At 25 years old, Ricky Buchanan has already amassed an impressive list of achievements and contributions to this community.
And on Tuesday he added another two, as Nambucca Shire's Young Citizen of the Year plus the Cultural Achievement Award winner.
'Busy' barely describes this young man's daily schedule, which includes commitments with the Macksville Hospital as a representative on the Aboriginal Reference Group, Captain and Vice President of the Scotts Head/ Macksville SLSC (although he is taking a break from these roles this year to get his weekends back for a while), a member of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council's Youth Advisory Committee, plus his work with the 3rd Space Mob on cultural camps and the students at Scotts Head Public School.
Born and raised in Bowraville, Ricky went to school at St Mary's, Nambucca High and St Joseph's College in Sydney, which he says was an experience he enjoyed.
"Both my grandmothers (one of whom is Indigenous Citizen of the Year Aunty Sandra Buchanan) got in the ear of quite a few of us to take advantage of the scholarships on offer. My other grandmother had already sent six of her grandchildren to borading school before I went to Sydney. I was in Sydney for five years, from the age of 13," Ricky said.
"I came home in 2012 and started work in January 2013, I haven't stopped since."
He says he is motivated by two things:
"I'm not scared to give things a go - I always think that if I refuse then this opportunity might not come my way again.
"And the second thing is that if I can do my bit to make things better for people, I'll certainly do it.
"Having all four of my grandparents around me when I was growing up and two of my great grandparents was very fortunate ... and I met Charles Perkins and Cathy Freeman when I was young, they have both been role models."
International travel has also come Ricky's way both while at school (a trip to Papua New Guinea as a volunteer in 2012) and later with the Catholic Church to Poland (for World Youth Day) in 2016 and then with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council's Youth Advisory Body, which saw him in Switzerland in 2019, where his group made a representation to the United Nations.
"We particularly highlighted the problem of deaths in custody for Aboriginal people, many of whom should be being treated as mental health patients not criminals. Their treatment is unfair and this happens far too often to them and to vulnerable people, of any race, around the world.
"The inequality of treatment of those who are disabled is another issue we raised, how their experiences and opportunities are different and limited compared to others.
"We got the chance to talk about our backgrounds and share our stories, which was special.
Highly-motivated, Ricky says he wants to make things better not only on a local level but also in NSW and Australia-wide.
"I want to reach out beyond the valley and have an impact. There are quite a few people pushing me to keep doing this so I intend to continue."
To that end, he is considering putting his hand up as a candidate for the council elections in September this year.
"It's a good opportunity ... I have been talking to a few people, including Uncle Martin (Ballangarry) and I am keen to give it a go."
Good luck Ricky, your star is only just starting to rise!