A group of upstanding Novocastrian citizens have been honoured in the City of Newcastle’s 2021 Citizenship Awards Ceremony.

Australia’s first recognised Indigenous surgeon and advocate for health equality, Associate Professor Kelvin Kong was honoured with Citizen of the Year 2021.

Citizen of the Year 2021, Dr Kelvin Kong. Picture by Peter Lorimer.

Dr Kong said he was passionate about addressing the health outcomes gap between indigenous and non-indigenous children.

“Indigenous people have been practising medicine in this country for 60,000 years, a history I am proud to be part of and carry on for future generations,” Dr Kong said.

“I am both humbled and galvanised by this prestigious award, to continue striving toward
improved ear health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.”

Along with working in his Broadmeadow practice, Dr Kong also spends his time researching an organism prevalent in ear disease, Alloiococcus Otitidis, with the Hunter Medical Research Institue.

He also lectures students at the University of Newcastle and spends time each year in remote Australian communities to provide access to quality health care.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the honour was given to Dr Kong who displayed leadership in Aboriginal health service delivery, advocacy and research.

“Dr Kong exemplifies the values of the Citizen of the Year title, representing Newcastle at the top of his field and working tirelessly to improve health outcomes among disadvantaged
communities,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The year 2020 was challenging for our health professionals, so it is apt that today we recognised Dr Kong for his continued efforts throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Among the awarded was Newcastle’s Young Citizen of the Year 2021 professional netballer Samantha Poolman who represented Newcastle in the Giants Netball team at an elite level.

Poolman was recognised for her contributions to women in sport and is also an ambassador for the Confident Girls Foundation.

Senior Citizen of the Year was awarded to CEO of the Carrington Bowling Club, Jaci Lappin for her commitment to providing a safe space for the community to gather during the pandemic.

Hamilton Business Association took out Community Group of the Year for its commitment to the advancement of the Hamilton community.

The association worked closely with the City of Newcastle during Covid-19 helping local musicians through the pandemic’s economic impacts.

“Hamilton Business Association embodies the sense of community spirit the Community Group of the Year award aims to highlight and celebrate,” Cr Nelmes said.

“I commend each of our 2021 award recipients and congratulate them all on making Newcastle an even better city to live, work and play.”

Information Source: Media Release, Jan 20, City of Newcastle

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