A group of older people sit at a table.

Gold Awards recipient Margaret Constance was one of the first Avon ladies in Canberra and went on to work in the Supreme Court for 25 years.

14 March 2024

Each year, the Chief Minister’s Canberra Gold Awards recognise the unique contributions of individuals and groups who have lived or operated in the ACT for 50 years or more.

This year, 71 individuals and 15 groups were awarded. Over the last half-century, each of them has shaped not only our city, but the people who live here. Whether that’s placing an instrument in a musically-gifted student’s hands for the first time, raising a family in Canberra, or leaving a mark on an industry.

While the awards celebrate Canberra’s history, there was much recognition of the people who have helped shape our future: the teachers, principals and programs supporting the city’s schools.

Leanne Fisher was born in Canberra in 1963 and has worked for the Department of Education for 20 years.

“I’m just about to retire in three weeks’ time, it’s a nice way to finish,” she said.

Paul Branson, Principal of Belconnen High, was also born in Canberra and is a self-titled “product of public schools”. Educated at Hackett Primary, Dickson College and the Australian National University, Paul was nominated for his contribution to public schooling.

“There’s lots that I love about Canberra, lots of things happen here. I know people say it’s boring, but that’s not true at all,” Paul said.

“Someone once said to me, Canberra thinks you’re boring too!”

The ACT Instrumental Music Program was one of the groups that received a Gold Award. Now in it’s 51st year, the program is part of ACT public schools.

“We were nominated by a former student,” former principal Naida Blackley said.

“It’s about providing opportunities for students to access musical instruments in a group learning situation.”

Many awards recipients spoke of their love of the city, and in particular, their love of Lake Burley Griffin.

Margaret Constance’s arrival predated the construction of the now-iconic landmark.

“In 1962, we moved to the newly developed Red Hill, and there were still sheep grazing on the perimeter,” she said.

“I saw the building of the National Library, the High Court, the Portrait Gallery, and the lake. And I saw Woden and Belconnen Develop. They were the first suburbs – I think they were called satellite towns then.”

Margaret was one of the first Avon ladies in Canberra and went on to work in the Supreme Court for 25 years.

An older man and an older woman sit and speak to each other.

Ali Hosain was another Gold Award recipient who fondly recalls memories of Canberra being developed.

“When we came, Canberra was not a very impressive place,” he said.

“[Now] Canberra is so beautiful. We’ve travelled the whole world but there’s nothing like Canberra.”

If you would like to nominate a person, group, or yourself, nominations are open year-round and can be made online.

Individual award recipients receive a pin and a certificate, and group award recipients receive a certificate.

Find out more about the Chief Minister’s Canberra Gold Awards or make a nomination.

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