Award recognises council’s disability inclusion efforts

Cobar Shire Council is among a number of regional councils to sweep the field at a special awards ceremony to mark Local Government Week 2017 held last week.

Regional councils took out all seven of the RH Dougherty Awards handed out by Local Government NSW (LGNSW) in Sydney last Thursday to encourage and recognise best-practice communication by councils to their local communities.

Cobar Shire won the NSW Disability Inclusion Award (a population-based category)along with Wollondilly Shire Council and Wollongong City Council.

Council’s director of corporate and economic development Angela Shepherd said their award application outlined how various local community groups (Community Health, Live Better and Home Care) use council’s Cobar Youth & Fitness Centre to provide services.

“We do this for free,” Ms Shepherd said.

“Working with these community groups is really important.”

She said youth centre manager Narelle Kriz has a passion for working with people and Live Better clients have been using the Youthie frequently.

Some of the clients have also been getting work experience at the centre helping to serve coffee to customers.

Council has recently upgraded the Youthie’s facilities to include a disability toilet and also a storage area for the wheelchairs for wheelchair basketball so they’re protected.

“We got a grant to buy a disability sports kit and ran a workshop on how to use it which was strongly supported by the community groups.

“This project has had a big benefit in increasing the focus within council and the community on the need to improve the ability of those with disability in our community to be included and able to access our services and facilities.

“Building partnerships in the community – with NGOs (non-government organisations), community groups and individuals – has been critical to the success of the project,” Ms Shepherd said.

“Winning the award hinges on  the wonderful support and efforts of centre manager, Narelle Kriz.”

LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said this year’s Local Government Week theme–Discovery, Diversity, Democracy—reflects the incredible breadth of activities undertaken by councils.

“Councillors are not only the democratically-elected representatives of their local communities, but individuals working within a board-like structure to help govern multi-million-dollar businesses,” Cr Rhoades said.

“Local Government employs almost 50,000 staff across the state, and has an annual spend of $10 billion – as a sector we’re active in almost every sphere of daily life.

“That’s why councils need the type of top-quality, two-way communication with their community that we’ve seen recognised this week.”

Cr Rhoades said all entries were of exceptional standard.