MORTLAKE woman Jill Parker couldn't believe it when she learned she had been awarded a Queen's birthday honour - she thought someone was playing a cruel prank.
Mrs Parker, a current Moyne Shire councillor, was awarded an Order of Australia medal and celebrated with her family on Sunday.
She was honoured for her service to local government, and to the south-west community, which includes a long list of roles.
"It's just what you do in the country," she said. "I had no idea I was nominated. When I got word I thought it was a hoax. I thought who would do that. I didn't believe it was real."
She said she was overcome when she realised it was not a prank.
Mrs Parker and her husband Doug moved to Mortlake after buying a farm in 1973.
"In rural areas you become involved with the CFA," she said. "I have been in it for a very long time. If you want something done or if you want your community to be viable you need to participate. You do things to support your local school, CFA, any organisation."
She was elected to the council in 2008.
"I had a few people requesting me to go on council when I finished teaching," she said. "People said to me 'now you have time you can stand for council'. I thought I was fairly safe and I didn't have any chance to be elected. I'm pleased that some of the smaller towns have been able to get improvements and assets into their town such as sporting facilities at Woorndoo, Peterborough, Mortlake's improvements to its pool and streetscape in Dunlop Street, its indoor cricket facility and new library hub."
Among a plethora of service and volunteer roles, Mrs Parker is currently the chair of Barwon South West Waster and Resource and Recovery Group, the deputy chair of the Corangamite Regional Library Corporation, treasurer of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, rural and regional representative for the Australian Local Government Women's Association, Victorian Branch, treasurer and communications officer for the Mortlake CFA, a member of the CFA District 5 committee and volunteer at Abbeyfield House in Mortlake.
She was also a member of the Victorian Coastal Council and chair of the Western Coastal Board, the inaugural chair of Leadership Great South Coast from 2009-2019, chair and mentor for CFA's District 5 Women and Fire from 2009-2013, the former Fire Safe Kids officer and community bushfire safety liaison officer, advisory group member of the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Authority from 2007-2009, former president of the Western Plains Spinners and Weavers and former treasurer of the Mortlake Busker's Festival committee.
The former teacher has also been awarded a CFA Victoria National Medal (with 40 year clasp) and National Emergency Medal.
She said the Leadership Great South Coast program was "wonderful".
"I share their philosophy of leadership that it is not about yourself, it's about advancing others," she said.
"If we can do that we have done something worthwhile.
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