Support for environment and multicultural Hume winners at awards

A Sunbury environmental advocate and a Craigieburn volunteer and multicultural ambassador have jointly won Hume City Council’s Citizen of the Year Award for 2017.

“The winners of our Citizen of the Year award, Mercedes Ramirez and Nayana Bhandari, are amazing examples of how everyone can make a positive change in Hume,” Hume Mayor Councillor Drew Jessop said.

“Amongst their achievements, Mercedes has been recognised for her efforts to educate the community on the importance of bees, while Nayana has gone above and beyond to help new families settle within Hume.

“Many individuals and organisations bring a lot to our community, and Australia Day is the perfect day for Council to say thanks to them.

“Hume’s Australia Day ceremony is made even more special as we are joined by past award winners and former mayors and councillors, who have continued to support and contribute to the Hume community and beyond.”

At the Craigieburn Global Learning Centre’s Australia Day ceremony, Sunbury resident and recent VCE graduate Coby Elyse McTaggart was also named Young Citizen of the Year.

“Coby was recognised for her outstanding service to the local community through her work as a volunteer St John Ambulance member and her leadership during her time as a student at Aitken College,” Cr Jessop said.

Sunbury’s Carols on the Green was also recognised as Hume’s Community Event of the Year.

“The 2016 Carols on the Green event was a massive success in the Hume community,” Cr Jessop said.

“It brought together more than 2500 people, provided local schools and artists with an opportunity to showcase their talents and also raised funds for local community groups, such as CareWorks SunRanges.”

Australia Day 2017 Award Winners
Australia Day Award Winners 2017 (L-R): Nayana Bhandari, Mercedes Ramirez, Hume Mayor Drew Jessop, Coby McTaggart, Juan Carlos Rodriguez-deller, Wendy Caramarco.

2017 Australia Day Award Winners

Hume Citizen of the Year: Mercedes Ramirez

Never shying away from an opportunity to educate, Mercedes became a volunteer organiser for the Hume Enviro Champions project To Bee or Not To Bee – Build a Bee Hotel. Mercedes is a passionate supporter of the environment. She works tirelessly to educate the community on the importance of biodiversity and climate change, advocating for bees and the crucial role they play in healthy plant life. 

She regularly visits schools, gardening groups, and attends festivals to spread her messages. Mercedes also maintains a Facebook page with over 2000 followers, educating local and international fans with high quality information about pollinators and biodiversity.

Mercedes was also nominated for many other volunteer roles including Hume CAN (Climate Action Now), as a member of the Sunbury Global Learning Centre Consultative Committee, volunteer driver for Sunbury Community Health Service, founding the Sunbury Army Cadet Unit, and various mothers groups, school and community fundraising groups.

Hume Citizen of the Year: Nayana Bhandari

Nayana is an extremely active member of the Craigieburn Community, having moved to the area in recent years after arriving in Australia in 2008.

Nayana has a passion for assisting newly settled families to build strong community connections through education, communication and emotional support. Nayana is an activist for women’s rights and is committed to bridging the gap of gender equality, and addressing the issue of violence against women in the community.

Nayana was chosen to be an AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador in 2016 and currently facilitates community groups to engage women, children, seniors and families to strengthen bonds, reduce isolation, increase community participation and minimise family violence.

Hume Young Citizen of the Year: Coby Elyse McTaggart

In addition to the awards for outstanding service to her school, Aitken College, and the broad range of leadership positions she held there over the years, Coby is an active member of the community.

Joining the Sunbury Choral Association in 2010, Coby has performed at many community events and nursing homes. She is also an active volunteer with St John Ambulance Australia and dedicates her time to assist with first aid. This has sparked Coby’s interest in wanting to serve the community, and she is now undertaking studies for a career in Paramedicine.  

Hume Community Event of the Year: Carols on the Green

Over 2500 people attended the Carols on the Green event in Sunbury in December 2016.

A wide variety of community members came together to kick off the Christmas festivities – families, community groups, churches and residents.

In addition to a range of exciting entertainers and performers, the event invited schools, including students from the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School, and local artists to showcase their talents. The event raised money for local community groups such as CareWorks, and delivered fun, excitement and pride to the residents of Sunbury and the wider community. 




Posted on 12:00 PM, 26 January 2017

Updated : 10:41 AM, 27 January 2017

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