City celebrates outstanding locals

Media Release 27 January 2023
Australia Day Citizen of the year

A café owner committed to providing real employment opportunities for people with disability was one of several deserving recipients of this year’s City of South Perth Citizen of the Year Awards.

Sarah Yates, owner of Our Ruby Girl in Como, was among the community members recognised for their contributions to community life and active citizenship as part of the City’s Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony at Sir James Mitchell Park.

Categories for the Australia Day Council of WA awards – presented by Mayor Greg Milner and South Perth MLA Geoff Baker – include Community Citizen of the Year, Senior Citizen of the Year (over 65 years), Young Citizen of the Year (under 25 years) and the Active Citizenship Award (community group or event).

Mayor Milner congratulated all award winners and nominees, saying their generosity and desire to enhance our community were a true reflection of the spirt of these awards.

“It is heartening to know we have such a diverse and extensive network of dedicated and passionate people within our community,” he added.

“The City of South Perth is incredibly fortunate to have such passionate and positive people contributing to the rich social fabric of our community.”

Mayor Milner also thanked everyone who took the time to nominate individuals and groups for these awards. 

Local winners were among more than 230 individuals and organisations award recipients across the State, with some 70 local governments taking part in the prestigious awards.

Category winners were judged to have made a significant contribution to the local community, demonstrated leadership on a community issue resulting in the enhancement of community life, introduced a significant initiative that has brought about positive change and added value to community life, and have inspiring qualities as a role model for the community.

Winners and nominees of the 2023 Citizen of the Year Awards were:


Community Citizen of the Year Award – Sarah Yates

Sarah Yates is an outstanding community citizen and local business owner who is leading the way as an equal opportunity employer. 

As the owner of Our Ruby Girl, Sarah employs and upskills people living with disability and creates an inclusive environment for her team.  Sarah also has a modified coffee van that travels all over Perth and is proudly staffed by employees with disability. 

During her years as a school psychologist, Sarah realised the lack of employment opportunities for people living with disability once they left school.  Knowing how important employment is to all of us, Sarah set about creating an environment at Our Ruby Girl where all abilities are valued, and people can make meaningful contributions through work. 

Our Ruby Girl is the heart and soul of the local community and sets a wonderful example to other employers. 

Bevan Cole – Manning Primary P&C and School Board, the Fathering Project, Manning Knight Riders and Manning Community Association
Ciara Lowe-Thiedeman – The Style Counsellor 

Sarah Yates – Our Ruby Girl

Senior Community Citizen of the Year Award – Peter Cole

Peter has volunteered with local agency, Southcare for over 12 years, providing emergency relief assistance to individuals and families living in the local community who find themselves in financial crisis. This service assists people with supermarket vouchers, clothing and household goods.

Over the years, Peter has helped hundreds of people and shows great empathy and respect for everyone who presents at Southcare, many of whom are in significant crisis and have difficult stories. He offers support, understanding and goes above and beyond to connect people to support services, often making phone calls on their behalf.

Peter is known at the ‘engine room of Southcare’ and truly makes a difference in the community.

Lyndon Lewis – local resident and key contributor to the Redman Street Stairs project
Margaret McMahon – Perth Zoo Docent Association

Peter Cole – Southcare

Young Community Citizen of the Year Award – Emily Lassam

Emily has completed over 650 hours of voluntary service during her time at Penrhos College.  A standout highlight was the Greatest Shave for Leukemia event which Emily organised for the school in March last year.  This event raised an incredible $71,000 for the Leukemia Foundation, $26,000 of which was raised by Emily personally.

She has also taken part in various peer mentoring programs at Penrhos College, supporting younger students to develop their leadership skills. Emily is a standout volunteer who is making a valuable contribution to our community.  

Emily Lassam – Leukemia Foundation
Jack Sheppard – St Bartholomew’s Women’s Refuge, Autism Australia and Jack’s Creative Kitchen initiative
Matthew Gilkison – Earth Assist, Red Cross Soup Patrol, After School mentoring at Curtin Primary and the Sea Shephard Program 
William Rummer – Sailability at the South Perth Yacht Club

Active Citizenship Award for a group or event – Friends of South Perth Wetlands

Established in 2018, Friends of South Perth Wetlands plays an important role in improving the local environment for all to enjoy.

The group is made up of passionate residents, who meet regularly to action conservation issues that involve the South Perth foreshore. They have a special interest in avi-fauna and actively monitor bird species densities and distribution. The group also run community events where residents can volunteer to hand weed, plant natives or collect rubbish.

The Friends of South Perth Wetlands are commended for their planting efforts along the Swan River Estuary, which has increased the habitat for more than 80 different bird species.

Ted Maslen Award - Michael Swift

Wesley College Perth student Michael Swift received the City's Ted Maslen University Exhibition Award for 2023.

Michael has been named the top performing Year 12 student in the City of South Perth, achieving outstanding results across six ATAR subjects and the top student for chemistry, economics and literature.

The City presents the Ted Maslen Award to the top performing student each year in honour of Dr Ted Maslen, a renowned local scholar and past City of South Perth Councillor.

To find out more about active citizenship and volunteering in our community by visiting our Get Involved page.

Pictured (L-R): Geoff Baker MLA, Michael Swift, Peter Cole, Mayor Greg Milner, Sarah Yates, Friends of South Perth Wetlands representative Rod Safstrom

Pictured below: Emily Lassam