Australia Day Awards - 2024 Nominees

Published on 25 January 2024

Congratulations to the Broken Hill Australia Day Award Winners for 2024!

Read the full listing including candidate profiles below! 

Rodney Garner | Citizen of the Year Award Winner

Rodney has had a 40 year association with basketball as a player, coach and volunteer.  Rod was made a life member of the Basketball Association for his long and valued services to the sport.  He played an integral role in ensuring the Bob Sanderson Basketball Stadium was built.

Rod started out as a basketball player at both club and representative level, going on to coach Men’s, Women’s and Junior sides at both club and representative level.  He refereed and was a member of the Association executive for many years.  Rod was a founding member of the junior committee, formed to foster and increase the level of junior participation. 

He could always be counted upon and any working bee and also volunteered in the canteen.  Rod is a well respected and valued member of the basketball community both locally and interstate.

Rod’s involvement with the sport of AFL extends over 50 years.  He played for the North Football Club with the passion and commitment he would later display as a volunteer.  Post his playing career he continued his involvement with the North Football Club, spending several years as a runner for Reserve Grade and serving on the administration committee for over a decade, filling a number of roles including that of being the Club delegate to the Broken Hill Football League.

When the Shinglebacks AFL Masters Club was formed in 2008 with the aim to foster AFL at a junior level in Broken Hill, Rod was one of the first members.  He was also involved in the early days of encouraging women to play AFL.  The work of people like Rod were the cornerstone of the very successful women’s competition AFL Broken Hill has today.

In 2012, Rod joined the Competition Match Committee for AFL Broken Hill chairing if for some years and still an active member in 2024.  The role of the committee is to oversee the running of the game on match day.

In 2019 when worked commenced on the $3.5m upgrade of the Jubilee Oval, it was a band of volunteers led by Rod Garner and Steve Quinn that provided hundreds of hours of voluntary labour, saving the League well over $100k.  The work, long hours and commitment has provided Broken Hill with a first class sporting facility.

In the last three years Rod has chaired a committee to establish an AFL Hall of Fame in Lionel Johnston House, showcasing over 100 years of the game in Broken Hill.

Rod is a life member of Broken Hill Basketball Association, North Football Club, Broken Hill Football League, AFL Broken Hill and was Shingleback Member of the Year.

His knowledge, passion and willingness to volunteer his time, expertise and skill has seen two sports benefit, he is one of the very few who give more to an organisation that they take.

Larry Angell | Senior Citizen of the Year Award Winner

Larry Angell has contributed so much for the Broken Hill community over the last four decades that it is impossible to name them all.

Larry was the Chair of the Patton Village committee for over 10 years and currently holds the position of vice President.  Such is his involvement with this committee, that he is known affectionately as the unofficial “Mayor of the South”.  Larry has been an integral part in organising the Patton Park Family Fun Day, Christmas in Patton Park and Market, seeking sponsorship and overseeing the running of them on the day.

He set up a drop in centre for youth for after school, not only setting it up but organising volunteers as well as volunteering his own time.

In 2023 Larry volunteered to reopen White’s Mining and Mineral Art Museum.  He currently volunteers his time to run the museum five days a week.

Larry is a well known veteran of the mining industry, having worked for several years underground and he’s an experienced tour guide having worked with the RFDS guided tours for over 10 years.  Larry is well recognised as someone with enormous interest and skill in promoting Broken Hill and the region as a tourist experience.  Larry has also been known to open his home to travellers in need including some from the Netherlands who were staying in an non-airconditioned van during one of Broken Hill’s heat waves.

Larry founded and administers the Facebook page “Broken Hill and Far West Tourism” which is consulted for events all over Australia and has built a huge following.  Larry is no stranger to the media having undertaken numerous interviews with the ABC radio and Barrier Truth newspaper over many years.

He spends many, many hours and money decorating his house for Pink October, Halloween and Christmas bringing joy to many children and adults, with his house being renowned for its decorations  and atmosphere.  Larry uses these holidays as fundraising for local causes as well as charities such as Love Your Sister.  Larry has even assisted as Santa’s Helper at many events.

Larry has volunteered hours helping with the development and establishment of the garden at Penrose Park, from transporting multiple loads of soil from Broken Hill to Penrose Park, planting and watering.

He has been a big supporter of Scouts volunteering at the hall behind the scenes by such things as mowing the lawn, helping at barbeques and transporting equipment for such things as donut stalls, helping to deliver telephone books, helping to raise money for scouts attending cuborees, jamborees and world jamborees and marshalling at the Broken Heel Festival.

Larry often spends his evenings putting together packs of beads for the Rainbow Shoelace Project to support his granddaughter.  Larry is also the carer of his wife of nearly 50 years who has Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Larry’s dedication to Broken Hill has seen him involved in numerous groups and organisations including as a Councillor, involvement in services clubs such as Jaycees, coach with the South Junior Cricket Club, member of the Norm Fox Oval committee and many more, volunteering countless hours of his time to the benefit of the Broken Hill community and the region.

Diane Magor | Senior Citizen of the Year Award Winner

Diane undertook a Bachelor of Music Degree via distance education at Armidale University graduating at the age of 60 in early 2014.  The skills she gained, along with those obtained through over 20 years of intensive vocal coaching both in Broken Hill and Adelaide, have been used to the benefit of the Broken Hill community in many ways.

Diane has been the conductor of Broken Hill Philharmonic Society Inc Choir for 16 years.  This is a totally voluntary position which involves training and conducting the choir for two major concerts each year plus other smaller events.  Diane is on the management committee as well as two sub-committees and is heavily involved in planning and bringing to fruition the concerts and other events including fundraisers.  She has also held the positions of Chairman and Publicity Officer for the choir over many years.

Diane has performed as a solo vocalist at countless events both for the Philharmonic, Repharmonic, Theatre 44, BIU Band, Anglican Church and others from the early 1980s to the present.

Diane was the primary organiser of a visit by Jonathon Welch OAM in September 2023.  Mr Welch conducted a vocal masterclass, four school workshops and an additional four workshops for adult singers in addition to adjudicating the local Eisteddfod.  This was an amazing boon for singers of Broken Hill.

For 22 years, Diane had conducted the St Peter’s Anglican Church Choir which involved rehearsing and conducting a smaller group of singers for Sunday services, funerals and other church events.  She also assisted in church fundraisers, organising music performances for fundraisers such as concerts and dinners.

Diane represented the Philharmonic Society on the Broken Hill Proms Concert Committee, also taking on the role of co-ordinator for a period.  This committee was responsible for planning and presenting a combined music groups annual concert incorporating the Philharmonic Choir, Civic Orchestra, BIU Brass Band and Cameron Pipe Band.

As a committee member of the Gallipoli Memorial Foundation, Diane assisted in the organising and also performed at the Foundations’ annual concerts to fund its scholarship for those undertaking study outside of Broken Hill.

Diane has been a volunteer helper and committee member of the Broken Hill Eisteddfod Society for many years and currently serves as vocal co-ordinator and assistant secretary.

In addition to her committee and choir commitments, Diane has also contributed to many other events singing at nursing homes and retirement villages, community events, conferences, International Women’s Day breakfast and Carols by Candlelight.  Her contribution has not just been with her own performances but also as a vocal coach to dozens of young singers.

Diane has also been a committed member of her church communities having undertaken a number of roles including Treasurer of the Railwaytown Uniting Church, junior choir member, Parish Secretary at St Peter’s Anglican Church and creator of the weekly Parish newsletter.

August Keenan | Youth Encouragement Award Winner

August (Augie) Keenan is the true meaning of small but mighty.  Eleven year old Augie has been advocating for Type 1 diabetes for a number of years.  Having first hand experience with Type 1 diabetes, Augie became a political advocate for the illness which included meeting with members of Parliament to try and get better access to services for treatments for patients with type 1 diabetes, particularly when in rural and remote areas.

Since 2020, Augie has been raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  This has included holding “Wear Blue” days at her school, holding raffles and selling merchandise.

In 2021 Augie featured in the Diabetes NSW/QLD Christmas appeal.

Augie assisted in holding the first ever JDRF One Walk in Broken Hill in October 2023.  The One Walk events were traditionally held in capital cities and coastal areas.  The One Walk event was attended by over 100 people.  Augie is on track to have assisted in raising $10,000 for JDRF.

In 2023, Augie came up with the idea for the Type 1 Shoelace Project.  This involved proposing and working on the details of the idea, helping to design the flyers and social media posts.  The project was to encourage people to wear blue and orange beads on shoelaces to show support for people with Type 1 Diabetes. 

Augie packed hundreds of packs of beads and handed them out at her school and advertised them on social media for members of the public.

Augie has recently increased her social media presence which has allowed people to have more insight into what it is like to live with Type 1 Diabetes and is regularly featured on the JDRF social media pages.

In 2023, Augie also volunteered her time to assist with the local “Wear it Purple Day” event supporting the LGTQIA+ community and has volunteered her time to pack hundreds of beads for the Rainbow Shoelace Project.

Augie has done this all while experiencing the literal highs and lows of having type 1 diabetes which makes everything she has done in her short life much more impressive.

Brendan Cullen | Citizenship Award Winner

Following his own mental health struggles, Brendan has become an advocate for others experiencing mental health challenges.  Brendan, a sheep station manager, works and lives on Kars Station with his wife Jacinta.

Brendan has been a Lifeline Ambassador for a number of years helping to break the stigma attached to mental health struggles, particularly in the farming community.

Locally Brendan is well known for his solo swim on the English Channel in 2022.  The gruelling swim of 64kms took Brendan 17 hours, raising funds for suicide prevention.  The English Channel swim raised the awareness of suicide prevention around the globe and attracted exceptional media coverage in Australia and England.  Brendan conducted numerous interviews across all media forms highlighting the struggles of mental health particularly in rural and remote Australia, becoming know on social media as “The Desert Swimmer”.

In 2023, Brendan, together with five others, completed a relay swim of the English Channel, again raising money and highlighting rural mental health.

In 2020 Brendan became a Champion of the Royal Flying Doctor Service We’ve Got Your Back program.  The program commenced in 2017 and is a partnership between the RFDS and Lifeline Broken Hill.  Brendan considers this peer support program as a game changer, with the program reaching people in Western Australia, Queensland and NSW.

In the same year, Brendan was bestowed the honour of being named at number 10 on the Qantas 100 Most Inspiring Australians, and still wonders how he ended up amongst these amazing individuals.

In 2022 Brendan was shortlisted as a finalist in the Lifeline Australia Volunteer of the Year NSW Awards.

Brendan was awarded the Lifeline Country 2 Coast, Des Griffith Memorial Service Award for 2023 for his outstanding commitment working across various community outreach initiatives including How’s Ya Mate and We’ve Got Your Back.

Brendan has been involved with the Central Football Club for many years both as a player and supporter of the Club.  He is a current member of the AFL Broken Hill Board.

A passionate man of the land, Brendan considers his greatest achievements are his three children, Emma, Darcey and Charli. 

George Bugeja | Citizenship Award Winner

George Bugeja is synonymous with soccer in Broken Hill.  He started his coaching career in 1983 when his son was five years old, with the Burke Ward Public School.

He went on to coach with the West Panther Soccer Club for 40 years, retiring at the end of the 2023 season.

Throughout his 40-year coaching career, George has coached many representative teams to compete at SAJSA competitions, amassed many medals and trophies, having coached so many teams to success in both the junior and adult local and representative competitions.

George coached for the Far West Academy of Sports for many years, travelling far and wide to take young players to trials and selections to compete in National Titles and other major centres giving opportunities at NSW Residential training camps. He achieved success with several boys and girls representing the state at National titles. George coached Natalie Thomas, whom amazingly achieved MATILDA’ status.

In 1992 George put a proposal to the BHSA to form a women’s competition. A first for local soccer. The BHSA has since had 4 very competitive female teams representing their clubs.

He coached the U/11 Broken Hill representative side with some players aged only 9 and 10 to become the undefeated SAJSA Country Championship winners in 1993.

In 1993 he became Vice President of the West Panthers Soccer Club while coaching seven teams.  The same year he also became President of the Broken Hill Soccer Association and coached the U/23 representative side playing at Hindmarsh stadium, and various age groups in the junior divisions for representative soccer in South Australia

In 1996 George became a South Australian Soccer Federation Affiliated Coach, coaching a U/13 Combined Country team who took out their age division.  He conducted level 4 coaching clinics, selecting players for the NSW Academy of Sports.

In 1998 George was recognised for his commitment to the Far West Academy of Sports with a Ministerial Sports Award and a Certificate of Appreciation from the coaching panel.  In 2000 he was awarded the commemorative Australian Sports Medal for contribution to sporting excellence including service and support for grass roots sport.

George’s success as a coach with the West Panthers has led to many teams being awarded Champion of Champions Shield.  In 2014 he coached the U/17s Colts side through an undefeated season, scoring 107 goals and having just 4 scored against.

George considers a major achievement is teaching young players skills to compete at a senior level. His wife Theresa, daughter Linda, sons George, Chad and Johnny, Grandchildren, Jessica and Jordan, all receiving Best & Fairest awards and highest goal scorers throughout their playing years, and the very proud time when his son Chad Bugeja was selected to play for Adelaide United and subsequently forming his own training academy in Adelaide for young players in SA.

Mark Curtis | Citizenship Award Winner

Mark Curtis is well respected throughout the Broken Hill community as a kind and caring gentleman and dedicated family man.

As a Church of Christ Minister, he plays an important role in the Ministers’ Fraternal and has conducted many local funerals in his capacity as a minister and former funeral director.  He visits end-of-life patients and their families.

Mark has had a long association with the music community of Broken Hill.  He has always given freely of his time and considerable talents.  As the longest serving conductor with the Broken Hill Civic Orchestra, Mark has played his part in ensuring the orchestra remained viable over the past 24 years.

In the 1990’s, Mark was an accompanist and singer for the combined-schools Outback Oz Onsemble and assisted with musical rehearsals at Theatre 44, performing solos and in the chorus.  He taught piano and competed in many local Eisteddfods. 

Mark represented the Broken Hill Civic Orchestra on the Broken Hill Proms Committee, assisting in the running of combined concerts with the Civic Orchestra, Philharmonic Choir, BIU Band and Cameron Pipe Band.

For almost 30 years, Mark was part of the Church of Christ’s organising team for the annual Carols by Candlelight in Sturt Park, with Mark playing an integral part in the organisation and presentation.

Lending his talents to other Churches in town, Mark and his family have played at inter-church events, and he has been a locum organist at various times. 

Mark has contributed to other musical organisations, accompanying the Burke Ward School Choir for a decade, stepping in to conduct the BIU Band at various times, helping with the Philharmonic Choir as a chorister, soloist, accompanist and, at times, conducting.  He is a humorous and informative compere at many concerts and also fills in with the Cameron Pipe Band’s drum core.  

Professor David Lyle | Citizenship Award Winner

Professor David Lyle has made significant contributions in the field of rural health, particularly in Broken Hill. David moved to Broken Hill in 1995 to establish a University Department of Rural Health for the University of Sydney (BHUDRH). Over his career, Professor Lyle has been influential in developing various programs and initiatives aimed at improving health care in rural and remote communities. He was instrumental in setting up academic centres not only in Broken Hill but also in Bourke and Dareton.

Under his guidance, BHUDRH was the first to establish what is now referred to as the federal Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program. This program is designed to improve the recruitment and retention of medical, nursing, dental, and allied health professionals in rural and remote areas of Australia.

One of Professor Lyle’s notable achievements with his team is the introduction of long stay medical and allied health programs, where students from various universities come to work in Broken Hill for extended periods. This initiative has been expanded to include a long stay nursing program as well.

Professor Lyle’s work extended beyond education and training. He played a key role in responding to health issues through research and development, notably addressing children’s blood lead levels in Broken Hill, as well as issues in palliative care and mental health. His contributions to rural health were recognised through the establishment of the ARHEN David Lyle Prizes for Rural and Remote Health, awarded to University Departments of Rural Health employees who make a positive contribution to rural and remote health.

Prof Lyle also helped respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, taking on the role as the Public Health Controller for the Broken Hill area and was instrumental in the vaccination rollout and containment of multiple outbreaks.

Even as he approached retirement, Professor Lyle continued to be actively involved in supporting students in their research and was a part of the community he served. His dedication to the field and the community of Broken Hill is a testament to his commitment to improving health care in rural areas.

Sharon Hocking | Citizenship Award Winner

Sharon Hocking is a well-known businesswoman and has served on numerous committees throughout her life.  Sharon married Jeff Hocking in 1972 and after adopting their daughter, Belinda in 1982, Sharon left her job at the ANZ Bank, previously ES&A Bank and became involved in community organisations connected with being a mum.

Over the next few years, Sharon started a pre-kindy club for young mums with some friends, became Secretary/Treasurer of Playtime Preschool Committee, founding executive member of the Country Children Services Association in Broken Hill which is the controlling body of all kindergartens and occasional care centres in the area, President of Alma School Mother’s Club, Alma Canteen Treasurer and Alma P & C Treasurer. During this period, she was working part time or casually doing accounts for a number of small businesses. 

In 1991 Sharon became the President of the YWCA of Broken Hill and held the position of NSW State Treasurer of YWCA for three years.  She is a life member and remains a member of the local action group today.

In 1995 Sharon, together with Dallice Robins, started their own business, Competent Appointment Services. 

Sharon served on the Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce as the Vice President for four years and in 1999 became the Chambers first female president in its then 109-year history.  Sharon served as president for five terms and in that capacity represented the Chamber on a number of committees and boards, also serving as a member of the Board of Desert Knowledge Australia in the Northern Territory.

In 2008, Sharon and her then business partner closed Competent Appointment Services, due to the ill health of Sharon’s parents.  Sharon continued to work from home for a few clients, in addition to her carer role for her parents. 

In 2011 Sharon and her husband Jeff purchased land in Wentworth and commenced building their dream home near the river.  During this time the pair would commute back and forth.

With the passing of Jeff in 2018, Sharon returned to Broken Hill, continuing to work casually as a bookkeeper.

In 2019 Sharon took on a volunteer role in the office of Broken Hill Community Inc serving in this capacity until 2022.  In recent years, Sharon continues to serve a number of committees in varying capacities including Treasurer of Landcare Broken Hill and Western Landcare, Secretary for community radio station 2DryFM, Bookkeeper for the St Pat’s Race Club, Secretary/Treasurer Barrier Field Naturalists Club, assisted the Morgan St P&C Committee as treasurer for 12 months and is the Public Officer /Minute Secretary of the re-formed Broken Hill Kart Club.

Sharon still finds time to enjoy gardening and plays cards every Wednesday afternoon.