RDA Northern Inland Chair Russell Stewart, Innovation of Year recipient Michael Mailler for the Mailler’s Chillamurra Solar Farm, Boggabilla, and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall.
Innovation was in the spotlight on Friday night in Armidale, as our region’s brightest and boldest gathered to celebrate their successes and achievements. “We are proud of the fantastic stories unearthed at the 2017 Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Innovation Awards and those over the past 10 years they have been held. Our 10th anniversary awards night was a truly regional event, with awardees from Wee Waa to Tenterfield, Wallabadah to Boggabilla,” Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) Chair Russell Stewart said.
The gala awards dinner was held at the Armidale City Bowling Club on Friday night, 24 November 2017. A diverse range of businesses and organisations were represented. More than 140 attendees saw videos and heard the stories of the award-winning innovators, with the overall RDANI Innovation of the Year Award going to The Mailler’s Chillamurra Solar Farm in Boggabilla, which also won the Optus Armidale Manufacturing and Engineering category.
“We have developed a solar farm approach that is simpler and 40 percent cheaper to construct than others of similar scale. The return on investment is over 10 percent. We have created a model that other people or groups on the land can replicate. My son, Robert did the engineering and David coordinated the construction. It was a family effort that did not receive or require any government funding,” Michael Mailler said.
Member for Northern Tablelands, the Hon. Adam Marshall presented the Community Contribution Award to the inspiringly innovative Liverpool Plains charitable organisation, “Farming for Kids”.
‘The Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Agriculture / Horticulture and Associated Services Category' was won by Starfish Initiatives of Armidale for their UN funded, international “Biochar for Sustainable Soils project”. Finalists were Dale’s Downtown Meats of Uralla and McGregor Gourlay, of Moree. Innovate Ag of Wee Waa received a Highly Commended Award.
The Prime Super Health, Aged-Care and Disability Services Award went to Pathfinders Culture Camps. Tamara Private Hospital, Tamworth and the ASD-IT Club, UNE, received Finalist trophies, while Highly Commended certificates went to Kirinari Community Services, Tamworth, Jennifer Brown of Touriandi Lodge, Bingara and Whipped...Baking for Allergies of Narrabri.
Tenterfield Shire Council’s “Tenterfield True” brand won the Armidale Regional Council “Retail, Tourism and Leisure” category. The Art Shack of Wallabadah and The Guyra TroutFest were finalists. Highly Commended Certificates were awarded to The Blair Athol Boutique Hotel and Day Spa, Inverell, the Dragon Phoenix Resort, Moree and Uralla’s Thunderbolt Festival.
The UNE “Professional and Government Services” category was won by Liverpool Plains Shire Council’s RV Strategy. The Finalists were The University of New England’s Smart Region Incubator and the Liverpool Plains Emergency Services Precinct. A Highly Commended award went to Armidale Regional Council for their Regional Waste Management Facility Project.
The Optus Armidale Manufacturing and Engineering Finalist trophies went to Blue Sky Contracting of Tenterfield and Warialda Engineering & Welding.
The White Rock Wind Farm “Research and Education” category was won by UNE’s Discovery Voyager, while Finalist trophies were presented to O'Connor Catholic College and Armidale PLC.
Magic Electricity Box of Armidale and the Rail Journeys Museum in Werris Creek were recognised through Highly Commended Awards. Renee Neale from Wholegrain Milling in Gunnedah won the overall award last year and was guest speaker this year.
RDANI Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson said that the Northern Inland Innovation Awards perform an important role within the region and beyond. “This is a very focused awards program and every entry tells a significant story of perseverance and achievement. People are often too busy devoting their energy to the every day to think about what is innovative and distinctive about their approach or product. Innovation is a key driver of economic growth and enhancement of services in our communities. There is much to be gained from identifying, rewarding and promoting our innovators,” he said.
Videos about the award recipients will go on the www.niia.com.au website and YouTube shortly.
Nick Pearce from Rabo Bank who accepted the Farming For Kids Community Contribution Awards from Member for Northern Tablelands the Hon. Adam Marshall.
Brian Sherwood from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science presented the Agriculture / Horticulture and Associated Services winning trophy to Adam Blakester, of Starfish Initiatives, Armidale.
Hilton Naden and Rose Curtis from Category Winning Pathfinders Culture Camps, with Prime Super Regional Manager Annette Mackay.
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray presented the top “Retail, Tourism and Leisure” award to Tenterfield Shire Council’s Caitlin Reid for the “Tenterfield True” brand.
UNE’s Professor Tony Sorensen presented the “Professional and Government Services” category winning trophy to the Liverpool Plains Shire Council’s RV Strategy, represented by Cr. Virginia Black, Donna Ausling, Mayor Andrew Hope, Nikki Robertson and Cr. Ian Lobsey.
Optus Armidale Manager Lachlan Brown (second from right) presented a category winning trophy to the Mailler’s Chillamurra Solar Farm, Boggabilla. Pictured are Rob, David, Michael and Peter Mailler.
Members of the UNE Discovery Voyager team who won the Research and Education category: Dr. Christine Martin, Dr. Jean Holley, Dr. Kirsti Abbott, Dr. Siobhan Dennison, Anita Brown and White Rock Wind Farm’s Sandra Royal.
Celebrating the Innovation of the Year, the Mailler’s Chillamurra Solar Farm, Boggabilla at the end of the awards night was RDA Northern Inland Chair Russell Stewart, Rob, Barbara and Michael Mailler, the Hon. Adam Marshall MP, Peter and David Mailler.