Former Dimboola resident and now a resident at Murtoa, John Kemfert has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to local government and the Yarriambiack community in the Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours List.

Mr Kemfert, has spent many years serving his community both as a councillor and through his involvement in Lions International and other community organisations.

While a self-confessed talker, John, was struck dumb when he received notification of his award.

“I was honoured and surprised that someone took the time to nominate me,” he said.

“It is a privilege and an honour to receive an award like this.”

“I have no idea who would have nominated me, but I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I appreciate all the work that must have been done,” Mr Kemfert said.

He was born in Lithuania and came out to Australia in 1948, where for 30 years Mr Kemfert drove the Overlander train between Adelaide and Melbourne..

His work in local government spanned more than 20 years and his long list of service to the community includes:

  • Councillor for the Yarriambiack Shire between 2008-2012 and Mayor 2009-2010
  • Councillor for the Dimboola Shire Council for many years
  • Inaugural councillor with the Hindmarsh Shire following the amalgamation of the Dimboola and Lowan Shires from 1997-2005 and served as Mayor in 2001-2002

John is also a proud member of Lions, initially as a charter member of Dimboola and now as a member of Murtoa Lions.

He has been a member for ‘43 or 44’ years and is the third or fourth longest serving member in Victoria.

“I can’t remember the exact number of years, but I love being a Lion; it’s a great organisation that helps the community,” he said.

Other organisations John has served include:

  • Horsham Sports and Community Club, Board Representative 2012-2014 and Board member 2009-2017
  • Agricultural and Pastoral Society

During his years of dedicated service, John has received recognition for efforts which include:

  • Lions International - Recipient of the Builders pin
  • Life member of the Dimboola Rowing Club
  • Life Governor of the Horsham Hospital.


John is still active as a Lions member, loves going to church on Sunday and tinkering in his garden.

Most days John can be seen walking the town with his four year old Jack Russell Terrier, Rover, ‘yacking with every Tom, Dick and Harry’.

“I love having a chat with whoever I meet,” John said.

He is a keen follower of both Minyip- Murtoa and Essendon football clubs.

The awarding of the OAM is the pinnacle of a life spent serving others.

John is among the 1007 awards approved by the Governor-General and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

The awards recognise a diverse range of contributions and service across all fields, including professional endeavours, community work, Australia’s Defence Force and Emergency Services.

“To all recipients, I offer my deepest congratulations, admiration and respect for your contribution to our nation,” the Governor-General said.

“On behalf of all Australians, I thank them for their contributions. We are a stronger, safer and more caring nation because of them,” he said.