The Hills Shire Council’s Australia Day Award recipients have been announced during a special ceremony at the Pioneer Theatre on Wednesday, January 19.

On behalf of The Hills Shire, I congratulate everyone that has been nominated in our Australia Day Awards,” Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Peter Gangemi said.

“I thank them for their kindness, generosity and their unwavering support to others. The Hills is a better place because of them,” Mayor Gangemi added.

MERCEDES DURANTE CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Mercedes Durante is the current president of Norwest Sunrise Rotary Club, helping to fundraise to support her community. Mercedes is a Founding Director and Company Secretary of Spotlight Focus Ltd and Director of Positive Vibes Foundation (PVF), which runs ‘The Hills Women’s Shed’.

Mercedes is a qualified and experienced banker and Finance Broker.

She is the founder and director of MD Finance, a Justice of the Peace, and a First Responder at St John Ambulance.

Mercedes is also a very active volunteer within the Hills community by helping those in need as a committee member of the North Kellyville Advocacy Group (NKAG), raising issues within our community and the Hills Shire Council; volunteering for the Hills Relay for Life fundraising events, volunteering at The Salvation Army and its Red Shield Appeal to mention few.

Mercedes was also the former chair of the Hills Women’s Shed Community Garden; former Vice President and founder of Brighter Stellar Inc, a not-for-profit organisation located in Bella Vista NSW.

SCARLET BRADATSCH YOUNG CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Scarlet’s Year 6 project on women’s rights and gender inequality has been acknowledged by the Football Federation of Australia. She’s also passionate about wanting to help women and children impacted by domestic and family violence. During the lockdown, Scarlet worked to fill 150 backpacks with school supplies to be donated to The Sanctuary – The Hills Women’s Shelter.

SHIRLEY PURSER SENIOR CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Shirley has dedicated her life to the Hills Community, including being a charter member of the Zonta Club of Sydney, a founding secretary and current co-chair of Western Sydney International Women’s Day Committee and many other organisations. Shirley runs a volunteer sewing group making bra support she designed for breast cancer patients who’ve had a mastectomy.

LISA HARNUM FOUNDATION AWARDED COMMUNITY GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Lisa Harnum Foundation provides a much-needed service for women victims and survivors of domestic and family violence in The Hills Shire. Because of the nature of protecting the women and children accessing their services, the work of the Lisa Harnum Foundation often goes by unknown by the community. The staff of Lisa Harnum Foundation are tireless in their pursuit to support women and families experiencing and fleeing domestic and family abuse.

CHRIS JONES ENVIRONMENTAL CITIZEN
Chris is passionate about helping others and the environment. He is a member of the Cattai Hills Environment Network and a long-time volunteer at the Environment Centre at Annangrove.