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14 October 2020
By SARAH MATTHEWS
An indigenous art exhibition, solar money-saving project and railway station redevelopment were among key Wimmera triumphs in the 2020 Keep Victoria Beautiful Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards.
Horsham enjoyed three wins and a high commendation at this year’s ceremony, while a Willaura community group won recognition for an arts and culture hub along with funding for a second project.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, winners were announced at a virtual event in Beechworth on Saturday night.
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Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative health and wellbeing programs manager Dean O’Loughlin said the organisation was ‘very pleased’ to win the awards’ indigenous culture category for its ‘highly successful’ NAIDOC community art exhibition in July 2019.
The exhibition brought together an array of community projects showcasing regional Aboriginal heritage and culture.
Mr O’Loughlin said Goolum Goolum was fortunate to receive funding for the project from the Federal Government’s Indigenous Languages and Arts program.
“We started putting together six to eight months of really hard work to create an extensive exhibition of local Aboriginal artists in a wide range of mediums,” he said.
“We never expected it to be as big as it started out to be. In the end we had more than 60 indigenous artists represented, well over 100 pieces of work and 4300-plus people visited the exhibition – which is amazing for a small town.”
Mr O’Loughlin said this year’s exhibition, originally set for July, would be revamped for postponed NAIDOC Week activities in November. Goolum Goolum has also successfully won further funding to present an exhibition in 2021.
Mr O’Loughlin said he enjoyed the reflective process of applying for a Tidy Town award.
“It’s been a great process to be part of,” he said.
“The Keep Victoria Beautiful committee does a great job, particularly in light of the conditions surrounding the pandemic.”
Horsham Rural City Council’s Energising Communities project secured this year’s energy award.
The project involved installing solar panels in three community halls throughout the municipality.
The solar panels not only ‘dramatically reduced energy bills’, but surplus energy has provided a steady income stream for the halls’ management committees.
The council is planning to install solar panels at each of its community halls throughout the 2020-21 financial year.
Wool buyer Zack Currie collected one of two Young Legend awards for ‘injecting new life into Horsham Agricultural Society’.
Mr Currie won praise for leading and initiating events such as Horsham Show, Horsham German Fest and a New Year’s Eve family event by the Wimmera River.
He was also credited with bringing ‘new and youthful’ members into the society.
Wimmera Hospice Care Auxiliary collected a high commendation for its efforts to raise money for vital medical equipment for Wimmera Health Care Group’s hospice department.
The auxiliary, which celebrated 30 years in 2019, hosts several events annually and is raising money to refurbish a palliative care room.
An overhaul of an historic train station has netted Willaura Modern Incorporated a Tidy Town heritage and culture award.
Willaura Railway Station was the first building constructed in the town, in 1870.
Over the years it fell into disrepair and was destroyed by vandals, but has been restored by a committed group of volunteers working with VicTrack, Ararat Rural City Council and Willaura Historical Society.
It is now a gallery, cultural precinct and activity hub – HE(ART)BEAT of Willaura – run by Willaura Modern Incorporated, a voluntary organisation aiming to bring the town’s main street ‘back to life’.
The organisation also won a gift fund award to help refurbish the old Willaura courthouse as a studio space and creative workshop area.
Hastings, on the Mornington Peninsula, was crowned this year’s overall Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards winner.
Horsham and Dimboola were also in the running for the top accolade.
Keep Victoria Beautiful has a rich history in community reward and recognition and is best known for its long-standing Sustainable Communities – Tidy Town and Sustainable Cities awards.
Since their inception in 1983, the awards have gradually moved beyond simply rewarding towns for their tidiness.
Now, they focus on recognising and celebrating positive actions by communities and individuals.
The entire October 14, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!