face of great uncertainty and stress, with a positive outlook.
“I can’t wait to see what 2021 holds for our Shire.”

Local achievers, organisations and events were recognised with Alpine Shire Australia Day Community Awards, and two new citizens were welcomed in a citizenship ceremony as part of the celebrations in Myrtleford.

“My heartfelt congratulations to all recipients - our communities are that much stronger and more connected because of the work you and your fellow volunteers do,” Cr Forsyth said.

2021 Award Recipients

Alpine Shire Citizen of the Year

Barbara Talbot

Bright and District Local Achiever of the Year

John Bakkum

Bright and District Local Achiever of the Year

Nola West

Bright Local Young Achiever of the Year

Jackson Griffith

Community Event of the Year

Gather Festival

Community Organisation of the Year

Mount Beauty Scouts

Lifetime Award

Mount Beauty Car Club            

Mount Beauty Local Achiever of the Year

Barbara Talbot

Mount Beauty Local Young Achiever of the Year

Mitchell Cooke

Myrtleford and District Local Young Achiever of the Year               

Rachel Flack


Mount Beauty Local Achiever of the Year and Alpine Shire Citizen of the Year – Barbara Talbot

Barbara Talbot is a long-term resident and highly regarded member of the Alpine Shire community. Since the 1970s Barbara has been active in local business and community organisations, where she has made significant contributions toward strengthening the community fabric and building community resilience.

Through endless hours of dedication to the community, Barbara has developed a valuable insight and awareness of the individual needs of community members and continues to ensure that those in need are supported without judgement and with care and compassion. Her community member focus extends to building increased community capacity which is evidenced by her initiative in establishing the Mount Beauty Hospital Op Shop and raising over $250,000 to date for the benefit of local health services and the community.

Roles within her community:
• Coordinator of the Mount Beauty Hospital Op Shop
• Committee member of the Tawonga and District Community Association (TDCA)
• Member of the Parish Committee of St Joseph’s Catholic Church
• Representative of the Alpine Community Recovery Committee (CRC)
• Active supporter of the mens shed, Anglicare, neighbourhood centre and hospital
garden girls

“Granny Barb” is regularly seen driving around in her ute collecting donated goods for the Op Shop, dropping off medical aid or items needed for a community member. In addition to this busy role she makes time to visit the residents of Kiewa Valley House and even when she was away from the district, taking the time to send a postcard wishing them well.

In her role with the Tawonga and District Community Association she has been active in representing community interests and securing funding for community projects. A key achievement was the new public shelter in Pioneer Park, Tawonga.

Throughout COVID–19, Barbara maintained a focus on supporting Anglicare through a free food table at the op-shop and supporting the vulnerable community members where possible. Barbara is a pillar of this community, and amid her admirable demonstration of altruism there is a sense of duty and humbleness which reinforces the respect and recognition she deserves.

Bright and District Local Achiever of the Year – John Bakkum

John Bakkum moved to Harrietville in 1971 with his wife Mary and their young family. His first business was running the Harrietville General Store. He jointly established businesses including Cas-Bak Flats, Cas-Bak Building company and the Feathertop Chalet. John’s hard work and determination for a thriving community inspired other people who shared his social values and responsibilities to join him on his ventures.

He is a humble man who would insist that the achievements accomplished by the committees and societies he served were due to the efforts of collaborative teamwork of all the members.
John continues to this day to be an active contributor to the community of Harrietville.

A former Alpine Shire Councillor, John’s volunteer positions over the years include Harrietville CFA, Dredge Hole Committee, Cemetery Trust, Museum Society, Primary School Board and Harrietville Community Forum, to name just a few!

Bright and District Local Achiever of the Year – Nola West

Described as a caring person who is always willing to help, Nola has been a member of the Red Cross since 1975. Nola was president of the Bright Red Cross committee for many years – over that time she has been involved in many supporting areas doing catering at times of floods, bushfires and searching for missing people.

Nola has organised many fund raising activities, such as street stalls, selling raffle tickets and Red Cross Calling. For at least 20 years, Nola has been preparing food and running the kitchen for the Mount Bogong Clay Target Club. Nola’s community roles include being a committee member of the Community and Health Advisory Group, helping students at Bright P-12 College, being an active member of the ratepayers’ association and raising funds for cancer research through the Cancer Council’s Big Morning Tea.

Nola has been active at Hawthorn Village, organising the small shop for the residents as well as carrying out welfare visits to members of the village.

Bright Local Young Achiever of the Year – Jackson Griffith

Jackson is a talented and skilled young man who competes in kart racing at a State and National level. He became hooked on kart racing after his introduction to karts at age 11; he is dedicated to his sport, training, coaching young drivers or working on karts.

Jackson is always extremely courteous, polite, helpful and supportive to all his competitors, stewards and race volunteers - he is a valued and respected member of the karting community.
At age 14 Jackson was racing in the restricted senior class and the following year was awarded a licence upgrade to allow him to race in the senior Open Classes (unrestricted engines). He was the youngest driver to race in an unrestricted class.

Jackson has been invited by Erebus Academy to a ‘Karts to Cars’ program at Norwell Motoplex in Brisbane. In June 2019 Jackson received an internship with Holden Australia in their engineering department.

Community Event of the Year – Gather Festival

Gather Festival is a celebration of music, art and culture and of the mountains and valley. It reflects the ancient history of the area, the migration of the Bogong moth and the bringing together of the people.
Held in February 2020 at Big Hill Mountain Park, Mount Beauty, it attracted almost 700 people.

Occurring immediately after the bushfire emergency and just before the global pandemic, Gather Festival has been described as ‘a shining light in a dark year for events’.
Gather Festival provided an opportunity for the community to come together – to debrief, share and move forward.

This was the first event which managed to run post-bushfire and it supported a sense of optimism and togetherness in the upper Kiewa Valley.

Gather Festival’s aim was to be inclusive, bring people together, and support community connectedness. Riff Raffs was formed in 2018 as a group of volunteers committed to this goal.
They sought support from Champagne Club Kiewa Valley in terms of both auspicing and event development guidance. Some of the Riff Raffs had been involved with other music related events in the past but many were new to the concept, some were new to events, some were under 18 and guided the youth connection aspect, but all shared the same care philosophy.

Strong partnership with Team Mount Beauty, Parks Victoria, Alpine Shire Council and many more businesses, organisations and individuals meant Gather Festival was a true community- building event. In-kind support worth $30,000 was donated by local businesses, groups and individuals.

To support bushfire recovery a community dreamcatcher (approx. 3m in diameter) was created by a local art therapist, where attendees could write their hopes and dreams for the future on a small piece of material and attach to the community dreamcatcher.

Community Organisation of the Year – Mount Beauty Scouts

The Mount Beauty Scouts group was formed in the sixties in Mount Beauty. This group supports and provides for local young people. The Mount Beauty Scouts group has contributed to a number of local community events and activities:

• The Good Friday appeal assists with door knocking and collections
• Australia Day ceremony raising of the flags
• Clean up Australia Day, targeting areas in the community that require attention and arrange clean up activities.
• Anzac and Remembrance Day

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a wide impact on the local community, the Mount Beauty Scouts group stayed positive and provided online activities to connect with their group during this time.

Lifetime Award – Mount Beauty Car Club

The Mount Beauty Car Club was formed in 1972, with races starting in 1973. The current Mount Beauty Car Club committee has demonstrated good positive team work and community engagement.
The Club was successful in raising funds to support the purchase of a grader for the track. The committee used great initiative with a raffle, and the remaining required funds were provided from the Bendigo Bank and the Alpine Shire Council grants programs.

Over the years, several juniors from the Mount Beauty Car Club have successfully competed in state titles. The juniors boys and girls compete together - there is a healthy number of participants, and it is a great way to learn defensive driving skills, plus the commitment to training, learning car preparation and contributing to regular working bees at the track. Mount Beauty Car Club is part of the Victoria Speedway Council, hosting five meetings a year at the Mount Beauty track.

The Mount Beauty Car Club is a good role model for juniors as the Club provides a mentor program to assist juniors with planning and preparation from the ages of 10 -17 years. The club is a wonderful small club that has a great core of members that volunteer their time to keep it running. The club has worked tirelessly for the inclusion of juniors and seniors with disability to be a part of the club and their community enabling everyone the opportunity to race in the safest way possible. There is a great community feel for anyone attending the track which speaks volumes about the people involved there.

Mount Beauty Local Young Achiever of the Year – Mitchell Cooke

Mitchell Cooke is an estimable young man who has done well at school and has developed a strong sense of community beyond his years. He has raised $11,500 for mental health during Movember by completing the Everest Challenge which required him to ride the equivalent of the vertical height of Mount Everest – 8848 meters. Mitchell rode the equivalent 10,000 vertical metres because one sponsor promised him $5,000 if he did so. Mitchell rode 21 gruelling laps to top of the Kiewa Valley side of the Tawonga Gap Road.

In 2020 Mitchell won the Mount Beauty Secondary College Caltex Best All Rounder award for academic leadership, sport and community service. He attended the National Youth Science forum in 2019 and has participated in the CFA junior volunteer development program. He has a positive influence on all people he comes in contact with, and he is a wonderful role model.

As well as his academic success Mitchell was also heavily involved in extracurricular activities. In particular he stood out in his participation in the CFA youth crew program, Australian Secondary Schools Snow sports team, school council and student executive.

Myrtleford and District Local Young Achiever of the Year – Rachel Flack

Rachel is an entrepreneur who has run her own business for the past three years, designing and creating scrunchies, purses and face masks. Since its inception, Rachel’s business has grown and now sells products in the local pharmacy, local markets and online through her own Etsy store. While running her own business last year, Rachel completed year 12 and while also working part time at Chemist King in Myrtleford.

Anyone who has run their own business will testify the commitment required to do it well. An example of a challenge was when she diversified her business model from making scrunchies to face masks. She had 400 orders completed in one weekend and managed to keep all her customers happy by fulfilling the order. Several of her customers are members of the Marian College community and the feedback on her product and customer service is exceptionally positive.

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