The Dimboola Town Committee was named a winner and three other local finalists received ‘Highly Commended’ awards at the 2019 Tidy Towns – Sustainable Communities Awards presentation dinner held in Dimboola on Saturday evening.

The Town Committee received the award in the Community Action & Leadership Award (population below 3000) category at the function which was hosted by ABC gardening personality Costa Georgiadis.

Above – Keep Victoria Beautiful board member Carly Wickenton (left) presenting the award to Dimboola Town Committee members Jo Donnelly and Kaylene Pietsch.

The Dimboola Memorial Secondary College was highly commended in the Active Schools category for the Mosaic Welcome Board project led by Yasmin Harradine, the local Rowing Club was highly commended in the Clean Beaches/Waterways category for making the Wimmera River accessible for all users, and Rebekah Albrecht was highly commended in the Young Leaders Award (under 15) category.

Other Wimmera recipients to receive highly commended mentions included the Rainbow Progress Association for their The Oasis Community Hub project and the Horsham Rural City Council for their Sunnyside Park Landscape Plan project.

Former Tarranyurk and now Horsham resident Gary Aitken received the prestigious Dame Phyllis Frost Award for his tireless work as a dedicated member of the Wimmera River Improvement Committee working to improve the environment.

Unfortunately, Dimboola, the reigning Victorian Tidy Town, did not received the 2019 Tidy Towns - Sustainable Community of the Year which went to Beechworth, but the local committee did a great job hosting a very successful weekend, highlighted by the Awards Dinner on Saturday evening, promoting the town and district.

The theme of the evening was very much focused on acknowledging the work done by volunteers and the importance of create a positive role model to encourage the future generations to continue to work.

Persistence to achieve great things was also promoted, with Costa highlighting that Dimboola had been competing in the Tidy Towns awards for fifteen years before finally winning the main title last year.

The following biographies of the local winners and highly commended recipients are provided by Keep Victoria Beautiful, and those for all the other winners and finalists can be found on the Keep Victoria Beautiful website.

Dimboola Town Committee (Winner) – Community Action & Leadership Award (population 3000 and below) – Engaging the community

Dimboola is a small country town of approximately 1600 residents and is the hub of a farming community. The Dimboola Town Committee, which is a section 86 of the Hindmarsh Shire, has strong leadership and prides itself in motivating volunteers to get things done to improve the town, which in turn encourages visitors and helps local businesses to survive.

Dimboola is a friendly little town which has a lot to offer. There is something for everyone – young and old – whether it is sport or just a game of cards and a chat over a coffee. You will be welcomed with a smile.

Dimboola Memorial Secondary College - Active Schools (Highly Commended) - Mosaic Welcome Board

This project initially came about as an engagement strategy, as some students were struggling in some of their mainstream classes.

As local indigenous student, Yasmin Harradine, moved into the VCAL course, the project fit beautifully into the Personal Development Skills subject outcomes. The school was also able to expand on Yasmin’s artwork, by involving the whole class in planning the unveiling day ceremony and baking the lemon myrtle cupcakes, to be eaten by all guests.

For the official unveiling day, Yasmin and other members of the VCAL class made invitations and planned an agenda. All DMSC students, the families of the school’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, students from both local primary schools, and members of the local community were invited to attend. Yasmin invited guest speakers to talk about the Aboriginal history of the local area and arranged for a traditional smoking ceremony to take place before speaking herself.

Dimboola Rowing Club - Clean Beaches/Waterways (Highly Commended) - Making the Wimmera River accessible for all users

With years of drought, the Dimboola Rowing Club, established in 1882, was dying with no water to train on and unable to attract new rowers to the club.

After the water returned, the club was hit by the 2011 flood that again destroyed the rowing course.

With a small team of dedicated members, the club was able to bring back the infamous Dimboola Regatta by cleaning up the rowing course and the foreshores that attract hundreds of rowers and families back to Dimboola for the Regatta.

In recent years, the club has attracted a team of junior female and male rowers. With the purchase and donations of a new fleet of regulation boats the club has sent their junior crews to state-wide and interstate regattas. The new launching pontoon has been installed with support of the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, Hindmarsh Shire Council, Volunteers and club members.

Rebekah Albrecht, Dimboola (Highly Commended) - Young Leaders Award (A group or individual aged 25 years or under)

Rebekah Albrecht is a shining example of a young person who always strives to give their best and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Rebekah is a member of the Hindmarsh Shire Youth Council, she was a winner of Premier’s Spirit of ANZAC Prize; in 2018 she received the Order of Australia Association Hindmarsh Branch Student Citizenship Award; won Dimboola Youth Citizen of the year 2019; and was elected as Dimboola Memorial Secondary College School Captain for 2019.

Rebekah also participated in the Bayerische Jugendring (BJR) German exchange program in 2017/2018. Rebekah plays hockey for the Dimboola Hockey Club during winter and has assisted with umpiring the Minkey hockey games for young primary students. She has also volunteered to umpire junior matches on Saturdays and represented the Wimmera Hockey Association.

Gary Aitken (Winner) - Dame Phyllis Frost Award

Gary Aitken has been a dedicated member of the Wimmera River Improvement Committee and has been instrumental in lobbying Council and other agencies for works to improve the River environment.

He is a committed volunteer environmentalists and valued member of the Horsham Tidy Towns Committee. In 2001, Gary received the Victorian Government Certificate of Appreciation as part of the International Year of the Volunteer.

Every Wednesday he leads a band of willing volunteers who undertake works along the river frontage and adjoining areas. He is instrumental in lobbying Council and other agencies for words to improve the river environment and seeking funding to enable these works to occur.

Over the past 20 years Gary has worked to rebuild and restore the natural heritage of the Wimmera River whilst being a strong advocate for the protection and identification of the indigenous Wimmera River history. In 2010, Gary was awarded the Horsham Rural Cit Council ‘Citizen of the Year’ for his community involvement.

Rainbow Progress Association, Rainbow - The Oasis – Community Hub (Highly Commended) Community Government Partnership Award

The partnership between Regional Arts Victoria and the Rainbow community was an outstanding success. The historic Rainbow Primary School, closed since 2011, was reinvented, focussing on the cultural and artistic heritage of the unique part of north-west Victoria.

The two year (2017-18) ‘Oasis Project’ effectively refurbished the buildings, landscaped the skate park and initiated a desert garden in the school grounds.

There was great support from local organisations including the Hindmarsh Shire Council, Rainbow Landcare, Rainbow Lions Club, Rainbow P-12 ‘Hands on Learning’ students and many volunteer working bees.

Along the way, many well attended workshops, dance and music performances were held.

The classrooms now include a live music room, gymnasium, lending library, artists’ studio and public meeting rooms.

The Primary Hub committee is determined to expand the transformation of the Oasis in the spirit of the community cooperation in which the school was resurrected.

Horsham Rural City Council, Horsham - Sunnyside Park Landscape Plan - (Highly Commended Community Government Partnership Award

Sunnyside reserve in Horsham’s east consists of a Council reserve with playing field, tennis courts and playground area, and the adjoining member-owned Sunnyside Bowling Club.

Council is guided in the development of the reserve by an Advisory Committee comprising members of the bowling club, sports clubs which use the reserve and community members.

During 2018, Council and the Committee developed a landscape master plan to enhance the facilities at the reserve, open it up for a more diverse range of uses and enhance its appeal to, and connection with the local neighbourhood.

The Committee identified key principles regarding park amenity, current and future usage of the area and connections with the extended neighbourhood. The project epitomises the success of the community and groups working with Council and a number of state government businesses, to develop a plan which captures the attention of State Government for funding.