The biographies of the 2012 Victorian Senior of the Year Award winners are provided below.

Premier's Award for Victorian Senior of the Year

Patricia Hill, aged 68 of Sunbury

Patricia is a driving force for change in her local community. She has lobbied and worked to improve the circumstances of some of the most vulnerable people in her community, and has a significant record of achievement.

Following the closure of the Caloola Mental Asylum many former older residents struggled with their new lives. Pat stepped in, hosting some in her home and encouraging them to develop life skills and gain the confidence to lead a normal life outside the institution.

The most significant volunteer work undertaken by Pat was motivated by the experience of drug addiction within her family. Becoming aware of the lack of support services for addicted youth and those at risk of addiction, Pat embarked on a mission that has provided a lifeline for many teenagers and their parents.

She established and continues to lead the Parent Drug Information and Support organisation, a self help group for parents of children suffering from substance abuse.

To address the problems of drug abuse and its side effects of homelessness, self harm and low self esteem the group established the Sunbury Surfer Bus, better known as ‘Pat’s Bus’. The bus has entertainment for young people such as Playstations, TVs and a karaoke machine and a coffee area, providing 12 to 17 year olds with something to do at night. As well as entertainment there is information on health, accommodation and legal and personal issues; and advice and referral to a range of health and welfare agencies. It is a place where young people can go to feel safe.

Pat and a volunteer bus driver take the bus to skate parks, school fetes, blue light discos, community festivals, the local Oz Kick, and the Sunbury Shopping Centre on Friday nights. The bus has been used to support local kids when they attend court, and to lobby local politicians to find emergency accommodation for homeless youth. Pat has worked tirelessly nights and weekends for many years. She has also enlisted local teachers, police and doctors in her fight against drug abuse.

Word of the impact of Pat’s work has spread well beyond Sunbury. There are now five other buses operating successfully in other communities. After many years Pat is about to hand the bus over to Les Twentyman’s 20th Man Fund and take things a little easier.

Healthy and Active Living Award

Doug McIver, aged 73 of Kyneton

Doug is a great role model for the benefits of leading a healthy and active life.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 33, this life changing experience shaped a caring and compassionate man who has contributed enormously to the Kyneton community.

Doug is a volunteer advocate for families with mental health issues and through his church Doug provides counselling and pastoral care to those in need.

An inaugural member of the Kyneton U3A, Doug is secretary of their Lifeball Legends. Lifeball is a team game based on netball and a great way to maintain fitness as you get older.

Doug also keeps strong and flexible with Tai Chi and stimulates his brain by acting in U3A drama productions, organising community concerts and presenting a show on community radio Highlands FM.

Over the past decade, Doug has umpired for the Castlemaine District Cricket Association and coached and administered junior football and cricket.

He is an active member of the Transition Hub which aims to enhance sustainable living and make Kyneton and surrounding communities strong, happier and more resilient.

Promotion of Multiculturalism Award

Merle Mitchell, aged 78 of Springvale

Merle Mitchell is a remarkable woman who, with determined leadership, has made an extraordinary contribution to her local community and beyond.

Between 1970 and 1992 Enterprise Hostel was the first Australian home for 30,000 migrants and refugees.

As Chair and project convenor of the Enterprise Hostel History Project, Merle brought together former residents and employees of the Enterprise Migrant Hostel in Springvale to produce an exhibition honouring and recording the history of the hostel.

Following the successful exhibition, the project has blossomed into a more ambitious exercise –to create a public and permanent tribute to the Enterprise residents and celebrate their contributions locally, to the state and to the nation.

Merle led an extensive public consultation resulting in the cultivation of the ‘Enterprise’ rose and a book, video and website telling the Enterprise story of friendships, opportunities and new beginnings.

Veteran Community Award

Desmond L’Huillier, aged 80 of Koyunga

Desmond is a loved and cherished local volunteer who plays an important role for veterans, other older residents and his community.

On behalf of the RSL, Desmond commenced visiting Glanville Village in Echuca in 2004 to ensure that the returned service men and women living there are involved in community events.

He transports residents to RSL meetings and other events, assists with compiling the quarterly Glanville Newsletter, and raises funds for equipment.

He organises ANZAC and Remembrance Days services with the assistance of primary school students and identifies and secures the awards and medals for which the veteran residents are eligible. Through this work, Desmond has achieved ongoing recognition of local veterans within the broader community.

COTA Victorian Senior Achiever Awards

Dulcie Cedaro, aged 81 of Travancore

Dulcie is a long serving Legacy volunteer.

Much of her volunteer work is with dependants of deceased veterans who have a disability.

Until two years ago Dulcie was a dedicated, long term volunteer at the Somers summer camp, running fun and stimulating activities for children whilst their parents had a much needed break.

In addition to her Legacy work, Dulcie also volunteers at the Royal Children’s Hospital in the Splint Volunteer Team.

Dulicie’s nurturing and encouraging approach inspires younger volunteers and leaders to become better at what they do.This team creates custom made arm bands to immobilise children’s arms while they receive intravenous therapy.

Joy Clarke, aged 79 of Dunkeld

Joy Clarke has been sharing her talents with the people of Dunkeld and the wider Victorian community for many years.

As a Friend of the Kitchen Garden at Dunkeld Consolidated School she uses her exceptional cooking skills to help the students make delicious meals and donates recipes, menus and kitchen utensils.

Joy is a dedicated volunteer tour guide at the Dunkeld Museum and her generosity extends to providing visitors with a bed when local accommodation is booked out!

Joy is active in the local Cemetery Trust, Senior Citizens Club, Red Cross, RSL, Uniting Church and Progress Association. She also finds time to create memory pages for the families of recently deceased community members.

Joy is strongly connected to the Dunkeld community and does much to ensure local institutions continue to flourish.

Ron Eldridge, aged 78 of Horsham

Ron Eldridge makes a significant contribution to the lives of many Horsham residents.

He has supported Neighbourhood Watch for the past 10 years as area coordinator and fund raiser.

As a volunteer driver he helps frail older people get to specialist health services in Ballarat and Melbourne and assists disadvantaged younger people to reach the 120 hours driving required for a probationary licence.

Ron has a special relationship with the men at Barkuma Men’s Shed, who are frail or have dementia.

Ron assists them to achieve purpose and pleasure by helping them with simple, satisfying activities such as gardening, woodwork and footy tipping.

Ron also delivers Meals on Wheels and makes and donates beautiful toys and woodwork to kindergartens and charitable organisations.

Sylvie Lagane-Moseley aged 74 of Mill Park

Note: Photo is of Dennis Moseley who accepted the award on behalf of Sylvie Lagane-Moseley.

Marie Rosemary (Sylvie) Lagane-Mosely is highly respected within Melbourne’s Mauritian community where she is the long serving and hard working president of the Mauritian Seniors Club.

Working almost full time as a volunteer, she is acknowledged as the backbone of the club, organising many activities.

She is also a member of the Francoise Babet Leukemia Foundation which cares for cancer patients and the Stella Calvisque Club which supports newly-arrived Mauritian migrants.Sylvie is a member SACIM, an Australian / Mauritian organisation which funds and arranges for Mauritian children to come to Australia for complex surgery.

Sylvie received a COTA Award in 2000 and she is being honoured again for her ongoing dedication and continuing contribution to her community.

Val Lycett, aged 85 of Berwick

Val Lycett is a “living treasure” who dedicates her life and time to disadvantaged people in the Dandenong and Casey region.

In addition to providing hands-on advice, Val has served on the Committee of Management for the past 24 years, 20 of these as treasurer - paying accounts, preparing wages and monitoring cash flow.As a volunteer Community Information Officer at Dandenong Community Advice Bureau, she brings her strong sense of social justice to assisting people who struggle with poverty, imprisonment, domestic violence, or homelessness. She also offers support to refugees living in the community.

Val is also a Do Care visitor and is active in the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Barry Reader, aged 73 of Apsley

With a strong commitment to improving the local town and district of Apsley, Barry has made a significant contribution to community wellbeing.

He planned and designed a magnificent walking track linking the town to a bushland reserve and lake, and as a member of the Apsley Streetscape Development Committee he has helped the town achieve a unique streetscape.

An Apsley Lions Club member, one of his achievements was overseeing the development and establishment of public housing units for Apsley.

Finally, like many older country Victorians, Barry also maintains an active role with the local fire brigade, serving as an Apparatus Officer with the Bringalbert South Brigade.A long serving member of the Apsley Cemetery Trust he works to improve facilities in the small cemetery and is working with students to develop a register of those buried there.

Ron Topp, aged 84 of Pakenham

Ron Topp is a very hard working volunteer and a man of great vision.

He was first awarded a COTA Senior Achiever Award in 2004 and in 2012, following another 8 years of passionate volunteer work, he is receiving another.

Ron is a member of the Cardinia Shire Positive Ageing Steering Committee which has developed a Strategy and Action Plan to make the shire more age-friendly.

He is President of Cardinia U3A - one of the most active and successful in the state. One of his many achievements in this role was his leadership in securing a purpose built U3A facility for Cardinia.

Cardinia U3A provides a very positive model of the value of life-long learning in reaching out beyond retirees to its local community. It has a long history of working with people with a disability and in 2011 commenced support for the after-school Cardinia Homework Club for children of those born overseas.

Donald Webb, OAM aged 80 of Stawell

The people of Stawell and surrounds have benefited for many years from the skills and wisdom of Don Webb.

Don’s volunteer expertise has led to significant improvements in water usage throughout the region.

As chair of the Stawell Water Alternative Natural Solutions project, and an active adviser, he has done much to address flood mitigation and the harvesting of storm water.

Water saved through the Alternative Natural Solutions project maintained running of the Stawell Gift in Central Park throughout the drought years.

Don is a driving force in the local Lions Club and chair of the club’s Federation Park project - a magnificent wetlands haven for local wildlife with a walking track and barbeque facilities.

Don is a cemetery trustee, a Stawell Gold Mine committee member, drives people to medical appointments, delivers meals on wheels, and is an active member of the lawn bowls club where he recently helped re-establish the club greens after major flood damage.