Events & Tourism

Australia Day 2020 awards recognise local heroes

Published: 17 Jan 2020 12:57pm

Some of the community’s most generous and selfless residents have been recognised with nominations for the 2020 Wagga Wagga Australia Day Awards.

The awards ceremony will be held at the Civic Theatre on Friday 24 January from 7pm.

There are six nominees for Citizen of the Year, one nominee for Young Citizen of the Year, three for the prestigious Walk of Honour, two for the Ted Ryder Memorial Award and one nominee for the new category, Environmental Citizen of the Year.

“It’s great to see so many outstanding citizens recognised through the awards nomination process,” Wagga Wagga City Council Director Community Janice Summerhayes said.

“The Australia Day Awards recognise and honour the dedication of people who work tirelessly to make the city a better place to live.

“This year a new award will recognise our Environmental Citizen of the Year. I would like to congratulate all award nominees on behalf of our city.”

All community members are invited to attend the awards, which will feature a presentation by Wagga Wagga’s Australia Day Ambassador and Aussie beach expert Brad Farmer AM.

There will be events across three days of Australia Day celebrations, kicking off with free entry at the Oasis Aquatic Centre on Thursday 23 January between 6pm and 7.30pm. Families and friends are encouraged to bring a picnic and join in the community festivities.

On Australia Day (Sunday 26 January), there will be a free community breakfast from 7am at the Wagga Beach along with fun activities and entertainment. There will also be a special citizenship ceremony at the beach at 9am.

Mr Farmer put Wagga Wagga on the world stage in December last year when he named the city’s beach at Number 9 on his top 20 list of Australian beaches for 2020.

“I’m counting the days until I can take another dip in the Murrumbidgee and feel the sand in my toes along this now nationally famous beach,” he said.

“Wagga Wagga is all things Australian – a vibrant regional city with down to earth Aussie values whilst celebrating diversity and inclusion.

“It’s a marvellously generous city and we’ve seen that once again in the bushfire crisis which has affected so many communities. The people of Wagga and surrounds stood up to help their fellow Australians in need – this is a fantastic city which has a true community spirit.

“I’m absolutely stoked to be part of Wagga’s Australia Day events this year.”

For more information, visit or to find out what other events are in on Wagga over the Australia Day long weekend go to

2020 Australia Day Award Nominations:


Lynne Graham

Two years ago Lynne established the Community Kitchen which operates out of the Baptist Church. Lynne realised many people in outlying suburbs were unable to access this service and decided that the service should be more accessible. From this grew CareVan Wagga which provides three meals a week in Ashmont, Tolland, South Wagga and Kooringal.

Phillip McIntosh

Phillip’s long-time dedication to community is evident in his roles as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Commins Hendriks Pty Ltd, a current Director of the Wagga Wagga RSL Club, a member of the Institute of Company Directors, a past President of the Rotary Club of Wollundry and Chair of the Organising Committee of the Gears and Beers annual festival.

Christopher Kanck

Christopher volunteers with three community organisations in Wagga Wagga – The Demonstration Gardens, Wagga Wagga Community Band and the Wagga Wagga School of Arts Community Theatre, where he builds set productions. Christopher also preforms regularly as part of the Riverina Comedy Club and Community Band. In these roles he assists residents in their cultural pursuits.

Ian Begg

Ian has tirelessly given to many organisations over the years, volunteering in support of Kurrajong Waratah's race day, SIDS for Kids, Clean Up Australia Day, Clean Up Wagga Wagga, Respect Week, Baptist Church Community Kitchen, and Cancer Council annual activities including, Relay for Life, Daffodil Day, Pink Ribbon Day, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, Shave for a Cure and Children's Medical Research.

Jennifer Currie

Jennifer has been described as a silent volunteer, dedicating her time in varied roles at the Smith Family, VIEW Club, supporting refugee families, volunteering at St Aidan’s Church, Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day and the Men’s Rugby Choir. Jennifer has been heavily involved in Wagga softball and is a life member of the association.

John Mason

John is an active member of the Wagga Wagga Men’s Shed and was a key driver in rebuilding the shed after it was destroyed by an arson attack some years ago. John’s association with the Men’s Shed enables him to spend time teaching and practising wood-work. The relationships he has built at the Men’s Shed have contributed to the health and wellbeing of many of the members.


Geoffrey Jacobson

Geoffrey is a well-known in the Wagga Wagga volleyball scene and has been instrumental in the growth of the sport in the city. He has contributed in various roles for 25 years, including President, Secretary, and Referees Coordinator. Geoffrey is also the foundation treasurer for Wagga Brothers Rugby League Club and Secretary for Wagga Swans Junior Australian Football Club.

Ian Begg

Ian has volunteered his time with many school sporting initiatives including the Carroll Cup (AFL), Hardy Shield (NRL), Creed Shield, Shippard Shield and Turner Cup (Soccer) and Byrnes Shield (Cricket). He also supports youth sporting clubs though his role as coach and club referee as a Level 4 referee with Football Wagga Wagga Association, and coaches at North Wagga AFL club.


Ben Holt

Ben is a passionate educator who wants to share how the community can make simple changes to address and adapt to climate change in the local area. Ben practices what he preaches by implementing sustainable practices at work to limit waste and save water and at home, regularly cycling to work. Ben has been an advocate and strong supporter of likeminded events and groups, attended the March 2019 Climate Change rally, and worked closely with the organisers of the Global Climate Strike March in September 2019 in which he also participated.


Meghan Graham

Meghan is an active member of the Wagga Wagga community and is currently studying at The Riverina Anglican College. Meghan regularly volunteers her time at the Baptist Church community kitchen, Kurrajong Race Day, Daffodil Day and has been involved in RESPECT day.


Michael Henderson

Michael has been nominated in recognition of his advocacy to the upkeep of Wagga Wagga’s Lake Albert and for his commitment to the ongoing future of the Wagga Wagga Boat Club.

Ian Begg

Ian is an outstanding ambassador for the Wagga Wagga community. Ian volunteers across numerous community activities, including Kurrajong Race Day, annual fundraisers run by the Cancer Council and sporting events and clubs.

John Mason

John is an active member of South Wagga Rotary Club and Wagga Wagga Men’s Shed. John’s nominator fondly recalls ‘The Rock Project’ that John recently managed, where through his connections with South Wagga Rotary, he came across an NDIS request to rebuild a bedroom of a residence at The Rock. This project turned into the rebuild of half of the house and John took on the role of co-ordinating and seeing the project to completion.

Australia Day activities 2020

Thursday 23 January: Australia Day at The Oasis

Bring the family, inflatables and a picnic to the Oasis Regional Aquatic Centre. Free entry from 6pm - 7.30pm. No entry or pass outs after 7.30pm. Glass, alcohol or commercial food are not permitted.

Friday 24 January: Australia Day Awards

Be at the Wagga Civic Theatre for the Australia Day Awards Ceremony featuring performances by the Army Band Kapooka and the national anthem competition finalists. Meet Brad Farmer, Australia's very own Beach Ambassador. Free entry to the event from 7pm - 9.30pm.

Sunday 26 January: Australia Day Celebrations + Community Breakfast + Citizenship Ceremony

Riverside: Wagga Beach is the place to be on Australia Day morning. Fun activities and entertainment will be available for the whole family to enjoy. Triple M Radio will be live broadcasting from 6am-9.30am and serving breakfast at 7am.

Join the Mayor in welcoming our newest citizens at a ceremony at Wagga Beach from 9am.