Murray River Council is leading the way in community initiatives, being recognised for innovation and reporting at last week’s NSW Local Government Week Awards ceremony.
One of the big winners on the night, Murray River Council took home three RH Dougherty Awards; Winner of ‘Innovation in Special Events’ (for Moama Lights), Winner of ‘Reporting to Your Community’ (Cemetery digitisation project) and a Highly Commended for ‘Excellence in Communication’ (Advocacy efforts: ‘Turn the border green’ campaign.)
Mayor, Cr Chris Bilkey said it’s a great achievement for the council to be so well regarded in the industry.
“The awards are about recognising some of the most progressive councils in NSW, so we are absolutely thrilled to take home not one, but three awards!”
“We have been making continual improvements over the last 18-months, to both our services and the initiatives we deliver, so the awards nod is just another acknowledgement that we are not only on the right track, but leading the way.”
“It takes a team effort, a great culture, and a can-do attitude to achieve these things, so we are very proud of the whole council team on this achievement.”
The awards, which were staged at the Fullerton Hotel in Sydney last Thursday, celebrate councils who demonstrate excellence across a range of categories such as arts and culture, events, communications and planning.
The RH Dougherty Awards categories recognise a high level of understanding and communication by councils to their local communities.
The awards are managed by Local Government NSW and judged by leading experts in the communications field.
About the projects:
Winner: ‘Innovation in Special Events’ (Moama Lights)
In 2021 Council launched the inaugural Moama Lights event at Horseshoe Lagoon.
An immersive sound and light trail showcasing local stories, Moama Lights featured light installations and projections including theatrical fog, strobe and cutting edge moving light technology.
Some six months in the making, council staff presented this spectacular event which not only shone a light on the beautiful bush setting, but also shone a light on the story of Echuca Moama.
The event offered a new experience for locals and visitors whilst bringing some much-needed economic activity to the area; establishing itself as one of the signature events of the region after only one year.
The inaugural event saw over 15,000 tickets registered with visitation from all states and territories across Australia.
Through a post-event survey that captured overnight stays, dining and shopping it is estimated that the economic impact of 2021 Moama Lights on the Echuca Moama region was more than $7,882,635.
The 2022 event is currently in its second week of running, with over 16,000 tickets already sold.
Winner: ‘Reporting to Your Community’ (Cemetery digitisation project)
Earlier this year, Council launched its new digital platform for the management of cemetery data, with a view to increasing the service levels to the community and creating internal administration efficiencies.
The project saw the implementation of digital cemetery records for all 6 operational cemeteries including Barham, Mathoura Lawn, Mathoura Pioneer, Moama, Moulamein and Tooleybuc. This includes drone aerial surveying to create high resolution images, along with ground surveying to capture GPS co-ordinates and information relating to each known grave.
With the ability to visit the Murray River Council cemetery map online, it’s no problem for visitors to find graves themselves by accessing the database, easily, from anywhere and at any time. Where previously, families and other visitors to the cemeteries were not able to see plots they may have been interested in over a phone call, they’re now able to access a highly accurate map that offers a stunning visual representation of the cemetery’s grounds and details of every plot within.
Highly Commended: ‘Excellence in Communication’ (Advocacy efforts: ‘Turn the border green’ campaign.)
In July 2021 – during another round of local border closures – Council led a border advocacy campaign focussed on changing the border to a ‘green zone’ and working with governments to develop sustainable, longer-term solutions for border communities.
Council didn’t criticise government, rather encouraged them to work with local leaders to develop a strategy that encompasses more practical economic options when faced with restrictions resulting from COVID-related outbreaks.
A key part of the advocacy initiative was to generate media coverage to ensure the economic importance of the region became apparent. To achieve this outcome, Council’s communication campaign targeted mainstream media in Melbourne and Sydney, with local businesses sharing stories of the impact of the enormous economic hit the region had taken.
Council also worked to connect State Governments with local leaders to develop a strategy permitting Victorians to cross the border to save local businesses and jobs.
This was about offering solutions (on either side of the border), so governments could have confidence in keeping the region green going forward.