22 March 2023

Forever young, Surf Coast gran awarded Australia Day honour

Jean Young abseiled from a skyscraper to raise funds for foster kids. Picture: Anglicare Victoria.

Jenan Taylor

1 February 2023

A Surf Coast grandmother is among Anglicans from the Diocese of Melbourne whose achievements were celebrated in the 2023 Australia Day Honours List.

Jean Young, a member of St Luke’s Torquay, received the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the community of the Surf Coast region.

Ms Young’s work includes volunteering with St Luke’s Grannies Group, and helping with the church’s rosters, cleaning and catering for more than 30 years.

The citation highlighted her contributions to homelessness support service Outpost Geelong, her work with a local food donation group during the COVID crisis, and volunteer roles in Papua New Guinea, as well as with the Ladies Auxiliary, Torquay.

Ms Young said the most valuable experience in her years of service was completing a counselling course with Lifeline Australia.

“The interesting thing is you only have a telephone, only a voice to pick up where people are at. You can’t see them, so there’s no eye contact or anything, but that taught me a lot about how to cope with many situations.”

She said one of the occasional challenges she’d faced while doing community service, was verbal abuse from people.

But taking the time to learn more about their contexts rather than make judgements about them, was the key to getting along with people when there was adversity.

”You’ve got to look at their history. If you talk to them, they’ll usually tell you, and then you can work on it from there,” Ms Young said.

Read more: Joy Freier among Anglicans honoured on Australia Day 

Her fundraising efforts for Anglicare Victoria, also noted on her citation, involved abseiling down the side of a building, a challenge she did two years in a row.  

She said being involved with so many different things in the community helped keep her young in outlook and physically fit, too.

In the last year Ms Young participated in activities that might have conjured up distant memories of youth for many of her peers.

“In March my grandson turned 21 and what he wanted was to jump out of an aeroplane, and he said, ‘Grandma will you come?’, and I said ‘yes,’ because I’ve done it before. So, we jumped out of the aeroplane, and then a bunch of us did the zip line across the Yarra,” Ms Young said.

Surf Coast parish priest-in-charge the Reverend Sharon Valentino said Ms Young’s connection to Outpost Geelong had helped the parish develop links to community organisations beyond its area.

Ms Valentino also said the Grannies Group, in which Ms Young had played an integral role, had promoted strong connections with younger families.

 “It’s not around anymore, but the people who were part of that still have long term relationships with each other. It was the parish’s first serious attempt at establishing social connections and something we’re very proud of.”

The contributions of gastroenterologist Dr Mark Stephens and school chaplain the late Reverend Roger Williams were also honoured on Australia Day.

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