VICTORIA

Victorian Regional Achievement & Community Awards

2019 Finalists


Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award:

Braille Sign Supplies of Torquay produces Braille tactile signs that comply with Australian Standards. It began when co-founder Travis Ashford, who was then running a signage business, noticed that the Braille signs available were either non-compliant with Australian Standards or too expensive. Recognising a gap in the market, Travis researched before beginning the labour-intensive process of making compliant Braille signs through trial and error, while his wife and co-founder, Leza, took charge of marketing and packing. Today, the company has its own Braille system called BrailleForm, a large factory and eight employees. They are also a Finalist in the 2019 Geelong Business Excellence Awards.

Little Bumble of Warragul is committed to reducing plastic and food wastage in Australia. Founder Laura Eddington, a science teacher and proud Gippslandian, put her science skills to use and developed an all-natural formula that produces anti-bacterial, reusable, Australian beeswax food wraps that keep food fresher for longer. The company has sold over $300,000 in wraps since it opened in 2017. Little Bumble has nine employees, some of whom are from disability employment services and they have started to venture in automation and exportation. Laura and team also teach at schools, libraries and communities on how to make budget friendly reusable wraps.

Sea Lake Hotel Co-Operative Ltd of Sea Lake is a business built by the local community, for the local community. It started when a group of about 20 locals and expats fought to bring back to life the last operating pub in Sea Lake, by purchasing the Sea Lake Hotel at an auction. After a call for investors was made, over 80 people showed up to join the community either to invest or clean up the old hotel. The Royal Hotel re-opened in June 2019, thanks to the dedication, encouragement and inspiration shown by the local community. Today, all of its 16 employees are locals.

TwistED Science of Echuca seeks to entertain and inspire with science. Kathy Stubberfield and her co-founders started TwistED Science as a way to share hands-on science with regional schools and groups and workshops are carefully designed to give students maximum hands-on time. Today, TwistED Science runs a science centre in Echuca, serving schools, tourists and local families. It also offers workshops and curriculum-based hands-on sessions at schools, libraries, homes and event grounds. A driving force in the Echuca tourism industry, TwistED Science has over 20 employees and regularly offers charities, free or discounted science sessions. They won silver in the 2016 Regional Tourism Awards.

 

Regional Development Victoria Leadership & Innovation Award:
Art of The Minds of Torquay runs month-long events that centre on spreading awareness of mental health issues. The organisation uses all possible events to share lived experience of recovery from mental illness and encourage support through talks, theatre, song, visual arts, yoga, sound, sports events, and education. Arts of The Minds continues to innovate programmes, thanks to its successful funding applications, which allows them to hire an event manager to help better design and run inviting and interesting events for the community and the general public. The events also provide a venue for brilliant regional groups and individuals of Surf Coast to showcase their talents….

Arun Thomas, 29 of Horsham is an inspiring leader in the health sector. A Registered Nurse, he became one of the youngest public hospital directors in Victoria when he was appointed in 2017 at Stawell Regional Health, where he provided strategic direction and clinical governance expertise. Arun was a former President of UniSA Student Association where his role greatly benefited the Aboriginal student community after identifying the need for further inclusion and representation. In 2018, he established a scholarship with a goal of unlocking leadership potential among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander UniSA students. Arun received the 2018 Victorian state-wide Celebrating Aged Care Leadership Award.

EnviroMicroBio of Yinnar is an innovative business that offers science-backed analytical services on matters of sustainability. Serving industries in the Latrobe Valley, the start-up company founded by Emily Scholes, now has an analytical laboratory at the Yallourn campus which engages students and graduates of Federation University and opens opportunities for science graduates. EnviroMicroBio received funding from Latrobe Valley Authorities which helped in setting up infrastructure to enable evaluation of organic wastes for suitability for anaerobic digestion. Apart from offering advice and expertise on sustainability, they also offer access to accurate and reliable technologies like DNA sequencing and 2nd Generation ATP testing.

Tanisha Lovett of Horsham is a dedicated mentor to Indigenous youth. An outstanding speaker, she actively mentors in Indigenous youth camps such as Hands Together; Buldau Yiooghen, Big Dreams Leadership Camp, and Indigicate Camp. Tanisha is a project facilitator for the Kookas after-school club, which focuses on teaching Indigenous kids about Aboriginal culture. She is part of Celebrating Sistas, an Indigenous women’s group that offers a safe space, and the Art Program and After School Art program. Tanisha helped organise an exhibition during the 2019 NAIDOC week. She has finished her traineeship in Goolum and is currently in charge of delivering the Nyupun program.

 

Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award:
Cooinda of Benalla is committed to providing person-centred care to older people and their families whilst helping create jobs for the local community. It is a fully accredited, not for profit 82-bed aged care facility established in 1969 by community members. Cooinda is a major employer and economic contributor to Benalla, employing 115 local community members and purchasing locally-sourced goods. It offers flexible working conditions and encourages personal development among staff. In a 2019 survey, 96% of its staff were proud to work at Cooinda. Among its community initiatives is a partnership with a local registered training organisation to deliver on-the-job training.

Jacaranda Village of Red Cliffs seeks to provide a life worth living to both its residents and staff. The not-for-profit organisation Red Cliffs & Community Aged Care Services Inc. owns and operates the 75-bed Jacaranda Village. The Village employs 137 staff members, the majority of whom are registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers. They offer competitive salaries, benefits and perks to attract and retain the best employees. The organisation has terminated external contracts and hired internal staff to increase team and improve skills on dietetics, speech pathology and physiotherapy. In 2018, Jacaranda Village paid over $54,000 in training and professional development for its staff.

Multicultural Aged Care Services of Geelong is dedicated to providing excellence in diverse aged care and quality employment. A not for profit organisation, MACS has 160 residential beds, 146 community aged care packages and provides care to over 240 people in their homes. Since 1994, MACS has endeavoured to provide an innovative and culturally appropriate residential aged care facility for Geelong’s migrant community. Today, their residents and consumers represent 66 nationalities. They have 210 staff and more than 65 volunteers from the Geelong community. The staff enjoy flexible working conditions, technology assistance, and an on-site training competency program. MACS also developed a Staff Engagement Strategy.

St. Catherine’s Hostel of Wangaratta believes that aged care is about savouring the precious time in one’s life. It is a not-for-profit residential care facility that holds a 3-year accreditation with the Aged Care Quality Agency and has 67 beds for residents and two beds dedicated for respite. St. Catherine recognises the importance of stability and security among its staff, allowing them to work their preferred shifts. Employees are also encouraged to take leave when they need it and they are allowed to bring kids to work. They offer a Personal Care course and an education program conducted by nurse practitioners for interested staff.

 

Parks Victoria Environmental Sustainability Award:
BeachPatrol 3280-3284 of Warrnambool advocates for clean beach and oceans. It began when founder Colleen Hughson started a Facebook group called “Pick Up Sticks” after finding numerous cotton bud sticks whilst walking on the beach. Another Facebook group was created to collect white plastic pellets called nurdles. The two online communities then evolved into a volunteer group that commits to at least one beach clean-up per month. Since 2017, BeachPatrol has done 175 clean-up drives, collected over 1,000kg of debris and recorded 1575 volunteer hours. For its work, the organisation was given a letter or recognition from the CEO of the Environment Protection Authority.

Four Wheel Drive Victoria of Mitcham adopts the mantra of “driving in a sustainable environment.” FWDV is an incorporated association formed in 1975 by four wheel drive clubs in Victoria with the interest of protecting the land and communities through which they travelled. In the last four years, they have conducted five major “Clean up the Bush” projects and removed 400 cubic metres of rubbish from forests. Other initiatives include track clearing, Camp Host, hut restoration, and educating the public about “driving in a sustainable environment” at four wheel drive shows. In 2018, they recorded over 15,000 volunteer hours or $500,000 worth of in-kind hours.

Friends of Toolern Creek of Melton West has 30 core members and 200 volunteers who work endlessly to restore the historic Toolern Creek. One of their biggest initiatives is the 12-month Darlingsford Bend project which focused on revegetation and plantation of over 10,000 indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses and removing of noxious weeds and dumped rubbish. FOTC has received many grants from Melbourne Water to help with planting along the creek to improve water quality and reduce pollution. Another project is the Platypus Festival. To encourage more volunteers, the organisation has partnered with Corrections Victoria, Melton Primary School, Melton Scouts and many other local businesses.

Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation of Healesville is committed to the rejuvenation of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve. Recognising the aboriginal belief that land and people are indivisible, the organisation hopes to integrate traditional indigenous cultural and land management practices. Their projects focus on restoring health of the land and waterways, creating 13 paddocks and installing water troughs, managing weeds, planting trees and extending habitat for endangered species through partnerships with individuals, friends and volunteers. Their ultimate goal is to nurture the land and strengthen the future. Some organisations they’ve partnered with are Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, Landcare, Friends of HEHO and Indigenous Business Australia.

 

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Diversity and Inclusion Award:
Disabled Surfers Association Mornington Peninsula of Mornington has been sharing the joy of surfing with people with a disability. DSAMP is a volunteer organisation that takes any person with any disability for a safe and enjoyable surf at Point Leo. It provides the wet suits, disabled toilet and changing facilities, rash vests, beach wheelchairs, surf boards, food and drink. DSAMP hold their events every January and March where up to 250 volunteers, 150 participants with carers and families and 400 people on the beach attend. They successfully raised funds to construct a boardwalk to allow wheelchair access and now hope to extend the boardwalk onto the beach.

Food Next Door of Mildura aims to nurture the land whilst nurturing the diverse local community. FND is a community initiative that matches under-utilised farmlands with landless farmers to support small-scale regenerative farming, growing diverse crops and engaging people from diverse backgrounds to supply food to local households. The organisation helps relieve the distress of newly arrived migrants and refugee groups in the rural areas having no access to land, by re-engaging and empower community members in farming and growing food. In 2017, Food Next Door partnered with the Sunraysia Burundian Community to facilitate the growing of traditional maize, a staple Burundian food.

Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services of Bendigo is supporting multicultural communities and celebrating diversity. Established in 1999, LCMS is a not-for-profit organisation that empowers people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to participate fully in Australian society. It supports newly arrived migrants and refugees to build a successful life in the region through community programs on employment, education, capacity building and community development. LCMS organises arts and events to support social cohesion and cross cultural competency, including the Zinda Festival, an annual multicultural event attended by over 6,000 people. In 2019, over 15 cultural groups participated in the festival celebrating diversity through music, dance and food.

United Muslim Sisters of Latrobe Valley of Trafalgar aims to foster a better relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in the Gippsland community. They have 100 members and initiates projects such as interfaith talks and the “My scarf story” project, which hopes to build tolerance and understanding in the Valley community. They hold a Ramadan Iftar dinner and Eid festival, where over 400 people from multicultural backgrounds come together and enjoy the day. United Muslim Sisters upholds women’s freedom and empowerment and organises empowerment courses. They have partnered with Gippsland multicultural centre to support women’s education, health and personal development and starting one’s own social enterprise.

 

Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award:
Bulmer Farms of Lindenow is passionate about promoting career pathways in agriculture. A family-run business, they employ up to 180 people during the peak months of September to May. To help people find a career in agriculture, Bulmer Farms opened its own traineeship or apprenticeship program and teamed up with Gippsland Regional Agrifood Employment Program to give opportunities to the underemployed. They are a co-creator of the East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days and was the first to introduce the Sormac Salad Washing and Drying Tunnel line. To give back to the community, they sponsor local sports clubs and primary and kindergarten schools.

Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Project of Horsham is protecting the region’s horticultural industry by effectively managing the spread of the Queensland Fruit Fly before it can cause significant economic harm. Established in 2017, the GMV Fruit Fly Project is comprised of representatives from Agriculture Victoria, Goulburn Murray Water, many local councils and business and the community. The organisation monitors fruit fly population through a regional trapping grid, identifies fruit fly “hot spots” and holds education workshops for community, industry and government based on an “ownership of the issue” approach. It has also removed more than 5,500 fruit fly host trees and plants from private and public land.

Mountain Milk of Kergunyah South is dedicated to improving dairy operations and community livelihood. The Mountain Milk Co-Operative was formed by six farming families in Kiewa Valley who, instead of worrying about the direction of the dairy industry and Murray Goulburn Co-Op, took the initiative to establish an operating framework to improve security and returns and reduce corporate risks. Composed of dedicated community people, it fosters profitable and sustainable outcomes on farms. They have created a brand and job opportunities and encouraged sharing of resources and investing together. Other initiatives include medical outreach and a platform to highlight how to care for animals and the environment.

Tyrrell College of Sea Lake has introduced innovations in the agriculture education. Tyrell College’s Agricultural Program delivers an innovative model of education through engagement of industry partners. All of its 168 students are exposed to agricultural production during their journey. Students learn through excursions and by working with people directly involved in the agricultural sector, resulting in enriched, engaged and inspired students. The College partners with farmers, machinery dealerships, agronomic consultants and agribusinesses. Tyrell College’s 60 hectares supports a cropping program, a small orchard and a greenhouse. Students can gain a CERT 2 in Agriculture and develop skills that are highly sought within the industry.

 

Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award:
The Farmers Arms of Creswick has a fervour for providing quality food and wine sourced from the local area. Offering Melbourne-quality food experience in a small town, The Farmers Arms Hotel runs an award-winning restaurant that serves local quality products, from farm to plate. They buy whole animals from local farms and focus on sourcing all food within a 50-kilometre radius, maintaining strong relationships with local suppliers whilst providing exceptional customer service. Staff are encouraged to take external training courses paid for by the owner. Hailed as the “Best Victorian Pub” by Herald Sun, they were also a finalist at the Business Commerce Ballarat Awards.

Josh’s Rainbow Eggs of Monegeetta has a passion for building strong customer relationships. Josh’s Rainbow Eggs produces free range eggs in the Macedon Ranges, supplying direct to over 50 Coles and Woolworths stores. The company has developed a customer service model where they visit each store weekly, stock the shelves, and talk with customers. This way, they can provide value for the stores and the customers they serve. Known for developing the most environmentally sustainable model of egg farming in Australia, Josh’s Eggs is the only producer that delivers directly to both major supermarkets. Josh hopes to change the way people think of food production.

Sea All Dolphin Swims of Queenscliff provides unique and unforgettable wildlife encounters for decades. After 22 years, they have introduced innovations helping transform the business into a year-round provider and stabilise the business. This includes new services like the Great Ocean Road Surf Tours and a Sting Ray Feeding program which providing additional customer experiences and more revenue streams. They employ 51 locals and are the largest tourism employer in the region. The Sea All Dolphin Swim staff undergo continuous training to perform their best. They deliver free educational sessions on local marine ecosystems and are creating a marine education virtual reality package designed for schools.

The Doggie Den of Bairnsdale has incredible passion for dogs and cats. Founded by Warren and Kathryn Sinclair, they offer pet products in Bairnsdale and East Gippsland with a holistic and natural focus. The team spends quality time with customers to know their pet’s lifestyle and to offer tailored diet, treats, toys and accessories. An in-store butcher produces preservative and additive-free meat meals and even homemade treats. They also have an accredited dog trainer offering weekly classes. The Doggie Den has left many customers satisfied, achieving 100% customer satisfaction received from 700 responses and retaining a consistent 5-star Facebook rating for two years.

 

Life Activities Clubs Victoria Senior Achievement Award:
Dianne McAuliffe of Shepparton advocates for volunteer work for the elderly. Di has headed the “Love to Sew” volunteer group that meets to sew and kit for community causes and fundraisers and helps raise money for the Shepparton Retirement Villages. Her group made 120 individual patchwork quilts for Maculata Place, a new aged care building. They held an exhibition, raffles and sewed a Collingwood-themed quilt that was auction off with the proceeds donated to Shepparton Villages. Di also volunteers with GV Pregnancy Support, in support of young, and often vulnerable mums. She also volunteers for Rumbalara Elders Facility, an aged care home for indigenous elders.

Jean Nelson of Geelong has spent more than 20 years volunteering for those with life limiting illnesses. She has been an active volunteer and a life member at Anam Cara House Geelong, a Community Hospice that provides day and overnight palliative respite and end of life care. Jean is in her eighties and volunteers Monday and Friday nights, providing palliative respite for people that would otherwise be admitted to hospital or residential aged care. Jean is actively involved in care episodes and fundraising. She is determined to improve the lives and deaths of people with life limiting illnesses.

Kevin Mitchell of Devenish has helped promote the town of Devenish. He originally initiated the street art in a neighbouring Church which led to the silo art in the area. A committee was formed to deliver the painting of the Devenish Silos which came with a military theme that was widely embraced by the elderly community members and visitors. Kevin spent hours with the Benalla Rural City Council and GrainCorp on the contractual agreement. He spent many weeks arranging the artist to ensure the silos were painted in time for Anzac Day. Visitors of the silos grew to 80,000 over the past 15 months.

William “John” Morse of Warrnambool is helping male elders find their sense of purpose. He left his engineering work and decided to use his skills to support male residents of the Riverside unit of Lyndoch Living, a large residential care facility in Warrnambool. John then established and now manages as a volunteer the Lyndoch Living’s Lego Club, which brings male residents together to team-build complex constructions, improve social integration and maintain brain function and motor skills. They have constructed at least 15 Lego Technique models so far. The Club hopes to alleviate feelings of helplessness and amplify an inner sense of purpose for male elders.

 

Awards Australia Community Group Award:
Devenish Community Group has built a town rich in community involvement. It is composed of 120 people in dedicated small groups, working together, looking after the town. The group holds many events to bring the community together and improve maintenance around town. One of its significant projects is the Devenish Silo Art 2017, a project to paint three GrainCorp Silos with a military theme to commemorate their sacrifice to country. They also hold community events like dinners, concerts, morning tea for cancer research, car rallies, bus tours, and Australia Day Awards ceremonies. The organisation also helped raise $30,000 for the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Golden Square Pool, Inc. of Golden Square successfully saved a 101-year-old pool and turned it into a community hub. Golden Square Pool is a group of 55 locals who transformed a once dilapidated, under-used facility, to an inclusive, vibrant and empowering hub for Golden Square and Bendigo residents. They launched a campaign in 2012 to save the pool from closure by extending its lease. Since then, it has provided accessible health and fitness opportunities to 90,000 patrons. Volunteers introduce innovative programs like live events and wellbeing programs. One initiative is the SwimSafe Bendigo program where free swimming lessons are given, especially for local refugees, migrants and multicultural adults.

Goorambat & District Community Group takes pride in its huge community spirit that has brought over 60,000 visitors to a town with 300 residents. Formed in 2016 to provide assistance, communication and entertainment to local and district residents, the Group has since become an “umbrella group” for the town's organisations. They have raised funds for the painting of two grain silos in 2018 and one in April 2019. Both by the artist Dvate as part of the Wall-to-Wall Festival in Benalla. The Group organizes activities throughout the year especially when they celebrate the opening of the silos, this raises funds and assists with improvements to the local amenities. The silos have enhanced tourism in North East Victoria and brought visitors to Goorambat, now described as “Small Town, Big Art.” In 2019, they received the Benalla Rural City Community Group of the Year award.

Puckapunyal and District Neighbourhood Centre is dedicated to improving the quality of life for its community members. Founded 30 years ago, PDNC is a community organisation that fosters new friendships, provides support where needed and offers various programmes tailored to the unique needs of every demographic and family make-up. It hopes to become a home away from home for its predominantly military community who deal with a unique set of challenges such as transient living, separation from family and deployment. The centre caters to around 280 families and only charges $15 per family per year and many programs are either free or gold coin donation.

 

2018 Finalists

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award:
Australian Pumpkin Seed Company of Oven
is owned by Sharan (Sharon) West and was founded by her parents. The range includes raw, roasted, salted, wood smoked, chilli coated and chocolate coated pumpkin seeds. The oil mill produces pumpkin seed, walnut, almond, hazelnut, hemp, sunflower and apricot kernel oil. Australia’s largest 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 in the top 10 Australian Pizzerias by Trip Advisor in 2015. 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 to 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 as well as in-house and external training sessions. The residents have a men’s shed program, exercise classes, 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 Colman AM of Geelong is a Paralympic 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 brings together 17 Landcare and Friends groups in Central Victoria, covering 140,000 hectares.

They work together to protect biodiversity, create connectivity across the landscape, and promote sustainable land and water use and ecological health. Their goal is to achieve positive environmental and social outcomes for our area. They conduct Citizen Science projects to find and document special species such as Powerful Owls, Phascogales and Greater Gliders, then implement measures to protect their habitat. 

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, 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, 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 more effectively. 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 was the first female President of a Rotary Club female President of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce. With her husband’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2017, Cathy established PALZ - Professionals with Alzheimer's. PALZ provides intellectual stimulation in forms of listening to high power corporate speakers, formal presentations, industry visits and boardroom lunches. PALZ provides opportunities to keep neural pathways open and challenge the brain to open new pathways.

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.

 

2017 Finalists

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award

Timboon Fine Ice Cream at Brucknell has been producing boutique ice cream, using fresh local ingredients for 18 years. They now have a whiskey distillery and eatery in the historic railway shed and are growing Timboon as a tourist destination. They conduct “Sundae School” ice cream classes, and their Food Truck has attended 150 events. They have won several Dairy Industry awards. 

Bakery on Broadway at Wycheproof was established by four couples wanting to bring the town back to life. A year later, the popular bakery has seen near empty streets turn into a busy town, with parking often at a premium. They employ thirteen locals, provide catering and have gained a reputation for great coffee. Funds raised from selling coffee grounds to gardeners purchased a community car. 

Kowelec Electrical Contracting in Castlemaine began in Adrian Kowal’s spare room. Five years on, they now employ 12 locals and service commercial, industrial and domestic customers. Customer satisfaction is their number one priority and in a recent survey, they achieved a 95% excellence rating. Kowelec prides itself in being community minded and provides $10,000 sponsorship each year to the local community and sporting clubs.

 

Regional Development Victoria Leadership & Innovation Award

XtremeInc Youth Projects of Castlemaine has inspired and supported young people since 2009. They engage and empower youth across regional Victoria through arts, festivals, fundraising, extreme sports, mentorship programs and volunteering. XtremeInc also provides free training for their volunteers. They run the 2 THE XTREME Multicultural Youth Festival, attracting hundreds of young people and families. XtremeInc celebrates diversity and has young people at the forefront of their decision making

Birchip Cares was formed in 2014 by concerned citizens, following the withdrawal of funding to the Home and Community Care Service. The committee developed a Community Transport Service Delivery Model raising $17,000 for medical appointment travel for the needy. They also implemented a L2P learner driver program linking students with volunteers. Birchip Cares has enhanced the liveability of Birchip by connecting health, education and community.

Thomas Banks of Geelong West is Director and Founder of the Centre for Access, a specialised training service to businesses who employ people with a disability. The Centre also facilitates disability awareness workshops. Thomas wrote and published “Through the eyes of a person with a disability” and toured nationally in his one man show, “Someone like Thomas Banks”. He is currently working on an autobiographic film “The Power of Love".

Paul Chapman of Kangaroo Flat is Chairman of the Australian Turntable Company, supplying turntables for move buildings, vehicles and works of art internationally. He is Chair of the volunteer Committee for the Bendigo Inventor Awards, connecting inventors with investors to produce solutions related to emergency and disaster management. Paul developed the first Festival of Failure to showcase the importance of embracing failure as part of the innovation process.

 

Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award

Rural Northwest Health in Warracknabeal commenced 125 years ago. Their 90-bed facility, including 15 beds in the award-winning memory support unit, employs 270 people. They provide staff with transition to retirement plans, purchased leave options, generous maternity and paternity leave and have just introduced family violence leave. The facility has a 95% rating from staff who view them as an employer of choice.

Wimmera Health Care Group in Horsham has three aged care facilities with direct access to on-site dentists, dieticians, massage therapists and podiatrists. They have implemented a Health and Wellbeing Working Group to promote positive health and wellbeing to their 160 staff members. This includes weekly onsite lunchtime staff yoga classes. Staff are provided with varied training including Grievance, Cultural competence, Beyond Blue and many more.

St Catherine's Hostel in Wangaratta is a 69-bed not-for-profit residential care facility. St Catherine’s value their staff and have set rosters for them to work their preferred shifts and to support those undertaking tertiary education. Staff with school aged children can bring them to work during school holidays if required. As an incentive for staff to continue ongoing training they are entered into a $500 gift voucher draw.

 

Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award

Green Eggs of Ararat is a family business. Their working farm has sheep, cattle and 36,000 free range chooks. Green Eggs produces ethically farmed, sustainably produced, free range eggs into cafes, restaurants and retail outlets both regionally and in Melbourne. They pride themselves on their product and the welfare of their hens. They employ local people and aim to maximise efficiencies and minimise wastage.

Glendemar Multi Purpose Merinos of Marnoo and their 6th generation managers, Ben and Cheryl Duxson have introduced innovative and productivity measures into their Merino breeding operation. Australian Sheep Breeding Values, DNA testing and eID data collection systems are creating leading edge industry management practices. Their focus is not only on productivity, but also on cost saving and animal welfare. They are preferred suppliers of high quality products with great integrity. 

Dad's Oats of Natte Yallock began in 2015 when siblings Peter and Alicia Cain started ‘Dad’s Oats’, selling rolled oats grown on their fifth generation family farm. They sell several types of oats plus hand rollers which enable the oats to be rolled fresh. They used crowdfunding and social media to market the business. Dad’s Oats are available online, at farmers markets and in over 50 cafes and stores.

 

South West TAFE & Deakin University South West Regional Achiever Award

Maree Crabbe of Warrnambool is the coordinator and co-founder of an Australian violence prevention project called ‘Reality & Risk: Pornography, young people and sexuality’. Maree is also the co-producer and co-director of two documentary films: Love and Sex in an Age of Pornography and The Porn Factor. She is widely interviewed and has published many articles. Maree presented at the National Council Women of Australia conference and has also presented internationally.

Jayson Killick of Belmont survived a stroke in 2010. A year later he founded the Portland Stroke Support Group. He aims to educate and raise awareness of strokes and is fighting for more funding and better health care to improve the lives of stoke victims. In 2012, Jayson became a Victorian Ambassador for the Stroke Foundation. He also won the Stroke Foundations Improving Life after Stroke Award.

Robyn Ledin of Warrnambool is a member of the Warrnambool East Primary School leadership team. She implemented and secured funding for a Nurturing Room for selected Prep to Year 2 students who had experienced trauma and violence. Based on Robyn’s research of the United Kingdom programs, the Nurturing Room provides a safe, non-judgemental haven for students to transition into the school day with a positive attitude and full stomach!

Jayson Ward of Warrnambool is the co-owner of Portland Eyecare and a Director of Optometry Victoria. Jayson has established eye clinics in local indigenous communities and provides free eye screening in schools. He is involved with The Waves Gala Ball committee raising over $100,000 for Peter's Project Cancer Centre and the Warrnambool SES. Jayson is an active Young Professionals Warrnambool member and is a player and volunteer for several sports clubs.

 

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

Cardinia Shire Youth Services are championing for the inclusion and equal treatment of LGBTI youth. ‘Safe and Supported in Cardinia’ is a program to support local young people who identify as same sex attracted and/or sex and gender diverse. They have introduced programs in schools, engaged in public campaigning, supported the production and distribution of a film and encouraged local government participation in LGBTI-related events. 

Gabby Gamble of Bendigo played an integral role in implementing an Aboriginal Volunteer Program to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. A local Elder, Gabby is pivotal to promoting equality and inclusion. As a volunteer with Bendigo Health, she has increased understanding of Indigenous needs and made it a more welcoming place. Gabby has become an important conduit between the hospital and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Tania Bardsley of Newington is a volunteer coordinator with the Ballarat City Football Club and has worked hard to connect and engage with the culturally and linguistically diverse community. Africana Ballarat was her concept; to highlight and value the contribution of the African community to the club. The Africana Ballarat event cut-across art, sport, food and music ensuring broad participation regardless of age, ethnicity, culture, religion or socio-economic challenges.

Z Fit Studios of Bendigo champion diversity and inclusion. Their members range from two to 62 and regardless of nationality, belief, shape or ability they enjoy the physical and social benefits of dance and exercise. Z Fit Studios raised $10,000 for the Cancer Council’s Relay for Life and 25% of staff and members donate blood. They also won the 2017 Bendigo Business Excellence in Health & Wellbeing Award.

 

Parks Victoria Environmental Sustainability Award

Euroa Arboretum has overseen the transformation of a farm paddock, into a showcase site for natural resource management. 25 years after the land was donated to the Euroa community, the property is now a popular public reserve, supported by an educational facility, offering comprehensive land restoration services. The Arboretum’s motto is ‘Growing back the bush’ and one of their main objectives is to provide seed for revegetation work.

Mirranatwa - Panyyabyr Landcare Group at Karabeal has since 2008, run Victoria's largest community fox baiting project The project covers 30,000Ha of private land in Victoria Valley, adjoining the Grampians National Park. The project is a win for biodiversity, protecting nationally threatened wildlife, enhancing community collaboration and is an economic win. The increased lambing rates support fine wool and prime lamb production for Victoria Valley farmers.

Caring For Our Bays of Drysdale is an innovative program to lift the profile and appreciation of Corio Bay and the Bellarine shoreline of Port Phillip Bay. The aim is to raise awareness of, and reduce the amount of litter, sediments and nutrients entering the waterways. This is the first coordinated project to cover the catchments and integrate engagement, infrastructure and enforcement activities across community, business and government.

 

Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award

Queenscliffe Visitor Information Centre has a team of 38 skilled volunteers providing quality information, accommodation referral, ticketing and guided heritage tours. Last financial year, they volunteered 5,281 hours, handled 76,655 visitor enquiries and welcomed 40,000 visitors who spent an estimated $5 million. The volunteers enhance the visitor experience with their enthusiasm and local knowledge and are core to the success of the Queenscliffe’s tourism economy.

Ella Bache Bairnsdale independent owner and operator, Jodie Ashworth, works tirelessly to ensure her business maintains its excellent customer service reputation. Since 2011, they have received 11 awards for business and customer service excellence. A supporter of Breast Cancer Research, Ella Bache Bairnsdale is the major sponsor of the Mother’s Day Classic and the salon provides treatments for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Phillip Leitch of Leigh Creek is the Arena Manager, 2IC and valued member of the Kryal Castle team. He works weekends, holidays and after hours, planning and delivering weapons performances and horse based shows on the Main Arena. He is also responsible for staff rosters, staff training and animal welfare. Phillip is passionate about interpreting Medieval History to modern audiences and is sought after on the international jousting circuit.

Harmony Bed & Breakfast of Fingal is a traditional Bed and Breakfast with three guest rooms. Owners Sharon Richardson and her husband Jeremy work hard to ensure their guests are happy and become regulars. Harmony Bed and Breakfast have received many awards including the Hosted Accommodation category in the 2015 and 2016 Victorian Tourism Awards. They also received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2016 and 2017.

 

WorkSafe Victoria Regional Safety Award

Community Roadsafe Mildura develops community programs to target and improve the understanding, behaviour and attitudes of road users. Working with Police, Mildura Rural City Council, professional drivers, community groups and organisations they aim to prevent road trauma and examine road safety problems. The “Driving in Sunraysia” campaign, reached 2,400 people in response to an over-representation of accidents caused by drivers not local to the region.

Citizens Radio Emergency Service Teams, Victoria based in Newtown is a voluntary organisation. Operating for 40 years, CREST have monitored emergency frequencies and relayed thousands of calls to Emergency Services or Utilities. In the last five years’ they have recorded 18,000 hours of monitoring. CREST also provide monitoring equipment and personnel for schools and events such as fun runs, to increase participant safety.

Cycling and Pedestrian Interventions in the North - City of Greater Geelong is a collaborative project between the Youth Activity Centre - the fOrT and North and East Geelong schools, to promote road and cycle safety. The initiative identified a vulnerable demographic and is actively engaging with them to promote knowledge and understanding of road safety and improved road user behaviour. They have so far reached approximately 14,000 people.

Anglesea Fire Education Program is part of the CFA Survive & Thrive Program. The award winning program is led by a community partnership consisting of representatives from the local CFA Fire Brigade, the primary school, local fire experts and others. The program empowers and encourages students to take on the role of educators and lead bushfire education and preparedness activities in their school and community.

 

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

Baw Baw Shire Council – Aged & Disability Services Team commenced a pilot program in 2012 named 'The Pet Program'. The program supports residents who are frail, aged or have a disability, to care for their pets. Volunteers assist with walking dogs, transportation of pets to the vet and grooming or bathing and short-term feeding. Approximately 450 hours of pet support has been provided over the past year.

Dr Tess Brady of Clunes has led the organisation Creative Clunes, transforming the rural town of Clunes from decline to a prosperous vibrant community. Volunteer run for nine years, Creative Clunes created an annual book festival and opened the first community bookshop. Now the town boasts six independently run bookshops and the annual festival attracts 20,000 guests. They have monthly author talks and the town is a centre for cultural tourism.

Mornington Police Senior Community Register was started in 2001 by a group of mostly retired volunteers. They aim to make clients feel safer by creating a relationship with the Police, and provide day trips, lunches and activities to keep them involved in the community. Volunteers provide home visits and telephone calls to isolated, elderly people. 4,250 people have been involved since the register’s inception.

 

2016 Finalists

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award

Masons of Bendigo, is Bendigo’s only “hatted” restaurant. Its 65 seats are consistently booked every night, wowing approximately 600 guests each week. Since opening in 2012, husband and wife chef team, Nick and Sonia, have received numerous awards including The Age Good Food Guide: 2016 ‘Chefs Hat’ Award. Nick and Sonia also conduct cooking demonstrations and student training at schools and support local food producers and fundraisers as Bendigo Foodshare Ambassadors. TripAdvisor, has voted Masons ‘Number One’ in Bendigo, for four years running

King Valley Walnuts of Myrrhee, began 20 years ago in a derelict hop garden. In the last four years, retail sales have increased by 100%, online sales by 35% and in 2016, 32 tonnes of walnuts have been produced. Owners Mike and Carol have also given 29 years of voluntary service to the Australian Walnut Industry Association and Greta Valley Landcare Group. They have received State and National food and business awards and sponsor many local events and donate walnuts for fundraising

PETstock of Wendouree, is a 100% Australian owned company, with 125 stores across Australia and New Zealand. Originally purchased as Ballarat Produce and Merchandise, the family owned business franchised in 2002. 2015 revenue exceeded $250 million and expectations are $500 million by late 2018. PETstock’s charity foundation, PETstock Assist, in partnership with PetRescue, supports almost 1,000 Australian animal rescue groups. PETstock staff regularly donate to the foundation. PETstock coordinated a $1 million dog and cat food donation, distributing 58 tonnes to 240 animal rescue groups

Regional Development Victoria Leadership & Innovation Award

Amy Bell of Goldie, has dedicated the last five years to designing an innovative youth precinct; a project that had been languishing on the Lancefield community’s agenda for twenty years. Through Amy’s leadership, the project received $250,000 in funding, and the construction of the Lancefield Skate BMX Park is due to commence. Amy is committed to having a public space for children to socialise and exercise in a safe environment, and despite constant barriers, has ensured the success of the project

Koroit & District Primary School, developed a six week parent program to build parent understanding and confidence in the social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of pre-schoolers. Led by teacher, Michelle, the program included story-telling, healthy snacks and the sharing of success stories from parents. Teachers have noticed improved learning and an increased rate of literacy since commencement of the program. The Beyond the Bell, Moyne Action Group program is now involved, and has been extended across the Moyne area

Samantha Little of Leneva, has helped thousands suffering with depression through her book ‘Into the Fog’, focusing on her own challenges with depression. Samantha speaks at community events and schools, encouraging others to be open about their issues. She created the ‘My Big Sister’ program, holding sessions with Secondary students, teaching skills to deal with adversity to prevent the build-up of issues which can lead to mental illness. Samantha is also studying a double degree in Law and Psychology

Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award

Wimmera Health Care Group of Horsham, have 160 committed staff providing aged care services across three sites. Providing a supporting environment to enhance the wellbeing of older people, they are the only service in the region with immediate access to on-site allied health professionals including, dentists, dieticians, massage therapists and podiatrists. Wimmera Health have implemented the Named Nurse Concept, Person-Centred Care activities such as ‘My Day’ forms, pain management programs and participated in the 5,000 Poppies Project

St Catherine's Hostel of Wangaratta, is a not-for-profit residential care facility, providing accommodation for 69 permanent residents and two respite care beds. Their philosophy is to provide a family environment and facilitating others to live life to the fullest regardless of age, ability or illness. St Catherine’s operates ongoing education programs and staff are supported to undertake tertiary education. The facility holds three year accreditation with the Aged Care Standards Agency and have been praised for their Nurse Practitioner Program and commitment to technology

Shepparton Retirement Villages Inc, founded in 1968, is community owned and cares for more than 600 residents in three locations. Expanding into Home Care and Community Support, they are in the final stages of design for a new 120 bed, $34million state of the art aged care facility with a specialised dementia wing. The 420 staff are offered training programs, staff flexibility and opportunities for advancement. The Villages have great community involvement with 190 volunteers delivering activities and services to residents

Lyndoch Living Inc of Warrnambool, is a community owned, not-for-profit Incorporated Association, employing approximately 420 staff with 180 volunteers. The Facility consists of 198 beds, and their community services cater for 670 individuals. Lyndoch Living participates in community programs promoting health and wellbeing and have developed partnerships with Continence Australia and Hearing Australia. Lyndoch Living, in partnership with South West TAFE provide onsite training for students studying Aged and Community Care and have increased internal staff training by 60%

Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award

Avoca Hotel, is a three time recipient of the Golden Plate Award for Best Regional Hotel Dining, and two time winner of their State Award for Best Hotel. Located in the Pyrenees wine region, owners, Ian and Alison are passionate about sourcing local ingredients and supporting locals with employment and training. Avoca Hotel received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for the past four years, and has consistently rated as their Number 1 restaurant in the region. The Avoca is also a major sponsor of local sporting clubs

Orbost Auto Electrics, excellent customer service is demonstrated by providing call outs for elderly customers. They travel to broken down customers and provide free loan cars whilst servicing vehicles. The business employs three staff and three apprenticeships. The business has grown from 887 customers in 2004, to 2,276 customers last year, achieving a 60% growth in turnover. Orbost Auto Electrics were finalists in the East Gippsland Business Awards and Winners of the 2016 VACC Industry Awards Best Auto Electrics in Victoria

Robert Trewin of Bairnsdale, established Robert Trewin Mortgage Broking 12 years ago. He believes in offering old fashioned face to face service and operates by his motto of treating all clients equally. Robert won the 2015 Regional Australian Broker of the Year, and the East Gippsland Business Awards for Professional Services. He established the Cooper Trewin Memorial SUDC Research Fund, and has helped raise over $600,000. The business has loaned $350 million to thousands of Gippsland clients helping make their dreams a reality

Natasha Perri of Main Ridge, has been employed as Operations Manager at Green Olive Red Hill since 2014. Natasha provides excellent customer service and is responsible for meeting, greeting and seating guests, as well as handling customer feedback. Since being employed there has been an increase in online reviews, customer satisfaction and a decrease in customer complaints. Green Olive has also achieved Gold in the 2015 Qantas Australian Tourism Award and Gold in the 2014 and 2015 RACV Victorian Tourism Awards

South West TAFE & Deakin University South West Regional Achiever Award

Robyn Ledin of Warrnambool, is Assistant Principal of Warrnambool East Primary School. After noticing an increase in young students experiencing trauma, Robyn established a Nurturing Room. The Room provides a safe haven for students to transition into the school day, providing breakfast, conversation and activities. The program has resulted in increased engagement, improved learning outcomes, reduced absences and improved behaviour and social skills. Robyn has secured funding to continue for the next three years and to assist five other schools to establish Nurturing Rooms

Tim Baker of Warrnambool, is a specialist emergency medicine doctor at Warrnambool and Portland Hospitals, and lecturer at Deakin University. Recognising the need to improve emergency medical care in the South West, Tim initiated the Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine. He has successfully built a regional emergency workforce of doctors, medical students and smaller emergency care facilities to the state-wide emergency care system. Tim’s has been invited by State and National Government committees to be the advocate for the emergency medical needs of rural communities

Kate Meade of Peterborough, is Director of the Victorian Dance Festival, giving regional dancers the opportunity to dance with Australia’s top Choreographer’s and Educators. The event has grown in three years from 200 to 2,400 attendees in 2016, with dancers coming from all over Australia. The Festival was awarded ‘Victoria’s Favourite Event’ by Ausdance Victoria and ‘Best Community Event’ by Colac Otway Shire. Kate has taught dance to over 5,000 students in regional Victoria and volunteers teaching dance to children and adults with a disability

Caitlin Morden of Warrnambool, is a 15 year old student at Warrnambool College and a member of the South West Academy of Sport Cycling Squad. Caitlin initiated a community bike ride, raising funds for Southern Way Direct Care Inc to purchase health and fitness equipment for people living in disability residential support homes. The ride also catered for people with a disability, providing them with a sense of inclusiveness. Caitlin has influenced people in other regions to establish similar disability awareness and fundraising rides

Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award

Lake Bolac Eel Festival Inc, is a community based art and music festival, focusing on environmental issues and Indigenous culture and has been the inspiration for several documentaries. Organised by a volunteer committee, over 800 hours was contributed to produce the 2015 festival. The festival has won several significant Awards including for Contemporary Cultural Development from Regional Arts Victoria. The festival provides a vibrant cultural experience to the small rural community and promotes the restoration of Lake Bolac and surrounding waterways

Maryborough Riding for the Disabled, established 35 years ago, provides clients with the feeling of freedom of movement and confidence, and builds their core strength and communication skills. The organisation is run by 35 volunteers and sees 18 clients each week and encourages riders to partake in local Pony Clubs and Gymkhanas and to engage with their community. Two riders have won titles at State and National level. The members also volunteer many hours fundraising, attending events and assisting the riders

Ballarat Relay For Life, is organised each year by a group of passionate volunteers to raise funds for the Cancer Council’s research and support services. In the past 15 years, the Ballarat volunteers have raised over $1,073,000 helping the 569 people every year who are diagnosed with cancer within the City of Ballarat. In 2016, 721 community members took part in the relay and 50 local businesses provided sponsorship. They aim to raise over $100,000 in their 2017 event

Heyfield & District Historical Society, was founded in 2002, and the “Save our Post Office – Make it our New Museum” project was launched in January this year. The museum will showcase the diverse history of the Heyfield District. Since beginning the project, committee members have volunteered more than 655 hours of work, and have raised $145,000 enabling them to purchase the museum. The Museum will strengthen pride within the town and its heritage, and allow for community involvement on many levels

MOA Benchmarking Community Service in Aged Care Award

Tracey Hooke of Kilmore, is the Lifestyle Coordinator at Caladenia Nursing Home. She is passionate about her role, often working beyond her rostered hours, volunteering in the evenings and on weekends. As part of the wellbeing and lifestyle program Tracey developed the “Sensory Me” program, recognising and responding to special memories of the residents. “Tracey’s Social Dining In” allows residents to socialise with friends and enjoy a special meal together. Other popular initiatives are Wedding Days, an Ice Creamery store and a sensory garden

Ursula Jaehner of Mildura, has been a Community Visitor Scheme Volunteer since 2005, spending over 500 hours providing companionship with those at risk of being socially isolated and lonely. She communicates patiently, lovingly and respectfully with people from all backgrounds including those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Ursula’s visits make a real difference to residents’ lives, evident by their smiles and interactions. Staff provide ongoing feedback confirming the positive contribution that Ursula makes to each of the residents she visits

Pauline Walters of Euroa, is Apartments Supervisor at The Old Colonist’s Association of Victoria and has been an employee since 1998. Pauline is passionate about the residents and their welfare and familiarises herself with their social and emotional needs. Pauline goes above and beyond for the residents, taking them to doctors’ appointments, grocery shopping and helps with their gardening on weekends. She is also the after hour’s safety contact for medical emergencies, attending to those in need in the early hours of the morning


Parks Victoria Environmental Sustainability Award

Middle Island Maremma Project of Warrnambool, is a volunteer committee protecting the Middle Island Little Penguin Colony after fox attacks reduced the number of penguins from 700 to 4. The group implemented a world first project using Maremma dogs. Since the first dog went to Middle Island in 2006, no penguins have been lost to foxes and the population is now approximately 160 birds. The Australian film ‘Oddball’ was based on the project and Zoos Victoria are now using Maremma Dogs

Winters Flat Primary School of Castlemaine, have harnessed the power of student voice, community and environmental respect to drive their ‘Students Leading Change’ WFPS Sustainability Program. The school has dramatically reduced its carbon footprint and embedded sustainable practices throughout the curriculum. Initiatives include working with local elders on the creation of the Bush Tucker Garden and the Nude Food Policy encouraging families to buy fresh food. The school has gained 5-star accreditation through reducing waste, energy and water consumption and increased biodiversity

Four Wheel Drive Victoria, works with the community to remove unsightly and environmentally damaging waste from State Forests and National Parks. 190 volunteers contributed 839 hours in the 2015 ‘Clean up the Bush’ Campaign. They collected 245 cubic metres of rubbish, 8 car bodies and 120 tyres from the Nerrina State Forest and the Wombat State Forest. Working together with community members to achieve a cleaner environment, they are spreading the message to recreational drivers to take care of the bush

Federation Training Gippsland Regional Achiever Award

Kirsten Finger of Warragul, co-founded “Olivia’s Place” in 2014. It took two years of persistent grant applications, public speaking and media releases to raise sufficient funds. “Olivia’s Place” is a centre focussed on supporting parents during pregnancy and transition into early parenting. Kirsten was awarded a 2016 Baw Baw Shire Australia Day Medallion for her contribution to the community. Through “Olivia’s Place”, Kirsten is actively empowering the Shire community to bring to life the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child”

Sue Murphy of Trafalgar, is passionate about community. Sue is an active member of the Baw Baw Arts Alliance, a not for profit community organisation providing a focus for the arts in the Baw Baw shire. She led the team that initiated and re-furbished Yarragon and Trafalgar Railway Stations into gallery spaces and arts workshop areas. Volunteering up to 30 hours each week, Sue works at the Trafalgar Opportunity Shop, supports the work of Trafalgar Rotary and is secretary of the Trafalgar Youth Resource Centre

Aislin Jones of Lakes Entrance, commenced shooting clay targets when she was 12. She was the youngest Australian to shoot a perfect round of 100/100 in domestic skeet and at 15, won the Open Women's National Championship. Aislin speaks at Schools and Rotary Groups motivating her audiences about success, work ethic and achieving goals. She trains more than 8 hours and travels 10 hours each week. She was named the youngest ever member of the Australian Olympic Shooting Team for the 2016 Rio Olympics

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

Love to Sew Ladies of Shepparton, was established 15 years ago and consists of a group of volunteers who share a love of sewing, knitting and craft. Most members live in the Independent Living Units, and they meet regularly offering a welcoming environment and ongoing friendships. The ladies have donated clothing to orphans in Romania and assist Shepparton Villages with their fundraising activities. They make exquisite hand knitted woollen socks and have hand sewn 120 bed quilts to raise funds for their new facility

Margaret Cox of Seymour, volunteers countless hours helping others to combat social isolation, particularly the elderly in her community. She has been a member of the Country Women’s Association for 25 years and is President of PROBUS, Seymour. For 18 years, Margaret has overseen fundraising and activities for the residents at Karingal Elderly Citizens Hostel. She has supported the Cancer Council for 15 years and been involved at the University of the 3rd Age for 7 years and was President for three

Sunassist Volunteer Helpers Inc of Mildura, is a not for profit community organisation. They were established 30 years ago after recognising the need for community transport for those with disabilities. Sunassist provides a range of services including Meals on Wheels, community transport, assisted shopping and social outings for the elderly or people with disabilities. Sunassist has 300 volunteers and 3,000 clients, allowing them to live in their own home and feel independent. In 2015, volunteers provided 50,246 hours, travelled 443,032km and delivered 26,723 meals

 

2011 Finalists

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award
• Border Pathology

• Camperdown Compost Co

Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award
• Lead On Ballarat Inc

• Committee of Gippsland Rotary Centenary House

Fonterra Dairy Leadership Award
• Heidi Knowles

• DemoDAIRY Co-operative Limited
• Dairyfarmers of Victoria Macarthur Branch

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
• Orbost Secondary College

• South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association

Medibank Healthy Participation Award
• Greater Shepparton on the Moove

• YMCA Anglesea Recreation Camp
• Corryong School of Dance

BlueScope Distribution Leadership and Innovation Award
• McKern Steel

• Cris Ruhr

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
• Goulburn Valley Hospice Care Service Inc

• Ballarat Woodworkers Guild Inc
• Graham Dettrick
• Bodhi Hawken

Beaurepaires Road Safety Award
• L2P Learner Driver Mentor Program
• Eastern Region Motorcycle Working Party

Regional Development Victoria Trade and Career Achievement Award
• Pauline Birch

• Karina Finch

Department of Sustainability and Environment Water Efficiency Improvements Award
• City of Ballarat

• John Padman
• Northern Grampians Shire Council

 

2010 Finalists

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award
• FreshBins Pty Ltd

• Wangaratta Coachlines Pty Ltd

Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award
• Kyabram Ambulance Auxiliary

• The Awakenings Festival

Fonterra Dairy Leadership Award
• Dairy Extension Centre

• Murray Dairy Incorporated

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
• Broken Boosey Conservation Management Network

• John Sherwood

BlueScope Distribution Leadership and Innovation Award
• McCallum Disability Services

• Tracy Montgomery & Helen Marsham

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
• "Copsnkids" Program Ballarat

• Mark Uren

Regional Development Victoria Trade and Career Achievement Award
• Pauline Birch

• Sarah Parker

RACV free2go Youth Community Involvement Award
• Prue Addlem

• Michael Stott
• Rachel Tharratt


2009 Finalists

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award
• Tgarage

• Tatura Hot Bread
• Girton Grammar School
• Luv a Duck Pty Ltd

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award Population over 5,000
• Kyabram Ambulance Auxiliary

• Stawell Railway Station Gallery Inc
• Raising Dust Inc
• Bendigo Youth Choir Inc

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award Population under 5,000
• Talbot Farmers Market

• Bridgewater Youth Swimming Hole Committee
• Joint Service Clubs of Terang and District

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
• Peter Reefman

• Damascus College Energy Breakthrough Team
• Conservation Volunteers Australia (Ballarat)

Bartercard Local Hero Award
• Kevin & Rhonda Butler

• Jodie Thorneycroft
• "Copsnkids" Program
• Anne Leadbeater
• Kevin Butler

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
• Elizabeth Maffei

• Wayne Collins
• Julie & David Hayes

Regional Development Victoria Trade and Career Achievement Award
• Nathalie Jeffrey 
• Priscilla Taylor 
• Susan Brumby 

RACV Free2go Youth Community Involvement Award
• Ben Easton

• Our Space ,Our Shire, Our Solution, Youth Action Committee (Macedon Ranges Shire Council)
• Word and Mouth Ltd