Published on 26 January 2022
Local legends recognised
Meet the recipients of the 2022 City of Onkaparinga Australia Day Awards (see below), which recognise local individuals and groups who have made an outstanding contribution to their communities during the year.
While an awards ceremony isn’t being held today due to COVID-19, the recipients will receive a call from City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson congratulating them, and a future reception to honour them will be scheduled later when it’s safe to do so.
Mayor Erin Thompson and Deputy Mayor Marion Themeliotis will also hold a number of virtual citizenship ceremonies today to welcome new Australian citizens to Onkaparinga.
Another Onkaparinga resident to be honoured today is City of Onkaparinga's very own Kirk Richardson, Director City Operations, who was awarded the Public Service Medal by the Governor-General under the Australian Honours system. Kirk has worked for the City of Onkaparinga (and its predecessors) for 32 years in a range of operational roles, and received the honour "for outstanding public service in developing and implementing key projects for the City Council of Onkaparinga".
Without further ado, here are the winners of the 2022 City of Onkaparinga Australia Day Awards. Bios have been summarised from nomination forms and don’t fully encompass all of the recipients’ outstanding achievements.
Citizen of the Year – Dr Mark Potter
Dr Mark Potter (pictured) is the owner of the community-focused McLaren Vale co-working hub Meeting Place MV, which is home to more than 30 businesses and a café that doubles as a training facility for Onkaparinga’s vulnerable.
Dr Potter allows a large number of community ventures including the McLaren Vale Rotary, The Fleurieu Awesome Foundation and the Southern Men’s Group to use Meeting Place MV free of charge.
He also runs a number of programs from the site himself, including barista training for high-needs members of the community, which is integrated with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), allowing people with disabilities to access 1:1 workshops without charge.
For the past three years he has fostered the Fleurieu Chapter of the Awesome Foundation, an international initiative that generates funds for investment across the region. Through Dr Potter’s stewardship, the chapter has donated $28,000 in cash to community initiatives including the purchase of new surfboards and lifejackets for disabled surfers at Moana, meal hampers for those struggling in the community, and support for women’s domestic violence initiatives.
During South Australia’s most recent COVID lockdown, Dr Potter developed a dinner hamper campaign for emergency service workers. Using local produce and a public pledge campaign on social media, he coordinated delivery of more than 300 meal hampers to first responders through the initiative, echoing his response to SA’s first lockdown when he coordinated the delivery of more than 800 fully cooked meals to vulnerable households.
Young Citizen of the Year – Leo Oliver
Fifteen-year-old Leo Oliver has been a member of South Port Surf Life Saving Club since 2014, and his years of dedicated training kicked-in one December afternoon in 2020 when he and two friends saved the life of a snorkeller who’d come into trouble 300 metres offshore.
Leo’s maturity and kind and thoughtful nature saw him named South Port Junior Club Captain in 2019-20, and since finishing Nippers he’s continued to provide mentorship and support to junior members in many ways.
He completed 51.5 volunteer hours in 2020–21 and is also a keen competitor who competes in most surf sports disciplines. He won a bronze medal in the Under 14 board race and a gold medal in the Under 23 march past in the 2021 Senior State Titles.
Leo was awarded the prestigious statewide Surf Life Saving SA Youth Member of the Year Award for 2020-21 as a result of his many contributions.
Community Event of the Year – Fleurieu Folk Day
The Fleurieu Folk Festival Committee was forced to make the heartbreaking decision to cancel the three-day Fleurieu Folk Festival for the second year running in 2021 due to COVID-19.
Not to be defeated, the committee regrouped and quickly resolved to stage a revamped Fleurieu Folk Day, aiming to select South Australian performers that relied on gigs as their income, to utilise as many local businesses as possible, and to stage a COVID-safe music spectacular in the City of Onkaparinga.
The 16 October event was a resounding success, attracting a bumper crowd and incorporating the Judith Crossley Memorial Songwriting Award and Peter Thornton Family Memorial Award to foster local music talent.
The committee’s work continues to support the wider community and local economy, whether via providing pathways for Centrelink recipients to complete their obligations, to establishing songwriting/performance opportunities for students from Willunga Primary School, and sharing resources, knowledge and volunteers with other local festivals.
This work was recognised recently at the Australian Folk Alliance Awards, which promoted the Fleurieu Folk Day via livestream across the world, and by being selected as one of six community events Australia-wide to be depicted on 1kg Necafe Blend 43 coffee tins, as part of its Celebrate Community Spirit collection.
Citizen of the Year
Pictured: Mark Potter