Victorian Regional Achievement & Community Awards

2018 Finalists

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award

Australian Pumpkin Seed Company of Oven was established by Sharan West and her family. The range includes raw, roasted, salted, wood smoked and chilli coated and chocolate coated pumpkin seeds. The oil mill produces pumpkin seed, walnut, almond, hazelnut, hemp, sunflower and apricot kernel oil.. Australia’s only grower of pumpkin seed with 16 staff, they have a farm shop, 350 stockists, 50 major food manufacturing contracts and are exploring Asian export opportunities.

Remax Pty Ltd of Nathalia is a family business commencing in 1999. The company designs and manufactures custom Commercial and Industrial doors and aims to be the Partner of choice for Premium Industrial Doorway Solutions. They employ 32 staff; a huge benefit to their rural community. The business has grown to support a national and international client base. Recently the business built a new 1800sqm production plant in the northern industrial estate of the town.

The Forge Pizzeria of Ballarat was established in 2010 by brothers, Chris and Tim Matthews. The Forge creates delicious wood fired pizzas made with fresh, local produce. The much awarded pizzeria was rated by Trip Advisor in 2015, fourth out of 10 Australian pizzerias. Their two restaurants employ approximately 90 staff and can cater for over 300 people. Their “Buy a Slice” initiative provides food for Ballarat’s homeless and they regularly donate their local community.

Regional Development Victoria Leadership & Innovation Award

Dr Elena Kelareva of Warragul has a PhD in Computer Science. She founded, GippsTech with the vision of growing regional startups and tech communities and in her first year, employs seven staff. Elena founded Gippsland’s first conference on innovation, technology and startups, ‘Binary Shift 2017’ which brought together, Australian and international leaders. The conference received great feedback from attendees and was one of the flagship regional events in the Victorian Digital Innovation Festival.

Jodie Haythorpe of Bendigo has Psychology, Sociology and Criminology degrees. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 21, Jodie has utilised her learning to assist and support people with MS and their families. Her objective is to ensure their right to social justice and promotes empowerment and awareness of MS. Jodie is an MS ambassador and an inspirational speaker, voluntarily facilitates the Bendigo MS Peer Support Group and is a 'learned guest ' at schools for MS Readathon.

Dr Skye Kinder of Bendigo is a tireless health advocate for marginalised communities, a prolific writer and international speaker. She is a respected voice in the rural health debate and an inspiration to her peers and patients alike. Skye founded the Medical Students Association’s Rural Health Committee, creating discussion opportunities for rural medical students in policies affecting both their communities and careers. Skye was named the 2017 Victoria’s Junior Doctor of the Year.

Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award

Cooinda of Benalla
was established in 1969 by members of the community and is a fully accredited, not for profit 82 bed aged care facility. With 115 staff, Cooinda has a strong focus on flexible working hours, professional development and health and wellbeing initiatives such as meditation sessions. A Community Support person provides support and counselling for staff and residents. Survey results indicate 90% overall staff satisfaction and 96% are proud to work at Cooinda.

Jacaranda Village of Redcliffs was established in 1999, combining Sunraysia Hostel for the Elderly and Red Cliffs Nursing Home. Jacaranda Village currently offers 30 high care and 45 low care beds. They have 120 staff, 20 volunteers and a further 18 volunteer Friends of Jacaranda fundraising team. Staff are provided with flexible work rosters, development opportunities and in-house and external training sessions. The residents have a men’s shed program, exercise classes and group lunches and dancing.

St Catherine's Hostel of Wangaratta is a not for profit residential care facility. They provide accommodation for 69 elderly residents and hold a three years accreditation with the Aged Care Standards Agency. St Catherine’s offer staff ongoing education programs and an on-site Personal Care course for staff interested in training as personal care workers. During a routine unannounced audit in November last year they were praised for their commitment to technology and their nurse practitioner program.

Goodwin Village of Donald is a not for profit community owned aged care facility. They provide residential care, retirement living and community care to people in their own homes. Goodwin Village, wherever possible, obtains its products and services from locals including the butcher, baker, building maintenance services and contractors for major building works. It provides employment for 44 staff with a full-time equivalent of 22 staff. Goodwin Village provides placement hours for local VCAL students.

South West TAFE & Deakin University South West Regional Achiever Award

MSRF Dream Seeds Program of Ocean Grove is a group of over eighty alumni in the Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation ‘Young Rural Leaders Program’. They are committed to building capacity in young rural Victorians focusing on themes including aspiration and resilience. They have provided leadership workshops to over 450 Year 6 students and continue to grow their network of partner schools. Recently the Dream Seeds Program was awarded a grant to fund the ‘Mallee Trip July 2018’ project.

Richard Coleman AM of Geelong is a Paralympic and Gold Medallist. Living with Spina Bifida, Richard has become an inspiration for athlete’s young and old, working off the track to motivate and encourage individuals to get involved, get active and work hard to be the best they can be. Richard has spent over 15 years mentoring people with a disability. He has recently launched a wheelchair skills workshop teaching independent wheelchair skills for a successful life.

Cathy Roth OAM of Geelong has been at the forefront of female leadership and was the first female President of a Rotary Club in Australia and New Zealand. She Chaired a Rotary Zone major international conference and introduced the Rotary Leadership Institute for Rotarian Leadership Development. She was also the first female President of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and established PALZ - Professionals with Alzheimer's to provide neuralplastic and social stimulation. PALZ is expanding across Australia and the UK.

Parks Victoria Environmental Sustainability Award

Plastic Free Phillip Island is a community-driven initiative that educates, unites and empowers people to choose ocean-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics. They provide tools and resources to support local businesses and individuals to make positive changes easily and effectively. 46 businesses so far have removed or reduced single-use plastics. Their purpose is to grow a community dedicated to protecting Phillip Island and San Remo’s unique biodiversity from plastic pollution and become nationally recognised as a plastic-free destination.

The Upper Campaspe Landcare Network of Kyneton brings together 16 Landcare and Friends groups and covers an area of roughly 140,000 hectares. The network learns the fundamentals of good soil health practices, and the principles of successful re-vegetation. They work closely with the North Central Catchment Management Authority, the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning and Shire Councils to achieve positive environmental outcomes. Their vision is to care, protect and nurture the valuable ecosystems, biodiversity and habitats.

Four Wheel Drive Victoria is an Incorporated Association formed in 1975 by four wheel drive clubs, with a charter to represent the interests of four wheel drivers. Adopting the mantra of "Driving in a sustainable environment", Four Wheel Drive Victoria also maintains excellent and ongoing relations with the state's land managers and plays an active part in ensuring that tracks are used in a way that minimises any negative impact from four wheel drive use.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Diversity and Inclusion Award

Betul Tuna of Shepparton is the founder of “Hijack’d’, a food van with the slogan, ‘Nourish the Conversation’. They take pride in using locally grown fresh products and promoting local agricultural businesses when marketing their delicious Turkish inspired cuisines and street foods. Hijack’d is also known for facilitating unique conversation sessions, providing an opportunity for dialog between non-Muslim and Muslim communities. Hijack’d is about promoting social cohesion by leading conversations in safe spaces.

Kia-Ora Piggery of Yarrawalla is a large-scale piggery that has diversified its workforce by employing skilled Filipino workers. They continue to expand their business, now employing 24 Filipinos, accounting for 50% of their total workforce. Each year, Kia-Ora Piggery supports the local Fiesta, a celebration showcasing Filipino and Australian cultures. The Pyramid Hill community has been incredibly supportive, developing financial support programs to help bring families across to Australia, and assist with English learning programs.

Senior Sergeant Sean Halley of Robinvale has championed diversity and inclusion and has been a driving force in encouraging strong relationships with the Aboriginal Community. Sergeant Halley has invited a local artist to paint a mural on the Police stations reception area wall. He organises The NAIDOC Police/Community BBQ and school visits and tours of the station. These initiatives have enhanced understanding and trust for all parties, broken down barriers and improved community confidence in police.

Wycheproof Community Resource Centre is a not-for-profit organisation providing activities and services to build community capacity, reduce social isolation and encourage health and wellbeing. The Resource Centre supports the Wycheproof Men's Shed, Op Shop, Community Car program, the Wycheproof Cancer Support Group and many other community groups. WCRC strives to provide a wide range of events and activities to ensure all members of the community feel included and inspired to participate.

Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award

Australian Pumpkin Seed Company of Oven was relocated from Queensland by Sharon West, and has flourished. The product range of pumpkin seeds is extensive and the Oil Mill and farm gate also act as an education centre which sees them ranked number one tourist attraction in the area. They are the largest grower of pumpkin seed in Australia and have 350 stockists and 50 major food manufacturing contracts. The largest growth is in packet and bulk health food.

Cutri Fruit of Woorinen is a production horticulture fruit farm, specialising in stone fruit. In an industry that is highly manual, Cutri Fruit have embraced automation, resulting in higher profit retention. They continue to innovate, trialling ways to use land, water and sprays better. In 2011 they introduced a nursery and are growing some exciting new varieties. The business has grown in recent years and is now Australia’s largest family-owned stone fruit grower, marketer and exporter.

Simply Rose Petals of Murraydale was founded by Jan Slater and her daughter Sarah Rose Bloom. They now manage the first rose petal farm in the southern hemisphere. Producing a world-first range of freeze dried edible flowers, Simply Rose Petals has won national and international awards. The delicate petals are hand-picked, frozen and dried, retaining their colour and shape. Simply Rose Petals was named Australia’s Number One in Special Services at the Australian Bridal Industry Awards.

Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award

Mansfield Armchair Cinemas is an award-winning community-based, not-for-profit cinema supporting the local community of Mansfield. Employing six or more students as trainees at any one time, MAC collaborates with the Secondary College and TAFE to deliver an innovative traineeship program combining Certificate III in Media Studies and on-the-job training. Mansfield Armchair Cinema supports the local Freeza Youth Group, holds special movie nights for nursing homes and support local charities by holding fundraising movie nights.

Rich Glen Olive Estate is the #1 tourist attraction in Yarrawonga on TripAdvisor. It is a mecca for delicious fresh, organic food and home-grown olive oil products. They maintain quality customer service with staff inductions giving clear direction of the estates high expectations and quality control. They measure staff performance, monitor social media posts, respond to enquiries promptly and take feedback seriously. The Estate is winner of several prestigious awards for excellence in food tourism.

Sea All Dolphin Swims of Queenscliff offers a wide range of marine adventures and experiences. They are the local collection point for printer cartridges, corks, batteries and mobile phones and have introduced a used wetsuit recycling program, saving thousands of wetsuits destined for landfill. They have employed a total of 51 locals. Sea All Dolphin Swims actively promote the message of ‘Take 3 for the sea’, a clean beach initiative reducing plastic pollution through education and participation.

Awards Australia Community Group of the Year Award

The Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network of Horsham is an independent, not for profit association, covering 28,000 square kilometres of Western Victoria. They support disadvantaged young people to remain engaged in education or transition into employment. They have 14 voluntary Committee of Management members and over 115 members with the equivalent of 5.4 paid staff. The network has brokered 55 active partnerships with community organisations and local businesses, with staff travelling extensively to plan and implement these partnerships.

Food Next Door Co-op of Mildura is a not-for-profit organisation supporting newly arrived migrants and refugees living in rural areas, to re-engage in farming and grow food, including their traditional foods. Food Next Door generates income through ‘Out of the Box’, a weekly local produce box from over fifteen small-scale regenerative farmers, returning $40,000 directly to growers. An acre of land was provided to Food Next Door with food grown given to the Burundian Community and excess available for resale.

The Simpson & District Community Centre is a small dairy based community, 20 minutes inland from the 12 Apostles. The Centre is a funded Neighbourhood House and provides recreation and educational activities, with an average 180 participants per month. Their six person committee and a core group of 12 volunteers have established a very successful Men's Shed and a Community Garden. The centre ran a series of digital inclusion training workshops for seniors with over 280 attendees.

Henry Carus & Associates and Life Activities Clubs Victoria Senior Achievement Award

Cathy Roth OAM of Geelong has been at the forefront of female leadership as the first female President of a Rotary Club in Australia and New Zealand. She was also the first female President of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce. Upon her husband’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, Cathy established PALZ - Professionals with Alzheimer's in 2017 to provide dignity and neuralplastic and social stimulation. PALZ groups are expanding across Australia and the UK.

Leopold Men’s Shed began the project based at Moolap Primary School two years ago. The men volunteer to work with Grade 5/6 students to assist them to develop and complete woodwork projects with only recycled materials. One of the primary aims of the project is to support the mental and physical health of older men by forming close community connections. The children have benefitted by learning to design, create and problem solve.

Priscilla Taylor of Wangaratta has a Masters of Wound Care and is the first person in Victoria and 3rd in Australia to achieve this qualification. Priscilla set up a Wound Clinic at Benalla Hospital. Since retiring in 2012, she has volunteered her services in wound management to three aged care facilities in Wangaratta. Priscilla performs monthly educational sessions in how to prevent pressure injuries and has published a research paper on skin trauma from radiotherapy.