Australia Day is fast approaching, and soon Narrabri will have a new Shire Citizen of the Year.

As the 2020 recipient of the award, and with only a few days to go before someone else takes up the baton, I would like to make an observation or two.

On Australia Day last year, I was away from Narrabri, with a group from Namoi Valley Antique Vehicle Club at Guyra, attending a military vehicle rally.

During the afternoon, I was contacted via phone by a friend, notifying me that I had been chosen to be the Narrabri Shire Citizen of the Year.

Apparently, this had happened at an Australia Day activity in Wee Waa, during the afternoon.

During the following week I was contacted by a shire employee, who told me I could call at the council chambers and pick up the award.

I did this and received an envelope containing a framed certificate and a pin, that had been left at the counter for me.

That seemed to be the extent of Narrabri Shire’s involvement in the process.

I asked the mayor what was expected of me in the role I had been given, but she admitted that there seemed to be no supposition that I should do anything at all.

Following a previous award I received, I was asked to attend a council meeting and explain what I had been doing in the lead up, and what involvement I had within Narrabri’s community organisations.

To this day I am not sure why I was made Citizen of the Year, how I was nominated, or if there is ever any role for a recipient in any community activities.

This year, I was interested in nominating a person who does a lot of work for the Narrabri and wider community, but discovered that the nominations had closed a considerable time before.

That seemed to me to be something that could have been much more actively publicised.

Just why nominations would have to close so far ahead of any award ceremony, I do not know.

It may be that there has never been any role for a Citizen of the Year winner in Narrabri.

I would hope, though, that in future years, and 2021 would be a good place to start, whoever is chosen has some involvement in community activities as part of their recognition.

To be awarded the position is surely a great honour, but it seems that that is the extent of any involvement with the Narrabri Shire Council.

I would like to see that change in the future, for everyone’s benefit.

Harvey Black ESM, 2020 Narrabri Shire Citizen of the Year.

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