Citizens of the Year

Our annual Citizen of the Year awards offer the perfect opportunity for us to salute and reward those residents who work hard supporting our local community while achieving success in their chosen fields. 

To submit nominations for  this year, download the Citizen of the Year nomination form

Our 2020 Citizen of the Year awards were awarded on Australia Day 2021, across four categories: Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Sports Citizen of the Year and Arts & Culture Citizen of the Year.

Our 2020 Citizen of the Year award recipients were:

Citizen of the Year 2020 — Mary Jo McVeigh

Mary Jo has worked as a trained trauma therapist for over 20 years. She is the founder and CEO of Cara House, a Concord counselling centre for healing, discovery and growth. In May 2014, she also co-founded the charity, CaraCare, whose mission is to provide fully funded trauma counselling through group therapy to assist the healing of children and young adults whose lives have been scarred by abuse.    

She is currently completing her PHD in Social Work at Sydney University, which focuses on the human rights of children and young people.

Arts and Culture Citizen of the Year 2020 — Nicky Apostolopoulos of Velani by Nicky

Nicky has been creating couture designs in the inner west of Sydney for over 30 years. Her work from Five Dock based label Velani has dominated Australian red carpets for years with her designs a stylist and celebrity favourite at the Logie Awards, Dally M Awards, and Brownlow Awards. Her fuchsia pink ruffle-laden gown was worn by Belinda Bromilow at the 2019 Oscars, where it stood out in a sea of gowns considered a holy grail of red carpets.

On receiving the Arts and Culture Citizen of the Year award, Nicky said she is “absolutely blown away and humbled by this”, and “forever grateful to be blessed doing something that I absolutely love”.

Young Citizen of the Year 2020 — William Wheeler

William Wheeler is a 12 year old singer and musical theatre performer from Rodd Point. He recently performed in Pippin at the Lyric Theatre and is rehearsing with Opera Australia for their upcoming summer 2021 season of TOSCA at the Sydney Opera House.

Early last year William came up with the idea to send Pokémon cards to kids in bushfire hit communities. With a little help from the team at Anime at Abbotsford, the support of his school and a Facebook post, Will managed to collect 45,000 donated cards which were distributed to children via schools in affected regions, each with a handwritten note by William.

Off the stage, William can be found perfecting tricks on his scooter, BMX and skateboard at Five Dock Skate Park. 

Sports Citizen of the Year 2020 — John Critchley

John Critchley is a legend amongst the local rugby league community, and has been a continuous active member of the Club Five Dock RSL Junior Rugby League Football Club (JRLFC) for over 30 years. He is the current Director of Club Five Dock RSL and current President of Five Dock RSL JRLFC.

John has coached the U6s Five Dock Junior Rugby team for over 20 years and still remains their current coach. John is a great advocate for the Five Dock RSL Community Club and an outstanding mentor to his peers and the junior members of the Rugby League Club.

Citizen of the Year honour board



Young Citizen


Arts & Culture


Lance Brooks

Sarah Hanania

Mark Byrnes

Keith Cowen OAM


Dr Bruce Menzies


Ante Milicic

Frank Marjason


Jack Nolan OAM


Michael McCann

Lois Michael OAM


Betty Robertson OAM


John Hahn

Dr Eric Gross AM


Ron Yeo OAM

Eric Knight

Declan Stacey

Ern McQuillan


Justine Perkins

Kaiya Robertson and Joshua Heard

Craig Parry



Alan Wright OAM

Patrick Massarani

Bradley Zalloua

Ashley Wing


Warwick Williams

Vishaal Sharma

Carla Blancato

Terry Robinson


Joe Di Giacomo

Chantelle Hayek

Alyssa Healy

Clare Hooper


Mervyn Spencer

Bronwyn Poole

Olivia Price

Lydia Burjan


Terry 'Tiger' Jones

Daniel Castagnoli 

Gerard Price OAM

Rusty Priest AM


Professor Robert Lusby AM 

Rosie O'Halloran 

Drummoyne U14 Girls Water Polo Team 

Kathryn Zerk 


Marie Piccin

Melissa McKeon

John Coates AC

Yuehan Zhang


Michael Hahn

Aly (Carmelein) Fernandez

Maximilian Brenner

Chris Castledine


Jeanette O'Hara

Rose Cox

Tyler Martin

Brian Simmons


Alice Kang

James King

Abbotsford Juniors Football Club U18s

Concord Garden Club


Joseph Assaf AM

Daniel Kordy

Franco Parisi

Wendy Schmid


Tom Galea

Doey Choi

Anne Burt

Paul Kapeleris


Mary Jo McVeigh

William Wheeler

Nicky Apostolopoulos

John Critchley