Maryborough’s Garry Higgins had no inkling he was even nominated to receive a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) this Australia Day, describing the honour as humbling and a privilege.
But Mr Higgins’ honour perhaps come as little surprise to many in his community, to which he has dedicated years of service.
He joined the Rotary Club of Maryborough about 15 years ago and has since served as a president and board member.
One of his significant roles was helping establish the club’s #SayNo2familyviolence campaign.
The initiative began in 2014, after the club decided it would look at redressing disadvantage within the community.
Mr Higgins said members went to the Central Goldfields Shire social justice alliance Go Goldfields and asked where the club could get involved, and was directed towards the issue of family violence.
The shire has, for several years, recorded some of the highest rates of family violence incidents in the state.
#SayNo2familyviolence aims to address this by increasing awareness and discussion of the issues surrounding family violence, facilitating partnerships within the community, and enacting early intervention strategies.
Mr Higgins said there were a lot of things happening in the Maryborough community in this sphere that were not happening anywhere else.
The community was much more aware of the issues surrounding family violence, he said, including its complexities and the impact it had, particularly on women and children.
Mr Higgins has also worked towards eradicating family violence with the council.
He is also a member of a planning and vision think tank, through which he intends to challenge the community to “change direction rather radically” and think about itself and its economy in a different way.
Mr Higgins said when a community had significant disadvantage, that become a singular focus, but he wanted people to talk about the positives.
“There are incredible resources within our community, if only we’d identify them, embrace them and nurture them,” he said.
Mr Higgins has also served as a director and community representative for Maryborough’s Highview College.
Born and bred in the area, Mr Higgins said he was driven by enjoyment of his community, which he described as a “great little community” that just had not yet realised its full potential.
He credited his wife Julie and daughters Jade and Courtney for supporting him and challenging him
Mr Higgins said he was also only “the tip of the iceberg” of a large group of people with a common cause.
“You just do what you do… You don’t intentionally do stuff because of what you might get out of it, it’s because of the common good, I suppose,” Mr Higgins said.
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