An environmental volunteer and a football coach and Down syndrome advocate have been honoured in the Hobsons Bay Citizen of the Year awards.
Williamstown’s Marilyn Olliff has been named Citizen of the Year while Altona’s Layla West has been named Young Citizen of the Year.
Ms Olliff initiated the Wader Beach for Birds not Litter project to reduce rubbish in the area next to Jawbone Marine Sanctuary and founded Hobsons Bay Boomerang Bags to replace plastic bags with cloth ones.
“But my latest project is quite ambitious,” she said of a plan to establish a permanent Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre.
“By having a wetlands centre, we will have the opportunities for people to come along for recreation, relaxation with friends, right through to more formal education programs, workshops, walks and talks,” Ms Olliff said.
“Hobsons Bay is just brilliant both for volunteers – I love volunteering – but also we have such a magnificent foreshore … and we need to make sure everyone knows about it and we all work together to look after it.”
Ms Olliff said she was “a bit shocked and incredibly honoured” to be picked as Hobsons Bay’s top citizen.
Layla, a year 12 student at Mount St Joseph Girls’ College, coaches Altona AusKick’s fastest growing group, the all-girl Super Stars. She was the youngest and only female coach when she started in year 8.
“In 2017, we started our first girls’ group with a female coach, which I think really helped the program,” she said. “Just seeing, when I started, having five girls there, to grow to having about 20 girls has been a really amazing thing.”
She also assisted with a team her brother Reid, who has Down syndrome, played on. He now plays in the Football Integration Development Association for Williamstown Seagulls.
“Having Reid has shown me that education is really needed in the world of people with disabilities,” she said.
“You’ve got to see the person before the disability.”