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Celebrated Citizens at Port’s Annual Awards

Raymond Terrace dedicated community leader and Aboriginal Liaison Officer at Hunter River High School, Brooke Roach has been named the 2022 Port Stephens Citizen of the Year.


Mayor Ryan Palmer announced the recipients at a civic ceremony Wednesday morning at Riverside Park, speaking highly of the contribution of all nominees to our community. “We’ve recognised Brooke as our Citizen of the Year for his extensive contributions to the community,” Mayor Palmer said. “He’s passionate about sporting and volunteers his time as both president and co-coach for the Magpies Rugby Club and works with many community organisations to introduce sport to people’s lives. “On top of this, he advocates for better access to services for Aboriginal people across our whole community, and continues to inspire and be a community role model,” he added. Brooke is one of 11 community members nominated for a Port Stephens Annual Awards and one of the 8 recipients of an award. “The Port Stephens Annual Awards recognise and celebrate the people in our community who go that little bit further and give that little bit extra,” Mayor Palmer said. “The nominees are all fantastic role models and leaders in the Port Stephens community and I’m proud to be able to recognise their contributions today. “These incredible people are nominated by their peers and rarely ask for recognition or thanks – they simply love our community and love what they do. That’s why it’s great to be able to show our appreciation for their contribution in making Port Stephens the incredible place that it is. “On behalf of the Councillors and the community – thank you to all our nominees for all that you do for our community,” he added. The 2022 Port Stephens Annual Award recipients are: Freeman of Port Stephens – Darrell Dawson

Darrell has been prominent in protecting native wildlife and habitat for the benefit of the Port Stephens community. Through his involvement in numerous committees, he’s been instrumental in the development of some of the most iconic environmental features of Port Stephens. This includes the protection of the Tomaree National Park and working towards protecting the waters of Port Stephens from pollution and large scale commercial aquaculture development. He was also instrumental in the protection of the Mambo Wetlands and large areas of local Koala habitat. Darrell successfully established the grassroots organisation EcoNetwork Port Stephens Inc. in 1993 that now represents 30 affiliated community groups, and businesses and has a membership of approximately 3000 individuals in Port Stephens. This has all been done with the aim of bringing together the various active environmental and sustainability groups in the LGA, under one network.

Citizen of the Year – Brooke Roach

Brooke Roach has dedicated his life to creating a better future for everyone in the local community, with a particular focus on young Aboriginal people. Brooke works as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer at Hunter River High School and has volunteered his time to lead the Raymond Terrace Magpies Rugby League Football Club as its President, co-coach the premiership-winning C-Grade Men's team, work with community organisations, and introduce sports and the associated discipline to many people's lives. Brooke is an advocate for better access to services for Aboriginal people across our whole community, and continues to inspire. Brooke is a Raymond Terrace legend, hard worker, a community leader and aspires to make life better for others. He has made a lasting impression through his passion to improve the wellbeing of people in Port Stephens.

Young Citizen of the Year – Emma Newcombe

Emma Newcombe is an outstanding student, contributing positively to the local community through a wide range of activities and volunteer work. Emma has been a driving force in the development of the Café Alesco, becoming an integral part of its operation and management. If you’ve ever visited Café Alesco in the Raymond Terrace Library you might recognise Emma from front of house operations and her excellent customer service skills. Alesco aims to reduce barriers to accessing education, so students are able to engage and participate in education to the best of their abilities, whilst gently challenging their potential. Emma upholds Alesco’s values, is respectful and is always willing to help her teachers, peers, local community and encompasses the Alesco spirit in all she does – overall she’s an outstanding young lady.

Port Stephens Medals The Port Stephens Medal is awarded to individuals, organisations or groups for distinguished service to the community.

  • Heather Buckingham

For the last 30 years, Heather Buckingham has played a major role at the St John's Parish Pantry. Heather is a continual force, collecting donations and volunteering every week to provide food and kindness to needy families. For most of her 30 years with the pantry, Heather has coordinated Christmas Hampers for families who can’t afford to buy gifts. Heather has dedicated decades of work to our local community including welcoming and supporting families by helping with employment and study, providing guidance with life in a new country, celebrating birthdays, including them in family Christmas celebrations and even attending school grandparent days.

  • Robert Bull

Robert Bull was a founding member of the Raymond Terrace Men’s shed in 2010, and has been president of the shed 9 times. He’s now an active and lifetime member in Raymond Terrace and also a member of Australian Men’s Shed Association. As initiator of the Raymond Terrace men's shed band, Robert has been responsible for the shed performing at many external public functions and nursing homes within the community. He works closely with the Raymond Terrace RSL in planning Anzac Day ceremonies and instigated the men’s shed contributions at the Back to King Street Heritage Festival. Robert’s contribution to the Port Stephens community doesn’t end there – he’s also a major contributor in providing meals at a local cafe for members of the community in need.

Sportsperson of the Year — Jodi Cassar

Jodi Cassar has been an active role model for netball in Port Stephens for over 3 decades now and is the current President of Port Stephens Netball Association. Jodi spends many hours of her time ensuring that grassroots participation in the game of netball is provided for girls and boys, young and old across our community. Accessibility and inclusion is an important role of the game that Jodi promotes with all programs offered under Netball NSW, being offered at Port Stephens Netball Association. This includes the recently introduced Inclusive Netball Uniforms policy introduced by Netball Australia and the growth in boys and mens pathways. She’s also helped to instigate the inclusion of Acknowledgement of Country prior to all meetings and at the commencement of each playing day. Jodi is a Life Member of Medowie Netball Club and also Port Stephens Netball Association and was awarded the Netball NSW Dot McHugh OAM Administrators Award in late 2022 in recognition of the outstanding leadership and management of the administration of netball in the Port Stephens community.

Cultural Endeavour — Gabrielle Carrick

For the last 2 years, Gabrielle Carrick has been the graphic designer for all Tomaree Museum Association (TMA) exhibitions and artistic presentations. Gabrielle leads the design exhibition team for TMA pop up museums, such as D'albora Nelson Bay, Port Stephens Art Competition and the exhibition at the Nelson Bay Visitor Information Centre. Gabrielle has volunteered her time and used her considerable expertise gained through a lifetime of work in this area to produce very professional results for the TMA and the Port Stephens Community. Her contribution and passion towards the preservation and promotion of Port Stephens cultural and artistic heritage is outstanding.

Environmental Award — Casey Freeman

Casey Freeman is a young mother to 3 girls and is a passionate Koala carer, volunteering with the Koala rescue team at Port Stephens Koala Hospital. With her work, she actively contributes to the Conservation of the Port Stephens Koala population. Not only is Casey an active volunteer, she’s passionate about making a difference in Koala conservation and, with her daughters, she developed, manufactured and installed Koala signage across the LGA to help drive Koala awareness. These signs were recognised and supported across the LGA.

Casey is now working with council staff on a new program of Koala awareness signage. For more information about the Port Stephens Annual Awards, visit


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