QUEANBEYAN City Councillor Sue Whelan believes when it comes to local government, "you get out what you put in."
It's certainly true for the local resident whose 30-year career on council and dedication to the town of Queanbeyan was the reason she was nominated for the Order of Australia medal as part of this year's Australia Day celebrations.
Understandably, Cr Whelan said she's "overwhelmed" by the honour, but true to her nature she said it is much an award for Queanbeyan as it is for herself.
"It's been a privilege to serve and I'm grateful to the people were involved in doing this OAM," she said.
"I don't see it as just for me, I see as being for Queanbeyan and all the work I've been involved with in the city and outside of it.
"[Being a councillor] it's not about me: it's about making sure that Queanbeyan's voice is heard. Being a councillor at least I have some sort of idea of what Queanbeyan's voice should be saying."
It was lack of female representation, particularly of young women, which first motivated Cr Whelan to run for Council.
She admits it was a juggling act being able to balance her career, motherhood and council commitments.
Those commitments included serving six years as deputy mayor and chairing various boards, including the Capital Region Enterprise Centre, Capital Region Development Board and Country Public Libraries Association of NSW.
She said her husband John and her peers on the Australian Local Government Women's Association had been a great support to her. These days, Cr Whelan is the mentor rather than the mentee, a role she said she has been enjoying.
"People say things to me but I don't see myself that way. I've never seen myself as this trailblazer, this impressive, wonderful person that people have been saying that I am," she said.
"I just see myself as me. I just do what I do."
Cr Whelan has previously said being on council "gets in your blood," and at the end of the current term she will have served 33 years consecutively. And she hasn't ruled out the possibility of running another term.
"When I was growing up I was very shy and quiet. [Being a councillor] has given me confidence in myself and confidence in my ability to make decisions. I've had a lot of opportunities to make a small contribution to a lot of things," she said.
"You do look back and see how much council has changed and I've certainly changed with it."