Media Release: Balonne Shire Leading the Way


Balonne receives multiple awards on liveability initiatives

One of the smallest councils in Queensland is proving that size doesn’t matter when it comes to creating ingenious solutions that improve living standards.

Over recent weeks, the Balonne Shire Council has received four prestigious awards for initiatives aimed at further improving liveability in the iconic area of Southwest Queensland.

The awards include:

  • The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australisia, Queensland’s Excellence Award for Projects $5M to $10M for ‘The Hub’ at St George for improving educational opportunities for regional students.
  • The Local Government Association of Queensland’s ‘Butch Lenton Memorial Bush Council Innovation Award’ for the development of ‘The Hub’ and collaboration with Country University Centres in Balonne to improve educational opportunities for regional students.
  • The Open Minds Annual Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards - Workplace Award (1-200 Staff) for our Mental Health Strategy and associated community programs.
  • The Local Government Association of Queensland’s ‘Time to Shine’ competition for our St George Region “You'll Be Hooked” marketing campaign, which is aimed at retaining, growing and broadening the tourist base to our area.

Balonne Shire Mayor, Samantha O'Toole, said that Council takes a strong approach to community sustainability to ensure the future of the region is strong and vibrant.

“I am so proud of our team’s efforts to embrace our vision of being a welcoming, connected and innovative with a strong economy and an abundance of opportunities.

“That’s why this council values innovation in our strategic planning and why we become involved in issues that aren’t traditionally local government areas, such as education and mental health," Mayor O'Toole said. 

Two of the awards were recognition of a collaboration between Balonne Shire Council and the Country Universities Centre (CUC), which is aimed at improving higher learning opportunities for regional students has received yet another prestigious award.

“We are particularly proud that our intensive community consultation and partnerships have helped make The Hub such a success story,” Mayor O’Toole said.

“The CUC Balonne partnership came out of the issues of people leaving the region for study, and difficulty for employers in attracting and retaining experienced staff in some sectors. 

“The concept of “growing our own led to a partnership with Country Universities Centre in Cooma and again, working closely with community. 

“With student figures in the first year surpassing our targets for the entire three-year pilot, CUC Balonne is becoming the poster child for regional educational goals.”

The Balonne Shire was also recognised for its Workplace Mental Health Strategy with the Open Minds Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards - Workplace Award (1-200 Staff).

“What began as a workplace program has, to date, extended to the community through the MATES in Construction sessions and the Fly High Billie Program in schools across the region,” Mayor O’Toole said.

The St George Region is a welcoming oasis in Queensland’s Southern Outback, with all seven towns throughout Balonne uniquely positioned on rivers. We are famous for our inland fishing, prolific birdlife, native Australian wildlife, rich history, and relaxed country lifestyle

Council’s Tourism team sought to capitalise on these natural local benefits with the development of the "St George Region: You'll be Hooked" Campaign, which was aimed at retaining and growing our Adventure Seeking High Value travellers’ to our area.

“We want to continue to expand our reach into the tourism market, particularly the Adventure Seeking Families, and have them so familiar with our brand that we become a destination of choice,” Mayor O’Toole said.

“We believe the "St George Region: You'll be Hooked" campaign will capture the imagination of Adventure Seeking tourists and help us reel them in to achieve our Marketing Goals and further create economic benefits for our region.”