Australia Day is the official national day of Australia and is celebrated across the Tweed each year on 26 January.
Visit the National Australia Day Council website for more information.
Australia Day community events
Council provided financial assistance to support 2 small community events in the Tweed Shire to celebrate Australia Day on 26 January 2023:
Tweed Regional Aquatic Centres offered free entry at the Murwillumbah pool from 2 - 5 pm on Thursday 26 January.
Visit the Tweed’s official event calendar What’s on the Tweed to find something for everyone.
2023 Tweed Shire Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony
Each year on Australia Day Council acknowledges the outstanding achievements of individuals, groups and organisations by presenting certificates across a number of award categories.
In addition to the Awards presentation, Council conducts a Citizenship Ceremony to welcome new citizens to the Tweed as a part of the Official Program.
The 2023 Tweed Shire Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony was an invitation only event for award nominees, new citizens, their family, friends and supporters.
Citizen of the Year
This year's Citizen of the Year Award goes to tireless refugee advocate Joan Henderson.
Joan is an active member and co-convenor of the Uki Refugee Project, a community group offering support and advocating on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.
Joan and the group lobby politicians for policy change and encourage wider community awareness through fundraising events, as well as organising friendship visits for refugees to the Tweed
Following the fall of Kabul into the hands of the Taliban in 2021, Joan has taken upon herself the almost impossible task of bringing to safety some of the people at the highest risk of arrest and death. She is relentless in her work of preparing visa applications, keeping communications open day and night with people who are hiding in the mountains.
Watch the video for Citizen of the Year winner - Joan Henderson
Arts and Culture Award
Allira has a passion for bringing arts and culture to the Tweed, providing a venue for a diverse range of films, live performance and theatre. Her work restoring the much-loved Regent Cinema has brought an important cultural icon of the Tweed back to life. Allira is also a great supporter of the community. On many occasions, she has provided the venue at discounted rates and even for free for non-for-profit groups and charities.
There was also an Honourable Mention awarded in this category which went to Murwillumbah Arts Trail.
Watch the video for the Arts and Culture Award Winner - Allira Cornell
Community Event of the Year
The festival is a celebration of Aboriginal art, dance, community and culture for the whole community to enjoy. The committee is dedicated to realising the vision and striving towards communicating to the community the meaning of Kinship and the Aboriginal culture that encapsulates culture, belonging, responsibility, participation and connection to land, and people. The event provides an opportunity for people from all walks of life to see and appreciate local Indigenous culture that’s alive and thriving.
There was an Honourable Mention awarded in this category which went to Tyalgum Music Festival.
Watch the video for the Community Event of the Year Winner - Kinship Festival
Sporting Achievement of the Year - Individual award
There were joint winners in the 2022 Sporting Achievement of the Year - Individual award.
Xane Bowen is a 16-year-old triathlete who last year placed second at the National All Schools Triathlon and is the NSW Champion. In 2021 he won the title of Youth Champion of Australia. He began his journey as a young junior member of the Tweed Valley Triathletes. Xane is dedicated to his training, even after he and his mother had to seek temporary accommodation for months when their family home was severely impacted by the 2022 flood.
Watch the video for Sporting Achievement of the Year - Individual (Joint winner) - Xane Bowen
Chloe Covell is an impressive young street skateboarder who is well on her way to qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics, after being placed 7th overall while representing Australia at the qualifying event in Rome. In 2022, she competed at the open women’s level at XGames Japan, where she received a bronze medal, and at XGames USA, scoring a silver medal. These medals make Chloe the youngest XGames athlete to achieve 2 medals before the age of 13.
Watch the video for Sporting Achievement of the Year - Individual (Joint winner) - Chloe Covell
Sporting Achievement of the Year - Group
Tweed Dragons Inc.
The Tweed Dragons provide opportunities for people aged 12 to 70+ to be included in the wonderful community activity of dragon boating. Having success at state, national and world titles is icing on the cake for this community-minded group. After 2 years of pandemic-affected championships, their 2022 results speak for themselves – 3 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze placings at the State titles and one gold and 5 silver medals at the National titles. If they’re not on the water competing, they’re out celebrating life – socialising, volunteering or supporting charities and local communities.
Watch the video for the Sporting Achievement of the Year - Group Winner - Tweed Dragons Inc.
Young Achiever in Community Service
Eighteen-year-old Lily is an outstanding young athlete who spent many years volunteering with Cudgen Headland Surf Life Saving Club and now works protecting lives as a lifeguard on the Gold Coast. At the Youth World Life Saving Championships in Italy, she won 7 out of a possible 7 surf events, broke a world record in the 25m Manikin relay with her team, as well as scoring a bronze in another event. Apart from her sporting achievements, Lily spends time giving back to her community through volunteer lifesaving, training nippers and working with children through the NDIS. She assisted in ferrying to safety any affected by last year’s flood and volunteering at the evacuation centre at Kingscliff TAFE.
Watch the video for the Young Achiever in Community Service Award - Lily O'Sullivan
Volunteer of the Year - Individual
Alex is one of the unsung heroes of the Tweed. He has worked tirelessly for decades for environmental causes, planting trees for groups such as Fingal Dune Care and Friends of Cudgen Nature Reserve. He has also given 100s of hours to Team Koala, organising fun days for families at Pottsville and setting up for markets. Alex’s tireless dedication, his ability to encourage and work with others and his vision for the Tweed are remarkable.
Watch the video for the Volunteer of the Year - Individual Award - Alex Dale
Volunteer of the Year - Group
Cudgen Rural Fire Brigade
The brigade is a diverse group of volunteers who all share the same passion and commitment for volunteering in their local community, spending many thousands of unpaid hours assisting others. The respected brigade responds to more than 100 incidents a year, including house and bush fires, vehicle accidents and automatic fire alarms. The Cudgen Rural Fire Brigade played a very big role in last year’s floods, spending more than 2 weeks sandbagging, rescuing residents and in the clean-up in Chinderah, Tumbulgum and Condong. Families and children also thank them for their popular Santa Runs along the Tweed Coast and out to Tumbulgum.
There was an Honourable Mention awarded in this category to Volunteers Agape Outreach.
Watch the video for the Volunteer of the Year - Group Award - Cudgen Rural Fire Brigade
Previous award winners
In the interests of public health, the Tweed Shire Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony was held online for the first time on Wednesday 26 January 2022.
Originally planned for an in-person event at the Murwillumbah Auditorium, the event became a virtual presentation which included the presentation of awards in 6 categories and 35 residents from 18 countries taking the Australian Citizenship pledge.
The ceremony was livestreamed with members of the Tweed community invited to join in. Watch the video of the online ceremony.
A highlight of the awards was the screening of videos featuring the winning recipient in each of the 6 categories:
- Citizen of the Year
- Community Event of the Year
- Sport Achievement – Individual
- Volunteer Group of the Year
- Volunteer of the Year – Individual
- Young Achiever of the Year
Tweed Shire Australia Day award winners
Tweed Shire Citizen of the Year
The Citizen of the Year recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the Tweed Shire community.
Amanda Philp not only cares deeply for the community but also the local environment and is passionate about ensuring that the creatures that call the Tweed home or find themselves in distress are cared for and rehabilitated into the wild.
Amanda was born in the Tweed, lives at Banora Point and loves the local environment, especially our beaches and marine life.
She is a dedicated volunteer for Australia Seabird Rescue and has recently completed a Degree in Bachelor of Marine Science and Management.
Her love of assisting animals and sealife coupled with her studies has seen Amanda respond to calls regardless of the time night and day and she is a worthy recipient of this award.
Watch the video for the Tweed Shire Citizen of the Year - Amanda Philp
Community Event of the Year
Murwillumbah Arts Trail
Community events help to bring us all together, helping promote and increase the profile of the local area while deliver wider benefits to the Tweed Shire community.
The Murwillumbah Arts Trail, initiated by Creative Caldera, has been held 5 times since 2016 with the objective of “supporting and promoting the arts in the local and surrounding area through community events and associated activities”.
The Murwillumbah Arts Trail 21, held last year, featured 97 artists at 26 locations throughout the Tweed Valley with Murwillumbah as the hub.
The event saw exhibitions in galleries, open studios and pop-up locations and also included complementary events such as musical performances, workshops Poets Out Loud, competitions and street and chalk art.
It attracted a large number of visitors to the Tweed, contributing to the Tweed tourism market as well as engaging the local community and promoting our local talent.
Watch the video for the Community Event of the Year - Murwillumbah Arts Trail
Sport Achievement - Individual
Savannah and Madison Fitzpatrick
The Sporting Achievement Award for an Individual which recognises an outstanding sportsperson or an ancillary volunteer
who has dedicated a lot of time and effort into sports.
The Tweed has produced more than its share of Sporting Achievers, and this year the was a unique situation with the 2021 Sporting Achievement Award (Individual) going to not one, but two individuals who happen to be sisters – Madison and Savannah Fitzpatrick.
Then Fitzpatrick name is synonymous with sport on the Tweed, particularly hockey.
The girls have represented the Tweed, played in state teams and are both members of the Hockeyroos who represented Australia at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Having reached the pinnacle of their sport, both Madison and Savannah still are proud to say they are from the Tweed and look forward to coming home and contributing to the local hockey scene when they can.
Watch the video for the Sport Achievement - Individual - Savannah and Madison Fitzpatrick
Volunteer Group of the Year
Tweed Broadwater Village Craft Group
Volunteer groups play a significant role is so many ways in our community and this award recognises such a group who has made a significant contribution.
The Tweed Broadwater Village Craft Group has been together for the past 13 years and over that time, members have used their skills at craft to benefit those in hospital, palliative care and for worthy causes such as the Cancer Council.
With the support of Southern Gold Coast Tweed Zonta Club, this group was produced more than 3000 breast cushions for women who have undergone breast surgery at Tweed Hospital and John Flynn Hospital.
They have produced knee blankets for patients at Wedgetail Palliative Care and baby beanies for use at Byron Bay Hospital.
They have also donated more than $25,000 to the Cancer Council and significant amounts for the Tweed Hospital and palliative care in Murwillumbah through their fund raising events.
Watch the video for the Volunteer Group of the Year - Tweed Broadwater Village Craft Group
Volunteer of the Year - Individual
Grant ‘Jack’ Frost
The Volunteer of the Year award recognises an individual who has made a significant contribution to volunteer works within the community.
The 2021 Volunteer of the Year (Individual) is Grant ‘ Jack’ Frost.
Jack is the Commander of the Murwillumbah SES and has worked tirelessly in building relationships between the community and the SES, especially in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, particularly in the Tumbulgum region.
He has been instrumental in assisting to set up local community action/response groups in the Tweed.
He is constantly keeping group heads up to date with information regarding threats like fire and flooding and is very generous in giving his time and knowledge.
As a Unit Commander with SES, Jack is always ready to answer the call of people in need, as well as all the community outreach work he does with the community action/response groups.
Watch the video for the Volunteer of the Year - Individual - Grant ‘Jack’ Frost
Young Achiever of the Year
This award recognizes a young person 25 years of age and under who has made a significant contribution to the community. The recipient of the Young Achiever in Community Service is Sven Loemker.
Sven is an enthusiastic patrolling member of the Cudgen Headland Surf Life Saving Club. Starting out at the club as a nipper, Sven now plays an active role in the senior section of the club.
In the 2020-21 patrol season, he racked up a massive 171.2 volunteer patrol hours – one of the highest of the Far North Coast. These hours are for patrol only and does not include any extra water safety hours he does at club training and mentoring nippers.
Sven is not only a role model to the junior members of Cudgen SLSC but also a lot of seniors due to his work ethic and commitment to the club.
Watch the video for the Young Achiever of the Year - Sven Loemker