Community Achievement Awards for Regional NSW & the ACT

2019 Winners

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Crown Land Manager Excellence Award

Cowra Showground, Racecourse and Paceway Trust has dramatically changed the future of the Reserve, which is a 60-acre site along the river. Users include the Cowra Jockey Club, Cowra Harness Racing Club, Cowra Show Society, Cowra Pony Club and Cowra Campdraft Club. The Trust renovated and refurbished the heritage-listed turnstile gates at the Showground, upgraded the camping area and increased its capacity. They provided a covered meeting place, restored the 1940’s stable block and derelict Caretakers Cottage and employed an onsite caretaker. The improvements have attracted more users and increased participation in major events. The Showground Trust is a member of the Cowra Tourism Corporation, which helps market the site.



Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management Award

Arthur Hatch of Mullumbimby has been instrumental in turning the Reserve to a flourishing community jewel. The Mullumbimby Showground is managed by a voluntary Board which was dissolved in 2011 due to financial misconduct. Arthur is part of the replacement Board, serving first as Treasurer and now as Chair. He confronted a $30k debt for an inoperable mower, $20k unpaid creditor invoices, no money in the bank and mismanaged land. Arthur prioritised stabilising the financial position of the Showground. He provided physical labour and project and budgetary management services. The Camping Site provides 50% of the Reserve’s annual income and the Showground now has over $300k.


Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award

Dr Amy Moss of Armidale is striving to improve chicken meat production efficiency. Her research revealed that by replacing some ground grain in chicken feed with whole grain, the chickens’ digestion is improved. Her study found that 30% whole grain improved production efficiency by 7.7%. If implemented globally, this would produce enough chicken to meat protein requirement for 100 million people. This translates to $92 million in feed cost savings and 22.5% less nitrogen excreted into the environment. Amy received a grant to support the Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition; an animal nutrition conference focusing on the incorporation of new ideas and technology to Australian agriculture.


Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award

Botanical Art of Lawson highlights an authentic approach to personal care and connection. Botanical Art, a family-owned and operated florist business servicing the Blue Mountains and beyond. Owners Brendon and Elizabeth Cannon are responsible for daily deliveries and flower arrangements, respectively. They share equal responsibility in providing excellent customer service. Brendon presents the business to potential new customers whilst Elizabeth is first point of contact for visiting or calling customers. Their personal approach includes taking time to educate customers on plant care and remembering customers’ names and their likes and dislikes. Botanical Art won the Best Retail Business Award at the 2018 Blue Mountains Business Awards.


Wholistic Financial Solutions Small Business Achievement Award

Meralli Solar of Armidale has a passion for powering regional communities. Established in 2017, Meralli Solar redefines smaller utility-scale solar farming in Australia by delivering quick installation, low-cost high-return solar farms, to regional areas. They have delivered four privately funded projects and with completion of the Kanowna project, will have reduced CO2 emissions by 39,000 metric tonnes per year. They have 11 employees and make conscious efforts to source significant labour and materials from communities where projects are located. Meralli Solar works closely with every community it operates and sponsors local organisations like the Armidale Women’s Networking Group and the Northern Nations Indigenous Football Team.


Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award

Koonambil Aged Care Ltd of Coonamble is dedicated to staff development. Koonambil Aged Care Limited is a community-owned, mission-based organisation in Coonamble and the only provider of residential aged care in the local area. They currently have 30 beds that allow ageing in place and respite and eight independent living units. With 30 local staff, Koonambil is the largest non-government employer in the region. As part of its continuous improvement strategy, they regularly undertake anonymous Staff Opinion Surveys. All employees have access to further training, education and qualifications for their role. The Koonambil Enterprise Agreement provides all staff with above award wages and conditions.



TransGrid Leadership Award

John Southon of Trundle is the principal of Trundle Central School and has shown selfless dedication for the community. He has managed to coordinate multiple individuals and agencies to deliver sustained drought relief to the Trundle community. Under John’s leadership, students have been empowered to help their families in times of significant rural need. Their mental health has also been improved. The School was featured on BBC, China News and Seven Network’s Sunrise, leading to visits by rural aid, rotary clubs, government and other organisations. In the last 12 months, they have secured 250 food and toiletry packages and have injected $70,000 into the Trundle economy.


Awards Australia Connecting Communities Award

Outback Theatre for Young People of Deniliquin promotes sustained engagement with communities. OTYP is an art company that provides remote, rural and regional young people access to professional arts experiences that are developed in their communities, for their communities. They provide opportunities to share their creative ideas and dreams and experience arts careers whilst using their voices and feeling more part of their towns. They produce theatre, dance, music and film. OTYP participants include those who face isolation, poverty and struggle with literacy. Their projects are delivered for two to three years and are fully embedded into the community through a unique and tailored Artistic and Operational Framework.


2018 Winners


NSW Department of Industry – Lands & Water Crown Reserve Corporate Manager Award

Orange Waratah Sports Club manages the Crown Reserve Trust provides local quality sporting and recreational opportunities and particularly through its playing fields and facilities. The majority of activity is funded by the Sports Club members and users of the grounds and facilities, ensuring that the commitment to the community is both financially beneficial and sustainable. It is conservatively estimated that the Sports Club’s Crown Land grounds are accessed by more than 100,000 visitors annually.


NSW Department of Industry – Lands & Water Crown Reserve Community Manager Award

Norah Head Lighthouse Land Manager oversees the reserve maintenance, marketing and operations with volunteers and the Board. The facilities are a working example of essential maritime infrastructure. Visitors have the opportunity to see a historic lighthouse in operation. There is accommodation in the original Lightkeeper’s quarters and it’s a popular venue for weddings. In 2017, the 29 volunteer tour guides worked a total of 7,305 hours allowing the lighthouse to be open 363 days.


Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award

Len Waters Culture Tours of Daruka is a two-year old business that delivers Aboriginal cultural programs and local tours. They also visit many schools in the region, delivering Aboriginal cultural education, language and take groups out on Country. They have provided education to over 5,000 local school children, community groups, government agencies, domestic and international visitors. Len employs a range of local people assisting him to share his passion of culture, including Aboriginal musicians and dancers.


Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award

Anika Molesworth of Broken Hill has developed creative and critical perspectives on sustainability, focusing her work on innovative ways of enhancing agriculture for the long term. She is a highly sought after speaker and educator on how to produce more food for a growing global population, with reduced environmental footprint. Her expertise lies in the three key domains of sustainability: agricultural and natural systems, agribusiness, and the humanities. Anika has been nominated and won countless awards.


TransGrid Leadership Award

Dr Daisy William of Armidale is the Director of the Armidale Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place which was on the verge of closing down when she was appointed. Daisy overhauled systems and processes and successfully applied for grants. The centre is now at capacity providing Aboriginal programs, a gallery, café, gift shop, an artists’ boutique and more. Daisy helps Aboriginal artists create an income through their art and trains and employs Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth.


Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award

Mackellar Care Services of Gunnedah operates 120 aged care places over two residential care campuses, a 48 villa Retirement Village, a home care service, and the local GP Super Clinic. They are committed to clinical excellence and implementing innovation solutions to benefit both residents and staff members. Mackellar Care Services has a training and development culture, starting at a Board level. This ensures it can attract, upskill and retain staff members to provide quality services


G.J. Gardner Homes Women Creating Change Award

The Big Green Cup Café of Bungendore provides meaningful training and employment for people with a disability. The café currently employs five people with a disability. There has been a real shift in confidence for these employees, who start out washing dishes and then move on to serving tables, making coffee and using the till. The Café also started ‘The Coffee Collaborative’ group for local business women who meet monthly to have a cup of coffee and network.


Awards Australia Business Achievement Award

Southern Cotton of Whitton is an independently owned ginning facility. They employ 18 fulltime and up to 50 seasonal workers and have provided cotton ginning and related services to the Southern Valley’s growers for seven years. In 2017, they reached the milestone of processing one million bales. Southern Cotton's purpose-built ginning program, state-of-the-art facility and focus on innovation is giving growers a better yield. They won the 2015 Telstra Australian Regional Business of the Year.


icare Connecting Communities Award

Orange Sky Laundry of Newcastle has been operational since August 1, 2017 and has nine locations which are serviced on a regular weekly basis. The Newcastle operation is part of Orange Sky Laundry, Australia's first mobile laundry service for those experiencing homelessness. In the last 12 months they have achieved 1,130 laundry washes and 2,925 hours of positive conversations. The have 73 volunteers who combined, have completed 291 shifts with the laundry van.


2017 Winners


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

Tilligerry Habitat Association of 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.


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

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

Carmel (Fudge) Kaczmar of East Maitland founded 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.


Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award

Fitness in The Park in 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.


Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award

Drape Net of Nashdale commenced 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

Gummun Place Hostel in 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.


Awards Australia Community Group of the Year Award

Hope Centre – Illawarra Food Hub 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.