You might know Matthew Hansen for his real estate business on Bultje Street but the Dubbo resident is a keen fisherman and it is for his conservation work on our waterways that he has been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Mr Hansen, 37, receives his OAM this Australia Day for service to recreational fishing, and to conservation.
He is Founder and President of conservation group Inland Waterways Ozfish, and for OzFish Unlimited he is President and has been a Board Member. He founded the Burrendong Classic Fishing Competition and co-founded the River Repair Bus which takes volunteers along the river to do weed control, native tree plantings and rubbish removal.
He is a member of the Recreational Fishing New South Wales Advisory Committee and NSW Representative for Recreational Fishing - Ministerial Advisory Council.
He has been a recreational fishing journalist and has received a slew of fishing and conservation awards including Australian Fishing Volunteer of the Year in 2020.
But when it comes to preserving recreational fishing in the Macquarie River for future generations, he said the work that has been done over the past 15 years to improve the health of the river system had been a group effort by the people involved in Inland Waterways Ozfish, many of whom started out in the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association.
Cultural change is not an easy thing to achieve in a regional environment.- Matthew Hansen OAM
"From little things, big things grow. We started with a single raffle down Macquarie Street selling tickets for $2 each, and with the right people coming on board and a will to keep achieving things, we turned it into a group that raised significant amounts of money, and physically and culturally changed the health of the Macquarie River forever," Mr Hansen said.
In his new role on the Ministerial Advisory Council, he will be representing all recreational fishing in NSW, both on inland rivers and coastal.
"I'll be working on a range of issues, not only ones we're passionate about inland, but on salt water. There'll be everything from murray cod to marlin," Mr Hansen said.
He said he was "pretty overwhelmed" with the OAM recognition and said there had been tough times throughout the journey.
"We've seen a lot of physical changes to the river system, but some of our proudest achievements are the cultural changes we've seen," Mr Hansen said.
"Cultural change is not an easy thing to achieve in a regional environment. There were some pretty well-ingrained illegal fishing practices that took a lot of getting out. We've seen huge cultural change for the better in moving away from a 'catch it, kill it and fillet it' mentality, to a 'catch and release' and 'sustainable fishing' way of thinking."