Scouts recognised in 2024 Australia Day Honours and Citizen of the Year ceremonies
Published Fri 26 Jan 2024
Congratulations must go to the Scouts NSW members who have been recognised this Australia Day.
Five current and former Leaders were recognised in this year's Australia Day Honours list, while three youth members and one Leader were awarded Young Citizen and Citizen of the Year at their respective local councils.
The Order of Australia recognises Australians who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement. This year, four Scouts NSW recipients were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.
Acting Chief Commissioner Nathan Leivesley praised those who had been recognised as OAMs or by their councils.
“I am so proud of our Scouting members who have had their dedication to our Movement acknowledged today,” he said.
“Our organisation relies on the service of incredible individuals to provide the fun, adventurous, challenging and inclusive Program that we deliver for our youth.
“Their recognition today is a well-earned reflection of their incredible contribution to Scouting and their communities over many years.
“Congratulations to our recipients and thank you to their families and friends for supporting them in their dedication to Scouts.”
Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)
Penelope Becchio – For service to the community through a range of organisations
Penny has been the State Commissioner, Special Projects, since 2017 and has been an active Leader in Scouts NSW since the 1980s, where she was an Assistant Venturer Leader and then Venturer Scout Leader at 1st Hornsby Venturer Unit. Since that time she has held a number of roles, including Branch Commissioner, Performing Arts, from 2012 to 2017 and Regional Leader for Administration and Activities between 1988 and 2012.
Penny has also held a range of support roles, including Youth Safe Advocate; Volunteer Helper for Hornsby Gang Show for more than 20 years and Assistant Manager for Australian Jamboree in 2001. She has also been recognised multiple times by Scouts Australia, including receiving the Silver Koala in 2002 and the Silver Emu in 2021.
John Ebbott – For service to the community through a range of organisations
John is an active volunteer in his community, including with Scouts, where he served as a Cub Scout Leader for 1st Astoria Park Scout Group from 1985 to 2002, plus as a Group Leader at 3rd Baulkham Hills Crestwood Scout Group. He also received the Silver Arrowhead from Scouts Australia in 1999.
Johan Hietbrink – For service to the community of the Northern Tablelands region
Former Mayor of Guyra Shire Council Johan Hietbrink was a former Group Scout Leader at Baulkham Hills.
Paul Rogers – For service to the community through a range of organisations
Paul was the former President of Hawkesbury District Scouts.
Scouts NSW would also like recognise former Warringah Mayor, the late Brian Green, who received an OAM for service to the community in a range of roles and organisations and whose patronages included the North Shore/Peninsular Branch of Scouts NSW.
Governor-General David Hurley today announced the Honours and Awards for 1042 Australians.
“Recipients have made a difference and had an impact at the local, national and/or international level. Individually, they are inspiring and collectively they speak to the strength of our communities,” he said.
"Recipients come from all parts of the country. They have served and had an impact in just about every field you can imagine. Their stories and backgrounds are diverse. We value their service, thank them for their hard work and selflessness and, today, celebrate them.
"In my experience most are h8umble and often try to deflect attention or praise – please enjoy the moment because your country has decided that you deserve recognition."
Our four Scouts NSW recipients were among the 12 members of Scouts Australia recognised in today’s Honours list.
Conspicuous Service Medal
The Australian Conspicuous Service Medal is awarded primarily to members of the Australian Defence Force to recognise service in non-warlike operations.
Squadron Leader Melissa Vreugdenburg – Royal Australian Air Force – 1st Jerrabomberra Scout Group – For meritorious achievement in the development and progression of collaborative Space Control capabilities for the Australian Defence Force
Squadron Leader Vreugdenburg is a staff officer of diplomatic ability and devotion to duty. Her conspicuous professionalism, extraordinary capacity and relationship management across domestic and international stakeholders have been key to the timely progression of a number of collaborative opportunities with key allies for senior Defence and Government consideration. Her efforts have made a lasting contribution to Defence and the development of capabilities that will help to assure Australian civil and military access to space.
Squadron Leader Vreugdenburg has been an Assistant Cub Scout Leader at 1st Jerrabomberra Scout Group since 2022.
Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year
Also being recognised today were three youth members and one Leader by their local councils in their Citizen of the Year Awards.
The awards recognise citizens and school-aged people for their contribution ot their local communities.
Young Citizen of the Year
Archie Todd – 2nd Armidale Scout Group – Armidale Regional Council
Archie is an exceptional transgender young person who has a strong social conscience and always aims to his best. He has worked with others to be an advocate for arts and for LGBTQIA+ issues. His advocacy has been demonstrated in his work as a school leader working to establish the Rainbow Club – a group that supported LGBTQIA+ students. Further to this, Archie has been a strong creative arts student. He has exceptional performance skills, being a youth rock finalist in 2023, performing on triple j's Unearthed.
Archie is an active member of Scouts, receiving his Queen's Scout Award in 2023. He has also represented Scouts at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in previous years.
Henry Campbell – 1st Braidwood Scout Group – Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council
Henry was awarded the Young Citizen of the Year for Braidwood for being community minded and committed to helping others through Scouts. Henry has been a member of the 1st Braidwood Scout Group since 2016. He regularly helps with the delivery and unloading of firewood for firewood raffles and the collection of empty cans and bottles to recycle for Scouts funding.
Three years ago, Henry set up his own small business selling handmade tea towels to help fund his trip to the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea where he was the only representative from the area. Henry recently received his Australian Scout Award, which is the peak award for Scouts aged 11-14 and is a milestone in a youth member's Scouting journey. Henry also volunteers his time to help a local elderly couple with various chores.
Sen McNamara – 1st Bungendore Scout Group – Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council
Bungendore's Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to Sen McNamara for their fierce advocacy of gender inclusivity. Sen's passion for social justice and challenging conventional gender norms led them to establishing a support group for queer youth in Bungendore in 2021.
Sen has been a part of the 1st Bungendore Scout Group for nearly 10 years, participating in many fundraising events and representing Scouts at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2023. Sen also played an important role in Bungendore Medical Centre's COVID immunisation clinics and has maintained a remote area First Aid accreditation to provide First Aid for the ACT Rogaining Association.
Citizen of the Year
Matthew Brownlie – 1st Balmoral Scout Group – Mosman Council
Leader in Charge Matthew Brownlie was named Mosman Citizen of the Year for his many years of volunteering with the 1st Balmoral Scout Group, where he has served as a Leader since 2008. He has played key roles in special events, such as the annual Sirius Cup Regatta and a range of camps, hikes and canoeing expeditions for large groups of young people and adults in locations across Australia and internationally.
It is estimated Matthew has completed more than 80 camps as a Scout Leader – totalling about 250 nights under canvas – as well as running more than 500 Friday Scout nights and logging more than 450 hours in a canoe. He has also played a role in mentoring other Leaders and Scouts across northern Sydney.
The nomination recognised the significant commitment Matthew has made to his volunteering, the respect shown to him from young people and his role in making the 1st Balmoral Scout Group a success.
Mayor Carolyn Corrigan said Matthew was to be congratulated for his dedicated and inspiring leadership over many years.
"Volunteers like Matthew enrich valuable community organisations such as the Scouts and bring credit to the Mosman area. For this and the social connections volunteers build through their tireless efforts, we are so grateful."
Lyn Mann – 1st East Ryde Scout Group -– City of Ryde
As the Joey Scout Leader at 1st East Ryde Scout Group, Lyn – a Scouting volunteer for 40 years – provides valuable training and activities for young boys and girls in the Ryde area. Such is her dedication that she continued to support families via online meetings during the pandemic lockdowns. Her contribution to the adult Leader team is invaluable and, with more than 150 members, 1st East Ryde Scout Group is now one of the largest and most successful Scout groups in NSW.