Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership Award winners – New South Wales

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today congratulated the two New South Wales partnerships who won awards in the 2003 Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships.

The partnership between the Gwydir Valley Cotton Growers Association and Moree Aboriginal Employment Strategy Ltd (MAES) won the small business category.

“Over the past seven years MAES has worked with business and the community to create jobs, reduce crime and increase school retention rates in the area,” Senator Patterson said.

“In its first three years, it placed 168 Aboriginal people in employment in the cotton industry. Together, they have trained Australia’s first two Aboriginal Cotton Classers.

“I would also like to acknowledge the significant funding support that the Australian Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has provided to this project.”

The partnership between legal firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques (Mallesons) and the Ted Noffs Foundation won the award in the large business category.

“They provide a legal service for youth, which gives accessible free legal advice and referrals for all young people aged 14 – 21 in the community, including those referred through the Ted Noffs programs.

“Mallesons also offers the Foundation financial support and their staff work as volunteers, take part in fundraising, learn about youth issues and improve their communication skills.”

Senator Patterson also commended two other partnerships that received Judges’ Encouragement Awards.

The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and Research Australia, won a Judges’ Encouragement Award in the large business, multistate category. Research Australia is an association of 100 members and donor and support organisations all with a common goal to make health and medical research a higher national priority.

“The ASX offers Research Australia an operational base for the organisation, infrastructure support, assistance with marketing, media, finance and specialised staff, opportunities for joint projects, and information sharing,” Senator Patterson said.

A partnership between PMI Insurance, TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute – and Habitat for Humanity to build homes for low-income families also received a Judges’ Encouragement Award.

“Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 150 000 houses in 80 countries. Through donations of money, materials and the use of volunteer labour under trained supervision, Habitat builds and renovates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner,” Senator Patterson said.

“In addition to a $500 downpayment and the monthly mortgage payment, the homeowners are required to invest 500 hours of their own labour.

“These excellent examples of innovative partnerships in New South Wales have increased Indigenous employment, created housing for low-income families, provided free legal advice to young people and encouraged investment in medical research.”

Senator Patterson was also pleased to announce a new brokerage service that will match community organisations and businesses and encourage them to build strong partnerships, providing further evidence of the Australian Government’s commitment to fostering community business partnerships.

“The service will be operated by Our Community Pty Ltd, a gateway to 700 000 community groups and schools, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Municipal Association of Victoria, and should begin by the end of 2003.

“The Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships are awarded annually to partnerships between community and business organisations that have generated positive long-term outcomes for the community,” Senator Patterson said.

The Awards at the State and Territory level are divided into three categories: small, medium and large business.

Nine national finalists will be chosen in November from the state and territory winners. The national winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Sydney on 17 December, hosted by the Prime Minister, and will receive $10 000 for their community partner.