Rotarian Wendy Gaborit awarded OAM for service to Murray Bridge community

The Housing SA manager has been recognised for her leadership through the Rotary Club of Mobilong and beyond.

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Through life’s twists and turns, Wendy Gaborit has always found new ways of contributing to her community.

Whether as a manager at Housing SA, president or district governor with the Rotary Club or in the community sector, public service has been her goal.

On Tuesday, her life-long efforts earned her an Order of Australia Medal.

A few tears had welled up when she learned about the award, she confessed, even though she had never sought public recognition for her work.

“It’s always ‘a job needs to be done, somebody needs to do it’ and I’ve been the one with the right skills to fill the gaps,” she said.

“There’s a lot of people out there doing their bit.”

“It’s a particularly strong community around here because of that.”

Ms Gaborit grew up in Adelaide and entered the South Australian public service after studying social work at the former SA Institute of Technology.

She and her husband moved to Murray Bridge 30 years ago, but it was not until 2003 that she accepted a locally based management position with Housing SA and – auspiciously – joined the Rotary Club of Mobilong.

Within three years she was elected the club’s president.

From there she learned more about Rotary and the opportunities for community service it provided, and wound up serving as governor of District 9520, covering most of SA, in 2013-14.

She was also central to successful efforts to revive the Murray Bridge Rotary Art Show and, more recently, led the fundraising campaign that led Foodbank SA to establish a food hub in Murray Bridge.

Bronwyn Heard, Leanne Malek and Wendy Gaborit stand outside the building that would become Murray Bridge’s food hub. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Ms Gaborit came close to winning public office on two occasions, narrowly missing out on preselection as a state Liberal MP and election as Murray Bridge’s mayor.

But she harboured no ill will towards either Adrian Pederick or Brenton Lewis, she said, and no longer aspired to fill their shoes.

Instead, she hoped the next generation would get a go whenever the two men retired.

Her own retirement was also coming up fast, she noted.

But she did not expect to sit idle any time soon.

“Recognition ... doesn’t mean I’ve done it and I don’t need to do any more,” she said.

“It just means perhaps someone will say ‘oh, I should talk to her about (a project)’ and I can make something else happen.”

Both Mr Pederick and Mr Lewis publicly congratulated Ms Gaborit at Murray Bridge’s Australia Day breakfast.

Mr Pederick called her his favourite public servant – “always accessible, always helpful” – while Mr Lewis said her award was well deserved.

Anyone can nominate for an award in the Order of Australia.

If you know someone worthy, start the nomination process today at www.gg.gov.au.

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