One of the good guys gets an OAM

 A huge congratulations to Michael ‘Mick’ O’Neill who has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal ‘for service to the rejuvenation of inland rivers’.

Mick has spent more than 15 years working tirelessly to improve and restore fish habitat in the region. Whether its community organising, fundraising, weeding or picking up rubbish, his contributions to his local waterways and community have been invaluable.

As Vice-President and co-founder of the Inland Water Rejuvenation Association in Dubbo, Mick has been the driving force behind countless community projects to protect and restore fish habitat in the region.

The IRWA joined forces with OzFish almost as soon as we started and are the Inland Waterways OzFish Chapter.

Mick has been instrumental in raising thousands of dollars through sponsorships for the Lake Burrendong Classic Fishing Competition. Funds raised by the annual fishing competition are used in restoration projects such as riparian revegetation and resnagging the Macquarie to create habitat for native fish.

The Inland Waterways OzFish River Repair Bus, purchased with funds raised by Mick and the Chapter, has been one of the most successful outcomes of this fundraising. In addition to removing over 400 trailer loads of rubbish and weeding more than 40 kilometres of river banks, the program has supported at least 20 participants into full-time employment.

Last year, Mick and the Inland Waterways Chapter members assisted the NSW DPI Fisheries to rescue and relocate hundreds of native fish, including the much-loved Murray cod and golden perch, from the drought-stricken Macquarie River and more recently from the Lachlan River.

In 2017, Mick was awarded Citizen of the Year award by Dubbo Regional Council for his contribution to local inland rivers. He has also been the recipient of a Dubbo Day Award for ‘outstanding service to the city of Dubbo’, and received a Macquarie River Smart Hero award for ‘many years of voluntary work cleaning up the Macquarie River’.

The Order of Australia Medal is awarded to people ‘who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement’.

On behalf of OzFish and recreational fishers across Australia, thank you Mick, and congratulations.