Overall Winner: Gascoyne Junction, WA

Gascoyne Junction, a community of about 70 people, has proven with stunning success that a strong sense of community, resilience, self-reliance, and passion are alive and well in regional Australia. At its heart, Gascoyne is a true example of what communities can do when focused on strong community, innovative sustainability, and self-reliance.

A very active and dedicated community of volunteers play an enormous role in ensuring Gascoyne Junction flourishes and maintains its standing as a caring and dedicated community. Various groups work together and in partnership with the Shire of Upper Gascoyne to accomplish positive social, sustainable, environmental and economic outcomes – on the journey to becoming a sustainable Gascoyne Junction.

The collective effect of this success has provided an incentive to continue to work together to achieve a common vision for a better environment, an enhanced quality of life and a sustainable future for all residents and visitors to Gascoyne Junction.

Dame Phyllis Frost Litter Prevention

This award recognises innovation and achievements in litter prevention or reduction through education, effecting litter management or behaviour change.

WINNER: Gascoyne Junction, WA

A range of initiatives have been undertaken by Gascoyne Junction and the Shire aimed at reducing litter in the town and region. In Two Rivers Memorial Park, bins are strategically placed to keep this heavily visited area clean. Litter bins are also strategically placed at key stopping points across the Shire to prevent litter being generated by visitors, keeping it out of the local natural environment.

A colourful bin sticker with educational messages is designed each year by Gascoyne Junction Remote Community School. Four Containers for Change bins have been installed outside the school for the community to collect eligible containers which are driven four hours to the Carnavon refund point by a local volunteer. Funds collected go back into educational resources.

The local community newsletter, Gassy Gossip, is also utilised to promote litter prevention, litter management, and behavioural change message.


Residents from Mount Liebig and staff from the MacDonnell Council have formed an effective partnership to tackle litter. Through a variety of new initiatives, the community is ensuring Mount Liebig is litter free, such as a chilled water fountain that reduces the number of plastic bottles disposed of each year, no single-use plastics are available at the community store and biodegradable containers are now used for lunch. Mount Liebig is in fact a leader in litter control throughout the NT.

(Mount Liebig , NT)

Mount Liebig’s Cedric Dixon is to be commended for his unwavering commitment to ensuring litter is not an issue within the community.

Cedric is truly Mount Liebig’s Litter Champion.

Resource Recovery and Waste Management Award

This award recognises innovation and achievements in recycling or waste reduction including initiatives that conserve resources or recover and re-use materials.


Strathbogie Shire Council is committed to supporting Waste Education in Euroa with the community embracing extensive diversion of kerbside waste to landfill. With waste education, waste wise events and a network of transfer stations, the town has achieved significant waste reduction results. Recycling and waste avoidance education community events have built a community of confident recyclers ready to share their knowledge.

 Almost 70% of kerbside waste was diverted from landfill in the Shire, ranking third in Victoria. Moreover, the Shire has a reputation for low contamination rates in both yellow and green bins. Results like these show Euroa’s residents are confident when it comes to waste reduction and overall management and are consistently doing the right thing.


Waste is managed in Scone at a clean and well-maintained facility with paper, bottles, metals, polystyrene, and green waste recycled. A Food Organics Garden Organics recycling program has been developed and implemented whereby community members recycle food scraps from the plate to the paddock.

Strong partnerships between Upper Hunter Shire Council, Scone Tidy Towns, the Return and Earn Scheme, service organisations and schools have provided a practical and functional use, reuse and recycle resources policy. A reduction of 924 tonnes of waste going to landfill was achieved in six months, an overall reduction of 30% compared to the previous period.

Heritage and Culture Award

This award recognises outstanding commitment to the conservation and celebration of a community’s indigenous and non-indigenous heritage and culture.


Oatlands is a historic town with the largest collection of pre-1837 buildings in Australia. A significant number of historic buildings, especially those of Georgian heritage, provide a distinctive charm to tourists and residents. The preservation of cultural and historic features is a major priority.  

The Callington Mill historic site is owned by the State Government and leased by Council. It is a unique precinct that was established in 1837 comprising a cluster of buildings built of local Oatlands Sandstone, which consists of a fully operational Windmill, Granary, Miller’s Cottage, Mill Owners Cottage, Stables and Piggery.


Culture and heritage are so deeply ingrained in Mount Liebig that most people are unaware it is still practiced to this extent. Local residents use the natural resources of the surrounding area to procure traditional foods.

The school plays a large role in continuing the students’ connection to local culture. One of the initiatives towards this goal is teaching the students Traditional Dance. The students are taught by elders who teach the significance of the dance, as well as when and who can perform songs and dances.

Besides traditional values, laws and cultures, adopted cultures are also important. In Mount Liebig, residents have incorporated the Lutheran teachings of German missionaries with their own traditional beliefs as each is just as important as the other.


HIGHLY COMMENDED: Gascoyne Junction, WA

Partnerships and assisting one another are a way of life at Gascoyne Junction. A key value and part of normal Shire operations is inclusivity, joint ventures, indigenous employment, and open lines of communication, enabling collaboration and cooperation with Yinggarda Aboriginal Corporation.

Students from the school, the local School of the Air, and visitors from Carnarvon and Exmouth are regularly invited to hear stories and interview elders of the Gascoyne. This project is being further developed through a virtual reality project within the school and a podcast through the Community Resource Centre.


Young Legends Award

This award recognises achievements by an individual or group/s of young people (under 25) who have demonstrated significant commitment to the environment and/or have made significant contributions to any of the other categories.

GROUP WINNER: Belltrees Public School (Scone, NSW)

Belltrees Public School practices a holistic approach to environmental initiatives. Students focus on the synergy between projects and enhancing the natural environment. By bringing together students, staff, and community members to evaluate the school’s activities and address identified issues, the Youth Environmental Council has been instrumental in identifying, planning, and implementing these initiatives.

 This process is integrated into the curriculum with students investigating key concepts relating to local initiatives and researching best practice for implementing change. Overall, these changes have built a culture of inquiry, problem-solving and agency into students, readying them for the challenges in the future.



The work of Renzy Perez at Belltrees Public School deserves individual recognition. Throughout Belltrees journey to become the greenest, little school in Australia, Renzy was the only student in Year 5 and 6.

As the school’s Youth Environment Council president, Renzy led, inspired, and informed. The school’s sustainability initiatives are enhanced through his advocacy and he has worked tirelessly to ensure that the school’s projects are successful, from bottle sorting to pasture cropping to tree planting to composting.

Our world needs more climate-conscious, problem-solving citizens like Renzy Perez.



Mount Liebig runs smoothly because of Travis Baliva, a 20-year-old who is responsible for all operations. Travis has excelled in his duties with a level of maturity well beyond his years despite very little work experience before joining McDonnell Regional Council in Mount Liebig.

Although Mount Liebig is a small community, it still takes a lot of work to ensure power and water delivery are not disrupted. Travis does it all, he’s a plumber, an electrician and a mechanic! Between keeping the water flowing and the power flowing, Travis joins the Council’s civil team to help with cleaning streets, collecting community rubbish and assisting with whatever their job is that day.



Environmental Sustainability – Energy Award

This award recognises leadership and innovation in energy conservation and management in the face of a changing environment.


Euroa’s Microgrid Demonstration Initiative turned conventional edge-of-the-grid challenges into clean energy opportunities. Energy-related behaviour changes and clean, affordable, and secure energy were driven by business, renters, and the Euroa community. The initiative promotes more efficient use of energy and showcases the opportunities which arise as a function of collaboration with experts and partners. The initiative has succeeded because the proposal was localised to Euroa and managed for local community benefit. It demonstrates how climate action has been well embraced by the Euroa community.


Mount Liebig is committed to going green and developing sustainable practices. Almost all council assets within the community have been fitted with energy-efficient LED lighting, and the remaining old tech lights are being replaced with LEDs.

Mount Liebig is the first remote community to completely replace petrol equipment with electric. Oil and fuel mixtures are eliminated, reducing fire hazards, and preventing potentially harmful recreational use.

Noise pollution has also been reduced, causing less disruption to the community and preventing ear damage for operators.

In addition to the community centre, all six of Mount Liebig’s outstations have been fitted out with solar and batteries, enabling them to enjoy off-grid life like their community counterparts.



HIGHLY COMMENDED: Gascoyne Junction, WA

The Shire of Upper Gascoyne Strategic Community plan’s objectives look to protect the environment, promote ecological sustainability, protect water quality, pursue water and energy conservation and manage future built development. As a result of the high cost of electricity in the town’s remote region of Western Australia, and the high demand for electricity during the hot summer months, solar has been a focus and priority for the town.

The Junction Hotel and Tourist Park, which operates a roadhouse, accommodation, restaurant, and bar, installed solar panels in early 2022 to reduce overheads and generate clean energy to put back into the community.



vironmental Sustainability – Water Award

This award recognises leadership and innovation in water conservation and management for the future.

WINNER: Gascoyne Junction, WA

Because of its remoteness and scorching summers, water is a highly valued resource in Gascoyne Junction. There have been significant investments made to ensure this resource is used sustainably, supplying the town with potable water and meeting requirements for town parks, gardens and firefighting.

Previously inefficient reticulations at Two Rivers Memorial Park and Town Oval were replaced with a new system that saves 47% of water.

An alternative water supply was a priority for Gascoyne Junction to move away from its current water supply located in the adjacent river system. The Federal Government provided funding for an exploration drilling program that drilled a new borehole to access artesian water. The aquifer provides a vast quantity of water, meeting the community’s future needs.


Mount Liebig in Central Australia is supplied with clean drinking water by bores driven deep into the ground to reach water tables. Although Mount Liebig has better water supply than many other remote communities, waste water is still a concern. To ensure water is delivered to the community without fail, bores must be kept clean, well maintained, and operating smoothly.

Mount Liebig’s power and water infrastructure have recently been upgraded. This included computer programs to monitor borewater inflow, chlorine dosing rates, and storage tank outflow. This monitoring program has the major benefit of alerting multiple personnel when anything unusual happens with the water supply such as water leaks. An unusually high water output will now raise alarms that can be followed up quickly, reducing water loss significantly.


In partnership with Merrimuka Pastoral, Scone’s Belltrees Public School investigated how to improve the water quality and biodiversity of the Hunter River beyond monitoring the health of the river. In order to achieve this, agricultural management practices were reviewed and adapted using regenerative agriculture principles.

Managing soil erosion run-off was a major accomplishment, along with ensuring the water leaving the plot was free of excess nutrients. The school’s regenerative agriculture principles were drawn upon again to ensure filtration of water was occurring at all stages. Water reeds were installed at the inflow of the ponds to ensure soil and nutrients were being made available to plants. Eventually, water was stabilised in ponds, slowing flow.




Environmental Sustainability – Natural Environment Management Award

This award recognises the protection, conservation and enhancement of the natural environment.


Euroa’s community is proud of the stunning Euroa Arboretum grassland, which provides environmental improvements, economic benefits, and an opportunity to educate locals, schools, volunteers and visitors to Euroa.

The 27 hectares was once a grazing area for sheep, and more recently a VicRoads depot before transforming into a functioning ecosystem.

In the early days of Euroa Arboretum, the grasslands were dominated by introduced grasses with scattered trees. The team worked with Taungurung Traditional Owners to manage the grasslands collaboratively. Grassland diversity and structure are slowly returning, increasing the biodiversity of insects, reptiles and birds. There is a healthy population of vulnerable fauna and flora.

A well-managed resource, one third of Victoria’s seed supply is propagated at the Arboretum.



For the long-term sustainability of Lake Dulverton and the recreational opportunities it provides on the edge of Oatlands, Council developed the Lake Dulverton Management Strategy. The Strategy outlines the overall management of four zones identified within the lake area to the high-water mark, plus the surrounding foreshore.

A special committee of the Southern Midlands Council, the Lake Dulverton and Callington Park Management Committee, primarily made up of volunteer community members, oversees the implementation of the Action Plan. Its specific objective is to maintain the long-term sustainability of the lake’s fauna and flora habitat while providing recreational opportunities.





Environmental Communication and Engagement Award

This award recognises outstanding achievements in raising awareness in environmental sustainability, leading to empowerment and behaviour change amongst the target audience.

JOINT WINNER: Gascoyne Junction, WA

The Gascoyne Junction community is highly invested in seeing the district succeed and develop for future generations. A Plan for the Future 2022-2032 was created by the community. Four key objectives were identified, including ‘Our place: well-maintained infrastructure and preserved natural environs for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations’. This includes continued support for community groups, controlling noxious weeds and declared animals, promoting soil preservation and erosion mitigation and also investigating opportunities to increase accessibility to and facilities at local natural attractions.

The monthly newsletter ‘Gassy Gossip’, also updates locals on upcoming events, past events, road conditions, work being undertaken, Shire updates, school updates, articles, and more.


In Euroa, a key focus of Strathbogie Ranges Conservation (SRC) is protecting rare and endangered ecosystems in the Ranges. A Fungi Festival was first held by the SRC in 2018 and has been held every year since, with an accompanying art, cultural, and food festival introduced in 2019.

Including primary schools and high schools provides children with multiple opportunities to learn about the importance of the natural environment, and specifically about the role fungi play in the ecosystem. Through art children communicate their learnings in a creative, accessible way with the diverse community.

This annual event is a huge success, combining education about the importance of the mycelium and fungi world, artistic expression and fabulous dining events.



The agriculture industry is facing many challenges, including climate change, soil degradation, methane emissions, and deforestation. Belltrees Public School recognised the importance of developing the skills and knowledge of students and future agriculture leaders, to not only survive but thrive.

As once in a century events have become more frequent, it was decided to bring the community along on this learning journey. Excursions have incorporated Belltrees Public School students, parents, and staff, who have then led field days and tours at Belltrees Public School for over 200 local school students and community members about these principles.


Community Health, Wellbeing and Interest Award

This award recognises initiatives for the health and well-being of a community building a strong, healthy vibrant and accessible community.

WINNER: Gascoyne Junction, WA

Gascoyne Junction sets new standards for inclusion, diversity, well-being and resilience.

Gascoyne Junction Remote Community School, with only 11 students, is a generous fundraiser for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, McGrath Foundation and WA Leukemia Foundation.

To foster relationships between residents and pastoralists, the town’s Drought Resilience Leadership Program hosted 40 residents. They formed friendships and connections as they discussed systems and services that could reduce living challenges in Upper Gascoyne.

Each year, the Junction and Landor Races and Gymkhana Committees and Kennedy Range Campdraft Club host iconic events, attended by thousands, thanks to the work of volunteers and donations.


Scone’s ‘Where’s there a Will’ program addresses mental health concerns and provides youth with coping skills and strategies. In an Australian, and possibly even a World-first, an entire cluster of schools, early learning centres, a travelling toybox and members of the community are embracing Positive Education to improve mental health and wellbeing.

It is a community-led and funded charity working to improve mental health and community wellbeing in the Upper Hunter, children from kindergarten through Year 12 can develop resilience and self-awareness through ‘Prevention through Education’. Youth are taught to build their own resource toolkit, so they can call on their strengths to make informed choices for their own wellbeing now, during and long after their formal education is completed.


Midlands Multi-Purpose Health Centre in Oatlands has received a Five Star Rating for its aged health care. The Center’s staff and the wider community are understandably proud of this achievement and should be commended for their commitment, dedication, and hard work.

Opening in March 2023, the Oatlands Aquatic Centre has a 25m six lane pool, toddler pool, and gym. With this well-designed facility built in harmony with the town’s heritage design, the health and well-being of the community is greatly enhanced.

Through the support of Southern Midland Council, ‘Rural Alive and Well’, a suicide prevention and well-being program, has grown to provide valuable support to rural communities across the Southern Midlands, Central Highlands and Glamorgan/Spring Bay.



Founded in 1876 and having weathered many downturns, the Horsham Agricultural Society remains a vital bedrock for Horsham’s community events and programs. Along with organising and hosting many events, the Society also works to reinvigorate local structures and buildings, as well as bolster the social, economic and mental wellbeing of its local community.