Sophie Busuttil made clay pins and donated part of the proceeded to Headspace in Ballarat. Photos: FILE

Meet the Shire’s youth and impact Award nominees

January 14, 2021 BY

OVER the next two edition the Golden Plains Times will be celebrating the nominees in the Shire’s 2020 Community Awards.

This week the spotlight is on the Young Citizen of the Year and Community Impact Award categories. Next edition we’ll highlight the Citizen and Senior Citizen of the Year.

Winners will be announced on 26 January at an event in Bannockburn’s Cultural Centre with full coverage in the 28 January edition of the Golden Plains Times.


Young Citizen of the Year

Charlie Thompson

Charlie was nominated for his continued contributions to the Golden Plains Shire’s youth program.

As well as attending regular meetings with the Youth Development Team he was the lead organiser for the Battle of the Bands event held in Bannockburn 2019, which had over 200 people in attendance.

Charlie was also key in identifying and engaging suitable local bands to perform which contributed to the popularity of the event.

While COVID-19 put plans on hold for face-to-face community events last year, Charlie participated in the online sessions program, demonstrating his passion and skills with the drum set with a live performance.

His activities didn’t stop there, as he also managed to start his own online business, Championship Vinyl, selling second-hand vinyl records through Facebook.


Jakob Wray

Jakob has been a member of the Geelong Archers since 2015 and began competing during 2017 in the Intermediate Class (up to 15 years of age), in the Compound Bow Division (bow type).

In 2018 and 2019 Jakob became recognised as a fiercely competitive archer, and soon began winning major tournaments throughout Victoria and Australia in his division and class.

He soon became recognised by Archery Australia with admission to the Regional Development Program and about the same time Jakob was admitted a member of the Archery Victoria state team.

He was named in the national and state teams to major competitions, both in Australia and New Zealand.

His next step will see Jakob admitted to the AA Pathway Program, and ultimately named as a member of the Australian Team.


Rachel Kaiser, along with her sister Megan, have been nominated for ongoing participation and leadership at the Golden Plains Soccer Club.

Rachel & Megan Kaiser

Rachel and Megan were inaugural members of the Golden Plains Soccer Club and have been highly involved playing, but in mentoring and assisting the growth of the sport in Golden Plains Shire.

They have been involved in coaching and school clinics and are wonderful role models for all the young girls who come to the club.

Megan and Rachel were involved in coaching the under 7 and 9 girl’s teams. They are currently part of the senior women’s squad and are role models for the younger girls coming into the team as well as always being available whenever they can to help out with the Miniroo and junior girls.

They have been an important and integral part of the core of female participation at the club.

They are also involved in many other charity projects including Walk for Water and empowering youth through Councils Youth Committee.


Sophie Busuttil

Sophie is a 14-year-old Damascus College year nine student who is socially aware and actively contributes to help others in need.

This year Sophie donated her hair to Sustainable Salons, who collect ponytails and distribute them to charitable organisations and local wigmakers to become wigs for those suffering from medically induced hair-loss conditions.

Sophie intentionally grew her hair with the sole purpose of donating it to make a difference is someone’s life.

Once COVID-19 hit Sophie recognised the impact the pandemic was having on youth and decided to support the youth mental health organisation Headspace Ballarat.

Sophie creates clay pins which are crafted from air dry clay, hand painted and finished with a glossy enamel.

With $2 from every pin allocated to Headspace, Sophie’s goal was donate $200 to the organisation by Christmas, but to date she has raised almost $300.


William & Emily Bradley

Emily and William (Will) Bradley were nominated for being active members of the Golden Plains youth program during isolation.

Emily and Will have said that the activities made them feel connected to their community in a time that disconnection was all around them.

Will was a huge fan of the weekly trivia and helped build Kahoot quizzes based on the interests of other participants while Emily helped to design the Social Isolation Photography competition that was run by Golden Plains Youth.

The competition attracted 30 entries from people around the Shire.

Emily was also very pleased to have received a prize in Mark Smith’s writing competition after his tutorial.

During isolation both Emily and Will together delivered chalk to the houses in their street so that children could draw on their footpaths to brighten up everyone’s daily walks.

They also delivered their baking to people’s front doors to cheer them up and threw an “ISO Graduation Party” outside for a small number of neighbourhood children when they received the news that they were finally allowed to go back to school.


Community Impact Award

Kids from across the Shire attended a come and try day run by new club Woady Yaloak Warriors.

Woady Yaloak Warriors

The Woady Yaloak Warriors have worked hard to provide children opportunities to participate in football and netball activities in the north of the Shire.

Club management successfully hosted a come and try day in early 2020 that saw over 80 children attend and demonstrate interest in the new teams.

The Warriors had set their sights on entering the Ballarat Football Netball League’s Friday night under 9s competition last year, but this didn’t eventuate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders of the club then continued to use their time without competition to secure access to the Woady Yaloak Recreation Reserve at Smythesdale for home matches and training.

The Warriors have also been working extremely hard to engage sponsors and supporters with the view of providing subsidised participation opportunities for those who would like to become involved in the new era of football and netball in the region.


BFS Landcare

The Batesford, Fyansford, Stonehaven Landcare Group are a small group of dedicated volunteers that for more than 20 years have been advocating for and actively restoring the natural environment of the Batesford area.

They have acted to protect and restore the Batesford natural environment through revegetation, pest plant and animal control and advocating for reserves to protect native flora and fauna and engaged with, encourage and educate residents to appreciate and protect Batesford’s natural environment.

As active advocates for the environment, land planning issues, Landcare, waterway protection and the education and reconnection of young people with indemic ecosystems, they’ve been instrumental in protecting land, expanding and improving reserves and engaging schools, scouts and locals alike.

The group has transformed Red Gum Reserve from an open weedy paddock along Primrose Creek to a biodiverse reserve that is home to many plants and animals.


Equihands Youth Leadership

The Equihands Youth Leadership program is designed for young people aged 12 to 18 living in the Golden Plains and Geelong regions.

The program incorporated a combination of interactions with horses, social engagement through food, and the use of virtual reality for reflections to teach youth self-awareness and self-confidence.

These learning experiences supported participants to develop leadership and life skills that allow them to better engage with their families, peers and communities.

There was a total of 43 participants attend EQYLP between July 2019 and March 2020. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the program had to be paused in March 2020 with two more cohorts booked in to attend the program.

To continue to support these individuals an online version of the program is being developed.

The program has also resulted in the participants identifying community projects that would make their towns better places to live. One community project of note was the Meredith Community Garden which recently opened.


Signage celebrating women who have made a significant contribution to the Smythesdale region is just one activity of the Smythesdale Cemetery Trust.

Smythesdale Cemetery Trust

Smythesdale Cemetery Trust was nominated for the significant contribution that the Trust members make to the Smythesdale community.

The Trust is a volunteer organisation with a combined total of 185 years of experience. The longest serving member has been involved for 42 years.

The Trust serves the community by providing cemetery services, maintaining the cemetery in operational condition and assisting with genealogical research.

The Trust operates under the auspice of the Department of Health and Human Services, and holds four meetings per year, plus site inspections and regular working bees.

Cemeteries are considered an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore Smythesdale Cemetery Trust members have continued to maintain their space in a fully operational role throughout the challenges of 2020.