Georges River Council’s 2019 Citizen of the Year is Steve Drakoulis, founder of the St George-based volunteer organisation Autism Community Network.
Volunteer of the Year is Mrs Janice Steinfurth and Young Citizen of the Year is
, Ms Stephanie Sekulovska.
Community members were encouraged to nominate their local hero, so they could be considered for acknowledgement for their extensive contributions to the local Community.
Citizen of the Year 2019, Steve Drakoulis, is a father of two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum.
Georges River Council Mayor Kevin Greene expressed his admiration for Steve’s work.
“In 2010 Steve set up a support group in his local area to help families such as his who are impacted by autism and to reduce the isolation that it can cause,” Councillor Greene said.
“By 2011 close to 100 families were using this loose network of families for mutual support, and Steve made the decision to leave the corporate world in 2011 to establish the not for profit Autism Community Network (ACN).
“Eight years later, and ACN currently has over 1,400 registered families, accessing 34 support programs across 17 different local government areas, and Steve is extremely proud of the fact that carers have never had to pay for access to support,” Cr Greene said.
Steve has been described as a dedicated, self-effacing role model who demonstrates humility, as well as leadership in moving communities, schools and politicians to create an inclusive, more tolerant and informed society in relation to autism.
Volunteer of the Year, Mrs Janice Steinfurth, has been volunteering across a range of organisations for most of her life, including over 50 years of service to Scouts and Guides Australia, and was the founding member of both the Bexley Therapy Centre and the Hydrocephalus Support Association.
Cr Greene said that Janice has demonstrated what a difference a good deed can do for the greater community.
“Janice is a shining example of a community member determined to make a difference,” he said.
“And she has dedicated an extraordinary amount of her time and energy to helping out where she sees a need and being a positive role model for others.”
Young Citizen of the Year, Stephanie Sekulovska, who attended Danebank Anglican School for Girls has been acknowledged for her extensive contributions to school life, where she was highly involved in performing arts, debating, choir, band and theatre, and was Captain of Debating and Public Speaking, and Communications Captain in 2018.
“Stephanie’s nomination reveals her outstanding leadership qualities, demonstrated by her support, encouragement and mentoring of those in her care,” Cr Greene said.
“Stephanie has also demonstrated a strong sense of compassion and social justice, initiating and organising a ‘Share the Dignitea’ high tea for Years 10 to 12, to help women and girls experiencing or at risk of homelessness or domestic violence.
“Stephanie will no doubt be a young person to watch, as I’m sure she has a very bright future ahead of her,” he said.
“I would like to congratulate each of our Australia Day Award recipients for their dedication to helping those in our community, and I hope community members come along on Australia Day to thank them as they receive their awards.”
The Australia Day Festival 2019 is sponsored by Club Rivers (Event Supporter), Club Central Hurstville (Supporter), St George and Sutherland Shire Leader (media Partner) and Vision China Times (Media Partner).
Details: Australia Day Festival
Date: Saturday 26 January 2019
Time: Citizenship Ceremony from 10am -12.00pm, entertainment from 12.30pm
- 9pm, fireworks at 9pm.
Where: Carss Bush Park, Carwar Avenue, Carss Park