Victorian Regional Achievement & Community Awards

2014 Winners of the Regional Achievement and Community Awards

Regional Victoria Living Expo Business Achievement Award
The Creekside Hotelwas re-opened in December 2012 after major renovations, and has seen massive growth ever since. Offering an extensive menu that brings city dining to the country, the Hotel employs 25 people and serves in excess of 1,000 meals each week. Known far and wide as ‘the place to be” for good food, wine and good times with friends and family, it is the only waterfront dining area in the Wimmera. The hotels annual community Creekside Food Fest also brings more than 1,000 people to the area.

Regional Victoria Living Expo Leadership and Innovation Award
New Freedom Bakeryprides itself on an award winning gluten free mix, developed by owner Terry as a result of 17 years of research. In 2010 Terry won the Bendigo Inventors Award for his mix and has since increased production from three tonnes to 82 tonnes. The Bakery showcases gluten free breads, pastries, cakes and slices and gives people with special dietary needs a place to go without fear of gluten contamination. Over the past four years, Terry has made enough gluten free mix to make 582,000 loaves and is keen to continue expansion.

Federation Training & Federation University Gippsland Regional Achiever Award
Alan Stuart of Mount Taylor, has been a member of the Mount Taylor Fire Brigade for 55 years. He has contributed countless hours participating and organising volunteers in recovery work post bushfires and floods across the Gippsland area. In fighting the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, Alan worked 35 consecutive weekends completing over 1,700 hours of volunteer work at that time. The impact of Alan’s work and his community contribution is both invaluable and immeasurable.

Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award

Ritz on Hotham, has developed a strong focus on customer service after it was revamped and re-opened in 2010 by Amy and David. Now one of Traralgon’s premier dining destinations, the Ritz on Hotham has seen tremendous growth in takings and tips in the past 12 months. This has been achieved by training staff to be friendly and welcoming as well as taking customer feedback onboard. The Ritz on Hotham makes 100% of their food in house and is one of only two Australian Good Food Guide recommended restaurants in the area.

Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award
Community Leadership Loddon Murrayis a not-for-profit association involved in developing and supporting community leaders through a diverse range of projects. Projects include an annual Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program, a graduate program, a SkillsBank and a number of other capacity building projects. Today there are more than 350 graduates across central and northwest Victoria active in community leadership roles including Board Memberships and Local Government Councillors.

Parks Victoria Environmental Sustainability Award
Dunkeld Kindergarten Bush Kinder began in March 2013 and involves taking the children once every fortnight to experience the Grampians National Park. The program gives children the opportunity to enjoy nature and learn from it. The sessions are mostly unstructured and only a camping toilet and toilet tent, first aid kit, wet weather clothing and resource box is taken on the trips. The bush kinder program also teaches the children about biodiversity, protection of the environment and building respect for the land.

Medibank Healthy Participation Award
Swell Mamas is an initiative that promotes healthy living and lifestyle through programs that engage women and families in surfing and beach play. It involves a weekly surfing support program where women and children meet for a social catch up and surf at a local beach on the Bass Coast. Swell Mamas also run short-term programs that target vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the community. The Swell Mama programs use surfing to build and improve social cohesion, physical activity, self-esteem and positive body image.

South West Tafe & Deakin University South West Regional Achiever Award
Vicki Jellie and Peter's Project was established in 2009 to attain vital lifesaving radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients in the South West. Peter’s Project was named after Vicki’s late husband Peter who lost precious time with his family whilst he was alive by having to travel to Melbourne for cancer treatments. Over the past five years, Vicki and Peter’s Project have managed to achieve their goal of a $30 million state of the art cancer facility for the South West. Now, the Peter’s Project Foundation supports the new facility by providing ongoing scholarships.

VACC Regional Safety Award
John Maher - Carmen's Road Safety, has been presenting the Carmen’s Road Safety story at secondary schools for the past 16 years after losing his daughter Carmen in a road accident at just 18 years of age. Last year alone, John spoke at 72 schools with 16,000 students hearing Carmen’s story. Carmen’s Road Safety story empowers students to understand the importance of taking responsibility on the road. In total, John has spoken to 150,000 secondary and University students


2013 Winners 

Regional Victoria Living Expo Business Achievement Award
Beechworth Honey Experience, began in 1993 and has emerged as Australia’s largest independently owned specialist honey packing company. Beechworth Honey Experience is a concept store whichtells a story about nature’s perfect food in an interactive fun way, leaving a lasting connection with visitors. The store sells Australian honeys and other products including an all natural beauty range, 100% Australian beeswax candles, bee themed gifts and books about honey and beekeeping

Regional Victoria Living Expo Leadership and Innovation Award
Rebekah Vass 
of Mount Pleasant, last yearreceived Gold Leadership and Volunteer Awards from the University of Ballarat. She is currently a senior student ambassador with the Regional Schools Outreach Program. She volunteers countless hours conducting workshops to encourage students to finish year 12 and enter further education. Rebekah is also President of the UniversityEnactus team. She has successfully started her own charity and is taking a group ofUniversity students to rebuild a school in Ghana that was wiped out by storms

Gippstafe and University of Ballarat Regional Achiever Award
Dr Christine Lee 
of Churchill teaches and researches “Management” in the school of Business and Economics at Monash University Gippsland Campus. She has made over 50 conference presentations, publications and journal articles. She has also successfully achieved research grants to the value of $100,000. Christine utilises her skills and knowledge in various voluntary roles and serves on several committees and boards including as Deputy Chair of the Gippsland Ethnic Communities’ Council

Fantastic Furniture Indigenous Achievement Award
Cassandra Anderson 
of Churchill will graduate in December as a Doctor in Medicine. At 28 years old, Cassandra is also the youngest Board Member of the East Gippsland School of Aboriginal Health Profession. She is a student representative for Indigenous Monash University Students and attended as a guest speaker and role model at the Young KoorieWomens event held in Bairnsdale. She paints her own Aboriginal art work and visits Indigenous Communities in other states to broaden her knowledge

Medibank Healthy Participation Award
Delacombe Primary School
 has 260 students, many of whom are socially disadvantaged. The school has received funding during the past four years to develop an Environmental Program to support 'students at risk'. This has included building a vegetable garden and chook shed and running a cooking program, using the vegetables and eggs to cook food to sell through the canteen. The school works with the local Community Health Centre and a dietician to educate families about healthy food options

Ricoh Australia Environment and Sustainability Award
Kaniva College 
has a sustainability mission to enrich the lives of impoverished people by collecting, distributing and recycling and reusing unwanted items. A partnership has been developed with the Rotary Clubs of Melbourne’s “Donations In Kind” warehouse program and the “Bikes for Humanity” program. Students mend and donate recycled bikes, computers and other items to the Rotary Clubs and they distribute them to underprivileged people in Africa, Asia and Fiji. Kaniva College hasalready sent 80 computers and 50 bikes with more to come

Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award
Firefoxes Australia
 of Pheasant Creek, is a not-for-profit organisation that started after the Black Saturday bush fires in 2009. Firefoxes has brought thousands of people together through retreats, leadership training, workshops and special events and dinners with inspirational guest speakers. They provide a voice and advocate for self care and a range of mental health services by connecting with Government, industry and community agencies.Firefoxes has since implemented their programs across Australia


2012 Winners 

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award
Design Experts 
of Bendigo, is a website design studio. Since inception in 2008, the business has grown from three to thirteen staff and now operates in three regional locations. It also has agents in Sydney and Bundaberg. Design Experts service 700 clients and have created more than 500 online solutions, which have been developed and are maintained via the internet. The business recently acquired it's first international website in Puerto Rico. They have also delivered over 300 eBusiness workshops about growing a business online to thousands of regional businesses.

Regional Development Victoria Trade and Career Achievement Award
Teho Kapakoulakis
 of Golden Square, is a leading regional Physiotherapist with more than 20 years experience in his special interest areas of Orthopaedic and Sports Physiotherapy. Theo has been integral to the significant changes in Bendigo Health's Orthopaedic Waiting List for Hip Knee osteoarthritis pain. He has also been instrumental in the introduction of Physiotherapy in the Emergency Department. Theo provides Physiotherapy services for the Bendigo Gold Football Club and volunteers at major sporting events in the area.

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
Sarah Cook
 of Chewton, graduated with a dance and teaching degree in 1999. She has spent the past 12 years developing accessible activities, events and programs for disadvantaged young people in regional Victoria. Her achievements include founding "Movement Zone Dance School" and the not-for-profit organisation "Xtremelnc Youth Projects". She also launched Station Y, a Youth Space Activity Program and teaches remote indigenous youth in the Kimberleys. In her spare time she volunteers as a mentor on a Mount Alexander Youth Mentor Project.

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
Demodairy Co-Operative Limited
 of Terang, was established in 1996. It is a 160 hectare commercial dairy providing dairy education, extension, research, trials, conferences and events. Demonstration sites help farmers, schools and community groups to improve farm management, energy, water efficiencies and environmental outcomes. In the past 5 years, DemoDAIRY has managed $600,000 in environmental projects including sustainable and energy saving buildings, indigenous plantings, recycling and farm waste management programs. More than 2,000 people visit annually.

BlueScope Distribution Leadership and Innovation Award
McKern Steel
 of Eaglehawk, is a family business that has become the major steel supplier to the domestic home building industry in Victoria. Managing Director Michael McKern is an outstanding leader and his commitment to providing innovative products has driven the company's success. McKern Steel has a $20 million annum turnover, and has given $75,000 back to local community organisations, including through the McKern Steel Foundation. It is the biggest employer in Eaglehawk and one of the largest in central Victoria.

Medibank Healthy Participation Award
Paul Kimber 
of Geelong, has been volunteer manager of "The Outpost", an outreach centre based in the heart of Geelong for 16 of its 22 year history. He is on-call 24/7, dedicating over 40 hours a week to providing emergency assistance for homeless people. Paul assists with food, medical assistance, accommodation, counselling and referrals. Paul encourages people in need to get together and meet in a safe place, share a meal and seek medical help when needed. Paul manages 80 volunteers and sees that over 24,000 meals are served to the needy every year.

Department of Sustainability and Environment Water Efficiency Improvements Award
Northern Grampians Shire Council
 developed the Stawell Storm Water Alternative Natural Solutions Project in 2011. The project involves the construction of water quality treatment ponds, storage dams, linkages and transfer infrastructure across the town. Stormwater subsequently irrigates sportsgrounds, parks, gardens and street trees. An assessment carried out this year has allowed the collection of storm water to be increased, sediment issues to be resolved and there is also now less need for human intervention.

Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award
Girgarre Development Group 
was formed in 2003 to take charge of the future of the town and surrounding farming district. It has established a monthly Girgarre Farmers Produce Market and built a significant events calendar to encourage visitation to the town. It has upgraded recreation reserve infrastructure, restored the Girgarre Memorial Hall, developed a "Talented Tiny Towns" alliance and formulated a strategy to build up the local Kindergarten. They have also funded a community car, school equipment and a CFA vehicle.


2011 Winners

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award
Tristar Medical Group of Mildura provides quality, affordable, and accessible health care to under-doctored communities. Since commencing business from a solo general practice in Warracknabeal, TMG now has 29 clinics throughout regional and rural Australia with a staff of 90 GPs, 20 full-time practice nurses and 140 support staff. They are active in the communities they operate in and provide financial and in-kind support to many local organisations. Each clinic bulk bills and is open seven days a week with an after-hours consultation service.

Regional Development Victoria Trade and Career Achievement Award
Andrea Harrison of Birchip, developed and manufactured her own range of children's shoes under the brand Soomi while also raising her young family. She also turned the logistical problem of sourcing children's clothing in a remote area into an exciting business opportunity. Andrea started her online store, "Kawaii Kids" in 2008 which has become the top online Australian store selling Japanese and Korean children's fashion. This year a sister site "The Kawaii Notebook" has also been established. Andrea also opened her first store in Birchip in 2010 and a new store is planned.

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
Lizzie Corke of Cape Otway, is the Co-founder and CEO of the Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre and an inspiration to all who meet her. Growing up in the bush led Lizzie to study Zoology. She is a registered wildlife carer and in 2009 established a tree banding and koala monitoring project. Recent achievements include the establishment of the Conservation Ecology Centre and obtaining a permit to keep endangered Tiger Quolls for education and research. She is currently working towards establishing a local conservancy among neighbouring property owners.

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
South Gippsland Landcare Network through community action, helps to preserve, protect and enhance the long-term sustainability of farming and the environment. The highlight of the Network is not the number of trees planted, but the 712 Landcare families involved in the 18 Landcare Groups. These members and supporters, have for over 15 years worked to plant trees, improve their soil and protect their remnants regardless of changes to funding. Recent projects include the Cape Liptrap to Bunurong Biodiversity Biolink and the Tarwin Catchment Enhancement Project.

Fonterra Dairy Leadership Award
Young Dairy Development Program, develops leadership and inspires young people to work cooperatively to ensure success in dairy. It is the only state-wide program specifically for the development of young dairy farmers. Events, open to all young people interested in dairy, meet the needs of young dairy farmers and service providers, and delivers skills, knowledge and pathways for the future. In the last 12 months membership has increased 19% to over 1,500 including over 1,000 young dairy farmers. During this period over 60 events have been run throughout the state.

Medibank Healthy Participation Award
Gippsport and The Big Issue of Morwell, is a Street Soccer Program using sport to promote social inclusion and personal change for the homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged. The program is free for males and females 16 years and older. Over one hundred people have participated and eight players attended the State camp in 2010 and 2011. Three were selected to represent Country Victoria at the Street Soccer National Championships. Eight participants have also completed the Football Federation Grassroots Coaching Course.

BlueScope Distribution Leadership and Innovation Award
Rotary Club of Kerang, are leaders and innovators in their community. They have developed a picnic/recreational area, run local Awards, send students on trips and to camps and have revitalised the Annual Art Show. The club has also continued its annual "Schoolies Alternative Project", providing an opportunity for students to travel to Cambodia to perform essential voluntary building and repair works. The club provides a team leader, a teacher from each participating school and a member from the Victorian Police as part of the overseeing team.

Department of Sustainability and Environment Water Efficiency Improvements Award
Kyneton District Health Service, is a public hospital with 26 overnight acute beds, 6 day stay beds, 3 chair dialysis services and a 30 bed Nursing Home. There is a significant commitment to environmental management. A number of water saving projects include rainwater harvesting, water pulse metering, the installation of a UV sterilizing/filtering system, ozone laundry and water recapture and reuse. Water use has been halved with a saving of 3.5 mega litres. The money saved has been invested in the employment of a social worker.

Beaurepaires Road Safety Award
Gary Lovell of Shepparton, is commander with the Shepparton Search and Rescue Squad and has been a member for 30 years. Gary developed a Schools Safety Program and visits schools and other youth related organisations delivering the free program. His program is adapted to the age group and includes power point presentations, videos and class room activities. One video for older students is an account by a young man who lost control of his car killing his three young passengers. Gary also delivers presentations for the Cool Heads Police Program and the Ready2Drive Program.

Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award
Heyfield Community Resource Centre, provides educational and social engagement programs for its 1,400 local residents. The Centre has focused on decreasing environmental impact. Projects were initiated to reduce household waste, waterand energy consumption and to increase disability access and safety for life-long sustainable living. The Centre implemented it's own "Sustainable Smart Town Program" in 2010, and 365 out of 700 homes participated. Increased community engagement, changed attitudes and sustainable living awareness resulted.


2010 Winners

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award
Wilson Transformer Company of Wodonga, is Australian owned and has been manufacturing since 1933. Wilson's supplyproducts used in electricity networks throughout Australia. Turnover in 2009 was $100 million and they are the market leaders in their product range. Revenue growth has increased by 400% in the past 7 years with the manufacturing cycle reduced from 14 days to 2 days. Wilson's have recently invested $800,000 in staff improvements and $15 million in new equipment and building works. Staff levels will increase from 240 to 290 as a result.

Regional Development Victoria Trade and Career Achievement Award
Elise Anderson of Castlemaine, bought her first business "Fair Dinkum Dog Coats" at 19. A year later she purchased "Midland Stock & Poultry Supplies". She then introduced a website, increasing her client base by 25%. Both businesses are flourishing through the benefits of cross promotion and Elise's ever-growing product knowledge. With a focus on developing long term relationships with customers, Elise continues to extend her customer base Australia wide, fast gaining a reputation for quality products and service. Elise is an inspiring role model for other young people.

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
Dr Doris Paton of Morwell, is a Gunai/Monaro Ngarigo woman who is a Team Leader of the Gipps TAFE's Koorie Education Unit. Doris works tirelessly toward improving opportunities for indigenous people. She is a leader in cross cultural engagement and improving education and employment outcomes in the indigenous community. Doris is also passionate in her support of preserving indigenous languages, through teaching and her contribution to State and National committees including as Vice Chair of the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. She recently completed her PHD in Philosophy - Education.

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
RiverConnect of Shepparton, was established in 2006 to oversee the health of the Goulburn-Broken Rivers and surrounding red gum forests. This encompasses Reedy Swamp, Gemmill's Swamp and the culturally significant floodplain area known as "the flats". RiverConnect facilitates, resources and supports partner organisations in reducing environmental impacts. The community has been mobilised to build capacity and take part in projects which influence the health of the river and its surrounds. This then improves the communities' patterns of consumption and environmental behaviour.

Fonterra Dairy Leadership Award
Macalister Demonstration Farm of Riverslea, has been providing dairy skills and knowledge for fifty years. Owned and operated by the community it runs a successful demonstration dairy farm which conducts research and demonstrations. In 2008/2009 its shareholders produced 590 million litres of milk from 510 dairy farms. The MDF looks for the latest ideas to lead the way for farmers. Their trials, demonstrations and extension activities are based around 'real' and commercially viable dairy farms which assist farmers to make informed decisions leading to greater profitability.

RACVfree2go Youth Community Involvement Award
The Tallangatta Herald Team, consists of students from Tallangatta Secondary College who run a fortnightly community newspaper. Students are involved in all aspects of production and they go out into the community to cover stories. This enables students to engage creatively within the community empowering them to make real and viable connections between groups and individuals. The Herald is a free paper with a circulation of 1,600. The paper is a tangible expression of the vitality of the community and is a credit to the student team that produce the paper.

BlueScope Distribution Leadership and Innovation Award
Kennedy Trailers of Bairnsdale, has manufactured custom built trailers for the logging industry, heavy machinery floats and also side tipping trailers for road trains for 30 years. They are a family owned business, starting in a shed in the back yard. They are now in a large 2,660 square, purpose built factory and are the largest employer of apprentices in East Gippsland. Through leadership, research and development Kennedy Trailers are at the forefront of innovative design and change, constantly improving the safety and efficiency of their trailers. They are also involved in community sponsorship and leadership programs including mentoring and interview training for school students.

Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award
Wycheproof Vision, is a group of dedicated community members that promote the town with the aim of sustaining its future. The group bring the community of 700 together each year to hold the very successful "Grain Festival", the only Grain Festival in Australia. The festival incorporates the 'Music on the Mount' which grows in size each year. A grant has been achieved to upgrade facilities for the smallest registered mountain in the world, Mt. Wycheproof. The rail station has been renovated through a Vic Track Heritage Grant and shopfronts including the old RSL Hall are being turned into youth rooms and a business hub.


2009 Winners

Regional Development Victoria Business Achievement Award
Luv a Duck of Nhill, is Australia's leading producer of duck products. The main farm and processing plant are located in Nhill, with sales and distribution centres located throughout the country. The company has a strong culture of training and professional development of its staff and is closely linked to its local community. Luv A Duck is a fully integrated operation, including egg production, breeding, hatching, growing, processing, selling and distribution divisions. Luv A Duck employs over 200 staff and houses more than 500,000 ducks with an extensive retail roasted duck range as well as duck accompaniment range.

Regional Development Victoria Trade and Career Achievement Award
Susan Brumby of Hamilton, is Director of Community Services for the Western District Health Service. In her role, Sue identified a need to research farmer health and the impact this has on overall farm productivity. Sue accessed funding for a pilot program and the award winning Sustainable Farm Families (SFF) initiative was born! This program has been improving the health of rural communities since 2003. The SFF program is the centrepiece of the National Centre for Farmer Health which was established in 2008 with Sue as Director.

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
Julie and David Hayes of Hallora, established the Blackwood Centre for Adolescent Development. The Centre is a rural setting for young people at risk. They have, for fifteen years been the driving force and led a team of teachers and volunteers in developing ways to stimulate cognitive development and impact on young people's ability to succeed in education. Students are referred by up to 15 local schools. Five Hundred and eighty young people have successfully undertaken this program and reintegrated back into school.

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
Conservation Volunteers Australia of Ballarat, is not-for-profit and delivers 100,000 volunteer days annually on conservation programs. CVA works with Catchment Management Authorities, businesses, community groups, tourism organisations, Local, State and Federal Governments, NGO's and land owners. CVA is a Registered Training Organisation and their programs have been awarded Ecotourism Certification. CVA is a member of the United Nations Environment Program Global 500.

Bartercard Local Hero Award
Kevin and Rhonda Butler of Kilmore East, decided to utilize their ability to organize and lead people to help others affected by the devastation of the Black Saturday Fires. Under the banner "Blaze Aid", Kevin has attracted volunteers from all over Australia and the world and has re-fenced over 400km with over 7500 volunteer days work. These volunteers have also helped to restore the spirits of fire survivors as they work together. Many volunteers are accommodated and fed by the Butler's. Their work continues in spite of having their own farm to run.

RACVfree2go Youth Community Involvement Award
Ben Easton of Swan Hill, is a founding member of Lead On Swan Hill and FreeZA and assists with local Victoria Police youth programs. He has been instrumental in securing a stronger youth focus for the local area and encouraging other young people to get involved in the community. Ben has won numerous Awards for his community involvement. He is leader in sport, at school and is a founding member of the Swan Hill Youth Council. Ben is also the youngest committee member on the Australian Youth Foundation Youth Engagement Committee.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Yea
Bridgewater Youth Swimming Hole Committee of Bridgewater, has been instrumental in bringing the old swimming hole back to its former glory. The youth have contributed significantly to the design and implementation of laying turf, painting the toilets, building steps to the water, a BMX track, half basketball court, beach volleyball court, access pier and a BBQ area. They have also held fundraisers for equipment. The young people are now also involved in a project to obtain better transport for the small communities.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (population over 5,000)
Raising Dust of Stawell, a group for young people aged 18-40 living and working in the Wimmera and Western Districts. The group aims to organise social and educational events to bring likeminded young people together for networking opportunities and fun times. Funded by Regional Development Victoria, the group is dedicated to combating rural social isolation and ensuring that young people in the area regularly have the opportunity to meet new people and enjoy everything country life has to offer. The group's most successful events to date have been their inaugural ball in 2007 and murder mystery night in 2008.


2008 Winners

Australia Post Business Achievement Award
Best Community Development of Ballarat, is one of Australia's fastest growing and most successful not for profit community based organisations delivering services to the community in employment, training, disability and youth in community and business areas. Over the 15 years, staff numbers have increased from 6 to 160, turnover from 350,000 to over 10 million and delivery sites from 1 to 23 with more than half of these owned by the organisation. A mission of enhancing individuals and enriching the community is achieved through commitment to continuous improvement and effective commitment to employment, education, community and business services to the general community and disadvantaged sectors

Australia Post Events and Tourism Award
Top of the Town Committee of Hamilton, held its inaugural Town Charity Ball in 2004. Due to the success of the Ball, a committee of 13 was reconvened for 12 months of planning for a 2007 event. Guests enjoyed a fabulous event in a giant marquee on the shores of Lake Hamilton to raise money for the Hamilton Base Hospital to replace an ageing Steriliser in the theatre valued at $107,000. The black tie event catered for 530 guests at $200 a ticket and featured Frankie J Holden and Wilbur Wilde. Hundreds of cars also lined the lake’s shores to view the spectacular fireworks and light display. The Ball raised $182,000 in profit which purchased additional equipment to the steriliser. The new steriliser also saves 31,000 litres of water each year.

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
Robert Pollock of Red Cliffs, has been President of numerous sporting clubs and for the past 15 years has dedicated himself to the St Vincent de Paul Society. Robert has served as the Red Cliffs and Sunraysia Conference President and Vice President of the North West Central Coast Council. His recent passion has been to develop a local Vinnies Budget Grocery for those in need and has worked tirelessly overseeing its development and the 100 volunteers who run the store. The Grocery sells at considerably less than retail prices and has achieved better than expected sales. Robert is also involved in building Independent Living Units for seniors, and relocating the Ouyen and Mildura Vinnies Shops to bigger and better locations.

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
Baw Baw Shire Council of Warragul, coordinates the collection of farm waste including silage plastic, chemical drums, farm waste oils for reuse and recycling and unwanted chemicals for safe disposal. Council’s main objective is to promote sustainable behaviour and good waste management on farms to ensure a healthy, safe and productive farming enterprise in an agricultural area which incorporates many significant national and state parks and catchment areas. Since 2001, the program has collected more than 200 tonnes of silage plastic, 11,000 farm chemical drums, 2,000 litres of farm waste oils and unwanted chemicals.

V/Line Volunteering Award
Mary Knights of MurrayvilleMary joined the Palliative Care Service as one of the first rural and remote volunteers for the Northern Mallee in 1995. After undertaking significant training which often meant driving the round trip of 420kms to Mildura, Mary’s role as a volunteer was to strengthen the ability of people and their families and friends to live as fully and richly as possible by providing compassion, comfort, companionship and all kinds of help. Mary provided support, assistance with feeding, transport and outings, giving carers a break and contact with families leading up to their loved ones death and even provided bereavement support for 12 months following the death. Mary often travelled long distances to provide Palliative Care.

V/Line Young People's Community Involvement Award
Simon Menz of Willaura, has a great passion for making a difference. He is School Captain, a life guard, an accredited hockey and basketball coach and is on the committee of numerous local community projects and events and sports clubs. He is a keen footballer and runner having won 3 major races and has competed in the Stawell Gift. Simon is a member of the CFA, volunteers at kids camps, helps the elderly, is a member of the Ararat Show Society and was selected to attend the National Aspiring Leaders Summit in Canberra. In 2007 Simon became involved in an alcohol awareness group at school and has since taken on a leadership role in education about Binge Drinking.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (population under 5,000)
Elmore and District Communitycapture’s the imagination of the tourist and encourages travellers to experience the warmth of the area. Elmore has a strong commitment to preserving its heritage reflected through tourist attractions and its buildings. More than 150,000 people flock to Elmore each year for the ever increasing number of annual events. The small community thrives on a strong community spirit which is supported by a network of volunteers who provide help with the numerous events including the Elmore and District Field Days. The small community of 880 is also looking to the future with the development of a town community plan.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (population over 5,000)
Wimmera Uniting Care and Awakenings Festival of Horsham, have been in partnership since 1996 running an annual ten day event that has developed into a diverse and community inclusive festival program acclaimed both nationally and internationally. The entire community is involved with more than 350 volunteers servicing the 10,500 visitors and 840 registered performers across 51 events. The Awakenings Festival is Australia’s only regional disability arts festival and embraces the true spirit of the Arts and community. This amazing event engenders social change and requires committed teamwork and gives whole community empowerment.


2007 Winners

Australia Post Business Achievement Award
Clyne Foods of Warracknabeal, was the brain child of Chris Clyne who was concerned about the status of the dried fruit industry and in particular foreign ownership and imports. Over 3 million dollars has been invested in building a 100% Australian owned product. During 2005, the plant processed 1500 tonne of dried vine and tree fruit, with contracts for over 3600 tonne in 2006 and a 20% increase in export contracts in 2007. The company has also added value to many other rural and regional businesses during a time of hardship and drought, and has increased from 68 to 220 growers with its own brand of retail packs of dried fruits introduced into Australia.

Australia Post Events and Tourism Award
The Murrabit County Market, was established in 1977 to provide financial support and bring the community together in a period of economic difficulty. The Market has grown to be one of the largest and longest running markets in Australia culminating with a huge fireworks display. More than 400 stallholders offer a wide range of wares for the 10,000 people who attend each market. This is an amazing achievement for a population of only 490 people, almost all of whom participate and help. The market provides valuable economic and social outcomes and has created a strong sense of community pride and financial independence.

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
Shane Robertson of Warrnambool is only 18 years old, but has achieved more than most could in a lifetime. He was elected Youth Mayor in 2006, named the National “Lions Youth of the Year” and was awarded the highest umpiring award in Victoria – the “Golden Whistle” for his dedication to Football umpiring. Shane is School Captain for Warrnambool College and was President of the SRC in 2006. He is a member of many musical ensembles and has directed numerous musical showcases and recently attained his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. Shane is often required to make presentations and speeches for the youth leadership programs and State Government Youth committees he is involved with.

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
The GipRip Project of Gippsland, has been instrumental in encouraging Gippsland Dairy farmers to implement environmental, land-care and sustainability practices on their farms and along their waterways. The program which began in 2002 in response to the deteriorating health of Gippsland’s waterways has rehabilitated almost 40 kilometres of waterways and made improvements to water quality, biodiversity, erosion and bank stability in the rehabilitated areas. The GipRip Project has also seen an increase in the number of dairy farmers involved in land-care activities.

The Department for Planning and Community Development Volunteering Award
The Charlton Community Theatre, was built in 1938 and has served the community continually since. The Art Deco Rex Theatre was set for closure in 2005 until the formation of the Charlton Community Theatre Board took on the project to save the Theatre. The Theatre Board and its 60 dedicated volunteers have gained the full support of a wide cross section of the community and the Theatre is experiencing a dramatic revival. The Theatre services the entertainment and cultural needs of a wide area of rural communities and adds significant social and economic value to Charlton by drawing in many tourists and travellers.

The Department for Planning and Community Development Young Peoples Community Involvement Award
Crash Course Productions Inc of Drysdale, consists of 13 young people and many volunteers, bands, parents and Council staff. They have run and evaluated 22 major events over the past 3 years including numerous live band performances, games events, fashion parades and art shows. The result has been a vibrant and thriving all ages’ scene filling a social activity gap for locals. Over $20,000 has been raised for a PA system for the “Potato Shed” which thanks largely to Crash Course Productions, has become a popular “all ages” venue. They have been so successful that a number of members now have their own production companies, run their own events and are hired as event managers by others.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (pop under 5,000)
The Community of Boolarra, has come from humble beginnings as a small railway stop to a now thriving town of 600 people in the foothills of the Strezelecki Ranges. After suffering tough economic times with shops closing and people leaving due to lack of work, the Community Development Group was established six years ago. The group is responsible for coordinating the community and it’s 350 plus volunteers to develop and undertake an enormous number of projects including a skate park, walkways and tracks, events and fundraisers, markets, a toilet block, bus shelters, grants, and a successful annual folk festival all of which contribute to the sustainable economic development of the town.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (pop over 5,000)
The Community of Maryborough's civic centre is surrounded by one of Australia's most significant clusters of public buildings and fine architecture and the Railway Station is an award winning tourist attraction. The population of over 7,000 is focused on working together cohesively to ensure the best possible quality of life for the community with over 15% of residents over 15 involved in community work. Activities include the annual CFA Education Centre, the Highland Gathering, RACV Energy Breakthrough Project, the establishment of a food manufacturing cluster and a value-adding agricultural and transport cluster.


2006 Winners

Department for Victorian Communities Volunteering Award
Walwa Community Emergency Response Team of Walwa
The CERT team is part is a part of a small community about 100 kilometres from Wodonga. The CERT team provides immediate first aid at medical emergencies before the arrival of an ambulance. The 16 volunteers in the CERT undertake comprehensive training with Rural Ambulance Victoria. The presence of the CERT in Walwa has contributed to a significant increase in local community confidence.

Department for Victorian Communities Young People's Participation Award
Dani Kline of Bendigo Central, has made a significant impact and contribution statewide through her involvement with numerous organisations. Dani has a passion for youth participation and for young people to speak up and be heard. Through her involvement in mental health forums, SBS Insight, Victorian Youth Affairs Council, Youth Loop newspaper and Youth Commonwealth Games, Dani shows the results that can be achieved by young people working together.

Australia Post Business Achievement Award
AWMA Pty Ltd of Cohuna, specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of water control infrastructure, technology and solutions to the irrigation, urban and waste water sectors. In the past 6 years, AWMA has established a 6 acre manufacturing site, employing a team of over 60 employees. AWMA are dedicated to ensuring products assist in saving time, money and water for customers and are dedicated to researching and developing innovative infrastructure and technology that improves the economic and environmental sustainability of our national water resources.

Australia Post Events and Tourism Award
The Elmore and District Machinery Field Days, are held annually over three days during the first week of October. More than 650 exhibitors and up to 50,000 people attend each year. Over 300 volunteers from local community organisations facilitate the smooth running of the Field Days providing catering and other services such as parking, ticket sales and courier services. These volunteers earn a share of the profits for their organisations, which together with sponsorships and grants greatly benefit the community. To date over $1,775,000 has been donated to local projects.

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
Chris Shoemaker of Sarsfield, is a nurse with 24 years experience in the Community Health field. Chris has a passion for sharing messages of health and wellbeing and coordinates a Pulmonary Rehabilitation and CHIPS program for young people with chronic illnesses. Chris has participated in many community events including the Victorian Aboriginal Football & Netball Carnivals when she took 16 indigenous young people to an AFL game and arranged a Western Bulldogs host-visit weekend. Chris is also a volunteer with many organisations and is on numerous committees.

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
Camperdown College Environment Groupconsists of students who organise a diverse range of environmental activities. The group through its own nursery has provided over 40,000 indigenous trees and 60,000 native grasses to community groups and projects and is actively involved in the Mt Leura and Mt Sugarloaf revegetation projects. They conducted the first ever student Wetlands Conference in 2001 as well as an annual environment week. They have their own environment centre, recycling shed and solar energy grid and undertake significant community projects with numerous environmental groups across Australia.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (Population under 5,000)
Community of Bruthen & District, is a small blossoming community in East Gippsland. Community spirit is very strong with an annual Blues and Arts Festival, monthly Village Markets, the Rail Trail and the newly launched Bush Walking Trails. Other new initiatives include a Medical Centre, Streetscape Plan, and a Historic Shop. Volunteerism is very strong and an award winning community newspaper keeps the community well informed of activities. The community has also developed a five year plan and has a clear direction for the future.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (Population over 5,000)
Township of Lara, once a farming community, Lara has a wonderfully diverse range of active community groups and individuals who have a passion and a common goal to make Lara a truly great place to live! Lara has a mini botanic gardens, restored historical buildings, excellent community integrated educational programs, active sporting, community and service groups, a town development plan, a unique nursery, a community centre and an attractive and well maintained town entrance. Lara is a clean and environmentally conscious town with many parks and an award winning wetlands.


2005 Winners

Australia Post Business Achievement Award
Patties Foods Pty Ltd of Bairnsdale,
 commenced as a small family owned cake shop in Lakes Entrance in 1966 with a staff of four. Run by the 6 sons of Peter and Annie Rijs, the original founders, it is a true Australian success story. Patties Foods is the market leader in the manufacture and marketing of frozen savoury pastries and frozen desserts with brands including Patties, Herbert Adams, Nanna’s, Snowy River and the Australian icon “Four’n Twenty”. Patties supplies the national grocery, route and foodservice markets and is a major employer in East Gippsland. It is regarded as the largest pie making manufacturing Company in Australia.

Australia Post Events and Tourism Award
The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival of Corryong, is held annually in Corryong, bringing together the Upper Murray Community with people from around Australia and internationally to celebrate traditional High Country and bush culture, in particular the imagery created by Banjo Paterson’s famous poem “The Man form Snowy River”. This is a unique bush gathering of mountain riders, poets, artists, and lovers of the Australian High Country and pioneering spirit. The Festival offers contestant, visitor and local alike a unique opportunity to be part of the celebration of traditional Australian bush skills. Over 18,000 attendees bring to the township an estimated economic contribution of 3 million dollars.

Parks Victoria Regional Achiever Award
Dr Bernie Jenner of Geelong West sees family, community, pursuit of excellence, unity, human kindness and caring, especially of those most vulnerable, as the reason for living. As founding member and President of Gateways Support Services and Hope Bereavement Care, Bernie improves the quality of life on a daily basis for people with disabilities and those bereaved. His care and selflessness sees that no one suffers alone, even through life’s most unthinkable tragedies, the death of a child. Bernie believes that giving is the true gift and essence of living, a philosophy that has inspired others to make change – a wonderful legacy that will see a better community today, tomorrow and for our future.

Parks Victoria Environment and Sustainability Award
Grampians Regional Waste Management Group of StawellA trial conducted in 2001 by the Grampians Regional Waste Management Group for turning green waste into pasteurised mulch suitable for agriculture use rendered such impressive results that a consortium of grape growers pooled their resources to purchase a compost shredder for shared use across the region. Water conservation of up to 30% has been achieved by the local grape growers and the four participating councils have recycled 7000 tonnes of green waste, effectively diverting 34,700m3 of material away from landfill. The Grampians green waste project exemplifies triple bottom line outcomes, with not only the environment benefiting but also local business and the community as a whole.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (Population under 10,000)
Culgoa Community Co-Op Ltd of Culgoa. When the township looked like loosing its store, the Community formed a group and decided to buy it. A co-operative was formed to give ownership of the store to the members of the community. One dollar shares were purchased in 50 dollar bundles. Many hours of work have gone into the refurbishment and running of the store. The store incorporates the newsagency, grocery store, video hire, internet access, hairdressing, secretarial services, professional room hire and catering. Paid and volunteer staff are utilised by the co-op board to run the very successful store.

Kleenheat Gas Community of the Year Award (Population over 10,000)
Save Our Train Community Action Group of Bairnsdale, was formed to secure the reinstalment of the twice daily Bairnsdale - Melbourne rail passenger service withdrawn in August 1993. Membership represented a wide cross section of the whole community that was constantly kept informed of the Groups’ strategies and activities. The action based campaign was characterised by thorough, responsible research and logical presentation of arguments. Strictly non-partisan, all political parties and interest groups were persistently lobbied. With the objective constantly being pushed within all levels of bureaucracy and government, the group finally won the day after an eleven year campaign.