19 March 2021

Pandemic workers named Canberra Citizens of the Year

| Dominic Giannini
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Canberrans of the Year recipients

All Canberrans who have enacted the Territory’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic have been jointly named the 2021 Canberra Citizens of the Year. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Not even an hour after being honoured with one of the ACT’s most prestigious awards, pathologist Lynette Chairuka was back at work in a molecular lab where COVID-19 testing is undertaken.

The hard work and dedication from Canberrans like Ms Chairuka, both on the front line and behind the scenes, led to this year’s Canberra Citizen of the Year award going to all the people who contributed to the Territory’s public health response.

“I remember the day vividly, it was 11 February, and we had to start the testing and it was so much. From then onwards, the numbers just skyrocketed, which was crazy,” Ms Chairuka said.

“But we had to just rise to the challenge and just do what we had to do.

“We used to work from 8:30 am to 4:51 pm, but now we are 24-hours so we are working around the clock to ensure that we have a high standard of service.”

READ ALSO Canberrans asked to remain patient and calm during vaccine rollout “teething issues”

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the award could not go to more deserving citizens.

“Everyone has had a role to play, and it had pulled on the skills and commitment of thousands of people … both on the frontline and behind the scenes,” she said.

ACT Citizens of the Year medal

Canberrans who helped with the Territory’s pandemic response have been named Canberra Citizens of the Year 2021. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

“We here in the ACT have done so well in responding to the pandemic. So many people have been involved in this response, ably led by our Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman.”

Dr Coleman said it’s taken more than a village to help sail Canberra through the worst of the pandemic.

“From my experience, Canberrans are very proud of their city and proud of their community, and everybody at heart wants to do the best that they possibly can,” she said.

The Citizen of the Year Award recognises people or groups that have made a significant contribution to the Canberra community.

Last year the award went to ACT emergency services personnel. The year before it was won by the UC Capitals and their supports.

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