2023 Community Award Winners Announced

Published on 18 March 2023

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Colac Otway celebrates the 2023 Community Award Recipients

Council would like to congratulate the 2023 Colac Otway Community Award recipients, who were officially recognised on the main stage at today’s Colac Kana Festival.

“The Community Awards are an opportunity to acknowledge and thank members of our community for their dedication and positive contributions to Colac Otway,” said Council Mayor Chris Potter.

“Our shire is made up of many wonderful people who do great things and today we got to celebrate the achievements of three remarkable people in our region, our Citizen of the Year – Vicki Jeffrey, Young Citizen of the Year – Murray Green and Community Service Award – Zoe Hudgell.

“Holding the Community Awards at Kana is a great event to publicly celebrate the achievements of award recipients.

“Our shire is made up of many impressive people who do great things, it’s a great privilege to shake the hand of each of the deserved award winners and thank them for their contributions toward making Colac Otway the wonderful community it is.

“On behalf of Colac Otway Shire Council we congratulate everyone who was nominated for an award this year, and this year’s Community Award recipients,” Cr Potter said.


Citizen of the Year – Vicki Jeffrey

Described as a “dedicated, hard-working community minded person who leads by example,” Vicki Jeffrey is Colac Otway’s Citizen of the Year.

Vicki, a well-known and respected member of the Colac Otway community, has many years of giving her expertise and time to make outstanding contributions to the shire.

Community members who endorsed the nomination of Vicki for this award described her as a “shining example of what a community volunteer is,” and someone who “never asks more of anyone than she is willing to do herself”.

Vicki has volunteered, and continues to volunteer, in numerous leadership roles with the Birregurra Community Group, the Birregurra Festival (Meet Me in Birregurra), Birregurra Markets, Colac RSL Show and Shine and is a long-time volunteer with Colac Area Health.

Mayor Chris Potter made particular mention of Vicki’s contribution to local events.

“While Vicki makes valuable contributions to many community groups, her involvement in local events is worth acknowledging specifically for what this contributes to our community, in how the events bring people together, attract visitors to the region and are a really valuable contribution to the local economy.

“Notably, Vicki was director of the Birregurra Festival for an extraordinary 20 years and worked tirelessly to grow the festival into an event that attracted over 10,000 people to the town.

“Not even a global pandemic could slow Vicki down and the Birre Festival has been adapted into a series of smaller events to fit in with restrictions – which is a great example of Vicki’s dedication to her community, and also provides an opportunity for local people to showcase their art, crafts and local produce among other things,” Cr Potter said.

Vicki also puts her knowledge and years of event experience toward the Colac RSL Show and Shine helping organisers with the logistics of putting on the event and often volunteering to fundraise on the day.

Vicki was an important support to the organisers of the Rotary Club of Colac Community Markets, generously giving her time and was often the first to arrive and last to leave on market day.

Vicki has been an active member of the Birregurra Community Group since 2011, also serving as secretary for 7 years and is still volunteering as a group member.

For more than three years, Vicki cooked and served meals every Friday at the Community Centre, she took a short break, but has returned to the task in the last year with Colac Area Health commending Vicki for being an important and invaluable member of the team.

Vicki is also a keen gardener with a beautiful property that she is very proud of, which she generously opens up to the public every year.


Young Citizen of the Year – Murray Green

Young Citizen of the Year, Murray Green was recognised for his outstanding contribution to Scouting as member of the Patanga Rover Crew and Venturer Scout Leader at 2nd Colac Sea Scouts.

In nominating Murray for the award, he is described as “fantastic male role model for the younger members of Scouting, always putting maximum effort in to supporting others to enjoy fun, friendship and adventure.

“Murray has been instrumental in leading weekly activities for local 15 to 18 year olds to develop their social, physical, intellectual and emotional skills.”

With a focus on basic but invaluable life skills, Murray has taught Rovers how to change a tyre, use basic power tools, navigation, camping and First Aid.

Mayor Chris Potter commended Murray for his dedication to his community.

“Murray is an exceptional young person who gives a great deal of his time to others. Not only is he teaching useful life skills, but importantly recognises the need to combine this with also helping young people to grow socially and emotionally,” Cr Potter said.

Murray volunteers a number of hours weekly to leading the Rover and Venturer groups as well as fundraising. After the Log Cabin Hall was flooded in 2016, Murray worked tirelessly to keep the group together when their meeting place was damaged. He also kept group spirits up when the Log Cabin was again flooded in 2022.

Murray doesn’t just volunteer his time to Rovers and Venturers. He is also assists with other sections of 2nd Colac Sea Scouts and has helped teach six to eight year old Joeys how to cook themselves a simple meal.

In addition to teaching Cub Scouts how to prepare for a camping trip, he also teaches Scouts the basics of First Aid in presenting them with and guiding them through a realistic scenario.

Murray volunteers his time in Colac, and also helps out the Geelong Region and Scouts Victoria by assisting with Jamboree for Scouts.


Community Service Award – Zoe Hudgell

Raising funds for local charities and an impressive large-scale local event are among the reasons Zoe Hudgell is recipient of the award for Community Service of the Year.

Commenting on Zoe’s contribution to the Shire, Mayor Chris Potter said, “If you attended Colac’s Christmas by the Lake last December, you along with about 7,000 others, are the recipient of Zoe’s generosity and many hours of hard work.

“A fantastic local celebration, Christmas by the Lake was a huge event, Zoe went above and beyond to stage a free event for all of the Colac Otway community to enjoy.

“Going along to a stellar live show locally is a special experience for those in the audience, there’s a particular kind of happiness and connection that’s generated, which I’m sure is a motivating factor for Zoe in giving back to her community in this way, which she has done time and time again ,” Cr Potter said.

Colac’s Christmas by the Lake also provided the opportunity for local performers to take to the stage and to bring headline acts like the Mik Kaks to Colac, along with a fireworks display which was a huge hit with the crowd on the night.

“It was an event for the community to come together, and attract visitors from around the region to the shores of our beautiful Lake Colac,” Cr Potter said.

Zoe, and those who were involved in the event, raised more than $10,000 for a Colac Area Health wellbeing service.

Putting the Christmas by the Lake event together in just six weeks, Zoe also had the assistance of a great team to manage the scale and volume of work required.

Zoe was also instrumental in bringing together the 2020 Band Together Colac Bushfire Appeal concert; another event which brought the Colac Otway community together to enjoy entertainment and raise money for an important cause - over $40,000 was raised for 2020 bushfire victims.

Not to be deterred by a pandemic, Zoe was also a part of bringing acts together for online concerts – Band Together to again raise money for the Colac Area Health Foundation and Colac’s Big Night In to encourage locals to buy meals from local businesses and help keep the community connected during lockdown.

For more information about the Colac Otway Community Awards, please visit: www.colacotway.vic.gov.au.





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