Two Greater Bendigo residents have been recognised for their community efforts with nominations Local Hero category of Victoria's Australian of the Year Awards.
The Bushfire Foundation chief executive Nathan Rogers helps support bushfire victims while Bendigo doctor Kirby White ensures regional and rural GPs have access to reusable gowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Rogers was volunteer firefighter in Kangaroo Flat for 18 years and established The Bushfire Foundation in 2015. He was nominated for his efforts as CEO and raising $85,000 during last summer's fire events.
"To be nominated for a national award of this sort of calibre is great," he said. "When I first established (the foundation), I saw there was a need to help people.
"We helped the elderly, injured, disabled and low income earners that live in high-risk urban rural areas and can't always do the work (to maintain their property).
"If you have got elderly neighbours who need a hand, knock on their door and ask. If you make the effort to check, it could be the difference (if a fire comes)."
Mr Rogers, who is also running for City of Greater Bendigo council, said he always hoped to see The Bushfire Foundation help interstate people.
"That was the goal," he said. "To eventually go into different states and do that work but we didn't expect to do it in five years.
"It was a longer term goal - maybe a 10-year plan. But at the time we had the funds and had raised $85,000 for those people and we had ability to get up there, so we took the opportunity.
"The major assistance we did was the 2019 bushfires in NSW. We went to Taree and spent eight days up doing recovery on houses that had been extensively or completely damaged.
"We tidied blocks so people could get temporary buildings or caravans in. We also took up a fair amount of food donations for animals."
Dr White, who works at The Bendigo GP Clinic, helped found Gowns for Doctors, which has provided 5500 re-usable gowns for regional and rural doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"About two weeks after COVID hit Australia, we realised there were no disposable gowns (due to) hospital systems sucking up the supply," she said. "So Nicole (Townsend) and I trialed couple of home-made gowns.
"We realised the design was suitable and practical and thought we need to support other GPs. The initial goal was to get 1000 gowns for the Bendigo community. We thought if we have 100 volunteers doing 10 gowns each, we would meet that goal.
"It blew out of proportion in the first month, so we started a GoFundMe, lobbying not-for-profit organisations, government and businesses to support us. Never in my wildest dream think be as big as it is."
When the second wave of coronavirus cases hit Gowns for Doctors expanded into supporting metropolitan clinics.
"I think we are now up to 5500 gowns and have dispatched to every rural and remote GP across the state. Many places have received multiple boxes," Dr White said. "In the second wave with metropolitan areas in the firing line, we started dispatching there.
"But I often think the true heroes (of Gowns for Doctors) has been the local community, the volunteers sewing and the small businesses who have donated time and effort in supporting the project."
For more details on Gowns For Doctors and The Bushfire Foundation find them on Facebook.