New citizens join Australian family at council ceremony

Council honours community heroes, welcomes new citizens at ceremony

Monday January 27 2015, 10:15am

By Rick Stoker

In keeping with the rest our great nation, Far North Queensland partook of many Australia Day celebrations from on-the-water events, to functions organised by resorts and restaurants to back yard barbeques, bush picnics and beach cricket matches.

At the Community Hall in Port Douglas the Shire Council, led by Mayor Julia Leu, proudly conducted its annual New Citizenship Ceremony, Civic Recognition and local Australia Day Awards.

Deputy Mayor Abigail Noli, all councillors and other elected public officials attended.

Local residents filed-in to join in the celebrations and by 10am it was standing room only.

Before conduction the citizenship ceremony, in which 11 people became Australians, Mayor Leu welcomed all present and commented on the advantages, responsibilities and common values held by all Australians.

She pointed out that in over 65 years, in excess of 4½ million people had elected to become Australian citizens.

Cr Leu announced foster parent Natasha Peters as the 2015 Douglas Shire Citizen of the Year.

“Natasha cares for local children in the Mossman, Wonga Beach, Cooya Beach and other surrounding areas,” Mayor Leu said.

“Natasha is single with no children of her own but has cared for over 33 indigenous children over the past 10 years.

“Natasha has dedicated her life to caring for indigenous children, helping young children get a better start in life.

“She just loves helping her people and culture and I’m very proud to present this award to her on behalf of our Douglas Shire community.”

Douglas Shire Seniors Inc secretary Ann Booth was honoured as the 2015 Douglas Shire Volunteer of the Year for her substantial contribution to the community.

“Ann’s ability to keep all members informed of activities, which include regular day bus trips to Cairns plus overnight trips to other locations, is sincerely appreciated by the many seniors who enjoy these entertaining outings,” Mayor Leu said.

“Ann also helps organise the Seniors Week and Christmas luncheon for seniors as well as weekly events including indoor bowls, aqua-aerobics, bingo, senior fitness and card games.

“Seniors in the Douglas Shire are all the better because of Ann’s efforts.”

Mayor Julia Leu also presented Civic Recognition Awards to some worthy recipients.

The Port Douglas Crocs AFL Club was honoured with a Civic Recognition of Sporting Achievements for outstanding success in winning the 2014 Cairns AFL Premiership for the Seniors, Reserves and Under-17s teams. 

“This was the culmination of more than 25 years of blood, sweat and tears for a dedicated group of supporters and a committed collective of young men,” Mayor Leu said.

“This is a tremendous achievement for a club that started out from nothing more than a little tin shed shared with the Sharks rugby league club and a love of the sport all those years ago.

“It is a tribute to not just the players, coaching staff and administrators involved in the premiership teams, but all those who have contributed to the club behind the scenes over the years and the Crocs’ loyal supporters.”

Mayor Leu also presented teenagers Mitchell Bohm, Michael McKeown, Brett McKeown and Jake Mcilhagga with a Civic Recognition of Courage and Mateship.

 “These four young men displayed courage and strength beyond their years in the immediate aftermath of the tragic shark attack on their mate Daniel Smith last December,” Mayor Leu said.

“Despite the severity of Daniel’s injuries and their own shock and horror over what had just occurred while they were spearfishing together, the boys managed to perform CPR for an extreme length of time and offer comfort to their great mate in the worst circumstances imaginable.

“The manner in which these boys conducted themselves is something that deserves recognition and is a reminder that as a small community, we are a family and we help each other through times of need.”

Mayor Leu said it was also a privilege to welcome 11 new Australian citizens to the Douglas Shire at the Citizenship Ceremony.

“Our new citizens originate from Thailand, the UK, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Ireland, Mexico, Italy and the Ukraine and bring diversity and enthusiasm to the Douglas Shire,” Mayor Leu said.

“We’re honoured they have chosen to start their new life as Australians in the Douglas Shire and look forward to sharing many Australia Days with them.”

The music which included our National anthem, I Am Australian and I Still Call Australia Home, was admirably performed by singer Stephanie Byrne and the Mossman State High School Band.