SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES – TIDY TOWNS

Since 1981, the Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Program has been rewarding and recognising projects around litter, waste management, recycling, heritage, community spirit and other environmental areas in towns both large and small across the breadth of NSW.

EVENT DATE: 4th – 6th March 2022

* Due to COVID 19 lockdown restrictions in NSW, the 2021 Awards were postponed to the date above in early 2022.

2020 Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards

About the Program

Winning the title of the “State’s Tidiest Town” has become a much sought-after honour and is highly contested by small and large towns alike. View historical winners of Tidy Towns below.

All regional towns, councils, community groups, businesses, schools and individuals are invited to take part in this program by submitting an entry in one of the 14 categories or the Overall Award. There is no fee for entries to the awards.

The State Overall winner has the potential to become a finalist for the National Keep Australia Beautiful Award, and may also host the awards weekend for the year following their win. This is a great opportunity to showcase your town, but is not mandatory. If you are not in the position to host the awards, do not let it deter you from entering.

Sponsor and Co-Host of the 2021 Awards:

Award Dates

The 2021 Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards will be co-hosted by Keep Australia Beautiful NSW and AlburyCity Council from the 12th – 14th November. 

Award Levels

The Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards Program incorporates several levels of awards, category awards, overall town awards by population and the the Overall Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Award.

Previous participants have advised us of numerous social, environmental and economic benefits of entering into the program:

  • Increased community pride, morale, spirit; and physical, mental & social well-being;
  • Social interaction & co-operation between community members, groups and partners;
  • Improved natural environment and restoration of wildlife habitats;
  • Strengthening of current partnerships or initiation of new ones between community members and groups, councils and businesses;
  • Potential for increased tourism and amenities for the local community;
  • Reduction of waste, graffiti prevention, and enhanced management of waste services;
  • Permanent recognition for winners and valuable feedback on award submissions;
  • Public awareness of environmental education issues;
  • Networking opportunities between industry, government, and environmental leaders and experts;
  • Introduction and/or recognition of sustainability initiatives;
  • Recognition of good governance in local government;
  • Opportunities to showcase and celebrate the innovative work, expertise, and vision of your organisation or project;
  • Increased valuable media exposure for your local area and community projects;
  • Learning about other sustainability projects within NSW and sharing ideas with key stakeholders;
  • Creating excitement and motivation for communities by recognising their efforts in sustainability or other environmental initiatives and programs.

Who can Enter?

The Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards are open to rural, regional and coastal towns and villages across NSW. Category entrants include (but are not limited to) Tidy Towns groups, Individuals, Progress Associations, Youth Organisations, Landcare Groups, Chambers of Commerce, Local Authorities, Tourism Associations, Schools, Business, Small Enterprises and Industry, Registered Clubs and Service groups.

While projects may be ongoing, they must have recent significance with results shown over the past financial year. Previous overall and category award winners are welcome to enter again, but projects must have progressed from the previous entry, and those new achievements or outcomes must be demonstrated.

Award Categories

The Resource Recovery and Waste Management Award (sponsored by the NSW EPA) is for a project or program that tackles a range of waste and recycling problems through:

  • Waste minimisation and reduction;
  • Effective and innovative waste and recycling programs – including education and infrastructure projects;
  • Incentivising behaviour change to improve waste management, recycling and stop illegal dumping.

Projects should demonstrate inventive techniques that specifically address local waste problems, with quantifiably effective outcomes.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Projects that use recycling and prevent material going to landfill.
  • The development of a Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan.
  • A local group addressing the problem of food waste in their community.
  • The planning and implementation of a program that facilitates appropriate disposal of items, for example, free drop-offs to help tackle illegal dumping or management of event sites.

Sponsored by:

The Litter Prevention Award (sponsored by the NSW EPA) is for a project or program that reduces or prevents litter. This could include projects that use one or more of these approaches:

  • Behaviour change techniques to stop littering.
  • New or effective ways to communicate about litter and its impacts.
  • Building partnerships or networks to prevent litter.
  • Enforcement techniques to reduce litter.
  • Create effective infrastructure and place design to reduce litter (signage, bins, other landscaping).
  • Utilising the ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ campaign materials.

Projects should demonstrate inventive techniques that specifically address local litter issues, with quantifiable outcomes. Projects that
use more than one approach will be highly regarded. Projects can address any form of litter in any environment.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A litter reduction campaign which involves the community.
  • A project or program aimed at a specific section of the community – for example, children, young people, culturally and linguistically
    diverse (CALD) groups, Indigenous communities.
  • A project aimed at addressing litter with a long-term solution based on behaviour change techniques.
  • Different strategies to target litter for example signage, phasing out plastic bags/bottles etc.

Previous or current Community Litter Grant applicants are encouraged to enter their projects.

Sponsored by:

The Return and Earn Litter Prevention Award is for a program or project that provides for and encourages the use of the Return and Earn scheme in a local area, through:

  • Development and promotion of Return and Earn facilities for the return of beverage containers under the NSW Container Deposit Scheme;
  • Community engagement and involvement in the development, design and set up of the system. This includes knowledge sharing with individuals and groups in the community;
  • Innovative use of the Return and Earn Scheme to benefit a particular community or group. For example, a refugee group, a school, indigenous group or sporting group who may not have participated in litter prevention initiatives previously.

Entries from Individuals, School’s, Not for Profit Organisation’s and Community Group’s qualify for the cash prize.

The KAB NSW winner/s in this category will receive a KAB NSW winner’s certificate. In addition, the $3,000 cash prize will be presented to one winner based on the entrant’s ability to demonstrate a high level of commitment to their activities and the sustainable long-term benefits of their activity. Click here for Terms & Conditions.

Examples of eligible projects include:

  • Installing infrastructure and systems in consultation with the community that will provide better access to the Return and Earn scheme. Includes the development, promotion, partnering and benefits to their community.
  • Developing long term plans to extend systems and facilities in the future, including accessing community feedback and measurements of success.
  • Clean-up activities, specifically undertaken to collect beverage containers accepted as part of the Return and Earn Scheme, including
    data collection about how many containers and types collected.
  • An individual or organisation that develops a community engagement and awareness project for Return and Earn that results in measurable success (e.g. a cleaner local environment, increased knowledge and community participation in Return and Earn).

Sponsored by:

The Habitat and Wildlife Conservation Award is for projects which create, restore and sustain biodiversity of our native flora and fauna in urban environments, creating wildlife corridors and encouraging habitat conservation, through:

  • Leadership and innovation in the promotion and advocacy for conserving local biodiversity;
  • Actions which improve the wildlife and habitat in an area, through community participation. For example, Landcare, Bushcare, Dunecare, Land for Wildlife and Marine Rescue;
  • Partnerships that encourage the community to be proactive in the conservation of biodiversity;
  • Policy or mission that supports the protection of local biodiversity in an area.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Education programs and projects about local threatened species, habitat and communities and their protection.
  • Development or upgrades to community or local nurseries which provide greater access to local provenance species.
  • Supporting community participation in projects such as fauna and flora conservation. Includes promotion and education, data collection and mapping, community involvement and feedback.
  • Development of or increased involvement by the community in Landcare, Bushcare, Dunecare or other community projects that assist in the reversing of environmental damage to wildlife habitats, including bushland and waterways.

The Heritage and Culture Award is for community projects that enhance and protect either our built heritage, natural heritage or indigenous cultural heritage.

Projects may include:

  • Commitment to the conservation of built heritage, such as a building and/or other infrastructure restoration.
  • Education projects and/or research into an area’s heritage.
  • Conservation actions which promote and support indigenous heritage.
  • Proactive long-term planning that allows an area’s Aboriginal heritage to be preserved

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • The restoration of an area, heritage building or other infrastructure.
  • An event that recognises the history of an area, such as a cultural festival.
  • The protection of significant natural areas that are an integral part of the history of an area.
  • A Heritage Centre (or similar) that promotes heritage and facilitates local history documentation in an area.
  • Education which provides for the ongoing existence of the Aboriginal heritage of an area. For example, the teaching and preservation of language.

The Young Legends Award is for an individual or groups of individuals (25 years and under who demonstrate outstanding commitment to their environment and show leadership in pursuing environmental outcomes in any of the preceding categories e.g. Litter, wildlife conservation waste minimisation etc., through:

  • Advocating for change in the local area, through participation on committees or clean-up activities, volunteering at community nurseries or Bushcare etc.;
  • Working in partnership with other organisations to make significant change in relation to the environment.

Projects may be submitted by:

  • Individuals.
  • A group of young people.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • An individual who volunteers by growing plants at their local community nursery for planting in a local area of bushland.
  • A youth group who advocates the reduced use of plastic litter through active clean-ups, education campaigns and partnering with the local community.
  • A pre-school or vacation care group who take part in sustainability or environmental projects.

The School’s Achievement Award is for New South Wales schools (public and independent) that can demonstrate sustainability achievements, sustainable practices, reducing their environmental impact and leading the community by example through:

  • Programs that encourage mentoring and development of sustainability throughout the school and in the community.
  • Environmental programs or sustainability initiatives where students have led or participated in awareness raising campaigns.
  • The adoption of sustainable methods in operations such as retrofitting school infrastructure or undertaking of whole of school behaviour change programs.

Projects may be submitted by:

  • Schools and Pre Schools.
  • Teachers, parents or students.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A school who has conducted waste, water and energy audits and are making changes to their behaviour in response to the auditing of these areas.
  • A school that has implemented a waste or sustainability project within their school or community.
  • School participation in a community or industry program.
  • Schools who have consistently taken part in programs such as National Tree Day or Clean Up Australia Day and who have developed a positive culture in relation to these events within their school.

The Waterways & Marine Protection Award (incorporating Clean Beaches) is for programs and actions that create, restore and/or enhance our natural waterways and beaches, through:

  • Actively advocating coastal and waterway protection through education, action, data collection and partnerships.
  • Developing projects that encourage community participation in the protection of waterways and beaches.
  • Sustainably managing water resources within the community, through improved infrastructure, systems and planning.
  • Improving water quality through reducing litter.
  • Sustainable coastal use and development for healthy habitats.
  • Protecting the cultural values of the marine estate.
  • Sustainable fishing and aquaculture.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Building a fish ladder to improve fish movement upstream.
  • Caring for a local beach, through community participation. Actions may include clean-ups, education through signage, data collection and improved bin infrastructure.
  • Weed control along streams, rivers and dunes.
  • Advocacy and action around threats to marine environments, including data collection, projects around minimising the use of single use plastic or fishing line management.

The Communication & Engagement Award is for programs and projects that inspire environmental action, through:

  • Education and communication campaigns that raise awareness of environmental sustainability for topics such as energy, water or waste reduction to create empowerment and behaviour change amongst the target audience.
  • Developing and building communication partnerships that enable sharing of resources, ideas and knowledge.
  • Creating spaces and places for environmental communication programs that demonstrate ideas and practical solutions for the community.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A series of education workshops on a range of topics that inspire community to share ideas and learn about environmental issues.
  • Regional education programs that specifically target behaviours of a group around a specific issue (for example, wood fire smoke or illegal dumping).
  • A council that has implemented an effective communication program, ranging from media campaigns to multi-dimensional campaigns which tackle a problem from different angles.

The Recycled Organics Award is for projects and programs that reduce organics going to landfill and supports the community to avoid, reduce and recycle organics, through:

  • Development of improved technologies for the separation of organics from the waste stream.
  • Education and communication programs that support positive behaviour changes in the community, around reduced food waste, composting and worm farming.
  • Innovative ideas, action and markets for the use of compost.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • An enterprise that supports composting/worm farming through education, resourcing and innovative systems.
  • A Council that extends its waste collection to a separate green waste collection or for an existing collection to include food organics.
  • A business that is avoiding food waste and maximising reuse/ recycling of food waste through an on-site composting facility.

The Circular Economy Award is for any operationally viable projects in the circular economy which do, or could potentially, divert solid materials, fluids or energy from waste streams and return them to the productive economy.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A business plan or strategy for a viable project. For example, a Waste Management Strategy which demonstrates how the waste streams are being diverted back into the marketable economy.
  • A financed project in precommercial development or a scheme in commercial operation.
  • A proposal by four or more participants to collaborate on developing a project.

The Renewable Energy Award is for programs and projects that progress achievements in developing products or services associated with renewable energy.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Developing or improving energy generation or usage within an organisation.
  • Reducing reliance on fossil fuels within a community.
  • Products, projects or infrastructure that facilitate the use of renewable energy.
  • Improving business accountability for and reporting of energy use.
  • Long term plans to reduce energy
    demand, especially energy sourced
    from fossil fuels.

The Community Spirit and Inclusion Award is awarded to communities that successfully demonstrate strong community spirit and inclusion in the face of ongoing challenges. This award is given to communities that refuse to ‘give in’ when facing a challenge.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A community coming together to restore and rebuild a community hub.
  • Events, programs or festivals that celebrate and promote community spirit and inclusion.
  • Activities to promote civic pride, create community awareness, cohesion and wellbeing.
  • Innovative approaches to community engagement, such as communications techniques or alternative methods of delivering events, programs or festivals
  • A community supporting each other at a time of crisis – such as through the COVID-19 pandemic or in bushfire recovery.

The Response to Climate Change Award is for programs and projects that tackle the effects of climate change and extreme weather events through:

  • Providing real and practical solutions to meet the challenges of climate change in an area.
  • Planning long term for the management of climate change events, which includes partnerships, collaboration and community engagement.
  • Educating communities and building capacity about the causes and effects of climate change and what individuals can do to take action.
  • Actions to combat existing weather events and strengthen an areas resilience.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Improving erosion proofing along coastal areas, where rising tides are impacting the coast line.
  • Long term planning supporting the likely impacts of climate change and increased extreme weather events.
  • Education programs which provide knowledge and support for individuals, students and communities to learn, discuss and voice concerns.
  • Research and scholarship projects that look closely at likely impacts and possible solutions.

The Overall Award is awarded to a community in a town, village or regional centre that has successfully undertaken projects or actions in multiple areas of environmental sustainability and social inclusion across the range of award categories.

It is recommended that communities entering the overall award have a minimum of four (4) category entries.

Projects submitted by any organisation or individual (including schools) within the town, village or regional centre may contribute towards an Overall entry.

Communities that qualify will be assessed by an on-the-ground assessor who will visit projects in. Exact times and dates will be confirmed with each community before the assessor arrives.

Population Categories

National Awards

Please note that the winning town will be eligible to be nominated to the National Tidy Towns Award to become the National Tidy Towns Winner, however entry to this is not mandatory. If you would like to be considered to go forward for the National competition the entry criteria includes the following categories:

  • Community Action and Wellbeing 
  • Waste Management, Resource Recovery and Litter Management 
  • Environmental Sustainability 
  • Heritage and Culture 
  • Environmental Education 
  • Young Legends 

As with the NSW overall winner other achievements will be taken in consideration by the judges. 

Visit the Website

2020 Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Winners

Overall Winner

ALBURY

Albury City is forthright in stating that it has a ‘two city, one community’ culture.

There is strong evidence of proactive engagement by Council with the community, and a comfortable willingness of the community to ‘have their say’ in decision making.

Community and political pressure to effectively manage the environment is increasing, and Council has achieved good results in these, often competing, arenas.

Council has an effective strategic planning process with adoption of the overarching Albury 2030 Strategic Plan, and subsequent Sustainability and Environmental Reports, Action Plans, Projects and Monitoring Programs.

This year, Albury also won the Waste Less, Recycle More Waste Minimisation Award, sponsored by NSW EPA; the Renewable Energy Award; the Recycled Organics Award; and the Overall Population (Category E: 20,000+) Award; and were Highly Commended in the Community Spirit and Inclusion Award.

Winners & Highly Commended Table
Winners Booklet
Awards Gallery

2019 Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Winners

Overall Winner

MURRURUNDI

Murrurundi have consistently been strong in their environmental and social programs for many years. The stand-out project this year was their Doing it for the Farmers, a program to support their drought-stricken area. Our assessor gave special mention to the towns ability to work together during the extreme drought conditions and that much had been achieved with very little.

This year, Murrurundi won awards in the Environmental Communication Award with their ‘Hundred Mile Dinner’ and the Community Spirit and Inclusion Award for the ‘Doing it for the Farmers’.

Another small town that punches above its weight, showing that when everyone works together, much can be achieved.

Winners & Highly Commended Table
Winners Booklet

2018 Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Winners

Overall Winner

CESSNOCK

Cessnock has engaged with the community at many levels to make their region more liveable, attractive and productive. Practical examples include:

  • A Men’s Shed that assists many parts of the community with woodworking and metal working projects and repairs;
  • a community garden and recycling with native plant production, as well as traditional health and wellbeing benefits;
  • Proactive engagement with seniors throughout each year, highlighted with celebrations during Seniors Week.
  • A similar engagement with young people.
  • A Regional Art Gallery that hosts 12 exhibitions each year, educational activities and special events.
  • A co-ordinated waste and recycling program, including construction of a new and easy to use waste transfer station, proactive encouragement of the community to use the waste transfer station, an engaging illegal dumping control program and kerbside recycling collection.
  • A comprehensive Biodiversity Communications Strategy that explains to the community the value of local biodiversity and how to care for it.
Winners & Highly Commended Table
Awards Gallery

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