Lismore Australia Day Awards 2016

Jodie McRae, a cancer survivor and founder of local charity Jodie’s Inspiration, has been named Lismore’s 2016 Australia Day Citizen of the Year.


Image: Lismore’s 2016 Australia Day Citizen of the Year, Jodie McRae.

Jodie was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer in 2013 and after being given the all-clear, was diagnosed with secondary cancer in 2014. The mother of two and local business owner channelled her energy into establishing Jodie’s Inspiration, which in six short months has raised $105,000 for new medical equipment at Lismore’s oncology units.

“I am truly thrilled to name Jodie the Citizen of the Year,” Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said.

“Jodie’s Inspiration is the name of the charity Jodie founded but those who know this amazing woman also know that Jodie is an inspiration to many people in everything she does and in her attitude to life. Jodi’s motto is ‘Live Life Large’. That’s what she does every day and it is most fitting that Jodie is Lismore’s 2016 Australia Day Citizen of the Year.”

Jodie, who was in Sydney and unable to attend the ceremony, said she was taken aback to be awarded the top Australia Day honour.  “I was blown away… it’s just awesome. Best thing ever!” she said.

“There are so many people out there doing such a great things for our community, and you never expect something like this to be given to you. I’m so passionate about Lismore and the whole community, because it’s given me so much. My input is minimal compared to what I see other people doing.

“The generosity and the kindness of people in Lismore – people who expect nothing and will go out of their way to help you – is truly amazing.  “Just the other night I had dinner out with my niece and nephew, and I went to pay the bill and it had already been paid!  It took me a week to work out who it was!

But I feel like you don’t get that everywhere; it’s something unique about the Northern Rivers. It’s such a close-knit community.”

Other Australia Day Award winners were:

Aboriginal Citizen of the Year: Thelma James
Thelma has been chairperson of the Lismore Reconciliation Committee for over 10 years, and gives strong support to other committees for reconciliation. Thelma is involved in many community projects such as the Banyam Baigham Landcare Group in North Lismore, Rous Water’s ‘Reconnecting to Country’, Sorry Day and NAIDOC Week. She is described as an inspiration, and a patient and good listener who represents the Bundjalung people with dignity and pride.

Young Citizen of the Year: Holley Somerville-Knott
Holley is the CEO and founder of the Stardust Foundation charity and a songwriter who hopes to inspire solutions to social justice. Holley is a speaker for the United Nations and was recipient of the inaugural Young Sustainability Champion Award at the Green Globe Awards in 2014. Holley is creating a comic book to inspire others to be compassionate and kind.

Sustainable Environment: Judi Emmett
Judi is secretary of the Keerrong Gas Squad, an active member of Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, and gatekeeper of Lock the Gate. As part of the anti-CSG movement, Judi organised marches, stickers, bumper stickers, pamphlets and a host of other merchandise.

Art and Culture: Amber Gooley
Amber is a volunteer with Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA). She is also a tireless volunteer for LightnUp Inc. She is described as an effective and efficient administrator and a reliable, kind, honest and trustworthy person.

Services in Community (Individual): Ross McDougall
Ross started the Dunoon Men’s Shed. He formed a small team and energised the group to make the project work. Ross is also captain of the local fire brigade and puts in time and effort to improve the local community.

Services in Community (Group): LightnUp Inc
LightnUp Inc is a community-based arts organisation in Lismore. It provides individuals, artists, volunteers and community members with the opportunity to create artwork inspired by light and shadow. The group conducts workshops for school groups, people with disability, disadvantaged and isolated people. Programs provide employment and support people with disability, youth, the aged and migrants.

Junior Sportsperson: Keea Parrish
Keea has been selected as team and tour captain in the Under 16 Australian Futsal team to tour Brazil. At 15 she was selected to play in a Premier Division team, was the Golden Boot winner in 2015, and is the youngest student to play open girls soccer for Trinity Catholic College. She is also a zone, regional and state representative in athletics.

Lismore City Council Media Release. Published 27th January 2016. (Links inserted by Big Volcano Tourism)