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Australia Day 2013 - Acceptance of Citizen of the Year Award: Rose Geisler

Page history last edited by ghistory.volunteer@gmail.com 7 years, 3 months ago



Acceptance of Citizen of the Year Award


  • Our Parliamentary Representatives

  • Alexandrina Mayor Kym McHugh and Councillors

  • Australia’s new Australians

  • My fellow Award Recipients

  • Alexandrina Citizens

Mayor Kym…It is a very fine tradition that Council follows by continuing sponsorship of Australia Day Awards year after year. Those of us who are 2013 Recipients are privileged indeed to be honoured by that continuing support. THANK-YOU!

I am sure I speak for us all when I say that we are truly delighted to be the very first Australia Day nominees to receive our Awards in this splendidly refurbished historic Centenary Hall. THANK-YOU to ALL CONCERNEDin the planning and execution of that refurbishment…it is an outstanding, very versatile community asset.

Kym…May I take this opportunity to express appreciation and congratulations to you personally for your outstanding community leadership...outstanding leadership which has been recognised by Federal and State Governments and your Local Government peers in a variety of accolades. As a community we are all immeasurably enriched by those recognitions.

On this occasion too, I would like to commend you, Councillors and Staff for foresight and courage in allowing the ageless Christmas Story to be told publicly in the beautiful silhouette display featured in the Council Offices/Library windows during the recent Christmas Season. THANK-YOUto all those who had a hand in organizing the lovely display.



How can I find words to express my appreciation for being chosen Alexandrina’s Australia Day Citizen for 2013?

I do not know the identity of the individual or local organisation responsible for putting my name forward for this honour…and I haven’t asked. It is enough,…overwhelmingly enough to know that a very kind person or persons took the time to put together a recommendation. I do know that these things don’t just happen by way of a phone call!

To that person or persons, I express my deep appreciation for that kindness and thoughtfulness.

 AUSTRALIA DAY! What does it mean to me? I just love Australia Day in Goolwa!

The Lions Club sets the tone for the celebrations by organising the Community Breakfast, always a delightful social occasion and my once-a-year such breakfast! Those dedicated Lions members have got it just right!  Then comes the formal celebration of our National Day. I am always reduced to tears by the very moving Citizenship Ceremony, as I reflect on whether or not I could ever give up my Australian nationality…a dual-nationality might be acceptable in the right circumstances perhaps. Our parents were British Citizens from Ireland who migrated to South Australia in the 1920s. Born in Australia, we five offspring could well be regarded as full Irish, but for me being full Australian takes priority by a long way! I join with everyone in welcoming and congratulating all those who will shortly become Australian Citizens. Of course I share the love of our unique country, as described so vividly by Dorothea McKellar. “My Country”was written in England when its author was very homesick for her Australian heritage. The first verse relates to England…ending 

I know, but cannot share it,

My love is otherwise”.

Then comes … I love a sunburnt country…”

But it is the final verse which moves me most…Dorothea McKellarwrites….

An opal-hearted country,

A wilful, lavish land -

All you who have not loved her

You will not understand –“…


For those interested, it is well worth using the Internet to learn more about Dorothea McKellar’s life and writing…

And to read Susan Duncan’s Memoirs …”Salvation Creek” and “The House at Salvation Creek” which Dorothea McKellarbuilt and lived in.


For me, being Australian means our essential ‘Togetherness in Adversity’…

Perhaps I first became aware of that sentiment as a 10-year old, when news filtered through of the Second World War bombing of Darwin in early 1942. I was one of a very frightened small group of children gathered before school in the tiny porch of the one-room, one teacher, 7-grade Jervois West Primary School, so fearful of what the coming days might bring. Even then, I sensed a feeling of ‘togetherness’.

More recently, the dreadful Bali bombings; our own local tragedy of witnessing our beloved Lower Murray and Lakes disappearing before our very eyes; the disastrous 2009 Victorian bushfires and the devastating 2011 Eastern States floods…have united us all.

As Australians together since Federation, with courage, resilience and determination, our people have faced, weathered and withstood major heart-breaking disasters and countless formidable challenges. I have no fears that those qualities will ever disappear.


Recognising time limitations at this ceremony, I do not want to talk about me!…as I consider this Award is for ALL Alexandrina Volunteers…I am just representative of that amazing band.

I do want to talk about our Community and especially our Volunteers who can be likened to the branches, twigs and fruit of the enormous tree which is our community. Their willing, unstinting contribution to the Alexandrina community is extraordinary.

Our selfless CFS and SES VOLUNTEERS should head the list as they put their lives on the line to keep us safe every time they respond to an emergency. Our AMBULANCE SERVICE too, deserves special recognition. I think it makes a huge difference that those 3 voluntary services are our very own and mostly independent.

We also all recognise and appreciate the amazing service by the members of our larger voluntary organisations...

  • Lions and Rotary

  • Adult and Youth Sporting Clubs

  • Our Schools’ and Children’s Centre parents and helpers

  • Meals on Wheels

  • The Organisers of that happy event, the Christmas Pageant

  • and others…

As a community WE SALUTE YOU ALL!!


As well as the above-mentioned highly acclaimed organisations, our Community is enriched by countless smaller voluntary groups which contribute enormously to making our district so unique in ‘togetherness’. For example, to name just a few:

  • Sailability” the Yacht Club’s visionary project which allows disabled citizens to experience the joy of freedom of movement on the water;

  • The R.S.L. (whose members “Never forget”!)...which has contributed much to our community by establishing the R.S.L. Section of the Currency Creek Cemetery and by the excellent recent extensions to their Clubrooms;

  • Our Concert Band Musicians who add to our enjoyment, especially on public occasions as today;

  • Volunteers at the Visitor Centre, the Library (including the brilliant Local History Room) and National Trust History Centre;

  • The Inter-Church volunteers provide regular, simple Church services to Westpark and Sandpiper residents as well as taking the Christian message to schools, by invitation;

  • Goolwa Gardeners and Tidy Towns volunteers who work tirelessly ‘to keep Goolwa beautiful”…and haven’t they been successful!!

  • The dedicated small volunteers’ group which for 7 years organised accommodation and a holiday programme twice-yearly for recommended refugees.

There are many other unsung small Volunteer Groups which quietly go about the business of enriching our community too.



I want to talk also, about the outstanding generosityof our Alexandrina Community.

Since the early 1990’s rapid response to an appeal for Kangaroo Island farming families who struggled to survive during a period of extremely high interest rates and low agricultural commodity prices, I have been acutely aware of local generosity which has included support for:

  • Annual Morning Teas and Street Stalls in aid of Save the Children Australia over 15 years…

  • The disastrous, terrible 2009 Victorian Bushfires…Pam Niejalke and I will always remember the amazing immediate response to an appeal to help victims. It was the outstanding spirit of that generosity which moved us most as we filled dozens of large cartons with donated toiletries for men, women and children…

  • Generous donations to local Crisis Care management…

As there may well be equally supportive Local Businesses, on a public occasion I cannot name 3 Goolwa Businesses with which I have been involved personally, whose generosity has been overwhelming. But I can expresspublicly, my personal deep appreciation of their willing, very generous support.


An honour like this Citizen of the Year Award, doesn’t often come to a person of my age (though Allen Jones is still trying to catch up to me in years following his very worthy 2010 Award !!).

Like many of you, at this time of my life, I look back with gratitude as I recall those whose influence and example have shaped who I am.

In time-line order, the list includes:

  • My parents…whose fine ‘good citizenship’ and community service set the stage for we 5 children to follow. They gave us educational opportunities which have served us well.

  • The Teachers in that tiny one-room, one-teacher for 7 grades at Jervois West Primary School who delivered an excellent grounding in primary learning.

  • Miss Nicholas, with her flashing brown eyes, Deputy Headmistress at Murray Bridge High School who established the Library at MBHS (with help from senior students, including me). The memory of her dramatic reading of Masefield’s epic “Reynard the Fox” to the 1947 Leaving Class during a double English lesson on a wintry afternoon, will stay with me forever.

  • Mr. John Homburg Snr., Murray Bridge Solicitor, my first ‘boss’ whose community leadership and service were legendary.

  • Bob Caldicott, A.B.C.. ‘Announcer’ as we used to describe present-day Radio Presenters, with whom I worked on the Saturday afternoon Sporting Panel in the late 1940s and early 50s….the most gentlemanly of gentlemen.

  • My late husband of 40 years. Sadly, Alex enjoyed just three and a half years in retirement, but those three and a half years were pleasure-filled years following our move to Goolwa permanently in 1990.

  • Murray Scriven, noted Education Dept. Teacher and Headmaster… foundation H.M. of Daws Road High School 1965…outstanding leader/mentor/counsellor to staff, students and parents. The 12 years I worked in Administration at D.R.H.S. during M.W.S’s tenure were memorable years. 

And in retirement…

  • John Octoman, a ‘locum’ Pastor who sent me to South Coast Christian Community Care as a Goolwa delegate…and all that followed for me in Crisis Care and Community advocacy’;

  • Janis Haynes, South Coast Carer Support Co-ordinator, an outstanding example of the ‘right person in the right job’ as demonstrated by her deep, compassionate, understanding of Carers’ needs and problems.

  • The late Professor Ian Cox, State Govt. Community Welfare Dept. Director and academic. A most humble man, Ian’s visionary social outlook and motivational skills were stimulating to all who were privileged to share time with him and his very supportive lovely wife Jean….Together they were a most welcoming, hospitable, lively couple at their peaceful Goolwa home.

Doors have opened to me in my working life and in retirement which have resulted in opportunities for me to be of service to others. Each of the above-mentioned wonderful people…wittingly or otherwise…has been part of the development of my community involvement. I am indebted to them all.


In conclusion, I would say to anyone considering voluntary service, that volunteers of all description will always tell you he/she derives far greater satisfaction from volunteering than any effort they may put in, no matter which organization they choose to join.

As that marvellous Australian, Dame Elizabeth Murdochsaid during her memorable interview with Andrew Denton on the occasion of her 100thBirthday…

It is important to be a good citizen…and very satisfying if you feel you’ve made a difference to people’s lives”.

It seems to me that the keys to being a “good citizen” are a smile, a cheery ‘hello’, a listening ear, the ability to recognize the opportunity to do a kindness, offer a helping hand or ‘to go the extra mile’.

To add to Dame Elizabeth’swise maxim…I’ve recently read “Notable Lives’ in which Stewart Cockburn paid a very fine tribute to Charles Wright….Charles Wright, whose unceasing campaign saved King William Street’s magnificent Edmund Wright House from demolition in mid-1971.

His epitaph reads… and it could well apply to anyone who strives to be ‘a good citizen’…

Whatever is rightly done,

However humble, is noble.”


THANK-YOUmost sincerely to ALL concerned for awarding me the honour of Alexandrina Council’s Australia Day Citizen of the Year for 2013.

I am very grateful, very humbled and quietly very proud to have my name added to the list of distinguished previous recipients of this prestigious Award. I am privileged and honoured indeed!


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