Regional councils sweep local government awards

From a social campaign to rehome lost pets to an online community engagement tool, regional councils have dominated NSW local government awards.

The state’s regional councils have ended Local Government Week on a high note, with rural councils taking out all but one of the respected RH Dougherty Awards.

The multiple gongs are welcome news for regional councils, who for months have been crippled by a state-wide drought.

Mid Western Regional Council won an award for its Community News Bulletin.

The awards on Thursday, hosted by the state’s council peak LGNSW, recognised a total of 28 councils across eight award categories including excellence in communication, reporting, innovation in events and arts and culture awards.

In the RH Dougherty Category, Upper Hunter Shire Council, Bathurst, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Mid-Western Regional, Bega Valley, Tweed Shire, Bland Shire, Queanbeyan and Rous County were all applauded for their innovation, while Randwick was the only metro council in the category.

Upper Hunter Shire Council’s We LIVE Here was described as a statement of belonging.

Among the highlights include Bathurst Council’s social media campaign to help re-home lost animals, Bland Shire Council’s football event which attracted thousands to a town of 500 people, a library in the Snowy Valley which partnered with the Indigenous community for NAIDOC and an emergency dashboard from Tweed Council which helped the community in the midst of a disaster.

The Big Football stimulated tourism for Bland Shire Council.

Leading the pack in the Culture Change Innovation and Excellence Award was North Sydney Council, whose redevelopment of the Coal Loader Centre was applauded alongside Coffs Harbour’s PlaceScore – an online tool to engage with the community.

Local Government NSW President Linda Scott applauded the councils for their creativity.

“As the closest tier of government to the local community, it is critical that councils engage in best practice communication with the people they serve,” Clr Scott said.

“Great two-way communication strengthens local democracy and helps ensure we all have a say in our future.”

NSW Local Government Awards winners 


Excellence in communication in local government

Category A – Councils with populations up to 30,000

Winner: Upper Hunter Shire Council
We LIVE Here

Highly Commended: Parkes Shire Council
Parkes Business Attraction Campaign

Judge’s Comments:

A statement of belonging for the community and a strong brand



Category B – Councils with populations between 30,000 and 70,000

Winner: Bathurst Regional Council
– Happy Tails

Judges’ Comments:

All councils should have this initiative, ensuring animals get returned or rehomed using social media. This is a clear winner.

Category C – Councils with populations over 70,000

Winner: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council
Meet the Hastings Family – Which Bin?

Highly Commended: City of Canada Bay
– Bag It, Bin It dog litter reduction campaign

Judges’ Comments:

Created a little family that people connected with. Innovative, good distribution and a great promotion to educate users


Reporting to Your Community
Category A – Councils with populations up to 30,000

Winner: Mid-Western Regional Council

Community News Bulletin


Judges’ Comments:

Impressed with impact on community for the dollar and value of money spent. It was also a great use of social media

Category B – Councils with populations 30,000 – 70,000

Winner: Bega Valley Shire Council

We’ve Got You Covered

Judges’ Comments:

Informative, concise, innovative with a good visual presentation.


Category C – Councils with populations over 70,000

Winner:  Tweed Shire Council

Highly Commended: Inner West Council

Judges’ Comments:

When the Tweed community was facing devastation, hardship and tragedy the Tweed Emergency Dashboard was pulled together quickly for the service of the community

Innovation In Special Events
Category A – Councils with populations up to 30,000

Winner: Bland Shire Council
The Big Football

Highly Commended: Edward River Council
Small Business Month 2018

Judges’ Comments:

The tiny village of Ungarie (population 557), managed to attract 2,000 people to this event. It’s an innovative way of acknowledging a special local family, and it also stimulated tourism for the local economy.


Category B– Councils with populations between 30,000 and 70,000

Joint Winners:

  • Bega Valley Shire Council – FOGOMentary Premier

·         Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council – Queanbeyan’s Music By The River

Highly Commended: Cessnock City Council
– Together We Deliver: City of Cessnock NAIDOC Week 2018

Judges’ Comments:

Bega Valley Shire Council –
This project demonstrated the value of getting children involved and gave them ownership in an innovative way while helping to get their families involved. An innovative and progressive event which was a credit to all involved.


Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council
This is culture done well by Queanbeyan-Palerang Council and a wonderfully successful even that activated the new parkland area.

Category C – Councils with populations over 70,000

Winner: Randwick City Council
– Eco Living Expo

Highly Commended: Waverley Council
– Bondi Feast 2018

Judges’ Comments:

Excellent use of social media helped deliver significant growth and the development of the festival, and with creating better ecological outcomes.

Category D: Division ROCS and County Councils

Winner: Rous County Council
Big Scrub Rainforest Day

Judges’ Comments:

A good project for County Councils to be involved in to promote an appreciation of the natural environment. The Community Lecture Program is noteworthy.

Winner: George McCormick

Walgett Shire Council


Over a 13 year period George has delivered quite profound results in his engagement with young people in his community. He has made an outstanding contribution to the betterment of the communities of Walgett Shire, and in particular the younger generation.




Category 1 – Councils with populations up to 30,000

Winner: Snowy Valleys Council

NAIDOC Week 2018 – Celebrating Wiradjuri

The Tumut Library, on behalf of Snowy Valleys Council, partnered with the local Wiradjuri community and National Parks and Wildlife Service to deliver events during NAIDOC. This is the first time the community of Tumbarumba has marked NAIDOC Week in many years.

Category 2 – Councils with populations between 30,000 and 70,000

Winner: Bathurst Regional Council


RE-ORG Bathurst

The RE-ORG model has made an invaluable contribution to the professional housing, management and long-term preservation of Councils Collection.

Category 3 – Councils with populations over 70,000

Joint Winners:

  • City of Canada Bay
  • Mosman Council
City of Canada Bay
While You Are Here … Virtual Traces of Rhodes
A creative collaboration between the City of Canada Bay and the Rhodes Multicultural Community Association. Eight performers of Chinese heritage worked with Council to record their stories and performances to create an Augmented Reality experience.Mosman Council
New Sacred Exhibition
An exhibition developed by Mosman Council in partnership with City of Parramatta Council which resulted in efficiencies greater than could normally be achieved by two separate councils.



Excellence in Leadership Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution

Category A – Rural/Regional Councils

No nominees

Category B – Large Regional Councils


Elizabeth Lambert
Lake Macquarie City Council


Judges’ Comments:

Elizabeth and her team led a committed engagement process, ensuring feedback informed improvement to services. Elizabeth is a worthy recipient and example of excellence in leadership.

Category 3 – Metropolitan Councils


Monica Cologna

Cumberland Council

Judges’ Comments:

Monica’s leadership of the Cumberland Employment and Innovation lands Strategy exemplifies excellence in leadership. Monica led a collaborative approach to development of the strategy as an evidenced-base and expansive vision for council.

Culture Change Innovation and Excellence Award
Category 1 – Rural/Regional Councils

No nominees

Category 2 – Large Regional Councils

Winner: Coffs Harbour City Council

PlaceScore and Planning for a Compact City

Highly Commended:

·      Byron Shire Council – Car Share Pilot

·      Cessnock City Council – Braxton Town Centre

Judges’ Comments:

Coffs Harbour’s use of the PlaceScore tool was an innovative approach to engaging with different communities on their thoughts on what makes their LGA a desirable place to live. The data captured through the tool was then able to be harnessed by council to inform the direction of other policy documents.

Category 3 – Metropolitan Councils

Winner: North Sydney Council

Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability

Highly Commended:

·      Randwick Council – ICARE Values

·      Inner West Council – Creating the Greenway

Judges’ Comments:

North Sydney Council’s entry for its Coal Loader Centre was the clear winner as it shows what can be achieved through long-term planning. It demonstrates innovation in environmental sustainability by integrating community gardens and rainwater recycling into the layout while educating visitors about the site’s historical significance. It also exemplifies how early stakeholder involvement can really help to promote community buy-in from the outset.



Recognise and acknowledge the role played by councils in assisting young people to coordinate Youth Week programs.

Joint Winners:

  • Brewarrina Shire Council
  • Forbes Shire Council
Best Local Youth Week Program

Walgett Shire Council

Best Small Council with the Most Outstanding Youth Week Program

Brewarrina Shire Council

Most Innovative Youth Week Program
Joint Winners:

  • Camden Council
  • Walgett Shire Council
Best Ongoing Commitment to Local Youth Week Programs


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