Bass Coast,

2017 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year announced


Bass Coast Shire Council announced Cape Paterson’s Gene Parini as the 2017 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year at the Australia Day Awards presentation tonight.

Mr Parini was recognised for his commitment to sport in Bass Coast, and in particular, his role as one of the founding members of the South Coast Stars soccer club in Inverloch.

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield, congratulated Mr Parini on his Award, and thanked him for his dedication to the Bass Coast sporting community.

“Your work is invaluable to our community; not only in improving the health and wellbeing of so many and giving people a place to be part of a team, meet new people and connect with one another, but also all the hard work you’ve done to improve sporting facilities for the benefit of the entire Shire,” Cr Rothfield said.

The Mayor also acknowledged and congratulated all the finalists for the Award; John Methven OAM from San Remo and Tony O’Connell from Wonthaggi.

“Selecting our Citizen of the Year Award is not an easy task, because all of our nominees are so deserving of the Award,” Cr Rothfield said.

“I’d like to acknowledge John for his invaluable dedication to the National Vietnam Veterans Museum, and to Tony for bringing the ever-so-popular parkrun to Bass Coast, which runners and walkers alike flock to in Inverloch week after week.

“I would also like to thank all who took the time to submit nominations for the Awards so we could recognise these outstanding community members this year.”

For more information on the winners and nominees, please see below.

2017 Bass Coast Citizen of the Year - Gene Parini (nominated by James Bremner)

Gene is known by many members of the Bass Coast Community as someone who is passionate about sport, a leader in the community and the man behind the South Coast Stars Soccer Club at Inverloch. As a founding member of the South Coast Stars, Gene has spent hundreds of hours volunteering as the driving force behind the Club’s success, making this club one of the largest sporting clubs in Inverloch.

Over the past six years, outside his work with Gippsport, Gene worked tirelessly to overcome a number of challenges for the Club, including but not limited to:

  • Securing tenure at the Outtrim Recreation Reserve where home games could be played

  • Leading the committee through the Thompson Reserve drainage project, which allowed the Stars to relocate back to Inverloch

  • Championing the Thompson Reserve lighting project by assisting in grant applications to State Government and by leading the fundraising group, which has already raised $50,000 towards the lighting project.

  • Volunteering as junior coach each year since the Club’s inception, showing up to every match day from early morning through to the seniors’ games, running the line and supporting the flow of the day.

Through Gene’s leadership, the club is now embedded in the Inverloch community, welcoming all ages and abilities, encouraging everyone to ‘give-it-a-go’. His contributions have undoubtedly improved the health of his community, created a space for interaction and connection and benefited the lives of many people living in Bass Coast.

Finalist - Tony O’Connell (nominated by Julie Jacobs)

‘Parkrun’, a free weekly 5km timed run offered worldwide, was launched in the United Kingdom in 2004. It wasn’t until years later it started spreading across the globe. Two years ago, most Bass Coast residents wouldn’t have known what Parkrun was. Today, thanks to Tony O’Connell, people across Bass Coast Shire participate in Parkrun.

Tony O’Connell was part of the group involved in starting Inverloch Parkrun, which commenced on 13 September 2014. He held the position of Event Director for two years, growing the event and encouraging people of all ages and abilities to take part. In his current role as Gippsland Territory Director he has supported teams of volunteers plan and commence their own local Parkruns on Phillip Island, as well as across Gippsland.

Tony’s infectious passion for the event, his enthusiasm and ‘can-do’ attitude are major contributing factors to the growth of both the Bass Coast and Gippsland events.

At the core of Tony’s work, and Parkrun, is a philosophy that exercise should be free and accessible to all, and the pursuit of good health also strengthens the community. Parkrun participants are encouraged to get together at a local business for a coffee or breakfast after events, creating social connections while injecting money into local business.

Having undergone a massive personal health transformation himself, Tony is a role model. He has completed Parkruns in 30 different locations across Australia, and when he’s not running, he volunteers with the CFA and Lifesaving Victoria.

Finalist - John Methven OAM (nominated by Philip Dressing)

John served as an Army Officer for ten years, including a tour of Vietnam in 1967/68.

In 1996, John and his wife, Krishna, circumnavigated Australia with a trailer containing John’s personal memorabilia from his military service during the Vietnam War. Such humble beginnings for what is now the well-recognised National Vietnam Veterans Museum on Phillip Island.

John is a founding member of the Museum and has held the positions of Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and, currently, Museum curator.

As a direct result of John’s significant input, the National Vietnam Veterans Museum has received innumerable acknowledgements and awards. These include, and are most certainly not limited to, the Victorian State Government’s 100 Places for 100 Years – Featured in the Victorian War Heritage Trail, and Museums Australia Victoria – Victorian Museum Award 2008.

John’s dedication to Veterans is quite evident through his roles in the areas of welfare and pensions, advocacy for veterans, reinvigorating the ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day services in San Remo, and organising the Museum’s Battle of Long Tan 50th Anniversary celebration, and also serving as National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia.

John’s contribution to the community also extends to service through his membership of the Rotary Club of Phillip Island and San Remo serving in most executive roles within the club, including President.

John has been awarded National, State and Branch Life Membership for his work for Veterans and, in 2001 John was awarded an Order of Australia for his work with youth and veterans.