City of Cockburn Community Citizen of the Year Awards

About the Citizen of the Year Awards

Each year on Australia Day, the awards acknowledge leading citizens who are role models and who inspire us with their achievements, and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better community. The recipients will be selected from people and groups who have made a noteworthy contribution during the current year or given outstanding service to the community over a number of years. The awards are presented at the City's Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony on 26 January.

There are four categories in which to nominate:

  • Community Citizen of the Year (over 16 years)
  • Community Citizen of the Year - Youth (individuals under 30 years) 
  • Community Citizen of the Year - Senior (individuals over 65 years)
  • The Active Citizenship Award (community group or event).


Please note the following guidelines when nominating a Community Citizen:

  • A person or group must first be nominated to be considered for the Awards
  • Nominees should live or work primarily within the City of Cockburn
  • Groups of people or couples will not normally be eligible except when meeting the criteria for a community group
  • A couple may be recognised in an individual category
  • A person may receive an award on more than one occasion in recognition of particularly outstanding community contribution or involvement in an alternative initiative
  • Awards may be granted posthumously in recognition of recent achievements
  • Self nominations are not accepted
  • Individuals must be at least 16 years of age on 26 January, though younger nominees may be considered for exceptional contribution
  • Unsuccessful nominees may be nominated in future years
  • Nominations must be apolitical in their nature and should not in any way bring the awards program or local government area into disrepute
  • Sitting members of State, Federal and Local Government are not eligible.

Community Citizen selection criteria

Winners are judged to have shown active citizenship and:

  • Significant contribution to the local community
  • Demonstrated leadership on a community issue resulting in the enhancement of community life
  • Contributed to a significant initiative which has brought about positive change and added value to community life
  • Inspiring qualities as a role model for the community.


Nominations for the 2025 awards are open until 31 October 2024.  

For more information about the awards and to make a nomination, visit the official Community Citizen of the Year Awards website.

2024 award winners for Cockburn

Community Citizen of the Year 2024 

Soa Palelei

A former UFC fighter, three-time International Mixed Martial Arts World Champion and more popularly known as “The Hulk”, long-time Cockburn resident Soa Palelei now devotes his time and energy to helping ordinary people build strong foundations for good mental health.
After retiring from a long and successful career in the mixed martial arts Octagon, Soa turned from fighter to author, writing his memoir “Face Your Fears”.  Soa is now well known for his tireless work in the mental health and family violence space and says he is humbled by empowering people. Soa is the ambassador of Strong Minds, Strong Mines – an award-winning program developed specifically for the mining industry.  Strong Minds, Strong Mines has, since 2018, provided awareness around the physical and mental health problems that can affect people working in remote environments, while focusing on prevention and early intervention.
Visiting hundreds of mine sites, corporate offices and schools, Soa and his mental health wellness team deliver talks and workshops that demonstrate the relationship between physical health and mental health. The program was named Mental Health Foundation Australia’s Mental Health Organisation for 2022.
Soa generously and openly shares stories of his tough childhood experiences with others and has taken on other roles such as Ambassador for White Ribbon Australia, and the Make a Wish Foundation to spread the message and raise awareness around mental health and domestic violence.
Soa and his family first made their home in Cockburn more than 20 years ago, and in 2021 Soa was inducted into the City of Cockburn's Sports Hall of Fame.  

Community Citizen of the Year 2024 - Youth

Mackinlee Tibbits

Mackinlee Tibbits has consistently demonstrated his commitment to enhancing the Cockburn community through his active involvement with the Cockburn Youth Advisory Council. Over the last year, he has worked diligently to provide a voice for young people of Cockburn, offering valuable insights and innovative ideas; and advocating for improved services.

Mackinlee also attends the Dungeons and Dragons program at Cockburn Youth Centre twice a week where he is an exemplary role model – encouraging creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving among the program's participants.

In addition to these roles at Cockburn’s Youth Centre, Mackinlee has been a dedicated member of the Coogee Beach Surf Club for an impressive 12 years. During this time, he has not only excelled in surf sports but has also actively participated in various community outreach programs organised by the club. His involvement has played a pivotal role in promoting beach safety, organising fundraising events, and fostering a sense of community among the club's members.

Mackinlee has also served as a lifeguard for four seasons, ensuring the safety and well-being of visitors to Coogee Beach.

Mackinlee embodies the qualities of leadership, responsibility, and community spirit.

Community Citizen of the Year 2024 - Senior

Maureen Stevenson

Maureen is a valued volunteer at the Cockburn Seniors Centre – volunteering almost every day of the week – working at the Centre Members Services front desk every Monday and Friday and the Centre’s Cafe Service every Tuesday and Thursday.  Maureen is also a member of the City of Cockburn's Age-friendly Reference Group which meets regularly and aims to improve seniors’ services in our community.
Maureen's volunteer contribution is outstanding. Going above and beyond her duties at the front desk and at the cafĂ©, Maureen encourages participation in seniors’ activities to promote the maintenance of mental and physical health. She is also a Health and Safety Representative at the Senior’s Centre.
Maureen was also the winner of the Annual Cockburn Seniors Centre Volunteer of the Year Award for 2023.

Active Citizenship Award 2024 - Group or Event

Historical Society of Cockburn

The Historical Society of Cockburn is a community-based organisation which operates the Azelia Ley Homestead Museum, a role they have undertaken for the past 40 years. The Historical Society opens the museum to the public, cares for the collections, runs regular museum tours, and hosts events such as high teas, book launches, and school holiday programs. The Society has partnered with community organisations such as the Dalmatinac Club to support broader heritage projects, including oral histories and historical research. The Historical Society also provides a social hub for many older Cockburn residents.
The Azelia Ley Homestead Museum displays have been short listed in the top ten of the Museums Australia Awards, a prestigious achievement. 
The Historical Society of Cockburn has been recognised widely in recent years for its outstanding contribution to heritage including at the State Heritage Awards and the Royal WA Historical Society Awards.

More information and contact

To find out more, visit the Auspire Australia Day Council of WA website.



City of Cockburn
Whadjuk Boodja
9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

Office opening hours:
8.30am to 4.30pm
Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaditj boodjar kep wer kaadidjiny kalyakool yoodaniny, wer koora wer yeyi ngalak Birdiya koota-djinanginy.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.