Mick Bourke believes in community-driven change for small towns.
Since moving to Trafalgar in 1995 from the northern Victorian community of Nathalia, Mr Bourke has actively helped the town find a strong voice in matters of planning and development.
It is for his service to the Trafalgar community, that Mr Bourke yesterday received an Order of Australia Medal honour.
“I was surprised. I must admit, I felt really proud. I consider it a great honour,” Mr Bourke said.
The now 61 year-old founded the Trafalgar News in 1999, in a bid to provide localised content for Trafalgar residents who did not have a community newspaper.
“I consider newspapers important because they give the community the opportunity to know what’s going on, but also it’s an important historical document and without papers, much of a town’s history can be lost,” Mr Bourke said.
His contribution to community news has since grown beyond the bounds of the Trafalgar township, with the establishment of the Community Newspaper Association of Victoria.
“Because every community is separate, they had to keep reinventing the wheel and thought their issues were unique to their own town, but by coming together, we were able to come together, share ideas and network.”
The CNAV now has 70 members across the state.
Mr Bourke was president of the Trafalgar Community Development Association from 2002-2006 and helped develop the Trafalgar Community Strategic Planning Process, a development initiative established separate to local government.
The planning process laid the foundation for the development of a new recreation precinct master plan in recent years, featuring a soccer pitch and room for more infrastructure.
“Coming from a small town, I just like the atmosphere, people are willing to get involved,” Mr Bourke said.
“The bigger the town, the much harder it is to have a community plan.”
Mr Bourke thanked his wife Carol for all her support. “Community work does impact on your family because you’re often out,” he said.