Former NSW Young Australian of the Year, professional rugby league footballer and Penrith Panthers CEO Corey Payne has been named this year’s Bega Valley Shire Council Australia Day Ambassador.
The 34-year-old former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs back-rower retired from the game at the age of just 28, completing his Master of Commerce in Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Sydney’s business school and choosing to focus on community and charity work.
In 2009 Payne created the Future Directions Network, designed to encourage high school students in South West Sydney to attend university.
Australia Day Council of NSW Chairman Angelos Frangopoulos AM said ambassadors are a “drawcard” to each year’s events.
“Australia Day Ambassadors are past recipients of the Australian of the Year Awards, athletes, scientists, entrepreneurs, entertainers and community workers,” Mr Frangopoulos said.
Twenty-one-year-old professional skateboarder Amar Hadid is a first time ambassador.
“It is of the highest importance that we celebrate Australia Day with local communities to reinforce and remind us that when we come together we can overcome all obstacles and work as one,” Ms Hadid said.
Romance novelist Valarie Parv said she enjoys serving as an ambassador in regional communities.
“Having the chance to talk about, not 200 years but 60,000 years of Australian history, reminding all of us that the First Australians celebrated their experiences and stories exactly as we do today,” she said.
“It's a unique privilege to honour all Australians as part of the oldest civilisation on Earth.”