A FRIEND, inspiration and hero to many people in the Bass Coast area, the reigning Bass Coast Shire Citizen of the Year, Deb Rielly, has died after an incredibly brave fight with cancer.

She passed away last night surrounded by her family.

And the tributes have already started to flow.

Mayor of the Bass Coast Shire Council Brett Tessari spoke on behalf of a community in mourning.

“Certainly, Wonthaggi is a lesser place today than it was yesterday after the passing of Deb Rielly, an amazing lady with incredible courage,” said Cr Tessari.

“If I can speak on behalf of the community, we’re absolutely heartbroken for her two boys who have shared this 15-year journey with her.

“Our thoughts are with Dylan and Ben and also the extended family. We’re all heart-broken right now,” he said.

In January this year, Deb Rielly was accorded the highest accolade her beloved local community could bestow on a resident when she was awarded the Bass Coast Citizen of the Year award. It was richly deserved and an article on the front page of the Sentinel-Times reported why it was so warmly welcomed by the community, see link:


Just like many of her colleagues in the ambulance service, paramedic Deb Rielly’s heroic efforts went largely unnoticed but stroke victim Mandy Bowler of Wonthaggi, who was two hours away from being paralysed when she suffered a stroke in 2009, credits Deb with not only saving her life but also her quality of life.

“Deb’s my hero,” she said in June last year. It’s a popular refrain from anyone who has had the privilege of spending time with this wonderful person. See complete article attached:


Deb Rielly and her sons Ben and Dylan, were the special guests of Ambulance Victoria Chair Ken Lay at a graduation ceremony recently.

Ken gave a glowing tribute of Deb’s professionalism as a paramedic and also her incredible community contribution as well. The article can be found at:



Notwithstanding the Mayor’s comments that Wonthaggi and district is in mourning today, Bass Coast is very much the better place for Deb Rielly’s life and we will be forever grateful for the incredibly inspiring contribution she made.


Giving the thumbs up to a great day at the Bass Coast Cycle Challenge was one of the day’s organisers Deb Rielly with Captain Koala and Rob Higgins of the Inverloch CFA Brigade. m764617

Deb Rielly was joined by her sons Dylan and Ben Rielly at the Australia Day Citizen of the Year awards. mm080419

Deb Rielly, one of the organisers of the Keeping Kids on Track Fun Run with Glenn Sullivan who won the 5km event. N101017