Helping others through tough times is this year's Liverpool Plains Shire Australia Day ambassador's main focus.
John Harper is a wheat and sheep farmer from Stockinbingal NSW who, in 2006, began Mate Helping Mate (MHM) in the north-east Riverina.
Mr Harper had recognised that as a consequence of the continuing drought and being rural or regional, many of his neighbours were becoming isolated or socially withdrawn. Having experienced depression, he understood that this isolation and withdrawal placed people at risk of developing a mental illness.
From here, he decided to start MHM.
Liverpool Plains Shire Council (LPSC) mayor Andrew Hope said Mr Harper would be speaking at this year's awards ceremony and will be popping in to other events on Australia Day, too.
"Considering the importance of mental health wellbeing to members of our community in the current drought crisis, John is a very appropriate person to be our ambassador," Cr Hope said.
The mayor also reminded the LPSC community that nominations for the Australia Day awards closed on Sunday, January 19 and encouraged everyone to "nominate an outstanding community member whose contribution to the shire deserves recognition".
He said that the shire's Australia Day awards ceremony was the ideal way to acknowledge the many amazing things that local people do to enrich the community.
"We would like you to help us celebrate what's great about our community by nominating someone you know for a LPS Australia Day award. Pay tribute to someone who makes you proud to be a community member and then come along to the awards ceremony to show the nominees and award winners how greatly we appreciate what they do," he said.
"Please get your nominations for the awards as soon as possible in the following categories: Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Local Legend, Sportsperson of the Year, Junior Sportsperson of the Year, Marie Maunder Community Service Award and Emergency Services Community Award, and help acknowledge those worthy of recognition."
Criteria and eligibility for each category is available on the official nomination form that can be completed digitally and paper-free via www.surveymonkey.com/r/LPSAUS20, or obtain a physical copy from the customer service desk at the administration centre, at Quirindi and Werris Creek libraries, the Visitor Information Centre at Willow Tree or phone 6746 1755.