Brimbank’s most inspiring individuals have been recognised on Australia Day for their exceptional contribution and outstanding service to the local community.
The 2022 Brimbank Australia Day Awards were presented across two categories and have been awarded to joint winners:
- Citizen of the Year: Marlon DeLeon and Tara Tran
- Young Citizen of the Year: Devika Chaudhary and Haylee Bissett
The awards were presented by the Brimbank Mayor, Cr Jasmine Nguyen on Wednesday 26 January at the Brimbank Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony at the Kevin Wheelahan Gardens in Sunshine.
The awards recognise the exceptional contributions, hard work, and determination of individuals making a positive difference within Brimbank.
As respected cultural leaders, Marlon and Tara have both contributed selflessly to their communities and acted as role models for many community members and organisations.
Marlon is an outstanding community leader who has led transformational change for the Filipino-Australian community, volunteering his time to uplift and support the wider community.
Tara is a strong voice for the Vietnamese-Australian community, making a real difference to thousands of community members during the COVID pandemic, especially supporting vulnerable victims of domestic violence.
Throughout the pandemic, both Devika and Haylee have been lending their support and time to uplift and advocate on behalf of many in our community, helping bring connection and comfort where it’s needed.
As part of the Australia Day ceremony, 200 Brimbank residents took the oath to become some of the country’s newest citizens.
About the winners
Citizen of the Year Award
This is presented to a member of the community (over the age of 26) who has made a noteworthy contribution during the current year/or has given outstanding service to the local community over a number of years.
Joint Winner: Marlon DeLeon
Migrating to Victoria in 2008, Marlon is an outstanding community leader who works to lead transformational services for the Filipino-Australian and wider community.
His vision is to build a strong Filipino-Australian community in Victoria.
As president of the Filipino Community Council of Victoria, Marlon led the organisation to provide essential support for the Filipino-Australian community. This included social, wellbeing, economic and cultural support for the community, which is especially important during the ongoing pandemic situation.
Marlon also volunteers his time generously with a number of organisations and for a variety of projects that benefit the community.
He is involved in a volunteer capacity with the Filipino Australian Mentors Educators Association.
He also serves as a Digital Mentor, and is also one of the leaders in a multicultural emergency response team organised by the Victorian Council of Social Services.
Marlon’s achievements in the area of community services have secured $114 million worth of grants, for a range of projects to benefit the community. This includes funding for emergency food relief, for support to international students, for training and capacity building programs and to support digital learning for people aged 50 and above.
Marlon has been recognised for his community work, being awarded the national 2021 Filipino Australian Achievement Award.
Through his work, Marlon demonstrates an extraordinary skill, passion and energy for community uplift.
Joint Winner: Tara Tran
Trang Tran or Tara, as she is known, is the founder of Vietlove Inc, which is one of the biggest non-profit community organisations in Brimbank.
Through her work with VietLove, Tara is making a real difference to the community.
Tara set up the group with a small number of friends in March 2020 when Melbourne started to experience COVID. The group grew quickly – today Tara leads the 20,000 strong group in supporting local organisations and events in Brimbank and providing valuable input and help for community projects.
The VietLove not-for-profit community group has been supporting more than three thousand community members. The work involves providing English classes, mental support for the vulnerable especially victims of domestic violence, and legal support including for domestic violence victims, and interpreting and online administrative assistance during the COVID pandemic.
Tara has also worked closely with Brimbank’s Neighbourhood Houses on to support survivors of domestic violence and single mothers and their children.
Many of the victims of domestic violence Tara has helped have gone on to volunteer at VietLove Inc, and make their own contribution to the community.
Tara has received a WorkSafe Certificate of Appreciation for her support to a community member that incurred a workplace injury, and she is authorised to work with WorkSafe to support community members needing help with work rights.
She is also authorised to work directly with a Vietnamese Senior Constable for community legal support.
Tara is a strong voice for the Vietnamese-Australian community, often speaking about community matters on SBS Vietnamese radio.
Young Citizen of the Year
This award is presented to a young person (under the age of 26) who has made a noteworthy contribution during the current year and/or has given outstanding service to the local community over a number of years.
Joint Winner: Devika Chaudhary
Devika loves to volunteer and is involved in activities that benefit the community through a vast range of groups and projects. And she does this while also studying and working.
From 2015-2018 Devika served as an Australian Air Force cadet. From 2018, as a member of the cadet staff, she has been teaching classes and mentoring young cadets to achieve their goals in aviation and leadership.
As an IPC Health Youth Ambassador, Devika works to publicise the harm that gambling can cause. This includes school outreach projects to make students aware of gambling harm, so they don’t fall into the gambling trap.
As a member of the ‘Women of Brimbank’ group since 2018, she has played an important role in helping local women.
During the pandemic Devika has worked hard to help others feel safe and comforted.
As a volunteer with the Victoria University Volunteering Program, Devika wrote countless letters to residents in aged care home, bringing them comfort and giving them a contact to the outside world.
During the pandemic, she also organised COVIDSafe events for local women, to keep them feeling connected and supported.
Devika has also been an advisory member for the Brimbank Community Fund for the past two years. She provides the Fund with feedback on what would benefit local youth.
Her volunteer work includes work as a Kids Activity organiser for the McKay Garden Festival 2019-2020, as an Advisor to State Library Focus Group Culturally and Linguistically Diverse People in 2020, and for Council’s Homework Club in 2020, and Council’s Mentor Program in 2020-2021.
Through all her efforts, Devika’s focus is on supporting her community and making it better.
Joint Winner: Haylee Bissett (she/her)
Haylee is committed to advocating on issues affecting young people, and has shown great leadership in supporting communities that have traditionally been pushed to the margins.
At her Sunshine College North Campus school, Haylee is a peer support leader who supports students to transition to secondary school life.
As her school’s Beacon Ambassador, she represents the school’s values of wellbeing, learning, growth and relationships – and serves as a student role model. She also works to help plan school events and lead advocacy issues.
Haylee is a LGBTIQIA+ young person with autism – and she is passionate about supporting other students and young people who are part of the autism and LGBTIQIA+ communities. Haylee led the formation of her school’s first LGBTIQIA+ club, creating a place where students feel they belong.
She mentored students with autism last year, providing advice and support during the lockdown period of remote learning. This work also led Hayley to advocate successfully for a safe space at her school for students with learning difficulties and mental health issues.
Over the past two years, Haylee has been involved with ‘The Bold Source’ which is a youth magazine that is led, curated and designed by creative young people Brimbank, in association with Brimbank Council’s Youth Services. As magazine editor Haylee used her passion for storytelling and her voice to create change.
Haylee is committed to creating change for the better – through her school, her community and beyond, and she is a source of inspiration for the people around her.