One of the nation’s smallest shires, the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Community, has shone on the national stage after taking home a major gong at the 2018 Australian Local Government excellence awards in Canberra last week.
Federal Leichhardt MP, Warren Entsch, said he was immensely proud to see the community named national winners of the Achieving Big Things in Small Communities category for its Emergency Management and Community Forum project.
It then went on to win the 2018 national award for excellence in local government.
He said this innovative project provided the community access to reliable telecommunications links during major weather events.
“This is a fantastic achievement for the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Community and recognition of their tireless work to make their community a better and safer place for residents,” Mr Entsch said.
“This is truly an outstanding achievement and everyone involved should be extremely proud.
“I want to make special mention of Wujal Wujal CEO, Eileen Deemal-Hall, for her leadership, her passion and her unwavering dedication to her community.
“Eileen is truly an inspirational person for many people in her community and wider afield.”
Mr Entsch said this project successfully established a freely available, weather resistant, independently solar-powered telecommunications backup ‘hot-spot’ system for locals to use during emergencies.
He said this was a wonderful initiative which would foster community spirit in times of adversity and might even save lives.
“In establishing the service the council had successfully overcome Wujal Wujal’s vulnerability to suffering telecommunications’ blackouts during severe weather events,” he said.
“Bad weather can cause the community to lose landline and mobile 3G telecommunications, mains power and road access for several days.”
Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister, John McVeigh, commended the extremely high standard of entries that demonstrate what local governments can achieve for their communities.
“The national awards for local government celebrate exceptional projects that are making a significant difference to the lives of people in towns and cities across Australia in areas like the arts, regional economic growth, public safety, disability access and strengthening indigenous communities,” Dr McVeigh said.
“The Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council’s success in establishing a standalone emergency telecommunications system will enable members of the community to stay in touch when times get tough.
“It is a truly outstanding and possibly lifesaving result for the remote community of Cape York.
“The council’s innovative, valley-wide Emergency Management Network and Community Forum provided locals with a wind and rain resistant telecommunications system that turns the valley into a ‘hot spot’ thereby ensuring residents can continue to communicate via the council’s secure network when the commercial system fails
“Based on microwave radio link technology, the solar-powered system operates independently of the community’s energy supplier to support a range of devices including smartphones, voice-over IP hardware phones and personal computers.
“The network can also be used, free of charge during an emergency, to call, text and email other network users and to access council-approved websites including: Transport and Main Roads, the Bureau of Meteorology and the community’s energy supplier.”
A full list of the 2018 category and highly commended winners is available on the National Awards for Local Government website.