Four outstanding Casey residents and two volunteer groups were recognised for their inspiring contributions to the community at the 2022 Casey Australia Day Awards event held online.
Kanu Aggarwal was named the 2022 Casey Citizen of the Year, John Hardie the Casey Senior Citizen of the Year, Flynn Collier the Casey Young Citizen of the Year and the winner of the Casey Local Hero of the Year was awarded to Kay Taranto.
Not-for-profit organisations Palliative Care South East and Victoria SES, Narre Warren Unit were announced the joint 2022 Casey Community Groups of the Year. They were awarded this respectively for their work in supporting Casey residents with life-limiting illness, and for emergency response efforts during floods and storms.
City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff PSM announced the winners and congratulated all the nominees for the well-deserved recognition.
“On Australia Day each year we honour those persons and community organisations who contribute huge amounts of energy, time and effort to maintaining and growing Casey as the great place to live, work and play that it is,” she said.
“Today, we celebrate and congratulate our 2022 Casey Citizens of the Year, along with all the nominees for these important awards. Thank you for the contribution you all make to our community. You give us all pause for thought as to what it means to be Australian, and we commend you on the investment of passion and talent that you have selflessly given, not only to the Casey community, but also to the people of our great nation.”
Casey Citizen of the Year – Kanu Aggarwal
Kanu is a teacher by profession who is committed to creating positivity in the Casey community using her knowledge, energy and dynamism. She has provided guidance and advice to children
and their parents in uncertain times.
Kanu is a humanitarian who supports issues relating to child rights, borders, and migrant rights. She successfully created a platform to assist Australian parents advocate for children stranded overseas
Kanu has counselled students undertaking vocational and academic courses who were impacted by COVID-19, and as an active member of the Governing Council at her school, has taken a stance against bullying. Kanu also helped develop a WhatsApp group for early-years intervention for young parents.
Casey Young Citizen of the Year – Flynn Collier
As School Captain last year Flynn made fellow students feel included and valued regardless of ethnicity, religious background, gender, or sexuality. His commitment to the wider community can be seen through his extensive volunteering.
As a member of the City of Casey Youth Action Committee 2020-21 he has delivered projects aimed at young people including Climate Change, Education and Health and Wellbeing
He supported a Casey Mental Health Seminar for young people aimed at reducing youth psychological distress, informing about the effects of the pandemic on mental health and
redefining body image. Future volunteering includes a short film about eating disorders and negative self-talk which will be screened at a Casey Film Night and shown in Secondary Schools.
Casey Senior Citizen of the Year – John Hardie
John is an inspirational member of the Casey Community who advocates for the rights of vulnerable residents. As a volunteer with a crisis intervention hotline, he takes calls from people who are at risk and supports to them through difficult times.
He is also a committee member for Dog Guide Handlers Australia where he provides advice and advocacy for blind people with Dog Guides in Casey.
An active Rotarian, John participates in raising funds and awareness to support local community projects. He is a remarkable volunteer, community member and has dedicated years to making Casey a better place to live.
Casey Local Hero of the Year – Kay Taranto
Kay runs a wildlife shelter at her home in Narre Warren, which she funds personally and through donations. In 2021 she cared for over 650 sick and injured animals indigenous to Casey. In peak times she cares for up to 100 animals at once, seven days a week.
Kay is incredibly passionate about Casey’s native wildlife and shares this passion with school aged volunteers at the wildlife shelter, where her goal is to pass on her knowledge to the next generation.
She also attends many of Caseys festivals and events where she holds displays and talks about wildlife to inform and educate the community about the importance of our environment and
Joint Casey Community Groups of the Year – Palliative Care South East
The team at PCSE inspire others by delivering exceptional care to those in our community with life limiting illness, despite the significant challenges associated with the pandemic.
Last year the team adapted services to further support the growing number of families in need of the service. This has involved using tele-health options and visits to homes of patients in full PPE.
They have followed strict health advice going above and beyond to ensure nobody misses out on support and care when they need it most. They also continued to lead in the palliative care sector by introducing new programs, including a Bereavement Wellbeing Group, to help mitigate the mental health impacts of the pandemic.
Joint Casey Community Groups of the Year – Victorian SES, Narre Warren Unit
The Narre Warren SES Unit provide emergency response assistance to the City of Casey and the broader Victorian Community. As primary responders for storms they attended over 700 requests
for assistance last year.
They have assisted VICPOL with lost person searches and the CFA with fire support activities. More recently they have worked with Ambulance Victoria in the extraction of inaccessible injured persons and with emergency Ambulance drivers when staff isolated due to the Covid pandemic.
The unit is staffed 100% by volunteers who value humanity, service and the camaraderie it brings. The 62 women and men from diverse backgrounds are ordinary people in Casey doing
extraordinary things to ensure other community members are safe.
There were also five Highly Commended awards for:
- Kerrigan La-Brooy and Mudita Gupta were awarded Highly Commended in the Citizen of the Year category for their great contributions in emergency food relief and grief counselling respectively, to the Casey community.
- Dr Hakim Gassiep was awarded Highly Commended in the Senior Citizen of the Year for his work advocating for affordable healthcare.
- Riley Mears was awarded Highly Commended in the Young Citizen of the Year for his legal support for disadvantaged residents.
- Lindiwe Ndebele was awarded Highly Commended in the Local Hero of the Year category for her work in emergency food relief support in the community.
Casey Australia Day Awards
The Casey Australia Day Awards have been celebrating remarkable Casey citizens for four decades. Every year, when our nation celebrates Australia Day, Casey celebrates the achievements and contributions of eminent Casey citizens and groups.
Details on the 2022 Casey Australia Day Award recipients
- Casey Citizen of the Year – Kanu Aggarwal
- Casey Young Citizen of the Year – Flynn Collier
- Casey Senior Citizen of the Year – John Hardie
- Casey Local Hero of the Year – Kay Taranto
- Joint Casey Community Groups of the Year – Palliative Care South East and Victorian SES, Narre Warren Unit
Nominees for 2022 Citizen of the Year Awards:
- Alex McLaughlin
- Dean McWhinney
- Jerome de Alwis
- Jordan McKenzie
- Jordan Perkins-Stafford
- Kanu Aggarwal
- Kerrigan La-Brooy
- Mudita Gupta
- Vineetha Wijesurya
Nominees for 2022 Senior Citizen of the Year Awards:
- Eric Sydenham
- Gwen Clough
- Hakim Gassiep
- Harri Eloranta
- John Hardie
- Juan Carlos Loyola OAM
- Karima Nasimi
- Margaret Randall
- Margaret Sansom AM
Nominees for 2022 Young Citizen of the Year Awards:
- Ashvina de Zoysa
- Bryce Sanderson
- Daniel Generowicz
- Flynn Collier
- Jashandeep Suran
- Kabir Kardile
- Lola Sargasso
- Marshall Pettit
- Riley Mears
- Zarita Pedreros
Nominees for 2022 Local Hero of the Year Awards:
- Hardev Singh
- Jillian Cooke
- Kay Taranto
- Lindiwe Ndebele
- Mush Rahaman
- Noella Malabar
Nominees for 2022 Casey Community Group of the Year