2021 National Finalists

The National Awards of Excellence recognise and showcase the excellent work, initiatives and innovative efforts of parks and leisure professionals who deliver enormous benefit to our communities. Finalists have been announced at events held across the country with National winners to be announced at the Awards of Excellence Virtual Gala Event on 26 November.

2021 National 'PIVOT' Award Finalists

The PIVOT award is a national only award and recognises the most inspirational act of a member, or their team in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. This award celebrates human endeavour, leadership and resilience in the face of an unprecedented challenge.

  • VIC/TAS
  • The Mental Health eLearning Program was developed under the guidance of international health and exercise experts with the support of 19 leading community, sport and leisure organisations. There were no existing mental health support programs in the parks and leisure sector so we decided to make a difference.
  • QLD
  • Christmas on Bauble Street was one of five major events held as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's innovative 12 days of Christmas program. Bourbong Street was transformed into a wonderland that culminated in a unique outdoor dining experience inside giant, glittering baubles. It brought people together in a beautiful, underutilised park.
  • VIC/TAS
  • Healthy Heart of Victoria (HHV) aims to improve health outcomes across the Loddon Campaspe region. HHV has made thoughtful improvements to existing outdoor places in disadvantaged areas to make them more safe, accessible and active. HHV provided leadership during COVID-19 by adapting projects and working in partnership to address emerging health and wellbeing needs.
  • NSW/ACT
  • COVID-19 led to an increase in the demand and value for quality Public Space in our community. The Public Spaces Division's fast and innovative leadership across NSW has resulted in a record spend of close to half a billion dollars to provide more, better and activated public spaces.
  • NSW/ACT
  • During the Covid-19 lockdown with all the Ku-ring-gai, Wildflower Team launched the Wild @ Home and Junior Rangers on Zoom Environmental Educational Programs to engage kids and support teachers locally and nationally in natureplay and citizen science projects keeping them healthy and engaged in their local natural environments.
  • VIC/TAS
  • Rec People supported the industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by offering a free professional development online forum to keep people connected, to share information and to support each other professionally and emotionally throughout the pandemic. Nineteensessions attracted over 1,400 registrations from Councils and partner agencies across the country... read more
  • NSW/ACT
  • The Education and Visitor Programs team at Sydney Olympic Park rapidly transitioned their school excursions, public tours, Ranger talks, professional workshops and sustainability events into interactive online experiences through a variety of video platforms. This enabled ongoing access to learning and continued community participation in the life of the Park.

2021 Best Regional/Rural Industry Contribution Award Finalists

  • QLD
  • Merry & Bright was one of twenty events held as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's innovative 12 days of Christmas program. Bundaberg Botanic Gardens was transformed into an enchanted wonderland, bringing thousands of people together safely to lift spirits and address social and economic issues exacerbated by recent disasters.
  • WA
  • Djiljit Mia Community Gathering Place is an innovative, grassroots and truly collaborative project coordinated by the community of Dunsborough. Djiljit Mia highlights the Aboriginal heritage, history and associations of the area as the location of Wadandi fish traps and ceremonial gatherings. It includes nature-based play features, Aboriginal art and sculpture.
  • VIC/TAS
  • Activities in the Park Program provides an opportunity for Greater Shepparton residents and visitors to explore a park within Greater Shepparton and participate in a number of free activities encouraging people to engage with their community, be outdoors and physically active.
  • NSW/ACT
  • The Telopea Park RFS Fire Truck Memorial Playground project celebrates the spirit of a rural community through the successful delivery of a lasting legacy in honour of two volunteer firefighters through a unique RFS Fire Truck Memorial Playground in the small village of Buxton, NSW.

2021 Best Use of Technology Award Finalists

  • NSW/ACT
  • Putting Sport & Local Government on the Same Page. Through a collaboration between ActiveXchange and the Office of Sport, the SportsEye Network unlocks the potential of data from 30 sports, so they can evidence growth potential and community impact on a rolling basis. This puts sport and LGAs not just on the same page, but on the same team.
  • WA
  • East Fremantle Oval Sport and Leisure Precinct. ActiveXchange's SportsEye initiative (technology) and related Investment Planning Model has guided the decisions on 100+ major infrastructure projects in just 2 years. The East Fremantle Sport and Leisure Precinct ($20m in State Government funding), led by the Paatsch Group, is a best practice example for the application of this technology.

2021 Community Based Initiative of the Year Award Finalists

  • QLD
  • Christmas on Bauble Street was one of five events held as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's innovative 12 days of Christmas program. Bourbong Street was transformed into a wonderland that culminated in a unique outdoor dining experience inside giant, glittering baubles. It brought people together in a beautiful, underutilised park.
  • VIC/TAS
  • The Skate Ambassadors program role models a positive, inclusive and safe skating culture. Designed to have lasting impact, profile the sport and advocate for the future of Melbourne's skating community, we break down barriers to participation and foster a positive relationship between city skaters and visitors, businesses and residents.
  • NSW/ACT
  • The Festival of Place is a celebration of our public spaces and presents a new and innovative programme, highly participatory curation and event delivery. The development and success of the Festival is driven by a highly engaged partner program and citizen-led engagement.
  • WA
  • Djiljit Mia Community Gathering Place is an innovative, grassroots and truly collaborative project coordinated by the community of Dunsborough. Djiljit Mia highlights the Aboriginal heritage, history and associations of the area as the location of Wadandi fish traps and ceremonial gatherings. It includes nature-based play features, Aboriginal art and sculpture.

2021 Community Facility of the Year Finalists

  • SA/NT
  • The Conyngham Street depot redevelopment is an innovative City of Burnside master planning project that transformed an unsightly and underutilised council storage depot into a unique, multi-purpose community hub. With a focus on community use and environmental sustainability, the redevelopment merged five disparate uses into a cleverly designed single site.
  • NSW/ACT
  • Parramatta Escarpment Boardwalk. After a decade in the pipeline, skirting an impressive cliff and built over the river, a new boardwalk has been completed in Parramatta. The Parramatta Escarpment Boardwalk Project is a new fully accessible shared use pathway linking the extensive foreshore pathway network into the heart of the River City CBD.
  • WA
  • The City of Swan's Beechboro Community Hub was refurbished into a vibrant community hub. Main renovations were completed in 2019 to offer combined central services for residents, with the facility now including the library, Swan Active, Your Café and the Place Office.
  • VIC/TAS
  • Oakleigh Recreation Centre Indoor Stadium and Gymnastics Facility Development delivered a state-of-the-art 5-court indoor stadium including show court and accessible and female-friendly changerooms and amenities; permanent fully equipped, fit-for-purpose state-level gymnastics centre with more than 2,000 square metres of air-conditioned floor space; and new and expanded gym and programming rooms.

2021 David Aldous Young Professional of the Year Award Finalists

  • NSW/ACT
  • Emma Lowe has rapidly progressed to an organisation-wide leadership role within Belgravia Leisure, repeatedly displaying leadership, professional skills and behaviour that underpin excellence. Her dedication to her role as Access and Inclusion Coordinator has made her a wonderful ambassador for Belgravia Leisure and the parks and leisure industry.
  • VIC/TAS
  • Hsar is an inspirational Community Ranger dedicated to connecting Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities to nature. Born in a refugee camp on the Thai Burma border he is Parks Victoria's first park ranger from a refugee background and is determined to share his knowledge so he is not the last.

2021 Major Event of the Year Award Finalist

  • VIC/TAS
  • St Kilda Film Festival is Australia's largest and longest-running short film festival. The Festival is an Academy Awards qualifying event, showcasing Australia's emerging cinema. In 2020 the festival was transformed to an on-line event in six weeks, so it could continue to provide this popular leisure opportunity in people's homes.

2021 Park of the Year Award Finalists

  • VIC/TAS
  • Variety Livvi's Place at Edgebrook showcases an innovative model of designing with empathy and story through play for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It features sensory-rich play installations, designed with allied health professionals and behavioural therapists. It interprets ASD behaviour and therapies, supporting children through selective, abstract, non-competitive play.
  • WA
  • Bina Parkland's development has been an inspiring collaboration driven by holistic and community focused planning and engagement. With strong focus on the natural environment, reinforcing cultural heritage and providing spaces for social inclusion and recreation, particularly for young people, Bina Parkland delivers important health and wellbeing outcomes for the community.
  • QLD
  • Gladstone Ports Corporations East Shores Stage 1B. With a continued focus on providing the community with connectivity to the harbour and high quality social infrastructure, GPC has continued to transform the Flinders Parade area from an industrial precinct to a state-of-the-art recreational hub with the opening of East Shores Stage 1B in August 2020.
  • SA/NT
  • The Barossa Adventure Station in Angaston is a family friendly adventure playground and parkland featuring a one kilometre mountain bike trail, zip-line, accessible trampolines, bespoke tower and slide, skate ramps, bouldering wall, half-court basketball, sensory sound forest poles and serene picnic spaces.
  • NSW/ACT
  • Knox Park Entry Plaza is a significant project for the community of Murwillumbah. It takes back vital green space consumed in the 80's for carparking. The re-energised space encourages social connectivity through robust and flexible design, whilst acknowledging the sites early 1900's historical past and designing for a sustainable future.

2021 Playspace Award (<$0.5M) Finalists

  • NSW/ACT
  • St Peters Fences is a public art playground that recreates the front fences of houses demolished in the St Peters, NSW area due to the infrastructure expansion. The 24 leaning fence structures are built from locally salvaged bricks and connected together with refurbished traditional playground equipment.
  • VIC/TAS
  • Wellesley Reserve playspace is a unique, fully custom designed sensory playspace. It was designed with input from the community, to create an inviting and playful environment full of sensory design elements to engage children with additional needs, and provide for all sorts of play via sound, sight, touch and smell.
  • WA
  • City Beach Playground. A unique new nature playspace full of character and adventure, embedded into the embankment at City Beach Ovals featuring twin racing hill slides, rustic recycled timber fort, limestone boulder amphitheatre with sand pit and the new home of the Happy Tree with community library.

2021 Playspace Award (>$0.5M) Finalists

  • NSW/ACT
  • The Bridges Hill Park playspace provides a creative, challenging and imaginative play and recreational space that is nestled within a sloping natural landscape. The new playspace weaves the stories of the Wonnarua culture with the unique local site character to create a space for all ages and abilities.
  • WA
  • Koolangka Koolangka Waabiny Playground. The new playground at Wellington Square welcomes everyone to come together to socialise and play; it will enable people of all ages, abilities (both physical and cognitive) and cultural backgrounds to enjoy the space.
  • VIC/TAS
  • The Diamond Creek Regional Playspace was developed by Nillumbik Shire Council through collaboration with community groups, local business' and organisations. Many contributed to the refurbishment and construction of the tram café adjacent to the playspace by the Diamond Creek Rotary Club. The playspace features experiences for all ages and abilities.
  • QLD
  • The Mill Playground features custom designed adventure and water play spaces. Spaces have been carefully designed to include universal access, non-prescribed junior play and multiple level adventure exploration. The combination of water and adventure play provides a unique opportunity for children of all ages to explore the limits of play.

2021 Research Award Finalists

  • WA
  • Park Design, Smart Cities and Technology. This research demonstrates that the incorporation of smart technology into parks increases both the visitation and usage of park areas. Community members prefer smart technologies that they can physically interact with and technologies that increase park sustainability.
  • VIC/TAS
  • The ENJOY Project was designed to fulfil the need for an age-friendly outdoor space for older people to be physically active in the community. Outcomes highlighted the potential of this innovative approach to positively impact on older people's lives through change in the built environment and inclusion of specialised equipment.
  • QLD
  • A Better Approach to Providing Urban Greenspace. Empirically-led PhD research examining approaches to urban greenspace provision - specifically parks. Comparative case studies of two fast-growing, mid-sized cities in Australia and Canada reveal insider perspectives and inform seven key principles for practitioners. Simple conceptual models communicate identified factors and their complex relationships to broad and diverse audiences.
  • NSW/ACT
  • How Families Use Playgrounds in Regional Australia. This research highlights the importance for individuals to be able to 1) manipulate, 2) adapt and 3) care for their neighbourhood playgrounds. Neighbourhood playgrounds offer a unique environment where responsibility for urban design can be shared between professionals and families, enhancing families' sense of support and self-worth.


2021 Strategic Planning Award Finalists

  • VIC/TAS
  • Caulfield Racecourse Res. Sport & Rec'n Strategy. @leisure assessed the site potential and constraints in developing the racecourse for local and state sports facilities. The plan undertook significant demand, and facility supply assessments. Site selection and evaluation criteria assessed options. The plan includes a concept plan, business case and cost-benefit analysis.
  • WA
  • The City of Busselton Sport & Recreation Facilities Strategy is the outcome of one of our most comprehensive and engaging community consultation initiatives. It ensures a realistic, achievable schedule of prioritised projects rather than short-term reactive projects that may meet wants of some groups but not necessarily consider the needs of the entire district.
  • NSW/ACT
  • Waverley Council's Inclusive Play Space Study provides a blueprint to direct the future provision, planning, design and development of public inclusive play spaces across the Waverley LGA.

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