Tweed Citizen of the Year is a passionate advocate for refugee rights.


Tweed’s Citizen of the Year is refugee advocate Joan Henderson of Urlup.

Joan is an active member and co-organizer of the Uki Refugee Project, a community group offering support and advocacy for refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.

Joan and members of the Uki Refugee Project lobby politicians to change policies and encourage greater public awareness through fundraising events, as well as hosting friendly visits for refugees in Tweed.

Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry presented the award to Joan today at an event in Murwillumbah.

“Since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in 2021, Joan has taken on the almost impossible task of rescuing some of the people most at risk of arrest and death,” Cherry said.

“She is tireless in her work preparing visa applications, keeping in touch day and night with people who are hiding in the mountains.

“Joan is a quiet successful person who represents the best of our compassionate and diverse tweed community. She is a very worthy recipient of the Tweed Citizen of the Year title.”

Council General Manager Troy Greene hosted the awards, with winners honored in 5 other categories:

  • Art and culture
  • Public Event of the Year
  • Sports achievements (individual and group)
  • Young Excellence of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year (individual and group).

Each of the winners was featured in a short video that will be uploaded to the Council’s website and YouTube page for viewing.

Richmond Federal Member Justine Elliott, Tweed State Member Jeff Provest, Tweed State Representative Janelle Saffin, Harry Gregg, Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry, Deputy Mayor Meredith Dennis, and Councilors Rhys Byrnes, James Owen, and Warren Polglais joined the presentation. Grant “Jack” Frost, 2021 Tweed Shire Volunteer of the Year, also joined the ceremony after being announced as this year’s Australian Ambassador for Tweed.

The award ceremony was followed by a citizenship ceremony. In a ceremony hosted by Mayor Chris Cherry, 35 residents from 17 countries from all continents of the globe became Tweed’s newest Australians.

Arts and Culture Awards 2022 went to Allira Cornell. Allira aims to bring art and culture to Tweed by providing a venue for a variety of films, live performances and theatrical productions. Her work in restoring the much-loved Regent Cinema has brought an important cultural icon of tweed back to life. Allira is also an active supporter of the community. In many cases, she has provided the venue at a discounted rate and even free of charge to non-profit groups and charities. There was also an honorable mention in this category, which went to the Murwillumba Art Trail.

Community Event 2022 gone to Kinship Festival. The festival is a celebration of Aboriginal art, dance, community and culture for the entire community. The Committee is committed to the realization of the vision and the desire to convey to the community the meaning of Aboriginal Kinship and culture, which embodies culture, belonging, responsibility, participation and connection with the land and people. The event provides an opportunity for people from all walks of life to see and appreciate the local indigenous culture that is alive and well. In this category, an honorary prize was awarded to the Tyalgum Music Festival.

Joint winners announced Sporting Achievement 2022 – Individual Award. Xan Bowen — A 16-year-old triathlete who finished second in the National All School Triathlon last year and became the New South Wales Champion. In 2021 he won the title of Junior Champion of Australia. He started his journey as a young member of the Tweed Valley Triathletes. Xane is dedicated to his training, even after he and his mother had to find temporary housing for months when their family home was hit hard by the 2022 floods.

Chloe Covell is an impressive young street skateboarder who is on her way to qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics after finishing 7th overall representing Australia at the qualifier in Rome. In 2022, she competed at the women’s open level at XGames Japan, where she won a bronze medal, and XGames USA, where she won a silver medal. These medals make Chloe the youngest XGames athlete to win 2 medals under the age of 13.

Sporting Achievement 2022 Group went to Tweed Dragons Inc.. Tweed Dragons provides an opportunity for people aged 12 to 70+ to take part in a wonderful dragon boat ride community activity. The icing on the cake for this community oriented group is success in state, national and world titles. After two years of championships affected by the pandemic, their results in 2022 speak for themselves – 3 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze places at state championships and one gold and 5 silver medals at national championships. When they are not competing on the water, they are celebrating life by socializing, volunteering, or supporting charities and local communities.

2022 Young successful person in community service went to Lily O’Sullivan. Eighteen-year-old Lily is an outstanding young athlete who volunteered for many years at the Cudgen Headland Surf Life Saving Club and now works as a lifeguard on the Gold Coast protecting people’s lives. At the Youth Lifesaving World Championships in Italy, she won 7 out of 7 possible surf events, broke the world record in the 25 m dummy relay with her team, and also won bronze in another event. In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Lily dedicates time to her community by saving the lives of volunteers, teaching wire cutters, and working with children through NDIS. She helped get everyone affected by last year’s floods to safety and volunteered at the TAFE evacuation center in Kingscliff.

Volunteer of the Year 2022 – individual went to Alex Dale. Alex is one of Tweed’s unsung heroes. He has worked tirelessly for the environment for decades, planting trees for groups such as Fingal Dune Care and Friends of Cudgen Nature Reserve. He also gave a hundred hours to Team Koala, organizing family fun days in Pottsville and preparing markets. Alex’s tireless dedication, his ability to inspire and work with others, and his vision for Tweed are remarkable.

2022 Volunteer of the Year – Group went to Kadzhenskaya rural fire brigade. The Brigade is a diverse group of volunteers who share the same passion and commitment to volunteering in their local community, spending many thousands of unpaid hours helping others. The respected team responds to more than 100 incidents a year, including house and bush fires, car accidents, and automatic fire alarms. The Kajen Rural Fire Brigade played a very large role in last year’s flooding, spending more than 2 weeks collecting sandbags, rescuing residents and cleaning up in Chinder, Tumbalgum and Kondong. Families and children also thank them for the popular Santa Claus runs along the Tweed coast and up to Tumbalgum. Volunteers Agape Outreach was awarded an Honorable Mention in this category.

NOTES:Video clips of all the Prize winners can be viewed on the Council’s You Tube channel.

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