Community Achievement Awards for NSW & the ACT

2023 Finalists

NSW Government Council Crown Land Management Excellence Award

  • Inner West Council - Parks Planning and Ecology Team for Marrickville Parklands has transformed Marrickville Parklands, sprawling over 21 hectares, into a vibrant community hub. Through a decade-long partnership with Marrickville Golf, Sporting, and Community Club, and collaboration with local eco-volunteers, the council revitalised this urban oasis. With an 18-hole golf course, biodiverse waterhole, and scenic pathways, it now offers diverse activities for all. The development of inclusive riverside pathways, inclusive community spaces, and ecological enhancements has strengthened community bonds. This inclusive approach has ensured a sustainable legacy, connecting people, nature, and heritage. Inner West Council's dedication to community well-being shines through this transformative project, enriching lives for the present and the future.


  • Penrith City Council for The Police Cottage revitalised the historic Police Cottage at Crown Reserve 90020, a testament to their unwavering dedication to heritage preservation. After decades of neglect, this architectural gem is now a thriving dining destination along the Nepean River. The project actively encourages multiple community uses, including dining, recreation, and employment opportunities. With sustainability in mind, the restoration process retained over 80% of the original materials, allowing the community to connect with its rich history. This project is not just about a building; it is about weaving together Penrith's past and future, fostering stronger community connections, and creating a welcoming space.


  • Tenterfield Shire Council for The Old Power House Reserve manages the two-hectare Old Power House Reserve. The reserve has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis, emerging as a dynamic Youth Precinct nestled at the heart of the town. It now welcomes residents of all ages, offering a rich tapestry of recreational, social, and cultural activities. Its carefully designed infrastructure includes a skatepark, mountain bike skills track, yarning circle, and accessible pathways, fostering inclusivity and accessibility for all. Through community engagement and collaboration, the reserve has not only revitalised the town's spirit but also reinforced its sense of identity. The Council's visionary approach has truly transformed this space into a thriving community hub.


  • Tweed Shire Council for Jack Evans Boat Harbour oversees the Jack Evans Boat Harbour, a thriving community destination nestled along the Tweed Coast. The picturesque waterfront park boasts breathtaking coastal views and offers a wide array of activities, from boating and picnicking to cultural events and nature education programs. Council actively encourages diverse community use, introducing initiatives like outdoor fitness classes, art exhibitions, and community gardens. In December 2022, the unveiling of Livvi's Place, an inclusive playspace, marked a significant milestone. This enhancement, funded through partnerships, showcases the council's dedication to creating inclusive spaces that foster social interaction and strengthen community connections, with more enhancements planned for the future.


NSW Government Crown Land Management Excellence Award

  • Tingha Recreation Reserve Land Managers of Tingha is a passionate group of retirees who've breathed new life into Tingha Recreation Reserve. Through their dedication and resourcefulness, they've secured over $200,000 in grants, resulting in vital improvements to the club's infrastructure. This includes a new floor, enhanced lighting, security cameras, and gates, effectively mitigating safety and security risks. Beyond these physical enhancements, they commitment community engagement by actively promoting the reserve through hosting various events and activities. From ANZAC Day commemorations to family fun days, their efforts have revitalised the reserve as well as fostered a strong sense of community spirit and pride in the charming town of Tingha.


  • Bottle Bend Reserve Land Managers of Monak is a passionate team of seven community volunteers that manages the Bottle Bend Reserve. The reserve has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving from a state forest into a treasured community asset. Beyond its cultural and environmental significance, the reserve provides a rare gateway to the Murray River. The dedicated committee fosters community engagement, safeguards cultural heritage, and preserves vital wildlife corridors. Through strategic partnerships and grants, they ensure accessibility and conservation efforts. Their ongoing commitment strengthens the bond between the local community and this unique reserve, ensuring that its historical, ecological, and recreational values thrive for generations to come.


  • Newcastle Historic (R98160) Reserve Land Manager is the guardian of a rich historical legacy, transforming it into a vibrant hub for contemporary arts and community engagement. With a dedicated board and a dynamic team, NHRLM oversees a suite of historic buildings dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. The centrepiece, The Lock-Up, stands as a leading arts organisation, addressing societal issues and promoting experimental art. Through innovative exhibitions and diverse programs, it fosters creativity and inclusivity, attracting over 43,500 visitors in five years. NHRLM's commitment to heritage preservation, artist support, and community involvement cements its positive influence on the Crown reserve and the local cultural landscape.


  • Lake Liddell Recreation Area Reserve Land Manager of Muswellbrook is the passionate team that oversees the Lake Liddell Recreation Area Reserve, which has become a vibrant community hub set on the scenic Lake Liddell shores. This reserve is continually enhanced, thanks to successful grant acquisitions and refurbishments, resulting in a surge in visitors. Collaborations with Landcare have enriched the natural environment. From family camping to corporate events, the reserve caters to diverse interests. GJ's by the Lake, an award-winning establishment on-site, has become a premier Upper Hunter destination. Its steadfast commitment to improvement, partnership with local organisations, and diverse offerings underscore its significance in the region's recreation and tourism landscape.


NSW Government Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management Award

  • Suzi Hardwick of Albury have propelled the organisation into the 21st century, making it more accessible, sustainable, and ready for future challenges. Suzi’s tenure as the secretary of the Albury Showground Land Manager has been marked by transformative achievements. She introduced a secure key management system, digitised years of essential documents, and streamlined booking processes. Suzi also played a significant role in crafting a Master Plan that guides the Showground's development. Her commitment to promoting the space has attracted a diverse range of tenants and users, fostering a thriving community hub. Suzi's mentorship has brought new talent to the board, ensuring the Showground's continued success.


  • Debbie Coddington of Temora is the powerhouse behind Bectric Recreation Reserve and its historic gem, Bectric Hall. As secretary, caretaker, grant seeker, and promoter, Debbie's commitment knows no bounds. Her relentless pursuit of grants has funded critical improvements, from the Camp Kitchen to hall restorations, ensuring the hall remains a thriving community hub. Beyond administrative roles, she's often found mowing the reserve, coordinating fundraising events like the beloved "Bectric Rocks," and even maintaining the tennis courts. Debbie also passionately spreads the word about the reserve through every conversation, media, and community engagement. Her unwavering dedication has made Bectric a cherished asset to the local community.


  • Harold Gibson of Corlette is a devoted member of the Nelson Head Lighthouse Reserve Management Committee for 34 years. Harold has been a driving force behind the reserve’s remarkable evolution. Starting as a modest Port Stephens tourist attraction in 1990, Harold helped transform it into a bustling destination with over 140,000 annual visitors. His knowledge and captivating tours have made the reserve a beloved community asset, enticing visitors from near and far. Harold's contributions to the Reserve include actively recruiting volunteers and engaging schools. His legacy, marked by dedication, preserves the site's historical significance for future generations and exemplifies the true spirit of volunteering.


  • Neil Rose of Norah Head Head has had a remarkable tenure as the Chair of the Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve Land Manager Board. Neil helped transformed this coastal gem into an even more iconic and cherished destination. With over 120,000 annual visitors, Neil's leadership has led to the preservation of fragile ecosystems, safeguarding of Aboriginal heritage sites, and meticulous care of European historical assets. Through his diligent grant applications, safety improvements, and accessibility enhancements, Neil has ensured that this reserve remains a welcoming space for all. His innovative approaches to social media promotion and collaboration with companies have amplified the reserve's positive impact on the local community.


  • Christine Adams at Broken Hill stands at the heart of the Sulphide Street Railway & Historical Museum. Christine’s tenure since 2008 includes being a secretary, treasurer, and curator. Through her adept grant applications, the museum underwent vital preservation assessments, birthing new museum spaces such as the Migrant Museum, Transport Pavilion, and more. Christine fosters community involvement with open days, inviting locals to embrace their museum and heritage. Her dedication extends beyond the walls, supporting volunteers' initiatives, like paving and maintenance. Her induction into the 2023 Nydia Edes Volunteer Hall of Fame cements her legacy as the driving force behind the Sulphide Street Railway & Historical Museum.

Synaco Safety Award

  • Abilities Unlimited Australia of Weston Creek (AUA) is unwavering in its commitment to safeguarding children with disabilities. They address unique safety challenges through water, road, and personal safety programs, empowering children with crucial skills and unwavering confidence. AUA's short-term and long-term goals aim to instil lifelong safety habits, reduce accidents, and foster inclusivity within communities. By measuring outcomes, they ensure the effectiveness of their initiatives. AUA has conquered resource limitations, provided extensive training, tailored programs to diverse needs, and promoted safety awareness. They are dedicated to overcoming obstacles and making a positive impact on children, families, and communities, creating a safer and more inclusive world for all.


  • Summer Hill Safe Space of Summer Hill is shining a light on mental health awareness and support. In October 2021, Summer Hill Safe Space emerged as a beacon of hope, providing a warm and empathetic sanctuary for those in emotional turmoil. Over the past year, they've embraced more than 300 guests and organised community events, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to empathetic and judgment-free support. In the face of funding and institutional challenges, they've charted a path toward establishing additional safe spaces. Their mission empowers individuals and their communities, emphasising the importance of mental health. Summer Hill Safe Space is a testament to the strength of grassroots initiatives.


  • William Blakeman of Griegs Flat has transitioned his maritime career into an exemplary commitment to safety and community service. As Training Officer and Unit Commander at Marine Rescue NSW - Merimbula Unit, he relentlessly focuses on professional development, operational readiness, and emergency response preparedness. Bill's dedication has directly benefited the entire boating community, volunteers, and the broader public by ensuring highly trained crews are ready for any emergency. His efforts have resulted in successful rescues and instilled a culture of safety and collaboration. Bill's visionary leadership extends to fundraising and campaigning for essential resources. His impact on safety and community is immeasurable and enduring.

The Career College Small Business Award

  • The Social Outfit of Newtown stands as a beacon of social and environmental change. Founded in 2014, The Social Outfit is a registered charity and work-integration social enterprise that empower refugee and migrant women, allowing them to start their careers. By creating ethical and sustainable clothing collections, they celebrate the skills and creativity of these women. The organisation has trained over 700 individuals and helped employ 74 from migrant backgrounds, with 85% of them experiencing their first Australian job. Championing circular economy, The Social Outfit has also saved 14 tonnes of fabric from landfills. They are at the forefront of fostering inclusivity, empowerment, and sustainability.


  • The Mind Café of Narrabeen is a community-focused establishment led by Guy Morel. Having triumphed over personal mental health struggles, Guy crafted a safe haven for mental wellbeing. The cafe stands out for its commitment to inclusivity, offering a safe space in collaboration with MoWaNa for those in emotional distress or struggling with suicidal thoughts. Their 'Coffees with Kindness' program provides solace and companionship. The cafe also employs individuals with special needs and mental health challenges. It proudly clinched the Northern Beaches Inclusion Award and received State Recognition for its outstanding work, leaving an indelible mark on mental health, suicide prevention, and community inclusiveness.


  • Community Cafe Incorporated of Sadleir has unwavering commitment to the community. They went from serving bread on a driveway during Covid-19 to operating a thriving outreach service store. In just 40 weeks, they've provided 67,000 homemade meals to 23,600 local individuals and families. The short-term goal is to create a welcoming space for immediate relief, support, and education. Their long-term vision includes a groundbreaking social enterprise cafe, offering an 'earn while you learn' opportunity for the disadvantaged, and a free childcare centre to remove barriers for parents. Facing challenges and securing their premises, Community Cafe Incorporated's impact is profound, fostering a stronger, more supportive community.


  • Len Waters Culture Tours of Moore Creek is an embodiment of cultural education and immersion. Founded just two years ago, the business has been providing transformative Aboriginal experiences, welcoming over 5000 participants. Len's commitment to authenticity is reflected in his relationships, with local talents and emerging artists contributing to the richness of his tours. The venture's success is a testament to its founder's tenacity, growing amid cash flow challenges and invoicing delays. Beyond the business, Len plays a pivotal role in reshaping community attitudes, making Aboriginal culture more accessible and fostering profound understanding. His story is one of resilience and progress, mirroring a broader shift in societal perception.


  • Melissa Neville(Missy’s Magic Styles) of Macgregor represents Missy's Magic Styles, a mobile hairdressing service renowned for its profound community impact. With ten years of experience, Melissa passionately serves diverse groups, including palliative care clients, special needs individuals, and the elderly. Her services range from haircuts, often at discounted prices, to providing companionship, advocacy, and support. Despite struggling with dyslexia, her tireless efforts are changing lives, fostering dignity and community spirit, and making her a sought-after figure in the wedding industry and beyond. In 2023, Melissa was granted an Honourable Mention as a Woman to Watch in London. She also won a local business award in 2021

Transgrid Leadership Award

  • Dylan Croall of Bradbury has been a transformative leader in the Dharawal Aboriginal Community for twelve years. His Aboriginal Adult Literacy Campaign uplifted over 30 individuals, giving them newfound abilities in reading and writing. A dedicated board member of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Dylan played a pivotal role in establishing an Aboriginal medical building in 2016 and a child care facility. For eight years, he has led youth leadership programs, guiding young minds towards their true potential. Dylan's journey faced a life-threatening setback when he survived a heart-stopping incident in 2020, yet he persevered and relaunched his literacy campaign, undeterred by personal health issues.


  • Joshua Karras of Sylvania Waters is an inspirational Australian leader, rising amidst adversity. From battling childhood bullying to an ADHD diagnosis, Joshua's relentless optimism fuels his impactful journey. As a public health researcher, he confronted vaccine hesitancy during the pandemic. His contributions include co-founding Discover Disability and advocating for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Joshua's charisma transcends borders; he's the Executive Manager of the UN Association of Australia. With boundless passion and energy, he's making a mark not only in health but also in culture, multicultural acceptance, and neurodiversity advocacy. His legacy inspires change at local and global levels, driven by inclusivity, empathy, and vision.


  • Kelly Williams of North-West Sydney has advocated for education and community engagement. Kelly has helped transform Only Early Learning Centres into a thriving hub of Early Education and Care programs. Her journey, from a successful startup to empowering a closely-knit team, demonstrates her adaptive and inspirational leadership. Kelly's resilience shone through during the challenges of COVID-19, driving expansion and personal growth by enrolling in an MBA, which she generously shares with her teams. The community, too, has benefited from Kelly's philanthropic endeavours. Over the last 17 months, she immersed herself in studying Change Management and Leadership. In 2023, Kelly is steadfast on helping develop their third centre.


  • Louise Azzopardi of Londonderry embodies leadership through resilience and determination. Louise is a trailblazing tradeswoman. From her initiation into a male-dominated trade at 15, she became a certified trainer and assessor, guiding over 100 apprentices. Louise's commitment extends to coaching tradeswomen through diverse challenges, from mental health issues to workplace dynamics. Her legacy transcends barriers, inspiring women to thrive in non-traditional trades. Louise's reach has extended globally, nurturing a supportive community for tradespeople. Her podcast and Facebook group empower the next generation, ensuring they navigate their path with confidence and resilience. In the realm of trade, she's a leader and a catalyst for cultural change.


  • Distinguished Professor Susan Scott is an iconic figure in Australian physics heralded for her groundbreaking contributions. Over her remarkable career, she has defied gender biases, paving the way for women in STEM, and uniting gravitational wave researchers in Australia. Her vision led to the founding of the Australasian Society for General Relativity and Gravitation, bridging the gap between experimentalists and theorists. Her relentless pursuit of gravitational wave science led Australia's role in this field, culminating in the first-ever detection of gravitational waves. Through public outreach and education, she's shared the excitement of black holes and gravitational waves, inspiring the next generation of scientists in Australia

Konica Minolta Customer Service Award

  • Fussy As Cleaning Services of Tocumwal commenced as a solo endeavour four years ago and now thrives with a workforce of over 60 and a small fleet of vehicles. Spearheaded by Roslyn Patterson, their reach extends to an 80km radius from Tocumwal, providing exemplary cleaning, laundry, and gardening solutions. Beyond business success, Fussy As Cleaning Services stepped up during a local crisis, collaborating with the council to swiftly restore a crucial camping area post-flood, benefitting the entire community. Their dedication to staff development through traineeships and certificate courses ensures top-notch service. From school-based trainees to semi-retired workers, they foster flexible employment, catering to diverse needs.


  • Resonator Music & Tuition of Ballina stands as the heartbeat of Ballina's music scene. This local gem, a one-stop-shop for instruments, repairs, and music education, has forged dynamic partnerships with music schools. Some strategies they’ve used in the last 12 months include expert product knowledge to ensure staff has in-depth knowledge, personal follow-ups with customers, instrument set-up and maintenance services, and music education support. Their instrument repair process has dramatically reduced turnaround times, making quality instruments accessible to all. Resonator Music nurtures community bonds through workshops, events, and sponsorships, igniting musical passions. With exceptional customer service and a commitment to local engagement, they've become a trusted fixture.


  • Santos Organics Ltd of Mullumbimby Santos Organics, with 3 stores based in the Byron Shire is a pioneering organic health and bulk food established in 1978. As an environmental not-for-profit social enterprise, they've donated over $335K to local community and environmental groups, including Northern Rivers farmers, over the last 6 years. Their exceptional customer service, nurtured through the Distinctive Customer Service program, leaves customers enlightened and satisfied. Santos Organics fuels the local economy, contributing $25 million in the last 3 years, with 80% of operating expenses supporting the Northern Rivers. Recognised for sustainability, they employ green energy, ethical packaging, and waste reduction. In 2021, they received the regional Excellence in Sustainability Award from Business NSW...


  • The Administration Agency of Dubbo is empowering businesses and fostering sustainable growth. The Administration Agency, formerly Performance PA, was founded by Louise Mathieson. Starting as a Virtual Assistant in 2019, Louise's journey led to the creation of a one-stop shop for small business administration. Her commitment to exceptional customer service and collaboration, from initial interaction to off-boarding, sets her apart Louise and her team handle tasks efficiently, from archiving emails to raising over $80,000 for a not-for-profit. They prioritise client feedback, ensuring every interaction exceeds expectations. Beyond business success, Louise sponsors local events like the Vinnies CEO Winter Sleepout, embodying her dedication to the community.


Awards Australia Connecting Communities Award

  • Good360 Australia of Smithfield is a transformative force, connecting businesses, charities, schools, and the vulnerable to tackle surplus unsold goods head-on. Since its inception in 2015, Good360 has been a catalyst for change, matching over 38 million brand-new items valued at a staggering $369.43 million RRP. This initiative has supported 3.6 million Australians in need through over 3800 charities and disadvantaged schools. Founder Alison Covington is at the forefront of advocating for systemic reform and creating awareness around the need for legislative change. Good360's goal is nothing short of revolutionising the way we handle surplus goods, creating a sustainable and compassionate future for all.


  • Kirsteen Parkes of Hoxton Park founded Community Café, which began as a simple driveway outreach during COVID. In just 40 weeks, they've served 23,600 individuals and families, providing over 67,000 meals and essential groceries. Kirsteen's short-term goal is to create a welcoming space for immediate relief and support, with plans to open an education room by December 2023. Their long-term vision includes a unique social enterprise cafe, offering "earn while you learn" opportunities for those in unemployment or low socioeconomic status. They hope to build a free childcare centre to remove barriers for parents to volunteer or work, while also serving as a training hub.


  • Shoes for Planet Earth for Planet Earth of Gordon is creating happier, healthier communities one pair of shoes at a time. Since its establishment in 2009, Shoes for Planet Earth has made an extraordinary impact by donating over 98,000 pairs of sports shoes to people in need across Australia. This charitable initiative believes in changing lives by improving physical and mental health through the simple act of providing shoes. Their approach involves the engagement of individuals, schools and organisations to collect and distribute the shoes, fostering community involvement. Despite challenges like quality control and funding constraints, their dedication as volunteers continues.


  • Theresa Mitchell of Tweed Heads began as a small act of kindness in 2009, when she couldn't walk past those in need on the streets. Today, Agape, located in Tweed Heads, operates with the dedication of 240 volunteers and 4 employees, offering a wide range of services to vulnerable individuals. They provide over 1000 hot meals every week, shower and laundry access, food hampers, case management, and life skills classes—all for free. Agape's unique model rescues edible food, minimising waste, and operates on a 98% volunteer workforce, ensuring low overheads. Theresa's vision includes reintroducing a psychology department and building tiny housing estates for the homeless—a testament to her unwavering commitment to serving the community with "unconditional love" (Agape).


  • Wardell Community Organised Resilience Effort Inc. of Wardell (Wardell CORE) was born from the aftermath of the 2022 floods, symbolising the strength of community-led initiatives. Despite limited resources and funding uncertainties, Wardell CORE has evolved into a dynamic community hub, providing disaster recovery, mental health support, workshops, and more. They have harnessed the power of community involvement in planning and delivery, drawing diverse demographics and fostering a sense of unity. Media recognition and testimonials underscore their value, while strategic partnerships and innovative approaches have helped surmount challenges. Wardell CORE is not just a response to disaster; it's a catalyst for positive change, building resilience and transforming the entire Wardell district.