Creating Coonalpyn

Emerging from one of its biggest years on record, the Coorong District Council has earned its most prestigious accolade yet, announced as winner of the 2017 National Awards for Local Government in the Arts Animates category.

Up against some of Australia’s biggest Councils, Coorong’s Creating Coonalpyn project was recognised for excellence in capacity building and innovation after breathing life back into a once dying community and reaching international fame along the way.

Coorong District Council Director Community & Corporate, and one of the driving forces behind the project, Nat Traeger said this was by far the biggest accolade the Council had ever received, and she was literally shaking”when she heard the news.

“We knew the Creating Coonalpyn project had been a huge success, but to come in ahead of our national competitors is just unbelievable,” Ms Traeger said.

In Canberra this week to deliver a presentation to a national judging panel, Ms Traeger highlighted the project’s winning recipe.

“An incredible amount of hard work from Council’s team went in to making this project come to life; it was the forward-thinking leadership and employees of Council to proactively combine a passionate community with creative possibility, which got this juggernaut moving,” Ms Traeger said.

“We acknowledge and thank the Coonalpyn arts group and all sponsors who partnered with Council to deliver such a stunning outcome for this small but now very proud community.”

“Not only this, but we made a strategic decision early on in the process to invest in ‘telling the story’ of Creating Coonalpyn to the world.

“Now, after being seen by an online audience skyrocketing towards one-billion people internationally, we’ve turned Coonalpyn into a rural mecca as of Australia’s most sought after travel destinations.

“Our business, school and residential communities are thriving and morale across the region is at an all time high.”

Ms Traeger said the community capacity, economic and tourism benefits were yet to be formally measured. However, with a minimum of 50 vehicles stopping every hour, spending money, booking accommodation, taking photos and sharing them with the rest of the world, there was no question this model for rural renewal was in fact, a winner.

In announcing the award on 1 May Minister for Local Government and Territories Fiona Nash said entries were of the highest standard and demonstrate local leadership can make a real difference.

“These are incredible projects directly benefitting communities. From improving road safety through a flood warning system, to enhancing inclusion for people with disabilities, and providing solutions to youth unemployment,” Minister Nash said.

.“The National Awards for Local Government celebrate the outstanding achievements of local councils in providing Australia's communities with a wide range of new or improved, highquality, cost-effective services.”

As the winner of a national category, Creating Coonalpyn now goes into the running to become Australia’s BEST Local Government project in 2017.

The winner of the 2017 National Award for Excellence in Local Government will be announced at the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly Dinner on 20 June