While the debate rages around the subject of Republics, flags and justifications for an Australia Day date change, on this 26th January, there were a whole bunch of very satisfied Australians and soon-to-be Australians in the town of Esk who had abundant reasons for celebrating this special day.
Held at the Somerset Civic Centre, the ceremony, emceed by Lowood’s high-spirited Brady Schultz, a living illustration of the Healthy Lifestyles Australia he represents, opened the proceedings by bringing to the microphone Mayor Graeme Lehmann for the official welcome to audience and to Somerset’s Australia Day Ambassador, Mr Steve Baxter. Steve Is well known for his role as mentor on TV’s The Shark Tank, perhaps lesser known for his other roles as the founder of Brisbane Technology hub, River City Labs. and chief entrepreneurial advisor to the Queensland Government. Steve captivated the audience with his address emphasising the need for ‘resilience’, to ‘give first…expect nothing in return’; to keep going no matter how many the bumps in the road; to be stronger than one’s fears.
Which is why Alexis FitzGerald OAM, the personification of these values, could not have been a more deserving recipient of the Australia Day Art and Cultural award for her 40 years of continuous giving to so many people through her music and singing. In fact, there were 20 or so choir members in attendance and countless others who could not be, who would concur that Alexis’s achievements over 40 years as Musical Director of the Esk Community Choir, the gifts of her music together with so many little acts of kindness to a community even before 1978, could well have been worthy of a win in each of the award categories! Well …perhaps not the Young Citizen of the Year…but what is age but a number when her energy levels are continually on the rise?
However, there were others thoroughly deserving of these Australia Day honours presented to each by Steve and applauded for their endeavours by a grateful community and their many justifiably proud supporters.
There are now at least another 16 proud new Australian Citizens who loudly took the Australian Citizenship Pledge and together with audience members, the Citizenship Affirmation. Presented with certificates and a ‘welcome’ gift of a Native Tree from the Somerset Council, they, together with the attendees, adjourned to the Joan Burke Room to enjoy the company of new friends over a delightful morning tea, a reflection of what it means to be Australian.
By: Sue Walker
|The Hon. Shayne Neumann MP|
|Alexis surrounded by a band of supporters from the Esk Community Choir.|