Lake Macquarie 2015 Australia Day awards winners

Lake Macquarie Citizen of the Year Grace McLean at Three Bean Espresso, Hamilton.

Lake Macquarie Citizen of the Year Grace McLean at Three Bean Espresso, Hamilton.

 Smith Davies with the scarecrow he created for the Wangi Scarecrow competition.

Smith Davies with the scarecrow he created for the Wangi Scarecrow competition.

Lois Simpson of Lake Macquarie Landcare with  Toronto Fire Station Station Officer Tim Brown  among plants planted at the fire station as part of a fire retardant garden.

Lois Simpson of Lake Macquarie Landcare with Toronto Fire Station Station Officer Tim Brown among plants planted at the fire station as part of a fire retardant garden.

■ Citizen of the Year - Grace McLean founded NFP Connect, a networking group for Hunter not-for-profits to support each other and benefit from training tailored to address the industry's unique struggles. More than 184 people and 80 charity organisations have joined.

■ Young Citizen of the Year (under 18 years) - Emily Ogden, 17, is a senior guide and junior leader at Warners Bay Girl Guides. She also volunteers with Taronga Park Zoo and the Junior St Vincent de Paul program through her school, St Francis Xavier.

■ Young Citizen of the Year (18 to 30 years) - Kasey Brett, 21, inspired by her brother, who has special needs, has helped set up the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Chat Program, aimed at helping non-verbal clients use assistive technology.

■ Volunteer of the Year - Steve Dewar as a member of the Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group and the Lake Macquarie Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance, formed the Tossers Can Be Binners project, which turned the precinct into a clean area.

■ Joint Community Group of the Year winner - Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group in the past year has established a fire retardant garden at Toronto Fire Station (top right); helped implement the Tossers Can Be Binners campaign; and made submissions to Lake Macquarie City Council regarding master plans for the Toronto Town Centre.

■ Joint Community of The Year winner - Coal Point Landcare Group in the past 12 months has completed more than 1140 hours of volunteer work to plant, mulch and weed targeted sites within the Coal Point area. The group also held two National Tree Day events, where more than 120 people planted 550 native seedlings.

■ Community Event of the Year - Wangi Scarecrow Competition, hosted by Wangi Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group, was developed to promote and encourage people to develop a community garden.

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