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Media Release - Knox Local Australia Day Awards Winner Citations

The citations for the Knox Local Australia Day Awards winners are listed below:

Andrea Cobern and Johann Poppenbeck – Joint winners Citizen of the Year

Andrea Cobern has been nominated by Joe Grimes for encouraging and supporting local talent in the performing arts.

Involved in the music industry for over 30 years, Andrea is an incredibly gifted singer, vocal, music and performance coach and business woman. Andrea’s business is based in Ferntree Gully with her primary focus on developing and encouraging local talent. Andrea works with young children through to adults from across the local area and surrounding districts, bringing them together to learn, rehearse, develop, perform and become teachers and performers. Andrea has used her talents to develop young people to become professional performers and teachers that contribute to the local, national and international music and arts scene.

Andrea is a keen member of the Knox City Council Arts Advisory Committee and has been a key visionary and organiser for performances at local Relay for Life Cancer Council fundraiser, Stringybark Festival, Knox Festival, amplified workshops and the Knox Factor Competition at Knox Carols which has provided significant opportunities to showcase Knox’s local talent.

Andrea’s contribution to local music and the arts is not only enjoyed by the local community now but will leave a legacy for a long time in the future of Australian arts.

Johann Poppenbeck has been nominated by Timothy de Graff for his volunteering activities with the Knox Churches Soccer Club.

Johann, acting as President of the Knox Churches Soccer Club has significantly contributed to the club’s recognition as a leading community sports group in Knox with over 480 playing members. With Johann’s leadership, the group has received nominations in the Aston Community Awards in 2018 and won a Club of the Year Award. Johann has established a female competition round in the soccer association, a sport and life training program and introduced a community fund providing support for members’ experiencing hardship. He has developed relationships with local businesses for mutually beneficial sponsorship programs, and all levels of government for development of the club, which most recently saw a much needed storage upgrade funded by Knox City Council.

Johann also volunteers with the One Hope Community Church and community meals program, and Hope Builders International which is committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in Africa.

Johann’s volunteering draws much admiration. He demonstrates his genuine passion for growing community clubs and sport in Knox through his dedication and the positive outcomes achieved for the Knox community.

Joel Porter – Young Citizen of the Year

Joel Porter has been nominated by Antoinette Khalil for his efforts to establish the ‘Stop Bullying Now Foundation’ and raise awareness for internet stalking.

Joel is well respected within the community through his volunteer work with ‘Break the Ice Australia’ which assists with drug addiction associated with mental health; the Knox Rotary Club, and his membership of St John Ambulance since he was 12 years old.

Most notably, Joel is the founder and an honorary board member of the 'Stop Stalking Now Foundation' which is a charity established to raise awareness and education for children and adults being bullied and stalked. Joel felt compelled to start the charity after several of his school friends were tragically affected by bullying and stalking and witnessing this trauma in the workplace. Collaborative work with a leading Melbourne psychologist has developed programs for schools and workplaces which includes highly effective virtual reality experiences. The charity has gained considerable support from former ‘Dancing with the Stars’ judge, Mark Wilson as an ambassador, and the Commonwealth Bank as a major sponsor.

Joel is a very mature young person with a great deal of compassion and an understanding of giving back to the community. He is a role model for other young people to actively get involved and help make a very real difference.

Lyn Shepherd – Volunteer of the Year

Lyn Shepherd has been nominated by Christine Marshall for her dedication to volunteer work and developing community sports.

Lyn has been a long-time volunteer in the Knox community holding notable volunteer positions over the last 40 years at The Basin Netball Club and Mountain District Netball Association where she has life memberships for her commitment and service; and at The Basin Football and Knox United Soccer Clubs. Lyn has had long-term involvement with the school council at The Basin Primary School organising many community events. Lyn has also organised a local Canstruction program on four occasions, an activity designed to develop the mind and deliver a community service through the follow on food can donations, of which she led the successful donation of over 12,000 food cans to the Salvation Army.

Continuing her volunteer works in the sports, Lyn became accredited as a coach and umpire devoting much of her time over the past 25 years to developing local teams at all levels through her coaching and umpiring activities, and working with Mountain District to further develop competitive sports in the Knox area.

Lyn believes volunteering and giving to the community is something that has brought her much enjoyment. Lyn’s contribution to volunteering in sports has had many enduring benefits to the Knox community.

George and Pat Hetrel – Joint winners Elder Citizen of the Year

George and Pat Hetrel have been nominated by John Mortimore in recognition of their involvement and support of their local community, charities and cultural organisations.

For the past 20 years George and Pat have held two annual open garden weekends in their historic Como Gardens which have included many cultural activities such as Japanese drumming, cooking, and a classic car collection.

When George and Pat finally retired from conducting their open gardens, they had donated over half a million dollars to local volunteer emergency services, and then made their largest gift of $1,000,000 for the much needed upgrades at Batterham Reserve for the future benefit of female and junior athletes.

George and Pat have shown enormous generosity, not only opening their gardens up for the community to enjoy, but also through the massive monetary donations, which have been widely applauded and gratefully received by the local community and Council.

Shameela Essop – Local Hero

Shameela Essop has been nominated by Joan Pepi for her commitment to fostering intercultural relations in the municipality of Knox and beyond.

Shameela has been an advocate for cultural diversity, awareness and acceptance in the Knox community for many years. Among her notable achievements, Shameela has coordinated the Islamic Society of Metropolitan Eastern Region (ISOMER) Mosque Open Days, facilitated social programs between Coonara Community House and the women from ISOMER, coordinated an IFTAR Dinner (a meal shared with others after sunset during Ramadan), and was instrumental in establishing the very successful, Knox Tours Places of Worship.

Shameela is an active member of the Knox Interfaith Network, the Knox Multicultural Advisory Committee (KMAC), the Victorian Multicultural Commission's Eastern Metropolitan Regional Advisory Council and most recently, appointed to the Jewish Catholic Muslim Association. As an advisor, Shameela always provides considered, positive input, seeking to represent the needs of not only the Muslim community but all culturally diverse groups.

Shameela is a strong advocate for multiculturalism and works tirelessly volunteering many hours each week working to enhance inclusion and social cohesion in Knox.

Issued:Tuesday 29 January 2019
Knox Community and Council Plan 2017-2021

Knox Community and Council Plan 2017-2021 Reference:


Goal 7 — We are inclusive, feel a sense of belonging and value our identity:
Strategy 7.1 Protect and preserve our local cultural heritage
Strategy 7.2 Celebrate our diverse community
Strategy 7.3 Strengthen community connections
Strategy 7.4 Promote and celebrate the contribution of our volunteers


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