Community Achievement Awards for Regional NSW & the ACT

The Finalists in the seven categories of the 2017 NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards are:


NSW Department of Industry, Lands, Crown Reserve Trust Corporate Manager's Award

  • Armidale Tree Group Inc has managed the six-hectare Black Gully Reserve Trust for 22 years. 194 volunteers and six staff run the nursery, work depot and the educational Woodland Centre. Volunteers, Green Corp and Work for the Dole teams have constructed a weir, windmill, nesting boxes and planted 5,000 native trees and shrubs. The previously threatened ecological site has been restored to an urban parkland, enjoyed by the community.
  • Tilligerry Habitat Association Inc, Tanilba Bay manages a nine-hectare flora and fauna reserve with a range of scenic forest, scrub and wetland environments. Since 1993 their members and volunteers mission has been “Conservation, Rehabilitation, Education and Community”. The Trust works and consults with local Aboriginal bush teams and hold cultural burns to rejuvenate seeds. They also re-planted the area with a combination of larger plants and tube-stock. Among others, the site provides habitat for koalas, bandicoots and echidnas
  • The Rick Farley Soil Conservation Reserve, Birdwoodton was named in recognition of the life work of the late Rick Farley, founder of Landcare NSW and a reconciliation advocate. The reserve covers 12,300 hectares and has an ancient Lake Floor connected with the Willandra System and significant archaeological features. It is home to Mallee fowl, and has scientific biodiversity monitoring sites. The reserve is managed by the Mothers Ancestral Guardians Indigenous Corporation

NSW Department of Industry, Lands, Crown Reserve Trust Community Manager's Award

  • Coolatai Sportground Reserve Management Committee consists of a group of community members appointed to manage Reserves 65761 and 88449 for public recreation and land management activities. The members have formulated a management plan to accommodate the diverse range of activities and facilities including the community hall, sporting facilities, showground, sportsground, tennis courts and public meeting rooms. The reserve committee is constantly fundraising, seeking grants, contributions and partnerships to improve and renew assets.
  • Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve Trust with the assistance of other volunteers, maintain the 113-year-old, heritage listed lighthouse and surrounds. The Reserve has been a fully operational and effective maritime safety facility for more than a century and includes the 'Merchant Mariners Memorial', a celebration of naval history. The Trust has also secured $100,000 for improving infrastructure and new technology to raise the profile of the Reserve’s activities. 
  • The Ulladulla Native Flora and Fauna Reserve Trust manages Reserve 83283 for the study and preservation of native flora and fauna and public recreation. The six volunteers oversee 16 hectares with 200 species of flora and 90 birds including the threatened glossy black cockatoo. They have improved visitor accessibility with a limited mobility track and initiated a communications strategy including brochures, public events, guided walks and the media.

1st Choice Rentals Volunteering Award

  • Dr Saba Nabi, Wagga Wagga moved from India with her young family and has since completed her Bachelor and PhD of Pharmacy. Saba is a Regional Advisory Council and Multicultural NSW member and a Board Member of the Multicultural Council, Wagga Wagga. She is involved with the Cancer Council and is an AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador. Saba actively engages the CALD and migrant community to break down barriers and speaks on many local and national podiums
  • Carmel (Fudge) Kaczmar, East Maitlandfounded Miracle Assistance Dogs, a not-for-profit organisation that trains puppies to assist people living with disabilities. Carmel, assisted by 20 other volunteers, is the main driver in fundraising, seeking sponsorship and the donations required to pay the $30,000 per dog for the qualified Assistance Dog training costs. The dogs assist with Diabetic Alert, Seizure Response, Hearing and Mobility Support. Carmel also coordinates a weekly Dog Training School for students with disabilities.
  • Jeanette Purkis, Mawsonis a three-time published author, keynote speaker and advocate for Autism. She has a regular online radio program “Jeanette’s Autism Show” and featured in the 2010 ABC documentary ‘Alone in a Crowded Room’. Jeanette established a support group for women living with autism and her blog was named one of the top thirty online Autism resources. Jeanette also provides 100’s of volunteer hours each year to various committees, events and groups.

Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award

  • Fitness in The Park, Goulburn runs individual, partner and team competitions and turns "workouts" into games, encouraging laughter and fun. Owner Angela Hookham is passionate about the “whole” person being healthy physically, mentally and spiritually. Commencing with just one "Fit Mumma" session each week, they now hold seven weekly sessions with most new clients coming from existing client referrals. Mums can bring their children with them, combining social interaction with exercise.
  • North Coast Holiday Parks Red Rockare passionate about good customer service and the ongoing experiences of their guests’ visits. They provide kayak rentals and have piloted ‘Can Do Campers’, encouraging guests to volunteer in the Trust Reserves. In 2016, 3,000 guests were returning visitors and an additional 1,000 were referrals. The Holiday Park achieved a Net Promoter Score of 85% and were awarded a 2016 Guest Review Award.
  • Jim's Bean Machine, Goulburn is Goulburn’s only premium mobile coffee and naughty home-made treats solution. Founder Jim Catt serves coffee to 50 businesses each day and runs regular competitions for his customers to win coffees and treats. Jim's Bean Machine has supported 15 charity or sporting groups, and made 88 free coffees through their community coffee programme. Jim uses carbon neutral cups and has 800 Facebook ‘Likes” and a 5-star rating.

Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award

  • Caernarvon Cherry Co, Orange has been an Australian owned and operated grower and packer of fresh apples and cherries for 40 years. Grown at a 1,000 metre elevation, the high quality cherries are exported to 10 countries under the ‘BiteRiot’ brand. Owners Bernard and Fiona Hall were the first in NSW to install an optical sorting cherry grader for size and quality. Their cherry juice, full of antioxidants is value adding to second grade fruit.
  • McGregor Gourlay, Moree recognised that their customers were overwhelmed and under-prepared for the digital revolution. They created a Digital Ag team to ensure customers could embrace the technology and deliver customised digital solutions in their own enterprises and the wider agricultural community. Starting from a single shop providing farming services 120 years ago, they now have 14 branches and numerous associated companies in NSW and Queensland.
  • Botanical Innovations, Molonghas developed proprietary technologies to create novel nutraceutical flavours, fragrances and ingredients for functional foods and beverages, natural healthcare and cosmetics. The company focuses on adding value to low value agricultural, horticultural and processing waste streams with farmers and processes. Botanical Innovations harvests native Australian plants and weeds and provide new cropping opportunities for essential oils. This will provide long term income streams for farmers and local manufacturing jobs.
  • Drape Net, Nashdalecommenced 10 years ago and now protects an estimated 1,000 hectares of tree crops from pests and weather, both nationally and internationally. Drape Net’s patented unique anti-stretch, anti-shrink, run-stop weave, holds its shape and acts as a tree growth regulator resulting in less pruning and better coloured fruit. The company also supplies free apples to local primary schools, sponsors various sports teams and are involved in a mentor program for disadvantaged youth.

Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award

  • BaptistCare Maranoa Alstonville is a non-profit Christian faith-based facility with 90 beds and servicing 200 clients. Their unique and innovative client programs and projects have received national better practice recognition. Operating since 1983, they have a low staff turnover with many having worked for more than ten years. Their 125 employees benefit from salary packaging, a work/life balance policy, flexible annual leave arrangements, bi-annual roster survey, education support and free fortnightly massages.
  • Gummun Place Hostel, Merriwa is a 16 bed aged care facility established in 1994. With 17 staff, the Hostel is one of the town’s largest employers. Staff have access to an electronic training portal, annual mandatory training sessions and individual development plans. Staff have flexible shifts for work/life balance and can accrue extra hours and take them later as time in lieu. Staff and residents together also participate in many local community events.
  • BlueWave Living, Woy Woy is a community owned, not for profit organisation providing care to 139 residents, since 1989. Onsite services include physiotherapy, hairdressing, pet therapy, art classes, activities and social outings. BlueWave Living has 100 staff who benefit from flexible hours, education opportunities, scholarships and subsidised gym memberships. The facility’s staff wellbeing focus has resulted in low staff turnover with some employees having worked in excess of 20 years.

Awards Australia Community Group of the Year Award

  • The Flagstaff Group Ltd, Unanderra is a not-for-profit Supported Employment Enterprise providing employment and training opportunities for 280 local people with a disability. They operate training programs in three core disciplines; Employment & Skills, Independence and Social Pathways. Flagstaff are 85% self-sufficient through commercial operations rather than relying on Government funding. Their provision of benefits has resulted in $10 million of direct economic impact to the community in 2015/2016.
  • Lismore Helping Hands is a community group of 8,000 members, created following the devastating floods caused by Cyclone Debbie, where more than 5,200 people were affected. Utilising the American Disaster Recovery program they established the disaster co-ordination centre known as the "The Hub". Almost 1,000 requests for assistance were logged with 97% of them met by 1,450 volunteers. Lismore Helping Hands continues to provide support in the flood aftermath and is prepared for future flood events.
  • Hope Centre – Illawarra Food Hub, Kemblawarra was established in 1997 and is a food rescue and redistribution outlet for people experiencing hardship or socioeconomic disadvantage. Each week 58 tonnes of food is rescued and over 7,000 meals served. The Hope Centre – Illawarra Food Hub is a run by 80 volunteers. The Food Hub collaborates with agencies including Work for the Dole, Community Work Orders and Disability agencies.
  • Moree Mobile Neighbourhood Watch was started by Gamilaroi men who were frustrated with the high crime rates in Moree. The group has grown to include men and women of aboriginal and non-aboriginal descent, local Councillors, farmers and business owners. They voluntarily patrol the streets in shifts, using their own vehicles and fuel as they are without government funding. Since inception there has been a noticeable change in antisocial behaviour and community appreciation.