An emergency service campaigner, passionate arts advocate and a person dedicated to improving circumstances for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory are among Wimmera recipients of Australia Day honours.
John Robinson, Jan Morris and Heather Hewett received Order of Australia Medals for their contribution to society.
Former Grampians Ranger in Charge, Graham Parkes of Halls Gap, also won recognition for 45 years of service to Victoria’s national parks, receiving a Public Service Award.
Mr Robinson, a Horsham Rural City councillor and former policeman, won recognition for his long history in emergency-service and family and youth service roles including the foundation of a Westvic Helicopter Rescue Service between 1996 and 2008 and a Koori Court in Victoria in 2000.
A 1998 recipient of a Bravery Medal, he was also a founder and leader of Country Fire Authority’s District 5 Aviation Unit.
Mr Robinson said he considered the honour as recognition for many people.
“I’m very humbled but it shouldn’t be seen as recognition just for myself, but rather a whole group of people,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of community justice and campaigning issues, but you don’t do it by yourself successfully.
“It is definitely teamwork that gets results, especially for long-term things such as the helicopter service.
“I grew up in a family east of Horsham with strong community values and I guess it was bred into us to support the wider community and each other.
“I don’t think anything I’ve done is earth-shattering, I’ve been in a unique position in public life and was able to use that profile to good effect.”
Mrs Morris has been at the heart of community arts and service, especially with her involvement in Horsham Arts Council, Lions International, Horsham Uniting Church, Horsham Special School and major events.
She is perhaps best known in the community for her involvement with the arts council since the 1980s and for dance-training debutantes.
She too said she was humbled to receive the award.
“My motto is that if something is wrong, don’t complain but do something about it and get a team around to make it happen,” she said.
“All you need is passion and something where people can get on board.
“My great passion is deb training where you can encourage people on. I see many leaders coming through.
“My late husband Richard also had a great motto, which was have a cup half full and not half empty, but I feel why not fill the cup up?
“I start each day asking – what have you got for me today? Tiny things can be gratifying.
“I’m very honoured. I’m a great lover of Australia and Horsham and been flying the flag for 30 or 40 years.
“I also have a strong Christian faith and believe there are things I’m meant to be doing, and that gives me the strength to do them.”
Heather Hewett, MBE, received her honour for service to the Northern Territory’s indigenous people in a community-service history dating back to the late 1950s.
Mrs Hewett, a nursing sister who spent many years with the Methodist Overseas Mission at Warrawi, has been deeply involved in education, language and religious programs.
• For more on Australia Day celebrations across the Wimmera, see pages 10 and 11.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of community justice and campaigning issues, but you don’t do it by yourself successfully” – John Robinson