Community Awards


Nominations for the 2024 Byron Shire Community Awards Ceremony are open!

We want your nominations for outstanding individuals, groups, businesses, and organisations that make the Byron Shire such a great place to live.

Winners will be celebrated for their achievements and contributions to the community.

Nominate someone for an award using the online form.

Community Awards Nomination Form

Nominations close 1 June 2024.

The Awards Ceremony will be held in the first week of August 2024. Details will be released here in coming months.

About the award categories

Community Member of the Year

This award recognises the outstanding contributions to community and achievements by an individual. This person epitomises what makes the Byron Shire a great place to live.

Young Community Member of the Year

This award recognises the outstanding contributions to community and achievements by a young individual (12-25). This person epitomises the optimism and passion of young people in the Byron Shire.

Community Initiative of the Year

This award recognises individuals or organisations that have implemented an outstanding initiative. This could be anything that has brought the community together, addressed disadvantage, or benefitted the wider community.

In Business for Good

This award recognises outstanding businesses that have given back to the community or environment. This is a way to acknowledge businesses that employ local people, adopt sustainable and inclusive principles, or have stepped up in times of hardship to support the Byron Shire community.

Caring for Country Award

This Award recognises outstanding individuals and organisations working to preserve and nurture the natural environment in our region.

Access and Inclusion Award

This award recognises individuals and organisations that champion equity, diversity, access and inclusion in the community.

Creativity Award

This award recognises individuals and organisations for their outstanding contributions to the areas of visual arts, dance, performance, fashion, music, media, and design.

Contributions to Health and Wellbeing Award

This award recognises individuals and organisations that positively contribute to the physical, mental, and spiritual health and wellbeing of people in the Byron Shire.

2023 Community Award Winners

Community Member of Byron Shire – Louise O’Connell

Louise’s nomination recognised the remarkable work involved in running the Fletcher Street Cottage service which offers ongoing support for people experiencing homelessness in the Byron Shire.  Louise works endlessly to arrange doctors, social workers, food, showers and hairdressers for those in need. 

Louise’s work has been described as empowering, resourceful, compassionate and nothing short of remarkable. She has volunteered countless hours to help those who need it most and is committed to creating a safe and welcoming place at Fletcher Street Cottage in Byron Bay.

Young Community Member of Byron Shire – Zali Spinner (Main Arm flood response)

Zali’s nomination recognised her efforts to coordinate deliveries of food, water and medication to people living in isolated areas during the 2022 floods.

Zali is recognised as a devoted and committed member of the Main Arm community and a respected voice for young people. Her optimism, passion and can-do attitude continues to inspire others.

Community Initiative of Byron Shire – The Repair Café Post-Flood Initiative by the Shedding Community Workshop

The Repair Café Post-Flood initiative’s nomination acknowledged the volunteer based, trauma-informed and community-focussed response to the 2022 Northern Rivers floods – organised by the Shedding Community Workshop. 

The initiative coordinated teams of volunteers to collect, assess, clean, repair, test, donate and deliver flood damaged items to the community, free of charge. 

The nomination applauded the huge range of items repaired over six weeks that resulted in over 20 tonnes of waste being rescued from landfill.  Shedding Inc and The Repair Café continue to share the unique knowledge and experience they gained during the flood recovery with communities and resilience networks all over NSW. 

Giving Back to Byron Shire Award – Sama Balson (Women’s Village Collective)

Sama’s nomination applauded her efforts to found the Women’s Village Collective in 2020 as a grass roots movement which has grown to be a registered charitable organisation making waves in the community. 

The Collective aims to prevent women’s homelessness by providing affordable housing solutions, links to services, support referrals, connections and empowerment for women.  Sama has made a positive impact on the lives of women in the community and has been there to lend a hand in times of crisis and uncertainty.

Contribution to Health and Wellbeing Award – Queer Family

The Queer Family’s nomination was for initiation of the Queer Information and Referral Project and were able to directly reach around 2000 people through social events, workshops and support.

In a regional area with few mental health professionals specifically trained in lgbtqia+ issues, upskilling local professionals is a significant method of creating a larger support network for the queer community.

Access and Inclusion Award – Karen Gross (the Paddock Project)

Karen’s nomination recognised her disability support work both in education and with Social Futures for 17 years. Karen saw an opportunity to utilise the Paddock Project to create meaningful employment opportunities for local people living with disability. 

Thanks to Karen’s model the Paddock now employs more than 20 participants who are engaged in work and work preparation programs.  Workers are involved in all aspects of the garden including seed sewing and harvesting fresh produce.   

Caring for Country Award – Tiago Neto

Tiago’s nomination acknowledged his work organising events for young people at the YHA Byron Bay including an Aboriginal art event with Munu and Aboriginal cultural awareness with Delta Kay, among others. 

In creating awareness about Aboriginal culture, Tiago emphasises the importance of caring for natural resources through explanations from local elders. Tiago is a role model for environmental care for the next generation – he demonstrates how small actions can make a big impact.

Creativity Award – Marissa Treichel (The Cassettes)

Marissa’s nomination applauded her work as a professional choreographer, dance leader and community creative for 20 years, successfully creating and maintaining the highly successful regional dance business, The Cassettes.

Through lockdowns, floods and fires, Marissa has led dozens of community workshops and has taught dance to over 3000 Byron Shire residents of all ages and abilities, bringing creativity and fun into so many lives!

Open Award – Aya Harral-Haines (Turtle Rescue Superstar)

Aya’s nomination celebrated the work of this 5-year-old who has successfully raised over $600 in donations through cup cake and garage sales for the Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue Inc.

Her contribution will assist with the rescue, rehabilitation and release of turtles! Aya’s efforts will hopefully inspire people from all groups to support local organisations who are driving environmental change and education.

2023 Award winners