ELLENBROOK resident Frank Mallard, who has always spoken out and acted to help other people, was recognised for his volunteer, charity and unpaid work by the City of Swan on Australia Day.
Mr Mallard was named a citizen of the year as well as senior citizen of the year.
On Tuesday Mr Mallard said he had been surprised and shocked to get both awards.
“When the City of Swan told me I had been nominated for an award I thought I might have been a ring-in,’’ he said.
A Yamatji from Northamton Mr Mallard joined the Australian army in 1962.
He retired from the regular army in 1985 after serving in Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam and joined the army reserves where he served until 1999.
Along with other retired personnel he joined the fight to have their superannuation pensions maintain their purchasing power in line with aged pensions.
A long wait for recognition (Echo News, December 3, 2015) reported Mr Mallard was one of the people on posters organised by the Department of Veteran Affairs to acknowledge the military service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In October, 2015 Mr Mallard received a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
He was eligible for the award after serving in Vietnam in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment under the command of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, which was in Vietnam from May 5, 1965 to May 31, 1966.
When Aboriginal soldiers like Mr Mallard, who served as equals when at war returned home, they faced discrimination including rejection by the RSL which saw them as First Australians not soldiers.
Today Mr Mallard is a proud and hard-working member of the Ellenbrook RSL where he is vice president and media officer.
He has been involved in many projects including a day of lectures for Pearce veterans held in Ellenbrook during Veterans Health Week in October last year.
City of Swan deputy mayor Kevin Bailey said Mr Mallard was vice president of the city’s building committee, sat on the St Helena’s Catholic Primary School board and ran their uniform shop.
Mr Mallard is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Association of WA treasurer, a member of Honouring Indigenous War Graves WA.
“He helps other communities through his status as an elder of the Yamatji tribe, providing them with guidance and assistance.’’
He also organised a volunteer group to build an amphitheatre in the Wheatbelt town of Hyden.
He is chairman of the Voice of the Voiceless Ministry, which helps people with drug addiction, mental illness and social issues.
“The ministry is in the process of building a hospital in Nigeria and carrying out charity work in the Philippines, Nigeria and Vietnam.’’
Luke Cotellessa of The Vines was awarded a youth award for Luke’s Boots for the Outback, which collects and distributes footballs and boots to Pilbara communities.
Cr Bailey said Luke had been selected to help carry the Queen’s Baton during the 100-day countdown to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“He was chosen by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation to run the Guildford leg of the relay, for their exceptional contribution to the community.’’
Ellenbrook Lions Club treasurer Norman Pearson was also named a citizen of the year.
Cr Bailey said Mr Pearson had run and supported events and activities such as the annual Christmas Carols, Lion’s Children’s Train, barbecues and swap meets.
“Norm is also a volunteer driver for the City of Swan Community Support Group, helping seniors get to hospital, doctor and shopping appointments.’’
The city’s group award went to Ellenbrook and Oldridge Community Meal Kitchen.
Cr Bailey said the soup kitchen was started in early 2017 by Ellenbrook resident Lorraine Oldridge.
By Anita McInnes