I was delighted to announce refugee advocate and community leader Sister Diana Santleben as Newcastle's Citizen of the Year on Australia Day.
Sister Di is a Catholic nun with the Dominican Order and was recognised for her tireless work helping refugees at the Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony and Awards presentation at City Hall.
An early childhood teacher by profession, in recent years Sister Di has supported refugee families and advocated on their behalf, helping people from Afghanistan, Iran, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia adapt to life in Australia.
Having established a micro-finance fund to help with small loans for medications, medical bills and short courses, last year she established women's refuge centre Zara's House in Jesmond.
University of Newcastle student association president Phillip Johnson received The Young Citizen of the Year Award. Phillip has scaled back civil engineering studies to devote more time to advocating for students on a range of issues, from transport, environmental, health, social and security concerns.
The to One, formed by the late Mary Maughan, was named as the Community Group of the Year. Founded 16 years ago by Mrs Maughan, who served as President and Public Officer, One to One is a group of women volunteers who help local charities and individuals in need.