American-born Chris Barr is one of thousands across the country who will swear their allegiance to the Southern Cross
American-born Chris Barr is one of thousands across the country who will swear their allegiance to the Southern Cross

Three locals honoured

By BELINDA SCOTT

A FORMER Federal MP, a former Bellingen councillor, and the chairman of the Coffs Ex-Services Club are among the 789 people who have received awards in today's national Australia Day Honours list.

An interest in the mental and physical health of the community is a common thread which runs through the work of all three people.

GARRY NEHL, the Federal Member for Cowper, 1984-2001, has been appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia.

Mr Nehl was recognised for his service to the Australian Parliament and to the community.

The genial former National Party MP said he was particularly delighted that the nomination had come from the Coffs Coast.

He also paid tribute to his chief of staff, Pamela Langford, and his wife, Suzanne Nehl. The Nehls celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary this week.

He said among projects dear to his heart was the establishment of the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour, for which he gained $12 million in Federal funding.

He has been keen supporter of the Australian Aid Program for Iodine Deficiency in Tibet since 2000, which he said was now achieving 'fantastic' results in reducing iodine deficiency disorders.

Recently he went to Fiji as a UN consultant to the Fijian parliament.

OLWYN MACKENZIE has been awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia.

The feisty former Ryde and Bellingen councillor, who now lives in Coffs Harbour, has been recognised for service to the community through a range of social welfare organisations, particularly in the central Sydney area.

Over many years of working in local government and community organisations, her interests have ranged from libraries to catchment management; from Aboriginal affairs to services for senior citizens.

But some of her most important work has been involved with public health.

Appointed to Central Sydney Area Health Service Board in 1996, Mrs Mackenzie became involved in social issues like Aboriginal health and women's health and city drug problems.

As a result of her work, she helped to set up Sydney's trial drug injecting rooms with Dr Ingrid Van Beek, to help control the Kings Cross area's health problems of deaths from drug overdoses, and problems with Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.

"People were dying in the back alleys from overdoses and no one knew they were there," Mrs Mackenzie said.

"It took 10 years ? it was a health issue, not a moral issue."

Along the way the group pushing for change had to fight opposition to the injecting room coming from all directions ? government, civic, commercial and religious interests.

DAVID DOYLE, the president of the Coffs Ex-Services Club for the past 10 years, has been awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia.

Mr Doyle received the award for services to the community of the Coffs Harbour region, particularly through ex-services welfare organisations.

Mr Doyle said creating the new format for Coffs Harbour's well-attended Anzac Day services described as one of the best outside capital cities, was a highlight of his ex-services work.

He said as president of the Challenge Foundation, helping handicapped people to move into group homes and achieve greater independence had been one of the most personally rewarding experiences.

Mr Doyle was also president of the Vietnam and South-East Asian Veterans Association when it became the first country group to run an outreach programs for Vietnam veterans. The program ran until 1990 and is credited with helping many Coffs Coast veterans to cope with their experiences.



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