Victorian Regional Achievement & Community Awards

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