This is my final Mayoral Column on behalf of the current Council, as the first term of Georges River Council comes to an end.
I am honoured to have served our community as the inaugural Mayor of Georges River Council and proud of all that Council has achieved over the last four years.
Since the amalgamation of the former Hurstville and Kogarah City Councils, we have harmonised services, improved facilities and undertaken many projects, all with the vision for the Georges River Local Government Area to be "a progressive, environmentally and culturally rich community, enjoying a unique lifestyle".
The projects we have undertaken, range from expanded community facilities, new community events, sustainability programs and the implementation of the Disability Inclusion Action Plan, all the way to webcasting Council Meetings, creating the Local Planning Panel and establishing the Heritage Grants Program.
While the last 18 months have been challenging for the entire community, Council is proud to have endorsed our award-winning, $47 million Economic and Social Recovery Program (ESRP) in response to the pandemic.
The program prioritised the needs of our local community and not only provided immediate, targeted support, but also built the capacity, and resilience, of our community and economy for years to come.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank council staff and congratulate them on their achievements. Georges River Council is fortunate to have a team of dedicated individuals who provide the highest standards of service to our community every day and this has been recognised through their successes in recent awards.
At the 2021 Greater Sydney Commission Planning Awards, our ESRP won the 'City Shaping During COVID-19' category.
At the Planning Institute of Australia's National Awards for Planning Excellence, Council's ChillOUT Hubs won the 'Best Ideas - Small Project' category.
At the NSW Local Government Excellence Awards, Council was the winner of the People, Workplace, Wellbeing Award with the design and implementation of our BENE-FIT 360 program.
At the same awards, Council received a Highly Commended in the 'Environmental Leader' category for our Gannons Park Water Quality Improvement and Stormwater Harvesting Scheme; as well as in the 'Special Project Initiative' category for THRIVE! Staying Connected, a program created to support staff and encourage personal development during the pandemic.
Council was also named a finalist in the 'Customer Experience' category for our Customer Experience Excellence Program; the 'Innovative Leadership' category for our New Rates 2021 campaign; and the 'Supporting Local Enterprise' category for our ESRP.
At the Museums and Galleries National Awards 2021, Council's Hurstville Museum & Gallery was awarded Highly Commended in the 'Best Temporary or Travelling Exhibition - Level 1' category for its exhibition, Artbomb: connect + create, which brought together local community groups and artists, in response to the lockdown, to celebrate creativity.
These accolades are truly a testament to the ongoing commitment of council staff, and I thank them, again, for all their service.
I also want to thank the Georges River community. All your support during this first term of our amalgamated Council is greatly appreciated. Council exists to represent, lead and shape our communities and I have faith that the next Council elected by the community will continue to fulfil this.
As I sign off on this Column, the lockdown for Greater Sydney has been extended, so I remind our Georges River community to stay safe, stay vigilant and please stay at home.