MORNINGTON Park Primary school received a visit from inspiring 2020 Victorian Local Hero Josie Jones on Friday (14 October).
The school won the visit after being nominated by long-term local postie Sean O’Keefe in an employee competition to celebrate Australia Post’s support of the Australian of the Year Awards.
The competition was run to provide Australia Post team members with the opportunity to connect their nominated school or community group with a visit from an extraordinary Australian – a past recipient of their state or territory Australian of the Year Awards.
In nominating the school O’Keefe said it is an “amazing community”.
“To meet an Australian of the Year will allow the children to become aspirational – the students need to meet such a positive role model,” he said.
Since 2006 Jones has volunteered more than 10,000 hours and countless dollars to improve the water quality in Mornington Peninsula’s bays – personally collecting more than 5.3 tonnes of rubbish from its shorelines.
Jones devotes every spare moment to stopping litter entering the peninsula’s waterways and engaging with the community to inspire change.
Through personal commitment, public speaking, social media, and consulting with local government, community groups, corporations, schools and businesses, she has educated stakeholders and inspired others to take care of the environment.
A graphic designer, Janes has used her skills to dramatically decrease the number of cigarette butts on local streets through her The Only Butt campaign.
“When I go to schools and speak and the children are so inspired, they inspire me,” Jones said.
“It’s so important what we say and do to be an example and provide hope. When I think about what Sean [the Australia Post nominator] said about the school in his nomination, it is so true.
“I felt privileged to go there and inspire the children, to let them know I’m just a normal person who hasn’t always had the best things in life, but I’ve persisted in what I believe in, and I want them to know that they can too.
“When I was a child, I dreamt of being an Australian of the Year and I want them to know that they can do it too.
“That if you can do something to better the world or the life of others, it doesn’t mean you won’t be met with challenges, but you will succeed.”
Her work has received recognition through awards including the Dame Phyllis Frost Award in 2016, and 2017 Litter Prevention prize from Keep Victoria Beautiful. She was also the Mornington Peninsula Australia Day Citizen of the Year 2019.