2023 Parramatta Citizen of the Year awards: Local volunteers shine

AN environmental champion who turns waste into bags and award-winning art has been named City of Parramatta’s 2023 Citizen of the Year, with local volunteers leading the charge at this year’s awards.

Julia ‘Julz’ Strykowski has been actively involved in the LGA for more than 10 years, founding Boomerang Bags Parramatta – which repurposes leftover fabrics into reusable bags – while running waste-to-art program PluckFastic. She also is the co-founder of Friends of Toongabbie Creek.

Julia was honoured at a special Australia Day ceremony at Parramatta Park, alongside Bushcare volunteer Zyntaurus Donna-Aroon, who was awarded Young Citizen of the Year in honour of David Shakespeare OAM.

Jocelyn Dodd, who has been volunteering with City of Parramatta’s Community Care services for more than a decade, was named Senior Citizen of the Yearwhile the Parramatta State Emergency Service (SES) took out the Community Group Award following their tireless efforts across the LGA.

Each year, the City of Parramatta invites the local community to nominate an outstanding resident or organisation who have provided an outstanding contribution to the lives of our citizens or have provided a noteworthy contribution to the Parramatta community.

City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis announced the 2023 recipients alongside Veteran and dual Invictus Games gold medallist Ben Farinazzo, this year’s Australia Day Ambassador.

“Parramatta is one of the greatest cities in Australia, and that’s largely due to the generosity of so many people in our community who go above and beyond to help others,” Cr Davis said.

“I congratulate all nominees of our Citizen of the Year awards, in particular Julz, Jocelyn, Zyntaurus, and the Parramatta SES crew whose fantastic achievements and dedication to this City have been recognised today.”

Cr Davis also conferred citizenship to residents from 35 different countries at a special Australian Citizenship Ceremony.

“It’s always a great honour to welcome new citizens to our wonderfully diverse community, one I am proud to serve,” Cr Davis said.

The 2023 City of Parramatta Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award recipients are:

Young Citizen of the Year – Zyntaurus Donna-Aroon

Zyntaurus has been a member of the Baludarri Wetland Bushcare Group since 2011. He first joined the City of Parramatta Bushcare Volunteer Program as a Scout, and since 2020 has taken on the role as Convenor of the group. Zyntaurus has gone above and beyond removing weeds, planting native local plants, and removing rubbish to transform a defunct landfill site into a viable salt marsh. He inspires younger volunteers like himself to join environmental fields and Bushcare programs to ensure lands and waterways are protected for years to come. He is also involved with the Parramatta River Catchment Group; assisted with the successful running of the Refugee Alternatives Conference; and in 2022 won the Youth Award for Bushcare.

Citizen of the Year – Julia ‘Julz’ Strykowski

Environmentalist Julia ‘Julz’ Strykowski has been an active volunteer within the LGA for more than 10 years. She is a passionate environmental educator involved with many community groups that she has founded, leads, organises and campaigns for. She is the founder of the Boomerang Bags Parramatta group, empowering local communities to tackle plastic pollution at its source. Among her achievements, Julz is a co-founder of the Friends of Toongabbie Creek group, where locals can adopt and care for Toongabbie Creek. Julz also runs a waste-to-art program called PluckFastic, and her work has been featured at regional art shows and galleries in Sydney and won numerous awards and prizes.

Senior Citizen of the Year – Jocelyn Dodd

Jocelyn has been volunteering with the City of Parramatta Community Care services for almost 10 years. As a Community Connector with the Social Inclusion services, Jocelyn took on the role of supporting people with disability and teaching them life and digital skills. Jocelyn also volunteers her time with the Over 55’s Leisure and Learning service, making herself available for any enquiries ensuring that new participants feel welcome, while also teaching computer skills at the Seniors Computer kiosk. She also supports the Social Lunch program with the Meals on Wheels service.

Community Group Award – Parramatta State Emergency Service (SES)

The Parramatta State Emergency Service (SES) is a group of volunteers selflessly serving the community. Day and night, weekdays and weekends, 365 days a year, the crew at Parramatta assist in all emergency events within the Local Government Area. This passionate group volunteer outside of their work and family commitments to make the community a safe place to live and work. Sydney had some significant weather events in 2022, and the SES served the community tirelessly during this time saving lives and protecting property. The SES volunteers are everyday members of the community with jobs, families, hobbies, and interests, putting their own wants and needs second to those that they serve.


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