Elizabeth Habib has been named Liverpool’s 2021 Citizen of the Year in Liverpool City Council’s first ever online Australia Day Awards Ceremony which was streamed on Facebook and Youtube due to coronavirus restrictions.
Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller, alongside Liverpool’s 2021 Australia Day Ambassador, Olympic rower James Chapman, presented 10 Australia Day Awards to individuals and small businesses making a difference in the local community.
The ceremony was hosted by radio presenter of Saturday Night Live Pete Graham and featured Brewarrina Elder and Australian country music legend Uncle Col Hardy OAM performing the Welcome to Country and a beautiful rendition of ‘I Am Australian.’
“Following the resounding success of NYE: Light Up the Sky, Council again took a creative approach and recreated a similar experience for Australia Day,” said Mayor Liverpool Wendy Waller.
“We want to thank everyone who made our virtual ceremony a part of their Australia Day celebrations this year.”
“We are proud to bring yet another COVID-safe celebration to the people of Liverpool while recognising those locals raising the bar in health, environmental conservation, sport, business, culture and arts and the broader community.”
“Elizabeth is a worthy choice for this honour as a long-standing supporter of her local Liverpool community. Many organisations within our community have benefitted from Elizabeth’s time and generosity including Quota International Liverpool, the Shepherd Centre and the Austral Progress Association, where she has been Secretary for the past decade,” said Mayor Waller.
An additional nine awards were presented. The winners were:
- Young Citizen of the Year – Jonathon Mayorga
- Senior Citizen Award – Harry Hunt OAM
- Sports Award – Gabor Fejszes
- Cultural and Arts Award – Claire Abrakmanov
- Fraser Environment Award – Paul Sillato
- Small Business Award – Mobility Masters Australia
- Small Business Award – Out of Office Espresso
- Health Award – Professor Jeremy Wilson AO
- Macquarie Award – Margaret Parker
“On behalf of the Liverpool community, I would like to thank each of our recipients for their continuing service and congratulate them on this big achievement,” said Mayor Waller.
“I would also like to thank James Chapman for doing a wonderful job as Ambassador for one our most important events of the year.”
Council’s Australia Day celebrations closed with a small, private Citizenship Ceremony which welcomed 16 new citizens into the Liverpool community from the Philippines, Pakistan, Iraq and other countries of origin.
Mayor Waller said: “For those who come to call this country home, Australia Day holds a special significance. It was my absolute pleasure to be part of their special day and among the first to welcome them into the Liverpool community.”
She said Council welcomed more than 1800 new citizens in 2020 and the Liverpool community is richer for it.
“With each passing year, our city remains culturally rich and vibrant thanks to migration.”
Council will welcome a further 300 citizens into the Liverpool community during two Citizenship Ceremonies to be held at Whitlam Leisure Centre on Saturday 20 February.
Citizen of the Year - Elizabeth Habib
Elizabeth is a long-standing supporter of the Liverpool community through her dedicated involvement in several community organisations including the Austral Progress Association where she has been Secretary for the past decade. She was also a hard-working member of Quota International Liverpool where she served in numerous leadership roles including President, Associate Governor and then Governor. Elizabeth has formed special relationships with several local charities including The Shepherd Centre which provides early intervention to teach the hearing impaired how to develop spoken language. Alongside her husband Harry, she has also organised major research fundraisers for the Cancer Council and Multiple Sclerosis and regularly runs Quota International Liverpool’s barbecues at Bunnings. Ms Habib’s family business, Habib Bros Truck and Smash Repairs, are major sponsors of the Combined Rotary Clubs of Liverpool Police Officer of the Year Awards and provides the pick-up and delivery truck for a local Liverpool charity op shop. Elizabeth has also received an Officer of the Order of Liverpool in 2016.
Young Citizen of the Year - Jonathon Mayorga
As a member of the Australian Air League – Moorebank Squadron for the past seven years, Jonathon’s outstanding leadership skills elevated him to Squadron Sergeant – the highest rank a cadet can achieve. Jonathon leads an internal leadership development program which sees squadron members from lower socio-economic backgrounds gain access to free musical tuition. He also regularly performs at events around Liverpool and Greater Sydney including Christmas in the Mall, and Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services.
Senior Citizen Award – Harry Hunt OAM
Referred to as ‘Mr Liverpool’, Harry has served the Liverpool community through his involvement in the Liverpool Rotary Club and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, where he served as President for more than 13 years. He has also tirelessly worked on various Council committees to promote Liverpool as a tourist destination. Harry is a generous supporter of fundraising events for the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, Liverpool SES and Liverpool Hospital.
Sports Award – Gabor Fejszes
Gabor has significantly enriched Liverpool’s football community with his coaching flair and hard work ethic. Over the last decade, Gabor has been involved with the Kemps Creek United Soccer Club in various capacities – from player to coach. He has coached several teams to minor premierships, premierships and success at the Champion of Champions tournament, He was awarded Southern Districts Under 21s Coach of the Year in 2019. As the club’s ground manager, Gabor also maintains and ensures the fields at Bill Anderson Reserve are fit for play and voluntarily repaired the Club’s amenities including changerooms, canteen and toilets earlier this year.
Cultural and Arts Award – Claire Abrakmanov
An incredible representative of Liverpool within the culture and arts scene, Claire has built a career on promoting and producing local talent. Migrating to Australia from Malta in 1980, Claire brought with her a love of music and regularly performed in the Maltese choir with her family around Sydney. Claire has balanced a career as a versatile performer and teacher for many years, opening her own music tuition school, Claire&Co Studios, in Liverpool in 1998. Her students have gone on to HSC success and to perform on the professional stage. Claire believes in giving back to the community and instils this in her students who have performed at local nursing homes and various charities including Ronald McDonald House.
Fraser Environment Award – Paul Sillato
Paul shows the utmost care for his local community and environment through his work with the Clinches Pond Environment Group where he has been a volunteer for 17 years. The Group meets at Gloria Taylor Reserve in Moorebank on a monthly basis as part of Council’s environment volunteer program to engage in bush regeneration activities. Paul’s efforts have helped the native flora and fauna in this area thrive. When he is not volunteering, Paul works at the pathology department in Liverpool Hospital. He is also an ardent supporter of various animal rights charities including Free the Bears and Animals Aid Abroad.
Small Business Award - Mobility Masters (awarded to Koray Kadir)
Mobility Masters Australia installs vehicle aids for members of the community living with disability, helping them find their freedom and independence. Mobility Masters Australia founder Koray Kadir is truly passionate about helping people, going above and beyond to provide a tailored service based on the unique needs of each client. This is exemplified through the appreciation and gratitude he receives on behalf of his clients and their families and caregivers.
Small Business Award – Out of Office Espresso (awarded to Michael Tran)
Opened in 2019, Out of Office Espresso has been a popular coffee and food destination for local workers and the Liverpool community over the past three years due to its quality offerings and service. Out of Office shows community spirit, participating in Council activation events including Love Livo Nights aimed at stimulating the night-time economy. Like many other venues, the café experienced a decline in turnover at the height of COVID-19 restrictions. To build the resilience of his business, owner and operator Michael Tran strategically diversified his product offering, launching a new brand under the name Papi’s Mexican Kitchen. The success of this new venture showcases Michael’s ability to understand his customers and discover new opportunities amid challenging business conditions.
Health Award – Professor Jeremy Wilson AO
Professor Jeremy Wilson has been at Liverpool Hospital for more than 15 years, currently serving as Director of Medicine. He is a Professor of Medicine and heads the clinical school attached to Liverpool Hospital where he tirelessly supports medical students, junior and senior Conjoints and academics. He is recognised internationally for his pioneering research on pancreatic disease. Professor Wilson was also an instrumental figure in the redevelopment and growth of Liverpool Hospital.
Macquarie Award – Margaret Parker
Margaret is a long-term resident of Heckenberg and has been extremely active in the over 50s network within her community. Margaret was the second Director at the ANZAC Village Preschool and a foundation member of the Education Union of NSW, a position she has recently retired from. Margaret has given 27 years of volunteer service on the Board of local NGO, South West Child Adolescent and Family Services. Her door is always open to help residents and she has worked hard to ensure the 2168 area, particularly Green Valley, is a better place for the community.
Citizen of the Year - Rajesh Venkataramaiah
Rajesh arrived in Sydney from India in 1998, beginning his commitment to community and environment by taking part in the first Clean Up Australia Day event at Warwick Farm. As president of not-for-profit organisation Sewa International Australia, he has regularly coordinated tree planting events across Western Sydney, facilitated blood, plasma and bone marrow drives for the Australian Red Cross and established monthly meet-ups at Liverpool City Library for seniors of a culturally and linguistically diverse background. Rajesh and his family have been acknowledged by a number of organisations and Members of Parliament for their extraordinary volunteer efforts.
Senior Citizen of the Year – Robert ‘Bob’ Brassell
Bob has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to Liverpool and the All Saints Parish for 55 years. He visits the homes of the sick in the Liverpool area and has been the Master of Ceremonies at major liturgical functions for over two decades. Bob championed the establishment of Liverpool Catholic Club, where he is a life member, to provide families with a space to socialise and work together on initiatives to support local parishes.
Young Citizen of the Year - Kira Rosch
Kira shows initiative when looking to support the needs of others, with a particular commitment to the mental health of young people. The All Saints Catholic College graduate is an accredited Youth Mental Health First Aider, has participated in Headspace Liverpool’s Youth Reference Group and is actively engaged with her local parish.
Fraser Environment Award - Maree Stacy
Maree has volunteered with the Light Horse Park Environment Group for 16 years and is the coordinator of Liverpool City Council’s Environment Volunteer Program, which restores bushland in the Liverpool area. Over the years, Maree has helped new volunteers and community members to understand the value of local parks and reserves.
Small Business Award - Wild FX (awarded to Phillip Raish)
Phillip’s Prestons-based signage and print business is known for printing school, TAFE and university assignments for local students at no charge. An active member of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he mentors struggling business owners as a way of giving back. Phillip’s commitment to community was recognised in 2018 when he received two Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence in relation to customer service and business leadership.
Macquarie Award – Pino Sgambellone
Each year the Mayor selects an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to Liverpool. This year, the Macquarie Award was presented to Pino Sgambellone. He is a well-respected and valued member of Liverpool’s Italian community and a supporter of the arts. Pino has been the Secretary of Liverpool’s Sister City Program with the region of Calabria since 1995 and has sat on a variety of committees aligned to the Italian Catholic and business communities in Australia. While a board member of the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre from 2000 to 2005, he was instrumental in lobbying the NSW Government to co-fund the centre’s refurbishment and has supported the delivery of art programs which celebrate Italian culture.