Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Tasmania’s Campbell Town wins National Can Do Community Awards

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today named Campbell Town in Tasmania as the state and overall national winner in the 2003 Can Do Community Awards.

Presenting the awards in Canberra, Senator Patterson said the Campbell Town Revitalisation Project was an outstanding example of what a community with true ‘can do’ spirit can achieve.

“The efforts of the Campbell Town Community Development Organisation, with the active support of the local community, have worked together to turn a rural town in decline into a thriving community,” Senator Patterson said.

“Since the revitalisation project began in April 2002, this township of around 900 residents has been building a convict brick trail and enhancing the main street, Elizabeth River and the bridge. It now has its own monthly newspaper and a popular youth support network,” she said.

John Richardson, who accepted the award on behalf of Campbell Town, said the award would help the community to retain its enthusiasm and pride.

“I am extremely proud of what we have achieved in the past 18 months. This award reinforces that small communities can reinvent themselves by working together,” John Richardson said.

“This award will not only help us in monetary value to develop further the current projects we are working on and will encourage our community to continue the process of revitalisation,” he said.

Senator Patterson said: “The project is so successful that the Northern Midlands Council has had to develop a new infrastructure to cope with the growing number of tourists visiting the area. A key success factor for Campbell Town has been the strong partnership between the Council, local businesses and community groups.”

“It is fitting that these communities be rewarded for their innovative solutions to local problems, particularly when they make a lasting difference and can be applied elsewhere within Australia,” she said.

The Can Do Community Awards are part of the Australian Government’s Stronger Families and Communities Strategy. There were two new special award categories this year – the Early Intervention Award for initiatives targeting youth suicide, crime prevention and drug dependence, and Media Reporting on community revitalisation.

Each state/territory and special awards winners received $10,000 in prize money to support their ongoing work, with the national winner receiving an additional $10,000.

Other winners were:

State/Territory Awards

  • VIC – Return of the Sacred Kingfisher Festival is an annual community event celebrating the return of the Kingfisher to its original habitat on the Merri Creek catchment in East Brunswick, Melbourne, after a 20-year absence.
  • WA – the Balingup Making Progress initiative comprises a variety of projects that reinforce the identity of the community, such as the development of the largest community arboretum in the state, an annual Small Farm Field Day, an annual Medieval Carnivale, a youth group and an elderly residents housing initiative.
  • QLD – the Sustainable Healthcare Model for Moura and Surrounding Districts was established to attract and retain doctors to the town. It has involved the community purchasing the local Medical Centre and entering into an agreement with the state medical association to lease the practice and supply a doctor.
  • SA – the Barmera Main Street Markets have made this Riverland town come alive. With up to 7000 people visiting the town each month, there is no longer a concern about the closure of shops and a lack of general trade within the township.
  • NSW – Gulargambone community venture, two eight two eight (named after its postcode), has transformed a rundown old theatre into a multi-faceted community centre with coffee shop and regular movie screenings. It has also signed a contract with the Coonamble Council to deliver library services run by volunteers.
  • NT – Adopt-a-Park was initiated to encourage the town’s young people to take ‘ownership’ of their 75 local parks, most of which had suffered from vandalism and anti-social behaviour. The resulting ‘Parkwatch’ has increased the use and enjoyment of parks by local families and young people.

Special awards

  • EARLY INTERVENTION AWARD– the formation of the Meekatharra Men’s Group has seen a reduction in family and domestic violence and a newfound respect between the older men and adolescents in this Western Australian town. The Indigenous male health and educational group meets every week to discuss issues of concern and how to address them, and participate in camps, providing an informal environment and positive role modelling.
  • MEDIA REPORTING AWARD – the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, the major newspaper in the Sutherland Shire, NSW, has supported the Sutherland Shire Suicide Safety Network Inc through sensitive reporting of issues surrounding suicide and promoting the work of the Network.