Community Achievement Awards for Regional NSW & the ACT

2021 Finalists

Department of Planning and Environment Crown Land Manager Excellence Award: 
Deepwater Land Manager Hall Committee 
is small but big-hearted. Composed of four board members, the Committee manages the Deepwater School of Arts Hall. They handle ongoing maintenance, work health and safety, and security matters, and accessibility. They maintain important documentation and attend regular information and training sessions while ensuring the Hall is compliant in every regard. The Hall has been the epicentre of the rural community for over 100 years. In 2020, the Committee embarked on an ambitious upgrade program. They proactively sought government funding and even trained at Grant Funding workshops. With the help of the Deepwater Community, they were granted $100,000 in funding. 

Byrangery Grass Reserve Land Manager near Federal is dedicated to creating a refuge for endangered fauna and flora. The 15-hectare Byrangery Grass Reserve is set aside exclusively for Wildlife Habitat. The Byrangery Grass Reserve Land Manager consists of six local volunteers. They fulfil statutory obligations around meetings and reporting, apply for funding, raise funds, guide interest groups through the Reserve, form collaborations and monitor improvements in the ecosystem. They successfully sorted and received a $650,000 Bush Connects Grant, which helped control exotic species and regenerate native forest through seed bank germination. Over the last six years, they have focused on their Walking Track Project to improve users’ experience. 

Glen Innes & District Historical Society Inc. has been serving as the proper custodian of the cultural heritage of the Glen Innes & District community since 1968. The Historical Society functions as a community chronicle, recording and informing successive generations through artefacts, documents and records at the Land of the Beardies Museum History House Museum and Research Centre. The Land of the Beardies occupies the former Glen Innes & District Hospital, which is listed as a heritage building. Over the past three years, the Society has been actively engaged in repairing and refurbishing the buildings, storage facilities and display areas. The Society has 255 members. 

Old Bega Hospital Reserve Land Manager of Bega has committed to restoring a community hub ravished by bushfire. The Old Bega Hospital (OBH) Reserve covers 1.603 hectares. The historical reserve precinct includes the OBH Main Building, which was ravaged by bushfires in 2004. This left a void in the community as the OBH was an active community cultural hub. The OBH Board is the land manager of the Reserve, with Patricia Jones as Chair since 2007. Since the fire, the Board has set the strategic goal of sourcing grant funding to restore and renovate the main building. After 16 years, the OBH received grants totalling $3,421,000 in 2019. 


Department of Planning and Environment Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management Award:
Patricia Jones of Bega
has demonstrated sustained practical commitment. In 2007, Pat became Chair of the Board of the Old Bega Hospital (OBH) Reserve, a Community Cultural Centre that is home to community groups and used for markets, festivals and private functions. Before joining the Board in 2003, Patricia was a member of Spinners and Weavers, one of the resident groups at the OBH. As Chair, Pat manages all aspects of board meetings and wrote most of the original funding applications. In 2019, Pat and the OBH Board successfully received grants totalling $3,421,000 to restore the OBH Main Building, which was ravaged by bushfires in 2004. 

Stephen Thatcher of Muswellbrook has been the Chairman of the Board of the Lake Liddell Recreation Area Reserve Land Manager since 2004. The Board ensures the implementation of the Draft Strategic Plan which prioritises enabling growth, commercial opportunities and sustainable progress; expanding green space; strengthening and supporting evolving community, and; working with Aboriginal communities to realise the potential of their land rights. Stephen oversees the implementation of the Code of Conduct for the Reserve, manages conflicts of interests and ensures documentation of work health and safety requirements. He was instrumental in having Scouts, Landcare and the community involved in planting 20,000 plants over the years. 

Louise Jenkins of Cooma is a member of the North Ridge Reserve Advisory Committee. The Committee manages the North Ridge Reserve, a 123-hectare bushland that supports a large number of native plant species, and mammals, reptiles and birds. Louise helped improve the condition and management of the Reserve, particularly when the Committee was disbanded as a result of Council amalgamations. She initiated the application of a grant for the improvement of the Reserve’s amenities, including the walking tracks, signage, access and parking infrastructure. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she conducted publicly accessible Covid-safe walks within the Reserve to maintain local community physical and mental wellbeing. 

William West of Balmoral is ensuring the grounds are preserved for future generations to come. Bill has been a member of the Bribbaree Showground Trust since 1982. He became its Chairman in 1984. In 1997, he became secretary/treasurer. For 37 years, Bill has tirelessly worked for the Showground. Now at 72, he vows to continue supervising the Showground, cleaning up the grounds after each event, cleaning the toilets, checking the tanks and doing everything he can to maintain the grounds in pristine condition. With extensive knowledge of the workings of the grounds, Bill has drawn up comprehensive maps of its power and water systems. 


Prime Super Business Innovation Award:
Avirida of Dorrigo Mountain
has a passion for environmental protection and climate change prevention. Avirida is a skincare company established after a successful Kickstarter campaign. They commit to sourcing only the most sustainable materials and to machining everything in-house. Their skincare products are 100% palm oil free, cruelty-free and organic. Their refillable, reusable and compostable timber pots are made from discarded Camphor Laurel, which is considered an invasive, noxious weed, or any other salvage/storm-damaged logs locally. With every Avirida product sold, Avirida plants a tree. They have so far planted 18,973 trees with the help of Trees for the Future. They have employed two locals. 

Why Leave Town Promotions of Narrabri is encouraging people to ‘Shop Local’. Why Leave Town Promotions (WLT) offers community gift cards that use a ‘closed loop’ technology that ensures dollars stay local. The WLT Community Gift Card can be purchased at local ‘load up’ points or online and can only be spent back on participating local businesses. WLT works with over 60 communities across Australia and has created a website, Shop Local Hub. In 2018, the gift cards were used by organisations to distribute funds raised to support farmers and others in need during the drought. To date, WLT has helped keep over $12m in local communities. 

Pairtree Intelligence Pty Ltd of Orange is delivering connected data services to farmers. Pairtree is a regionally-based AgTech company that offers a universal dashboard for farmers, overcoming the issue of incompatibility between various AgTech and digital agricultural solutions used by farmers to manage their farms better. Pairtree started in 2018 as an ‘Information as a Service’. Today, they are close to building 100 data source integrations across the Australian AgTech and digital Ag space. By developing a platform and strategy that allows other Australian service providers to better service their customers’ needs, there is continuing support and growth with the business. Pairtree’s employment strategy is ‘Regional First’. 

AMPS Research of Caroona aims to improve farmer returns and build rural communities. The Agricultural Marketing and Production Systems (AMPS) developed the AMPS Commercial Pty Ltd in 2001 after farmers felt a lack of investment in local production research. Profits generated from the retail arm fund AMPS Research, a non-profit organisation investing private money into independent, relevant and consistent agricultural research. AMPS now invests $700,000 annually into research and conducts over 13,000 small trial plots focused on sustainably increasing productivity, increasing farm profitability and growing stronger rural communities. Since 2011, $3.7 million of profit generated by AMPS Commercial has been invested back into AMPS Research.


TransGrid Leadership Award:
Jason Owen of Gosford
has a passionate affinity for children in isolated areas. Jason, who is of Aboriginal heritage, grew up as the only child in an isolated town of 12 people. He established Doin’ It For Rural Aussie Kids, an organisation that supplies presents, groceries and funds to kids in remote and regional communities to give them a Christmas they deserve after devastating bushfire and drought in 2019. An award-winning country music singer, Jason set up a GoFundMe page, contributed funds from sales of his merchandise, and secured sponsor donations. He embarked on a road trip in December 2019 and benefitted over 250 children. 

Sophie Wills of Central Macdonald is the Founder & Chair of the Community Defib Project, which installs community-accessible defibrillators to vulnerable communities across New South Wales. The Project was founded in 2010 and has successfully installed more than 50 community Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). An AED is a device that can be used by anyone to save the life of someone who suffers a sudden cardiac arrest. Under Sophie’s leadership, the Project obtained a $35,000 grant from the NSW Government and raised more than $100,000. With its success in Wiseman’s Ferry, the Project has expanded under Sophie’s leadership to include more than 15 communities.

Tara McClelland of Waterloo was named the 2021 ACT Young Australian of the Year. In this role, she has advocated directly to the Prime Minister and other Government Ministers about the rights of young people. She ensures that young people’s voices are heard and that issues like mental health, housing and climate justice are recognised by the Government as important to Australia’s youth. Tara also launched the annual Red Shield Appeal for the Salvation Army. On International Women’s Day 2021, she was a keynote speaker at a Women in Construction Breakfast. Speaking at various schools, she empowers the emerging generation to use their voice. 

Jim Finucane of Tamworth is a 92-year-old man who has been an active volunteer in the community since 1978. He has been a volunteer fireman and driver for 15 years and has helped find homes for 45 families. He served as Justice of Peace for 42 years and was an acting police magistrate. In 1989, Jim started the Friendship Force, which connected Tamworth with 20 countries around the world. He has led the recreation of the men’s shed since 2007. He has run the ANZAC Service Day for five years. He has spent 11 years at Shopping World giving away bags of information on community health. 


Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award:
Bond Hair Religion of Kingston
commits to a consistent experience. Bond Hair Religion is a five-star salon that offers a variety of cutting, colouring and styling services. The salon space has 28 stations, a colour bar and a café for guests, and a hole-in-the-wall coffee bar for the general public. Owner Jenni Tarrant is the principal stylist and works 40 hours with clients. Every guest’s journey has been crafted, choreographed and trained. Guests are presented with an iPad with extensive complimentary beverages/treats and a choice of 15 types of digital magazines/Netflix. Conversations are 80% about the guest. Staff undergo training to ensure consistency of guest experience. 

Mountain Whispers Blue Mountains offers service personalised. Founded in 2006, Mountain Whispers comprises five guest homes offered for exclusive let. It combines the intimate scale and human contact of a bed-and-breakfast with professionalism, polish and attention to detail of a 5-star luxury hotel. Guests have 24/7 personal contact with the owner and historic restorer, Lorraine Alanson, from the moment of first enquiry right through the end of the stay. MW opens an experience that is boutique and bespoke. Guests are ensured of exclusive occupancy, absolute privacy, anonymity and peace. Mountain Whispers has created comprehensive customer service systems and procedures for each role within Mountain Whispers. 

Ronald McDonald House Charities Orange never closes its doors. Ronald McDonald House Charities Orange (RMH Orange) opened in 2015 after ten years of fundraising to build. They have since provided free accommodation to over 922 families and 7,489 nights, which equate to $1,123,350 savings. RMH Orange provides accommodation for families with a sick or injured child in hospital and high-risk pregnancy mums. Their volunteers are at the heart of what they do, and to date, they have not received any negative feedback, reinforcing what RMH and their people mean for the families. All staff and volunteers undergo significant training relative and supportive to their roles. 

Riverina Speech Pathology of Wagga Wagga was opened in 2010 by Parneet (Nancy) Kaur to give back to the community where she grew up. RSP comprises four administrative staff and three fully trained speech pathologists that provide paediatric, adult and geriatric services. They receive regular training in the latest advancements in speech pathology, enabling them to apply research-based assessment and intervention. RSP’s premises are bright and modern, and a warm welcome is always guaranteed. The practice provides greater flexibility to its over 300 clients. In 2021, they offered a second clinic catering for the waiting list. In 2020, RSP was a finalist for the Customer Service Award. 


Awards Australia Connecting Communities Award:
Psychs on Bikes
is raising mental health awareness. Psychs on Bikes (PoB) is an association of mental health professionals who are passionate about their work and motorbikes, helping people in rural and remote Australian communities to access mental health services and a shoulder to lean on. It was co-founded by Dr Joe Dunn during a motorcycle ride in 2011. PoB uses motorbikes as a conversation starter with men who might otherwise not engage in a discussion about their mental health. They offer physical and mental health checks for men and women, educational talks, school visits, keynote presentations and bespoke approaches to specific community needs. 

Boys to the Bush Ltd of Albury is committed to a sustainable model of youth preventive intervention. Boys to the Bush (BttB) was founded in 2017 by three secondary school teachers who saw too many boys from disadvantaged backgrounds slipping through society’s cracks. BttB conducts term-break and long weekend camps for public and private school groups, sibling experiences for families split apart and one-on-one, group and school MENtoring. Their ‘BttB Academy’ initiative aims to identify, recruit and train for a structured traineeship program a homegrown workforce of caring young men who have been beneficiaries of BttB. Their goal is to change 233,000 young Australian lives by 2030. 

Soul Café of Newcastle believes its strength is the diversity of people it deals with. Established in 2003, Soul Café is a charity that provides help to vulnerable, homeless and socially isolated people through basic meal service and supporting their guests by doing ‘whatever they can with whatever they have, for whoever they can.’ They provide access to legal services, Centrelink and employment services; and walk with their guests on a day-to-day basis towards experiencing safety, welfare and dignity. In 2015, they established a Mental Health Clinic. During Covid-19, they introduced Covid-safe Soul Street Service for takeaway meals, grocery hampers and mental health check-ins. 

Yeoval & District Satellite Community Newspaper demonstrates community spirit and determination. The community newspaper was founded in 1957 as Yeoval & District Satellite Weekly. By 2014, the future of the 57-year-old Satellite became uncertain with the ageing volunteer getting ready for retirement until a former journalist who moved back to Yeoval took over in 2015 as editor. The Satellite was given a makeover, with up to 200 copies of the 40-page publication printed per edition, in colour for the first time. In 2020, they moved to a fortnightly publication due to Covid-19. In 2021, they emailed online editions to subscribers as far away as the United Kingdom.