Home Community Our regional winners shine at RACA

Our regional winners shine at RACA


There were some outstanding nominees from the Northern Valleys region taking the stage at the 2017 Regional Achievement and Community Awards Presentation Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Perth on Friday evening, 20 October.

500 guests gathered at the prestigious event hosted by Noel Brunning, GWN7 News Presenter to see who would take the honours in the eleven different categories. With an array of worthy nominees, all of whom have made amazing contributions to their communities, competition was tight and must have made tough decision-making for the judges.

Twenty year old Cory Payne of New Norcia turned out to be the star of the evening, not only as category winner for the Insurance Commission of Western Australia Regional Safety Award – a $2000 prize – but also the winner of the overall People’s Choice award. Conducted on Facebook and sponsored by CBH Group the People’s Choice awards aim’s to raise awareness of his achievements on social media and offers an additional $500 award courtesy of CBH Group.

Cory, who survived a near-fatal car accident when his ute rolled off Great Northern Hwy and into a tree as he was driving home to his family farm at New Norcia farm three years ago, has become an amazing advocate for road safety and gives presentations at local schools and community events spreading his road safety message. Cory has recently completed his 18th fun run and raised over $40,000 for charities and has produced a short video of his journey “Not drunk, not speeding – JUST TIRED”.

Wongan Hills Therapy Group also topped their category as the proud winners of the TAB Community service award. Wongan Hills Therapy Group is a not-for-profit disability support group, started by a group of local parents to provide essential services and support for families with children with special needs. They have weekly therapy programs and have the Wheatbelt’s only special needs resource library. The group relies on a dedicated team of volunteers and collaborates with the local school, professional therapists and community groups.
The group received a $2,000 Award prize and a trophy.

Several other worthy nominees from our area included Yerecoin teacher Joeley Howard and Gavin Halligan. Gavin Halligan of New Norcia has been a member of the Shire of Victoria Plains Ambulance for over 20 years. Whilst facing personal adversity he trains, recruits and supports ambulance members and the community. Gavin was nominated for the RAC Volunteering Award.

Passionate teacher Joeley Howard of Yerecoin was nominated for the Curtin University Teaching Excellence Award. Joeley is Principal at Yerecoin Primary with a career spanning 29 years of outstanding service. She inspires students, peers and colleagues with her hard work and dedication. She engages in regular professional development and has won several awards for her teaching excellence. Joeley has presented key teaching ideas in Early Childhood and Digital Technology at many professional learning days.

The overall State winner was Dr John van Bockxmeer of South Hedland, a doctor in the remote Pilbara region who founded ‘Fair Game’, a charity to tackle the health disadvantage of remote Indigenous and refugee communities. John also won the Horizon Power Leadership and Innovation Award.

The Awards night culminated a tremendously successful year with over 320 nominations received from across regional Western Australia.
It is wonderful to see so many people acknowledged for their amazing contributions to their community, which in turn inspires others to contribute. It’s also very heartening to realise that there are so many more people out there, not always acknowledged, who are volunteering their time and expertise everyday to keep out rural communiites growing and developing.