Ian J. Cooper Awards Announced at Community Art Exhibition

Published on 09 December 2022


Bellingen Shire Council announced the recipients of the 2022 Ian J. Cooper Awards for Access and Inclusion on International Day of People with Disability on 3 December at the ArtSpace Urunga in conjunction with the community Art Miinggiya exhibition and awards celebrating the Shire’s creativity, diversity and healing practice of art.

The afternoon began with a welcome to country by Francis Witt followed by the presentation of the Ian J. Cooper Awards by Mayor, Cr Steve Allan which every two years recognise and acknowledge individuals, community groups, organizations and businesses promoting an accessible and inclusive Bellingen Shire. Specials guests included Margaret and Elaine Cooper, the late Ian “Mini” Cooper’s mother and sister. Elaine spoke of her brother’s dedication to advocating for access improvements for people with disabilities throughout his lifetime and the changes he made happen.

Individual Awards went to: Jenni Farrands for her dedication to supporting the Buddaabang Bari Cultural Dance group and to Tony Dudgeon for his work with Two Way Street the learner driver support program assisting young drivers accrue hours.

The Inclusion Award went to the Rainbow Club from Bellingen Highschool for promoting respect and for providing an inclusive, safe and supportive environment for students that identify as LGBTIQ+.

There were two Commitment Awards which went to The Riverside Holiday Resort and Community Transport Company for their ongoing dedication to access and inclusion by a business and an organization respectively. The Riverside Holiday Resort has won numerous NSW Tourism Awards and puts accessibility at the centre of everything they do. The Community Transport Company has been supporting people in getting to where they need to go for over 30 years and continue to be leaders in accessible transport.

The Access Award went to the Old Gazette Theatre in Dorrigo for the physical improvements that they have made to the building including a widened entranceway, larger foyer area, removable seating for wheelchairs, an accessible toilet and braille signage for those with visual impairment.

There was also an overall Excellence Award which was awarded to the Riverside Holiday Resort for their outstanding work in promoting access and inclusion in everything they do.

Certificates of nomination were presented to Dorrigo Library, Dorrigo Neighbourhood Centre, Bellingen Pharmacy and Anchors Wharf Restaurant in Urunga.

The Art Miinggiya prizes, made possible by the Neighbourhood Centres of Bellingen Shire and the Seaboard Suicide Prevention Initiative (SSPI) were awarded by Roger Horton and Lauren Mills. The overall $2000 prize went to Sharon Fitzpatrick while Virginia Jarrett was awarded the Neighbourhood Centres of Bellingen Shire (NCoBS) prize of $100. The secondary prize, a $50 shop local gift voucher was awarded to Poppy while Jasmine won the primary prize and received a $25 voucher. The $500 People’s Choice Award went to mother and son Anais and Aiden for their collaborative art piece.

The exhibition included entries from individuals from across the Shire, students from Bellingen, Urunga, Repton and Raleigh Public schools as well as the Art4Me program run by Ability Options in Nambucca Heads which supports creative practice for people with disabilities.

Mayor, Cr Steve Allan said “By making the presentation of the Ian J. Cooper Awards part of a community celebration, more people get to appreciate and acknowledge the great work being done in our communities to make them more inclusive. Council was delighted to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability and share in these successes that make for a more inclusive Shire”.

The awards contribute towards Council’s aim of promoting an inclusive, diverse and connected community in the Bellingen Shire.

For further information please contact Council’s Community Wellbeing Planning Officer on 6655 7300.