Queen's Birthday honours list 2018: Kiama’s longest-serving mayor Sandra McCarthy honoured with OAM

ACHIEVEMENT: Serving a record-breaking 12 years as mayor, Mrs McCarthy is highly regarded in local government circles. Picture: Sylvia Liber
ACHIEVEMENT: Serving a record-breaking 12 years as mayor, Mrs McCarthy is highly regarded in local government circles. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Kiama’s longest-serving mayor Sandra McCarthy has been honoured with an OAM for service to local government, and to the community of Kiama.

Werri Beach resident Mrs McCarthy, 64, was Kiama mayor from 2000-2012, and also served as councillor and deputy mayor throughout 1995-2000.

She was also chair of the Southern Councils Group from 2008-2012.

Serving a record-breaking 12 years as mayor, Mrs McCarthy is highly regarded in local government circles and is remembered for guiding Kiama through a stable period of local government in what was a tumultuous political time in the Illawarra.

In 2008, the same year that neighbouring Wollongong and Shellharbour councils were sacked, Kiama council was recognised as one of the state’s best, receiving the Highly Commended award in the AR Bluett Memorial Awards.

“It is an honour to be recognised for what was a long period of service to the Kiama municipality and also local government,” she said.

“But I’m humbled by it as well, because it was something that I absolutely had a passion for and thoroughly enjoyed doing.

“I’m also aware that you don't achieve anything by yourself, and I was very fortunate to work with a wonderful group of councillors.

“I had a great partnership with Michael Forsyth as general manager of the council, all of the council staff, and I think I was very fortunate in having an engaged community that really got behind the council and were very supportive.”

Mrs McCarthy was presented with a University Fellowship by the University Of Wollongong in 2017, and is president of the Australian Chapter of the Alliance for Healthy Cities. 

She was also recipient of the Pioneer Award from the International Alliance for Healthy Cities in 2014, and was named Woman of the Year by NSW Local Government in 2013.

An experienced educator, she also teaches part-time at the University of Wollongong. 

Mrs McCarthy said she remained passionate about the Kiama community, and was "always wanting to see it prosper". 

Also on her CV is being a current member of the Rotary Club of Gerringong Sunrise, and former president of Gerringong Bowling Club.

The former mayor also remains a member of the Blue Haven advisory board. 

“There's a lot of volunteers in Kiama,” she said.

“It is a very volunteer-driven community. I'm just one of many people there doing it.”