Representatives of the state’s rural and regional communities, local and state government departments and media gathered to celebrate the spirit of rural and regional SA.
The Regional Showcase Awards, run by Solstice Media, the publisher of InDaily, SALIFE and CityMag, brought together 20 finalists from the more than 140 stories published last year across the two mastheads about regional South Australia.
The event was held at the Vale Brewing Restaurant & Bar at Beresford Estate in McLaren Vale.
The finalists were in the running to win one of six individual category awards, including the coveted People’s Choice Award.
The Regional Resilience Award presented by PIRSA was won by Riverland Wine, which commissioned photographer Matt Wilson to capture the people in the region’s wine industry, which has shown resilience in the face of Chinese tariffs, rising transport costs and lower tourism numbers due to the flood.
Farmer to Fridge (rebranded from Half A Cow) took home the Business Innovation Award, presented by Beresford Estate. The platform connects consumers directly to local farmers, enabling them to purchase meat at a wholesale price and giving farmers a fairer price than what they receive from supermarket chains.
Bringing reality television to life, the intergenerational Victor Harbor Library Playgroup was recognised with the Meaningful Connections Award, presented by Seniors Card.
MAX Services won the Community Empowerment Award, presented by Regional Development Australia, for its recruitment and training programs that deliver pathways into skilled positions to service the state’s mining, oil and gas and other industries. It has resulted in the company becoming a major employer in the Port Augusta region.
The Lifelong Learning Award, presented by InDaily, went to Leigh Creek Area School and the University of Adelaide’s Mobile Language Team for making the Adnyamathanha culture and language more visible via bilingual signage along the Akurra Trail, with representatives saying last night they have four more signs ready to install.
The People’s Choice Award went to Kangaroo Island’s Feral Cat Eradication Project, which saw 80 per cent of the feral cat population removed via trapping, cameras and fencing. The project’s newest weapons are nesting boxes to encourage the breeding of barn owls to control the domestic mice and rat populations now there are fewer cats.
InDaily Chief of Staff Jim Plouffe, who commissions and edits the stories, said providing coverage of the state’s regions was valuable on multiple levels.
“The stories of regional South Australia are important parts of InDaily and SALIFE, and even CityMag, because we endeavour to give our readers a complete view of the state and without regional voices this would not be possible,” he said.
“Telling these stories is also important to journalism, the media industry.
“We reach out to regional journalists to find and write the stories and this year, in particular, assigned stories we found from Adelaide to our amazing interns from UniSA and the University of Adelaide.
“Traditionally, young journos cut their teeth at country papers. Now, with fewer media options out there, we are giving the students their first lessons in reporting.
“Any country reporter knows you had better get the facts straight or face an uncomfortable night in the pub.”
Plouffe said that Solstice puts in this work because the company knows that local news matters to communities.
AgTown of the Year
Another highlight of the night was the eagerly awaited 2023 AgTown of the Year award, which was presented to Wudinna by Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven.
Established in 2019, the award recognises South Australian towns that are excelling in agricultural practices and the flow-on effect they have on communities.
Scriven praised the town as a worthy winner.
“It is clear to see why the town is affectionately known as ‘wonderful Wudinna’, with its leadership in the agriculture sector complemented by strong community support,” she said.
“The Wudinna community is to be commended for its resilience, its track record of using the ‘good times’ to prepare for the ‘bad’ by putting together strategic plans and for leading from the front to leverage its natural advantages to address challenges.”
Scriven also congratulated the other two finalists, Bordertown and Eudunda, saying, “I know it was not an easy decision for the judges”.
Wudinna, with its thriving community of 600 people, is a hub for the Eyre Peninsula’s grain, cattle and sheep industries, with major agribusinesses, farming machinery and earthmoving suppliers, and leading low rainfall research body AIR EP based there.
The judges commended Wudinna’s outstanding community engagement and the strong support offered to its youngest members to embrace agriculture through their education, as well as its tourism initiatives.
Wudinna district council mayor Eleanor Scholz said it was “exciting” to win and congratulated the other finalists.
“This award is a celebration of commitment and leadership across our agricultural communities,” she said.
“It highlights and values working together across all sectors of agriculture, education, business and support services, which are driven by our community for our community.
“This is the core which makes our district a great place to live, work, invest and play.”
The 2023 Agricultural Town of the Year Award is an initiative of the Government of South Australia through the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, in partnership with Solstice Media.
The four previous AgTown of the Year winners are Cleve (2019), Pinnaroo (2020), Kimba (2021) and Mypolonga (2022).
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.