Peter Cox's philosophy in life was learnt in his teenage years.
"If you want to bring about social change, you have to involve the very people affected by the issue," Mr Cox said.
It is a philosophy that has served him well , whether it be in his role as a councillor, mayor or a community leader looking to help the unemployed enter and stay in the workforce.
His efforts throughout the years have been recognised in this year's Australia Day honours with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Among his many accomplishments are managing Eaglehawk Enterprise Park and Workspace Australia from 1990 to 2009.and establishing the Eaglehawk Recycle Shop in 1993.
He has also served as a councillor, first in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn and then for the City of Greater Bendigo which included a stint as mayor from 2014-15.
Of receiving the OAM, Mr Cox said it was great to be acknowledged.
"I've been involved in a lot of things over the years and the most important thing is that this is not an honour only for me," he said.
"I have sat down with hundreds and even thousands of people in the last 50 years to campaign for social changes. People often don't get thanked but this is acknowledgement for all their work."
Mr Cox's passion to make life better for the community he lived in really took off in the 1970s and early 1980s when he helped spearhead a campaign to reduce the road toll.
"Road trauma was a huge issue back then and we found 55 per cent of those killed on Victorian roads were under 25 years of age," Mr Cox said.
"We ran a campaign throughout the state that changed the whole road toll issue."
It led to the marketing strategies of 'Turn off before .05', 'Seat belts save lives', and 'Country people die on country roads'.
The result was a 75 per cent reduction in road deaths in Victoria with the state becoming being a world leader in the field of road safety.
Mr Cox to Bendigo in 1985 and has worked and lived in Eaglehawk since 1989.
His efforts in providing support to start-up businesses led to Workspace, which has spread throughout central and northern Victoria, and the Eaglehawk Recycling Shop.
"The thing with unemployment is not training the unemployed to be more competitive for the jobs they're going for, but there's not enough jobs for people wanting to work which is why we started these employment projects," he said.
Mr Cox was also the founding president of Empowering Eaglehawk, a foundation which has distributed $1 million to local organisations over 13 years.
He established TradeStart to give students at risk of leaving school a new avenue of 'on the job' training while remaining at school.
He has served on countless committees, including as chair of council's Bendigo Maubisse Friendship Committee helping with schools in Timor Leste.
Even as a grandfather he still has time these days to be president of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Bendigo and Region Branch advocating on heritage issues.
Not only as he served as an Eaglehawk Rotary Club member, Mr Cox was also Eaglehawk's representative on the City of Greater Bendigo council for eight years including a turn as mayor during a difficult time.
"Council decided to issue a permit for the building of a mosque in Greater Bendigo and we had a lot of protestors come here from Sydney and Melbourne which put council in a difficult position," Mr Cox said..
"But we held strong values that everybody was welcome to Bendigo and everyone had the right to practise their religion."
Although it was a difficult position to be in, it simply confirmed Mr Cox's lifelong belief in community working together.
"Being mayor of the city convinced me of involving the community on a whole range of issues and we were able to achieve a great deal," he said.
"Get the community involved in the issues confronting them. People have great ideas when given the opportunity."
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