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PLA presents national awards for excellence in parks, playgrounds and facilities

PLA presents national awards for excellence in parks, playgrounds and facilities
October 30, 2019

Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) has celebrated the brightest minds and most creative, sustainable and innovative initiatives from across its membership at its National Awards of Excellence last night at the Crown Perth, Western Australia.

More than 500 guests from across the parks, recreation and sport industry came together to celebrate the Awards of Excellence winners at an evening hosted by television and radio presenter and sports commentator Basil Zempilas.

Introducing the 2019 Awards, PLA National President Paul Jane stated “to be presented with a PLA National Award of Excellence is the highest honour in the parks and leisure industry and shows the talent of our great industry.”

Commenting on the judging, Jane added “competition was fierce across all award categories with this year seeing the highest number of entries in the history of the organisation”.

The shortlist of those considered for the National Awards of Excellence is drawn from the winners of PLA regional awards.

2019 PLA National Awards of Excellence 

Frank Stewart Distinguished Service Award - Winner: Kristen Jackson
Kristen Jackson was awarded PLA’s most prestigious award for her long and ongoing service to the industry. She has made significant contributions to PLA for over 10 years, both as a member of the conference committee and a national board member (as well as its first female President).

Jackson currently also serves on the Victorian Catchment Management Council and on the Board of World Urban Parks.

David Aldous Young Professional of the Year Award - Winner: Cassie Farquhar-Reid
With a physical activity background, Farquhar-Reid is a highly successful young leader who has succeeded in overcoming industry challenges by using personal attributes, studying and sharing her knowledge. As a leader, she initiated many improvements including a new public facing online booking software solution and introducing proactive human resource strategies.

Best Regional/Rural Industry Contribution Award - Winner: Mackay Regional Council

Best Use of Technology Award - Winner: Parks Victoria
ParkConnect - Connecting Volunteers to Parks
ParkConnect is a highly innovative, tailor-made interactive online volunteer management system developed by Parks Victoria. ParkConnect is an important way to support the large network of highly dedicated volunteers who assist to maintain and enhance.

Community Based Initiative Award - Winner: FORM building a state of creativity, Western Australia
Field of Light: Avenue of Honour brings to the symbolic Albany Heritage Park a unique, ephemeral land art installation by globally recognised UK artist Bruce Munro; a perfect confluence of time, place and culture. Currently in its sixth month of exhibition, over 135,000 people have already attended the artwork.

Major Event of the Year - Winner: City of Mandurah and Western Australia Police Force
Australasian Police and Emergency Services Games
The 2018 XVII Australasian Police and Emergency Services Games held in Mandurah, Western Australia attracted a record number of 3341 participants, from six different countries to compete in 50 different sports. A positive sporting, social and tourism experience, with significant economic return for the region.

Community Facility of the year Award - Winner: Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, NSW
The Calyx - Australia's living plant gallery
The Calyx is the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s jewel - a living art gallery and bespoke piece of architecture that has put our horticulture and science on the world stage. The Calyx features the Southern Hemisphere’s largest green wall and is a hub of community activity attracting 1,000+ visitors daily.

Strategic Planning Award - Winner: Belgravia Leisure
Belgravia Leisure Access and Inclusion 5-year Plan
Equitable access and inclusion in services, programs and facilities is embedded within the
Australian ethos of a 'fair go'. Frustratingly, many people still experience exclusion from leisure.

Recognising this, and using an evidence-based approach, Belgravia Leisure has developed,
validated and resourced an innovative five-year strategic plan to rectify this inequity.

Park of the Year - Winner: Aspect Studios, Level Crossing Removal Project, Lend Lease/CPB and COX Architecture
Djerring Linear Parks and Trail
The new parkland and Djerring Trail, as part of the Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Program, is a unique and benchmarking project delivering new open space and recreational typologies for Australia. It demonstrates how infrastructure can deliver much needed public open space for our growing and dense urban communities.

Playspace Award (less than $500,000) - Winner: Nature Play Solutions, Skate Sculpture and Shire of Lake Grace
Newdegate Skate Park
The Newdegate Skate Park is an all ages and multi-ability play space that uniquely co-locates play and skate facilities together. The project was designed to open new opportunities for children and families of all ages, abilities, interests and dispositions to play, skate, picnic and get together.

Playspace Award (more than $500,000) - Winner: City of Greater Bendigo
Eaglehawk Regional Playspace
Eaglehawk Regional Play Space is a special and unique design that blends three powerful themesof Eaglehawk into one amazing space, tailoring the equipment and experience specifically to the site.

Research Award - Winner: University of Wollongong
More quality green space needed for child health
My research uses longitudinal data to understand how much green space is needed to maximise health in children and mums in communities across Australia. Results are being communicated in the media, used by policymakers and practitioners in local councils and state-wide strategies, national urban-greening campaigns, and in educational programs overseas.

The night also saw the presentation of the latest Green Flag parks awards.

For more information go to

Images: Kristen Jackson [centre] after receiving the Frank Stewart Distinguished Service Award along with previous winners (top) and recipients of the latest Green Flag parks awards (below).

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29th October 2019 - Sport Australia and Parks and Leisure Australia agree partnership

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28th October 2019 - Parks and recreation professionals make great career choice in delivering ‘joy’

28th October 2019 - Kate Palmer to step down from Sport Australia Chief Executive role

8th October 2019 - PLA 2019 Conference a forum for sharing of ideas and learnings

30th July 2019 - World Urban Parks looks to offer increased member opportunities

20th June 2019 - Armadale Fitness and Aquatic Centre named Western Australia’s Community Facility of the Year

15th May 2019 - Parks and Leisure Australia report focuses on health and wellbeing challenges 

3rd November 2018 - Parks and Leisure Australia becomes 300th Nature for All movement signatory

27th October 2018 - Bendigo’s Gurri Wanyarra Wellness Centre gets official opening

18th October 2018 - Cockburn ARC named PLA 2018 Community Facility of the Year

15th October 2018 - International Parks Congress highlights the value of green urban spaces

12th October 2018 - Cox Architecture announced as winning designer for new Sydney Football Stadium

22nd June 2018 - Philanthropist Susan Alberti named Parks and Leisure Australia Ambassador

5th October 2017 - Parks and Leisure Australia to manage Green Flag Award parks program

7th December 2015 - PLA reveals accession of Kristen Jackson as new President

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