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Highly commended at LGNSW awards

Bland Shire Council has won two state wide awards for its achievements in communication and disability inclusion planning.

Council was announced as the winner of highly commended awards in the highly competitive RH Dougherty Award for Excellence in Communication (population under 30,000) and the NSW Disability Inclusion Award at the annual Local Government Week dinner in Sydney on Thursday night hosted by Local Government New South Wales.

Bland Shire was the only Council across the state to receive two awards which were accepted on stage by Council’s General Manager, Ray Smith.

“I would like to thank LGNSW for the opportunity to highlight and recognise the work of Bland Shire Council,” Mr Smith

“And a very special thank you to my staff for their ongoing commitment and desire to improve and enhance the lifestyle of our community.”

The prestigious RH Dougherty awards encourage and recognise best-practice communication by Councils to their local communities.

Bland Shire Council was recognised for its communications strategy, highlighted by the growth and effectiveness of its social media channels.

The number of followers on Council’s Facebook page increased from 1278 people to 2245 in 2016 and generated 28,600 positive reactions – which equates to an average of 78 positive reactions to Council per day.

The introduction of a weekly Council notices page in the West Wyalong Advocate and a community newsletter and radio campaign specifically targeting rural residents were other key aspects of the communications strategy which has helped Council reach more people more effectively.

Meanwhile, Council’s commitment to access and disability inclusion planning secured a highly commended in the inaugural NSW Disability Inclusion Award.

The award recognises the range of programs and strategies implemented by Council to remove access barriers and increase the participation of people with a disability in the local community.

Council was one of the state wide leaders in the development of its Disability Inclusion Action Plan while also administering its annual Access Incentive Scheme to provide financial assistance to businesses, not for profit community organisations and community service providers to improve access to local buildings and businesses.

Bland Shire’s redevelopment of an Access Mobility map and commitment to annual International Day of People with a Disability celebrations and awards were also noted.

Winning Councils at the awards evening included Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Cessnock City Council, Tweed Shire Council, Parkes Shire Council, Wagga Wagga City Council and the Central Coast Council while Councils receiving highly commended awards included the City of Parramatta, Liverpool City Council, Northern Beaches Council, Bland Shire Council (twice), Tamworth Regional Council and the City of Ryde.

“This year’s Local Government Week theme – Discovery, Diversity, Democracy– reflects the incredible breadth of activities undertaken by councils,” LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said.

“Local Government employs almost 50,000 staff across the state, and has an annual spend of $10 billion – as a sector we’re active almost every sphere of daily life.

“That’s why councils need the type of top-quality, two-way communication with their community that we’ve seen recognised this week.”