By Mitchell Clarke
For Garry Runge, being awarded with an Order of Australia medal has left him feeling “delighted”.
The Beaconsfield man and local hero hosts an impressive list of achievements on his professional resume, and as of Monday 10 June, he will be able to add another.
Mr Runge was notified that the Governor General had approved the award to him just over a week ago but he’s been sworn to secrecy until the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.
The award recognises his service to local government and community over a period of time.
“I’m delighted. I’ve worked 30 years for Victoria Police and I’ve been acknowledged for my service to the council and service to the community,” Mr Runge said.
“I do know that as of Monday, I am entitled to use the initials OAM after my name. That’s a legitimate use of the abbreviation which I will use.”
It’s not the only abbreviation which is currently attributed to Mr Runge, the former long serving Victoria Police member is also a JP – for his role as justice of the peace.
The passionate community man was also a former Councillor and Mayor at Cardinia Shire Council from 2002-2005, a position which he holds much pride.
“The highlight for me, look, being a member of Victoria Police for 30 years was a highlight. Being appointed as Mayor of the Shire was definitely a key thing which I really take a lot of pride in,” Mr Runge said.
“Not everyone becomes a Mayor of the Shire of a municipality, so that’s certainly a highlight.”
Garry said the best part of his role as mayor was representing a great municipality and having the power to make citizens.
“At citizenship ceremonies, the Mayor turns non-citizens into citizens by law, so the ability to do that was really great,” Mr Runge said.
“Cardinia is a fantastic municipality to be a part of. It’s a great growth corridor with lots of young families coming here.”
After being a member of the community for so long, Garry has noticed many changes in his times but continues to still hold a very strong association in the area.
“It’s definitely changing rapidly. Re-doing of the boundaries for the Federal Election has meant this is a changed community, a lot more multicultural. Cardinia will go on leaps and bounds,” Mr Runge said.
“I’ve seen massive changes in the area – largely positive. I think this area has really developed well.
“It’s a great place to live. It’s got everything – a great little community, a great lot of people, a safe community. We’re entrenched in Beaconsfield.”
Among his list of credentials, Garry has been a Board Member for Cranbourne Turf Club since 2010 and the Beaconsfield Community Sporting Club since 2015.
Up until recently, Garry was MP Jason Wood’s chief of staff.
While Garry continues to support his local community, he now works full time in Prahran as the Grand Secretary of Freemasons Victoria, a job which he takes immense pride in.
Freemasonry is a group of about 8500 men across Victoria who belongs to Masonic villages. He described it as a way of “making good men, better men”.
“My role is to administer Freemasonry and support the board and the Grand Master of Freemasons and that’s a really great brotherhood and fraternity,” Mr Runge said.
“The purpose is for men to get together to practice Freemasonry and raise money for charity.”
While he will spend Monday celebrating numerous congratulatory phone calls, he claims the award hasn’t gone to his head.
“The reason I use JP and will use OAM is to demonstrate to people out there that you can do community service and you can be rewarded for it and once you’re awarded, you should be proud of it,” he said.
“I’ll be privileged to wear the medal at the appropriate time.”