Inspiring South Australians Announced at Australia Day Awards Ceremony

Published: January 20, 2023



An individual’s generosity in assisting countless women find confidence and dignity through work after incarceration, to twin Ngarrindjeri brothers sharing their culture and helping the mental health of young people within their regional community, and a tireless advocate who has transformed the lives of children and women that have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault and trauma – are just a few of the outstanding individuals recognised in the Australia Day Awards 2023 to be announced on 20 January at Government House.

Australia Day Council of South Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jan Chorley said the Australia Day Awards recognise the commitment of South Australians whose work often goes unnoticed.  These individuals are selfless, resilient, and generous, and enable their communities to be strengthened as a result of their tireless efforts.

“The Australia Day Awards recognise those outstanding efforts made by everyday people across South Australia.

“They don’t do it for praise, or for recognition – they do it simply because it makes a difference for people within their communities.

“These are the unsung heroes that remind us how good we can be when we’re at our best, and I congratulate all Award recipients for their extraordinary contributions to our state”.


The 2023 Australia Day Award recipients are:

South Australia’s Citizen of the Year:Stella Braund
South Australia’s Young Citizen of the Year:Hannah Allen-Jordan
South Australia’s Young Citizen of the Year Commendation: Alex Bruhn
South Australia’s Community Event of the Year:My Tree Project
South Australia’s Community Event of the Year Commendation:Renmark Rowing Club
South Australia’s Award for Active Citizenship:Evette Wolf
South Australia’s Award for Active Citizenship Commendation:Pat Munden
South Australia’s Award for Active Citizenship Commendation:Pieter Dawson
The Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures (Category 1) Dual Recipent:Thomas Pearson
The Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures (Category 1) Dual Recipient:Coen Pearson
The Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures Commendation (Category 1):William D’Angelo
The Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures (Category 2):Tahlia Riessen
The Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures Commendation (Category 2):Mussa Nawroazi
Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award:Sarah Paddick
Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award – ‘Emerging Leader’:Zainab Kazemi
Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award – Commendation:Madelyn Duckmanton


Citizen of the Year Awards 2023

Proudly supported by IWS, Local Government of South Australia, Sarah Constructions, MGA Insurance Group and OTR.


South Australia’s Citizen of the Year 2023:

Stella Braund of the City of Unley

There are many people within our community whose lives have been profoundly transformed through the persistence and dedication of Stella Braund’s contribution to improving domestic violence, sexual assault, and mental health services.

Stella has demonstrated outstanding leadership in helping to establish the National Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1800 RESPECT, which has had a far-reaching impact across  Australia, enabling vulnerable individuals and children to access crisis supports and counselling and begin their journey to recovery from family violence and abuse.

Utilising her lived experience of childhood domestic violence, sexual assault and trauma, she has devoted her personal and professional life to improving mental health and social services, reducing stigma and discrimination and suicide, ensuring their delivery is person centred, with a trauma informed approach.

Stella is a tireless advocate for marginalised and vulnerable communities, dedicated to turning obstacles into opportunities, by building a recovery orientated approach supporting people living with mental ill health, their carers and families to access appropriate services and opportunities to live fulfilling lives.

Stella provides advice regarding mental health policy, planning and safety on a range of committees for SA Health across the state. As a Lived Experience advocate at the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist of SA, Stella promotes codesign and collaboration in the area of policy development, quality improvement, clinical governance, risk management, evaluation of health services across government and non-government agencies, emergency services such as SA Ambulance Service, Urgent Mental Health Care Centre and Drug and Alcohol Services.


South Australia’s Young Citizen of the Year 2023:

Hannah Allen-Jordan of the District Council of Tumby Bay

A passionate champion for our regional communities and an inspiring voice for youth leadership.

At the age of 21, trailblazer Hannah was the youngest person to be elected to an Eyre Peninsula Council and was also the District Council of Tumby Bay’s first female Mayor.

Across the past eight years serving the community, Hannah was an actively involved member of many committees and Associations such as the Progress Association, Colour Tumby a collaborative and community led festival and sporting clubs such as the Tumby Bay Netball Club. All this volunteering has contributed to creating a more progressive, inclusive, and vibrant place to live and work in the District Council of Tumby Bay.


South Australia’s Young Citizen of the Year (Commendation) 2023:

Alex Bruhn of the City of Adelaide

Alex is the Community Builder at Youth Inc., a school that seeks to reimagine education and Curator of Global Shapers Adelaide – an initiative of the World Economic Forum. In collaboration with a myriad of local, national and international stakeholders, Alex focuses on ushering in innovative programs which address some of our most challenging and prevalent systemic issues.

Alex seeks to represent the unique voices of the young people she serves in these discussions and has contributed significantly to the City of Adelaide via her work co-leading Conscious Cities Festival – a global initiative seeking to investigate the consciousness of cities and urban design and its relation to human identity.

Alex was a key team member for the Foundations for Tomorrow: Awareness to Action report. Australia’s largest youth-led consultation that reveals insights into what matters most to young people.


South Australia’s Community Event of the Year 2023:

My Tree Project of the City of Charles Sturt

This community event was inspired by an 11-year-old boy who would sit in his mulberry tree to read and feel creative.

The My Tree Project delivered through the City of Charles Sturt, empowers children to actively address the challenges of climate change and create a healthier local environment. The inaugural project invited students from two western suburb primary schools to propagate a seed, nurture and plant the seedlings at school or home, as well as create artworks about the vital role of trees. This exciting community initiative enables children to gain a greater understanding of sustainability through biodiversity, Indigenous culture, water management and connection with nature.

My Tree Project showcases active citizenship at its best and highlights the power of art. It raises awareness on the importance of connection, health and wellbeing, and gives hope for a more livable and sustainable future.

The My Tree Project was supported through SA Water’s Community Partnership Program and Fawn Cooper, and managed by the Western Adelaide Coastal Residents Association.

South Australia’s Community Event of the Year (Commendation) 2023:

Renmark Rowing Club of the Renmark Paringa Council

The Wharf to Woolshed Long Row is proudly delivered by the Renmark Rowing Club within the Renmark Paringa Council. This is an event that connects rowers from all over South Australia and interstate to experience a 36km upstream row from Renmark to the Woolshed Brewery.

This inclusive event encourages rowers of all abilities and has grown from 40 participants in its first year, to 148 participants in 2022. A community event that heavily relies on the ongoing commitment and support of its volunteer committee and ground crew all ensuring participants have a safe and memorable experience.

Established in 1919, the Renmark Rowing Club has continued to uphold its purpose of social connection, health and wellbeing and creating a sustainable future for the community. The welcoming and inclusive culture of the Club is evident through the diversity of its members, with participants ages ranging from 12 to 93 years old.


South Australia’s Award for Active Citizenship 2023:

Evette Wolf of the District Council of Yankalilla

Evette Wolf of the District Council of Yankalilla formed the Yankalilla Youth Theatre in 2020 and has facilitated and showcased eight youth performances during the last two years – an incredible achievement during COVID. Her passion and enthusiasm for youth theatre is contagious and is demonstrated through Evette’s ability to connect with young people. This engagement is valued by students, parents, and the wider community.

Through Evette’s leadership the Yankalilla Youth Theatre has a provided an inclusive and nurturing environment for young children and teenagers to develop confidence, self-esteem, and identity through the creative arts.  Furthermore, Evette has created free excursion opportunities for young people within Yankalilla to visit theatre spaces in surrounding metropolitan areas to inspire future learning pathways.

Evette’s leadership has also ensured that the Theatre is inclusive of all within the community and she facilitated a generational project where people from all generations shared stories about their own childhoods. Youth Theatre participants have developed these ideas into a play called “World’s Worst School Days” which will be performed in April 2023.


South Australia’s Award for Active Citizenship (Commendation) 2023:

Pat Munden of the City of Marion

Known as the matriarch of Cooinda, Pat Munden has generously shared her time and become a friend to those that are lonely within the City of Marion for more than 37 years.

Pat is a dedicated volunteer at the Cooinda Neighbourhood Centre and delivers activities that bring people together and create meaningful connections. Pat infuses the Cooinda Café with compassion which is evident through her cooking and loyal customers. While Pat loves the kitchen, her expertise lies in ceramics as she handmakes the clay for her weekly led ceramic classes.

Pat is an active citizen who makes our community a better place and finds meeting new people the most gratifying element of volunteering – “It’s the people that you get to know and care about. Even after-hours, caring about those people that are older. I just love them. I just love to be in touch with them all and visit them. If I’m not here, if they need something or need a feed, I’ll make sure they have it.” – Pat Munden.


South Australia’s Award for Active Citizenship (Commendation) 2023:

Pieter Dawson of the City of Salisbury

Using his own experiences as a veteran having served in the Vietnam War, Pieter has generously contributed his time supporting and advocating for Vietnam Veterans within the City of Salisbury.

For almost a decade, Pieter has voluntarily provided outstanding support to the Vietnam Veterans Association Northern Suburbs Sub-Branch and has progressively transformed the sub-branch into a high-performing Incorporated Body and Registered Charity. This significant development has enabled the association to provide programs and improved facilities, such as the establishment of a Memorial Garden that offers a place for remembrance and to honour those who served our country.

Pieter is an exemplary active citizen who has dedicated many years to ensure veterans, and their loved ones experience a safe, supportive, and respected space where they feel a sense of belonging and opportunity to create lifelong friendships.


Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures 2023

Provided by the Minister for Education, Training and Skills through the Multicultural Education and Languages Committee (MELC).

The MELC is a Ministerial Advisory Committee which provides advice to the South Australian Minister for Education on three interrelated areas of education: languages education, multicultural education and the internationalisation of education.


Award Categories

Category 1 – A high school student

This award is designed to promote the study of languages and the development of intercultural capabilities. It is awarded to a secondary school student who has shown outstanding commitment to their study of languages and cultures at school, and who seeks to advocate for a multilingual and culturally diverse Australia by fostering engagement in linguistic and cultural diversity.

Category 2: A young person 24 years of age or under (who is no longer at school)

Awarded to a young person who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to advocacy for a multilingual and culturally diverse Australia and strong community leadership.


Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures Category 1 Dual Recipients 2023:

Thomas and Coen Pearson

Thomas and Coen Pearson are proud, young Ngarrindjeri men and senior leaders within the Meningie Area School. As brothers they have a strong partnership and commitment to their Ngarrindjeri language and culture and are passionate about sharing this knowledge across their school and local community.

This commitment and passion to their First Nation’s culture is demonstrated through Thomas and Coen’s eagerness and enthusiasm to regularly present engaging Welcomes to Country in Ngarrindjeri language. Thomas and Coen use these moments as an educational opportunity to share language and provide a deeper connection to Country with their peers and the broader community.

Thomas and Coen’s passion also extends towards mental health and wellbeing, and they have worked collaboratively with The Rural City of Murray Bridge to implement additional support to young people that maybe experiencing disengagement within the community.  This work has resulted in the delivery of programs offering hip hop and street art classes to provide a much-needed creative outlet and inspire confidence in young people.


Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures Category 1 (Commendation) 2023:

William D’Angelo

William D’Angelo is a proud Kokatha man and an advocate for Indigenous students and culture within his school community at Concordia College.  He demonstrates a passion for learning and connecting with other languages and cultures such as German and Indonesian.

William collaborates with the College’s Indigenous Elder to guide, educate and enhance the school’s engagement with Indigenous peoples and participates in the Indigenous Mentoring Program offered through the Association of Independent Schools SA.

William is also a member of his school’s Reconciliation Action Group and through his role, provides guidance in ensuring that Indigenous culture and language is embedded throughout the school community. William also represents Concordia College at official events and activities relating to reconciliation and truth telling.


Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures Category 2 Recipient 2023:

Tahlia Riessen

Tahlia Riessen is an advocate and champion of Auslan. Tahlia studied Auslan at school at the Avenues College and completed a Diploma of Interpreting becoming a qualified Auslan/English interpreter. She has returned to Avenues College working as a Bilingual Support Officer in the Centre of Deaf Education supporting the education and wellbeing of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.

Tahlia has established a Transport Training Program for Deaf students at the Centre. This program develops students’ road safety and social skills enabling them to navigate confidently and safely within the community providing them with greater independence. Tahlia works collaboratively with school educators in the mainstream setting to develop inclusive strategies that enable Deaf students to engage in all learning opportunities and to share their language and culture with their peers. Tahlia is also a strong advocate for Deaf students to be able to access appropriate mental health support in Auslan.

Tahlia’s passion is working in linguistically and culturally diverse environments and supporting new arrivals in SA to overcome linguistic challenges, particularly students with a disability and those who use non-conventional sign language.


Award for Leadership in Languages and Cultures Category 2 (Commendation) 2023:

Mussa Nawroazi

As a compassionate community leader Mussa Nawroazi has devoted countless voluntary hours supporting newly arrived refugees who have escaped humanitarian crisis and conflict to feel safe and find their sense of belonging in South Australia.

Mussa is an Afghan refugee, and his mother tongue is Dari. After the fall of Afghanistan in 2021, Mussa generously volunteered his time with Australian Migration Options supporting new arrivals in our state from Afghanistan, translating, interpreting, and assisting them to complete applications.

As an Ambassador for the charitable organisation Youth Opportunities, Mussa inspires confidence in young people, particularly new migrants and refugees to embrace new opportunities and to maintain and develop their linguistic and cultural heritage.


Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award 2023

Provided by the Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence through the Office for Women.

This Award was introduced by the Australia Day Council and the Office for Women to recognise the outstanding contributions by women to the community during the current year or over several years. The criteria also include achievement in their relevant field and their ability to act as a role model in the community.


Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award 2023:

Sarah Paddick

Sarah’s kindness has assisted vulnerable women find confidence and self-worth during and after incarceration. This kindness has supported many women obtain dignity through securing meaningful work as well as empowering them to reach their full potential and change the trajectory of their lives.

As a director of her own successful architecture business for almost 30 years Sarah’s skills and experience has supported over 100 projects in secure facilities across South Australia and nationally.  Through the acquiring of this professional knowledge Sarah felt compelled to give back and support other women to transform their lives after incarceration.

Sarah co-created the U-Turn Charitable Foundation, a not-for-profit social initiative that focuses on improving outcomes for incarcerated women on their release, by creating meaningful and long-term employment pathways. This program supports women to develop their skills and gain experience within the building and construction industry. It provides the invaluable opportunity to work alongside professional contractors whilst receiving industry accredited training. U-Turn enables women to take control of their lives, build confidence, feel valued and achieve their own success.

“Sarah Paddick changed my life. Being given a term of imprisonment the shame and embarrassment I felt, let alone genuinely thinking I’m in prison I’m 33 years old and my life is over. Sarah gave me a chance to work on the building team, I gained so much for being able to “work” every day, when I was released I was offered a position within Mossop Construction in their head office, I’m now a facilitator for programs and work back in the women’s prison teaching our women to believe in themselves and there is more to life,” participant of the U-Turn Program.


Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award – Commendation 2023:

Madelyn Duckmanton

After the loss of her daughter, Letitia, to Ovarian Cancer, Madelyn Duckmanton was determined to continue the legacy of the young wife and mother, by raising awareness and vital funds to support research into early screening for Ovarian Cancer.

In 2016 Letitia and her committee coordinated the first Adelaide Silver Style event raising $75,000 in support of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. Determined to build on her daughter’s work Madelyn and her supportive committee members staged successful fundraising gala events across 2018 and 2019.

Madelyn then went on to establish the not for profit, South Australian based charity, Letitia Linke Research Foundation Inc. The foundation aims to increase overall community awareness of the signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer and to raise funds that supports research to find an early detection test and more directed and personalised treatment for women with Ovarian Cancer.

Drawing on her background as a Senior Healthcare Manager in Pathology, Madelyn leads a team of dedicated volunteers.  The Letitia Linke Research Foundation is currently funding two research projects at the University of South Australia, one working on an early detection test and the other focused on patient specific treatment.


Inspiring South Australian Women’s Award ‘Emerging Leader’ 2023:

Zainab Kazemi

Zainab Kazemi was 13 when she arrived in Australia with her family after fleeing Afghanistan, 10 years later she has become a respected multicultural advocate here in SA.

From her own lived experience as a new arrival Zainab was inspired to advocate and support refugees and new migrants particularly women in finding their voice and sense of belonging in their newly adopted country.

Zainab is an emerging community leader and through her voluntary participation in the Afghan Association of SA, she has championed the rights of new migrants and refugees as well as those who are unable to escape Afghanistan.

Zainab’s passion to promote her culture is evident through her involvement in Youth Parliament, organising events and fundraisers that create awareness of human rights and raise vital funds for Afghani families locally and internationally. Zainab empowers young women particularly from refugee backgrounds to pursue their dreams to ensure they have equal opportunities across all areas of their life.

The Australia Day Awards are proudly supported by IWS, Local Government Association of South Australia, MGA Insurance, On the Run (OTR), Sarah Constructions and the Government of South Australia.