More award winners

Australia Day award winners (l-r) Steve Fitzgerald representing the Aboriginal Education Driver Program, Valerie Tamblyn-Mills and Ben Bruggy.

Driving without a license is the single biggest reason why Aboriginal people land in front of the courts in this region, said Steve Fitzgerald from the Aboriginal Education Driver Program. And Lismore courthouse locks up three Aboriginal people every week, 52 weeks of the year for repeat licensing offences.

On Australia Day, Steve picked up the reconciliation award on behalf of the Aboriginal Education Driver Program which has so far helped 135 local Aboriginal people get their drivers license through the help of the community. Its the only program of its kind in the country and has won two national awards in the last two years. And because of this innovative program, Lismore now has the first Aboriginal driving instructor in NSW - Uncle Bucky Robinson.

Valerie Tamblyn-Mills moved to Lismore 20 years ago, leaving an established career as an opera singer with the Victoria State Opera in Melbourne.

The cultural scene was certainly different here in Lismore, said Valerie, who received the 2007 Art/Cultural Award on Australia Day. But over the years I have found the cultural life of the region so incredibly rich. I think Lismore is both big enough and small enough to allow everybody to have a go in the arts and I think I am very lucky to live here.

Valerie, who was honoured for her work with local theatre groups and choirs, her instigation of the Young Opera Workshops and her vibrant service to Lismores arts community, said she was absolutely flabbergasted when she won the award.

I felt really honoured to be nominated with people like Peter Derrett from Trinity, whos a good mate of mine, said Valerie. I said to him afterwards that it takes more than one person to create such a strong arts community and theres certainly many other dedicated artists here.

Recipient of the 2007 Senior Sportsperson of the Year, Ben Bruggy, is the current deaf Australian Squash Champion and has been selected as the number one squash player to contest the deaf Olympic Games to be held in South Africa in October 2007.

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