Australia Day Honours

Bill Stefaniak

Bill Stefaniak. Photo: Lyn Mills

Bill Stefaniak wears red shorts while playing veterans grade to signal his body isn't up to being tackled any more, but the self-confessed rugby tragic isn't ready to hang up his boots or give up his life creed of giving back to the community.

A former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, Mr Stefaniak credits his sense of civic duty to his upbringing. His father was a former Polish army officer and prisoner of war who instilled his son with the knowledge that having been born in Canberra meant he'd won the lottery.

''I've always believed you've got duties and responsibilities when you live in a place like Australia - you've won the lottery in life,'' he said. ''It's a great place to live, but with any sort of privilege comes responsibility, and I think you have a duty to put back in to your local community and to do what you can to assist your country, and for reasons like that I joined the Army Reserves.''

The 62-year-old has been honoured with an Australia Day award for significant service to the community through a range of elected, appointed and voluntary roles.

"I was the first Canberra-born member of the assembly - I was a member on and off for 17 years, and I've always been very proud of that. Having been a long-time Canberran, I feel very honoured to be receiving an award for services to my community, and it's been an absolute honour to serve the people of Canberra in a number of capacities.''

Along with his involvement with numerous local charities and sports clubs, including starting the Tuggeranong Junior Rugby Club in 1979, Mr Stefaniak's sense of civic duty stretches outside the boundaries of the ACT. ''A friend started a charity to help the needy in Vietnam, and we just got back from opening our first orphanage over there, which we raised money for,'' he said. ''It has 10 orphans and disabled kids who live in there. But it also has students who want to learn English, I'm very involved in that, and trying to start up more schools in the north and help out where we can.''