Julian Mattay – Active Citizenship Award

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Julian Mattay – Active Citizenship Award

City of Mount Gambier Citizen of the Year

City of Mount Gambier Senior Citizen of the Year

Young Citizen of the Year

Community Event of the Year

As a child Julian Mattay and his family moved to Australia as refugees from war torn Hungary, Europe and decided to settle in Tasmania.

He said Australia offered him many opportunities and now, he pays it forward by volunteering his time to local charities and organisations and donates generously to local causes to return the favour to others.

For this, Julian is the recipient of the City of Mount Gambier Active Citizenship Award.

Julian studied mathematics and physics at university and began his working life with the CSIRO in Hobart in 1966 at the age of 21.

Throughout his career he focused on tree growth biometrics, modelling, computer programming and data analysis.

Outside of work he would often take on double shifts as an Ambulance Service volunteer on weekends and had also joined the local bushfire brigade before moving to Mount Gambier in 1984 as part of a job transfer.

Mount Gambier has since been Julian’s home for the past 40 years.

His position at CSIRO was made redundant in 2006 and he subsequently decided to use his free time to help others.

“I work with the Rotary Club, Sunset Community Kitchen, the Flying Doctor Service Support Group, the Ryder Cheshire Foundation and with the Books in Homes program,” Julian said.

Books in Homes is a charitable foundation that provides books to children living in remote, disadvantaged and low socio-economic circumstances, ensuring crucial early literacy engagement and the development of reading skills required for lifelong achievement.

As a member of the Rotary Club of Mount Gambier, Julian played a crucial role in establishing the Books in Homes program in Mount Gambier in 2015.

From June 2019, Rotary decided to stop sponsoring the program and since then, Julian has personally donated more than $16,000 to keep the program running locally in conjunction with the Mount Gambier Library, providing 2504 books to 678 families.

“I have been passionate about books since I was a child. In the words of Billy Connolly, ‘Books are your ticket to the whole world’,” Julian said.

As part of the initiative, each child selects nine new books they would like to have at home, creating a personalised library of their own.

“Reading books takes children away from screens and playing games,” Julian said.

“They can read the books to their parents and their parents can read books to them, it’s a bit of a bonding exercise as well.”

Julian is involved in the program in a variety of ways, in addition to his financial contribution.

“Julian has attended school and kindergarten sites to meet with and read to the children. When the books are ordered and dispatched, Julian is first to put his hand up to offer to help pack the books into backpacks, ready to be given to the children,” Library Children and Youth Services Officer Bec Coates said.

“Julian has engaged with hundreds of families through book giving ceremonies where he personally gifts each child their books. Our community is so fortunate to have Julian, and the children involved in the program are destined for better literacy outcomes as a result.”

As part of his work with the Rotary Club of Mount Gambier, Julian coordinated the barbecue fundraiser at the weekly Rotary Community Market.

He continued in this key role for almost 10 years, until the market was closed due to reduced patronage and the impact of COVID.

Julian resigned as a member of the club in 2020, but as a “Friend of Rotary” he often volunteers his time to help with fundraising activities.

Julian is driven by a strong desire to help those in the community who need both moral and material support, whether it be young children, the aged, or those who are economically and socially disadvantaged.

The 78-year-old provides about $26,000 in donations to the local causes he supports each year.

When told that he was to be awarded the Active Citizenship Award for his ongoing community contributions, Julian was surprised and delighted.

“I got my phone out and looked at the calendar, it was not the first of April. Quite frankly I was stunned and shocked to hear that I had received this award,” he said.

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