MEDIA RELEASE - Council recognised for driving culture of inclusion at recent industry awards

Sutherland Shire Council has been recognised as among the leaders in the local government sector for promoting values of diversity and inclusion, with two Council lead programs highly commended at the 2023 NSW Local Government Excellence Awards.

Among the programs which drew plaudits on the evening was Council’s ‘ShireAbility’ Art Awards, an initiative developed to celebrate the artistic talent of people living with a disability, which was recognised with a ‘Highly Commended’ award.

In its first year of operation, the ‘ShireAbility’ Art Award was a resounding success, drawing an impressive 53 submissions from aspiring artists living with a disability, with entrants ranging from primary school aged children to older residents.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce, said he was tremendously proud of the efforts of Council staff in developing the art awards program and for ensuring it was embraced by the community.

“I was lucky enough to be part of the ‘ShireAbility’ Art Awards presentation ceremony and to meet the talented artists who had submitted so many of the outstanding works on display,” Mayor Pesce said.

“Not only did this program uncover some incredible artistic talents within our community, but in offering a creative outlet for people of all ages and social groups, it was a true celebration of ability.”

Council was also highly commended for the community partnership developed between Sutherland Shire Libraries and not-for-profit Anglicare to establish ‘Connection Cafe’ – a program offering information, support and social connections for local people living with dementia and their carers. This initiative was developed through Sutherland Shire Libraries’ ongoing involvement in the St George & Sutherland Shire Dementia Alliance, with Council’s libraries currently working towards being certified as ‘Dementia Friendly’ by Dementia Australia.

“Having undertaken training to understand the needs of those living with dementia, our libraries staff took an incredibly proactive approach in seeking out what support was available to local people living with the condition and how this could be bolstered in a supportive, welcoming environment,” Mayor Pesce said.

“Once again, our staff achieved some remarkable things in delivering support in new and innovative ways, providing clearer links to local support services that were available and providing a social outlet that was greatly appreciated by those living with this condition.”

Sutherland Shire Council was nominated for a slew of other awards, ranging from excellence in the provision of quality infrastructure such as the Sandy Point Boat Ramp to building partnerships with our Indigenous community through events such as the ‘Fire Stories’ community celebration of First Nations culture.

Council was also recognised for its successful involvement in program designed to bolster the professional skillset of staff, with Sutherland Shire Council’s team competing in the Australasian Management Challenge recognised for their efforts in securing third place in the highly competitive staff development program.

“This is just a small sample of the great work at undertaken at Sutherland Shire Council – delivering strategic outcomes supported by the elected Council and delivered and actioned by our staff. It showcases the quality and diversity of our services, and the difference we make for our community,” Mayor Pesce said.

“Our whole community can be proud of our results in these awards, with these commendations standing as a true testament to the innovative ways staff strive to provide the quality services and infrastructure on which all residents of the Sutherland Shire rely.”