The 2022 Australia Day honours list includes 11 community-minded residents from the Greater Bendigo area recognised for their services to the community.
They include residents from the arts and cultural sector, Indigenous and aged care services, education, government, charity and service organisations who have dedicated their lives to the community we share.
Former Greater Bendigo mayor 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.
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."
Aunty Lyn Warren has been a board member of the Centre for Non-Violence for many years and is the Cultural Adviser to the CNV's Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group.
For the past four years she has working with the Indigenous community in the prison system to connect them to family.
"The past few years because of COVID I've had to do it on Zoom, I can't actually go to the prisons," Aunty Lyn said.
"But it's been a fantastic journey and helped make a lot of people feel good," the Order of Australia medal recipient said.
Her time as a teacher has taken her all around the world to such places as New York, New Zealand, Timor Leste and even working at schools in Saudi Arabia.
Ms Ridge said she had been "very fortunate" to work in education which offers so much.
"Awards like these are not so much about the individual but the partnerships with people you work with on projects," she said.
"I am honoured. The opportunities I have been given were ones I did not anticipate early on in my professional career."
After completing teacher training at Bendigo Teachers College in 19966-67, Ms Ridge taught at a number of schools in Melbourne and country Victoria.
She won the Lindsay Thompson Fellow, Victorian Teacher of the Year award in 2008 among other accolades through her work with the Eaglehawk Rotary Club.
But the most rewarding aspect of her career has been her work with the Bendigo Maubisse Friendship Committee.
The committee has helped rebuild schools in war-torn Timor Leste and provided education support for the schoolchildren in the town of Maubisse.
From a very young age, Castlemaine's Lynne Kelly had an undeniable love for education.
And inadvertently the mathematics and science fields, but it was her passion for encouraging students to ask weird and wonderful questions, among others, that lead to her being named a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
Lynne said her love began with an innocent con from her father.
"When I was very little, if I was very good my father would reward me with math," she said, laughing.
Lynne continued down the STEM pathway and was one of the few female engineering graduates to go through Monash University at the time.
"I went into sciences to major in physics, but was told girls couldn't do engineering because it was too hard for them," she said.
Lynne found herself off to regional Victoria ready to spread her wings and educate.
Very quickly, she realised she'd found where she belonged - the country.
"I'm originally from Melbourne, but wanted to move to the country because I love it so much," she said.
"Regional cities and towns are so much better than the city. I went to Ballarat and then up to Castlemaine."
Roma Beryl was awarded an OAM for service to the community of Castlemaine.
For 60 years, Mrs Beryl has been the owner and teacher of Roma Ivetic School of Dance.
"I still practice (dancing) at home to keep in good health," she said.
"I like to think the students got a lot of confidence to go on to competition and into jobs and the way they go about life," she said.
Mrs Beryl is a volunteer at Castlemaine Pioneers and Old Residents Association, a supporter of Alexander Home for the Aged in Castlemaine.
She has also helped a range of local community organisations including Castlemaine Fire Brigade, Castlemaine Pipe Band, and the Kyneton Fire Brigade.
Jan 'Yarn' Wositzky's musical career and dedication to Indigenous culture earns him an OAM.
Mr Wositzky will receive an Order of Australia medal for service to the performing arts, particularly through theatre.
Some may recognise his name from the widely-popular band The Bushwackers, a group in which he is a founding member.
"The Bushwackers was an absolute highlight of my career, like how lucky can you be?" he said.
One woman's struggling rural community is another woman's goldmine for improvement and growth - at least that's the case with Castlemaine's Kerry Anderson. And it's something she's had an eye for since she was young.
"When you live in a rural town - and Castlemaine was a small rural town when I was growing up - in a small business family, you see that community and business go hand-in-hand," she said.
"You volunteer, you're involved in sporting clubs. I was on my first committee at the age of 17, which I didn't think was special at the time.
"And I also had the wonderful experience of working with the Loddon Murray Community Leadership program which took me out into the region."
It was during this experience Kerry's small-town spirit really kicked into gear, when she spotted an advertisement calling for executive officers at LEAD Loddon Murray Community Leadership.
It was an advertisement she wasn't letting go to waste and a role that focused her interest in the towns around her and what she could do to help better them.
"I'd mainly done work around my own shire and Bendigo, and I thought this role looked fabulous," she said.
"It made me wonder why some rural towns were doing well and how they do it with so few resources.
"And obviously with the businesses and mindsets of people making it all so important."
As executive officer, Kerry was able to run the leadership program and work with communities in other parts of Victoria.
"It gave me the chance to get out into those areas and talk to people," she said.
"Some of the best leadership discussions I have had are with dairy farmers and we were able to have those real grass-roots conversations that brought a wealth of information."
At the same time, Kerry has involved herself in a number of other organisations around Castlemaine including the town's Cemetery Trust, Rotary Club, she even took on deputy chair to the Castlemaine Health board.
For almost four decades, Peter Perry has been involved in Castlemaine's art and history scene in more ways than one.
From advocating for forgotten Australian artists and taking on a number of roles within the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum, his work has earned him an Order of Australia medal on January 26.
"I was delighted to receive the news," Peter said.
"It is a great honour to receive recognition for work you are so passionate about."
From 1975 until 2013, he took on the role as director at the CAGHM and made a number of significant contributions in that time.
"During this time, I had been closely involved with two significant building upgrades," Peter said.
Peter also made it his mission to secure funding for a number of art projects for the gallery. He has also written and produced many exhibition catalogues on neglected Australian artists from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Since the 1980s, Ruth Hosking's efforts have centred around aged care, particularly in helping families get the answers they need when it comes to the future living arrangements of a loved one.
Her dedication to the cause as seen Mrs Hosking awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Mrs Hosking said it was an extraordinary honour to have bestowed upon her.
Since 1988, Mrs Hosking has been the volunteer admissions' information officer at Uniting AgeWell Strath-Haven Community.
One of the recommendations from the 2018 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was to establish Ageing Aged Care Engagement hubs.
The hub's roles include being involved in reference groups, public consultations and ongoing engagement so the reforms are shaped by the perspectives and needs of senior Australians.
"The government is hoping to identify what families need to know about helping people into aged care," Mrs Hosking said.
"I would love to see a regional centre model set up in Bendigo that I can hand over to. If that happens, my goal will have been achieved."
He served with the Werribee Fire Brigade and was made an honorary life member of the CFA in 1991.
He also served with the Eaglehawk Fire Brigade from 2018-2020 and was a member and secretary of the Fire Service Museum Victoria for a combined period of 25 years.
Mr Heddle was also a volunteer with Ambulance Victoria for 22 years.
Former City of Greater Bendigo senior manager Margaret Allan received a Public Service Medal for her support of emerging leaders, particularly women, by providing advice, guidance and coaching to ensure they are provided with every opportunity to succeed.
During her more than 30-year career in government, Ms Allan has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to advocacy and relationship building at both local and state government levels.
This includes supporting urban growth and renewable energy, protecting native vegetation and wildlife, and managing water solutions and Crown land.
Ms Allan currently serves as regional director, Loddon Mallee at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
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