South Australian of the Year - Mayor Felicity-ann Lewis
Mayor Felicity-ann Lewis shares her experiences of the Australian of the Year Award in Canberra.
This article appears in City Limits magazine - Issue 45 - April 2014.
Marion’s longest serving Mayor of more than 13 years, Dr Felicity-ann Lewis, is the 2014 Australian of the Year for South Australia for her work in reconciliation with indigenous people. She was awarded for helping raise $100,000 towards Australia’s first memorial recognising the sacrifice of indigenous soldiers and for her work on behalf of the local community.
Here, Dr Lewis shares her memories of discovering she had won the award and of her experiences in Canberra for the announcement of Australian of the Year.
“Being announced as 2014 Australian of the Year for South Australia last November was surreal. I couldn't comprehend the enormity of it as I was hosting a function in Alice Springs as president of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). My husband Warren was on hand at the ceremony to collect my award and sent me a text message - ‘u won!’
You can imagine how excited I felt when I realised what he was referring to. Being with the ALGA Board made it very special and they celebrated 'our' win.
I say 'our' because the win has been owned by local government across the country and could not have come at a better time for those of us who worked for many years on Constitutional changes to support funding to local government.
Attending the announcement of the Australian of the Year with other category winners from SA was great. Warren and I arrived in Canberra on Thursday for a welcome by chair of the Australia Day Council, Adam Gilchrist.
We were then bussed to Yarralumla for a meal with the Governor General. My ambition was to meet all 32 nominees and their guests, so it was a busy night. After official photographs we walked the grounds and met previous winners and sponsors. Dick Smith was there, among many others.
In the morning we were on the bus to Federation Square for rehearsals. For morning tea we walked to Parliament House and were welcomed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Afterwards, we went to the National Art Gallery before heading to Federation Square for the announcement.
We were all a little nervous about the live television broadcast, but everyone was a winner in their own right already. When my category lined up off-stage we looked at each other but everyone was calm. I don’t think any of us expected to beat Adam Goodes - I certainly didn’t. He’s such a great ambassador and role model for our country. And he's a South Australian so I felt we won anyway!
When you stand on stage a short video clip describes why you were nominated. Having met most of the nominees I can say it doesn’t come close to covering the fantastic things these people do.
My contributions to reconciliation through fundraising for the Aboriginal and Torrens Strait Islander War Memorial and work with refugees and the disability sector are a small part of what I have had the pleasure of being involved in. My peers took the time to nominate me as they say I inspired them and showed leadership in the community. I salute them and all of you who I have had the privilege to serve.”
Mayor Felicity-ann Lewis
City Limits Magazine
The City Limits Magazine is a community publication that keeps Marion residents in touch with what is happening in their community. It includes information about major projects, council initiatives and events, as well as profiles of community members.
It is published three times a year and distributed to 40,000 residents and businesses in the Marion Council area.