The winners for the 2017 Community HART Awards have been announced!

The VLGA and Reconciliation Victoria are thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s Community HART (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together) Awards. There were 14 finalists split over three categories. For the first time we have split the community category into small and large community organisations/groups to help make the judging process fair and equitable. Congratulations to all nominees and finalists! We were pleased to celebrate the meaningful and ongoing partnerships and contributions happening at a local level across the state. 

Download the 2017 HART Awards Booklet here or view the flip through booklet here.


Local Government 

Winner: Rural City of Wangaratta: Bullawah Cultural Trail Project                       

The Bullawah Cultural Trail was developed along the Ovens River shared path to showcase, share and record our local Aboriginal cultural heritage. The word ‘Bullawah’ is a Pangerang word and means “two over the river” and signifies the new suspension bridges that are now providing access to areas of the landscape that had not been possible previously. Bullawah also signifies Indigenous and non-Indigenous people walking together hand in hand toward reconciliation and the coming together of cultures. The Bullawah Cultural Trail incorporates interpretive signage, sculptures, public art, short films, medicinal plants, bush tucker and the Marmungun Rock that honours local Indigenous and non–Indigenous leaders in the community.

Highly CommendedCity of Ballarat: Ballarat Library     

Since 2015, the City of Ballarat Library has been transformed into an engaging, welcoming and respectful space for the Aboriginal community. A new partnership has been built between the Ballarat Library and members of the Councils Koorie Engagement Action Group (KEAG) and the wider Aboriginal community. This has led to new initiatives and measures to make the library a more welcoming space, such as flags, Indigenous collection of resources, and welcome mat. There has also been a marked increase in cultural awareness programs and events being delivered by the library with increased attendance and positive feedback from the community.

Highly Commended: Mildura Rural City Council: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Project               

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial project was delivered by Mildura Rural City Council in collaboration with the local Aboriginal Community. The project delivered a permanent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial which sits proudly in Mildura’s Henderson Park, creating a foundation for future cultural and historical learning, healing, recognition as well as a space for conversations about reconciliation within the Mildura community. The project created an opportunity for collective action in community recognition, healing and reconciliation. The collaborative efforts and involvement of community from start to finish highlighted exactly what is needed for genuine community engagement and how to truly strengthen relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. 


Small Community Organisation/Group 

WinnerMullagh Wills Foundation: Reconciliation through Sport - “Journey to the G"        

The Mullagh Wills Foundation initiated the “Journey to the G” project in celebration of the150th Anniversary of the 1866 Boxing Day match between the MCC and the All Aboriginal Cricket Team. The Mullagh Wills Foundation is a volunteer run organisation that worked with 11 Councils to promote Reconciliation through Sport and increase community awareness of the contributions made to sport and the community by Johnny Mullagh and Tom Wills who were members of the first All Aboriginal Cricket team.

Highly CommendedTarerer Gunditj Project Association Inc : Tarerer Festival, 'Sharing Culture'           

The Tarerer festival is primarily a music festival encouraging Koorie, Non-Koorie and other nationalities in a celebration of the art and culture of the South West district and includes: music, dance, visual arts and crafts and environmental exchange. Now in it’s 21st year the Tarerer Festival, 'Sharing Culture' 2017 was no exception with Irish Celtic, Philippine, Scottish Celtic and an element of Japanese culture amazing the audience with our show of unity, brilliant talent and respect for each other. In addition to this Tarerer initiated an Aboriginal dance project for young girls and boys in the lead up to our festival. Tarerer was also involved an event called Culture Creativity and Place II, an Aboriginal water ceremony. Canadian First Nation representatives were also invited to attend who enjoyed their stay and experience.


Large Community Organisation/Group 

Winner: The Sovereign Hill Museums Association/ Wathaurung Aboriginal CorporationGnarrwirring Ngitj (‘Learning Together’) Festival       

Last year marked the first year of the Gnarrwirring Ngitj (‘Learning Together’) Festival, a program of events taking place during Reconciliation Week that was developed by Sovereign Hill Museums Association in partnership with Wadawurrung, the Traditional Owners in Ballarat. Through a varied program of guided tours, lectures, street performances and workshops, the festival served to educate attendees about Wadawurrung history, as well as the part played by the local Aboriginal people in the Victorian Gold Rushes. The Gnarrwirring Ngitj Festival has been nominated for being an outstanding local initiative which fully reflects its aim of ‘learning together’.

Highly CommendedCoHealth: Wellness Dreaming – Prevention Team       

Cohealth is a community health organisation providing health support services across Melbourne's CBD, northern and western suburbs. Wellness Dreaming is a highly successful Koolin-Balit initiative, which built the skills of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to work together in facilitating strength-based conversations - Dreaming Circles, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in community settings. It has:

Encouraged people to flip their thinking away from what’s wrong and towards what’s STRONG in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. Worked in partnership to build upon the capacity of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal workforce in the north-west metropolitan region to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Fostered the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, enabling local, community-led, culturally appropriate actions for wellbeing. Developed, trained and promoted strengths-based approaches with stakeholders in local government, education, employment, housing, health, mainstream, non-government and community controlled sectors

Check back soon for photos from the awards ceremony! 

The 2017 Finalists  

Local Government
Rural City of Wangaratta - Bullawah Cultural Trail Project
City of Ballarat – Ballarat Library
City of Casey - Valley Brook Kindergarten Yarning Networks and Workshops
Gannawarra Shire - Stolen Generations
Mildura Rural City Council - Plaque; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Project and
Yarra Ranges Council - The Urban   Indigenous Community, Connection to Culture, Country, Identity and Health research project

Small Community Organisation/Group:
Mullagh Wills Foundation - Reconciliation through Sport - “Journey to the G”;
Phoenix FM - Koori Shout-Out
Tarerer Gunditj Project Association Inc - Tarerer Festival, 'Sharing Culture'
Warrnambool Community Garden Inc. - Indigenous recognition seat

Large Community Organisation/Group:
CoHealth - Wellness Dreaming – Prevention Team
Port Fairy Folk Festival Committee Inc. - 2017 Opening Ceremony Taarndeen Chuurnuurn – ‘Big River’ – The Milky Way
The Sovereign Hill Museums Association/ Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation t/a Wadawurrung : Gnarrwirring Ngitj (‘Learning Together’) Festival
Victorian Aboriginal Health Service - Healthy Lifestyle Team


About the HART Awards

The Community HART Awards, now in their fourth year, recognise local governments and community organisations that are advancing reconciliation in Victoria.

Reconciliation Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Association present the awards, with support from Bank Australia and Local Government Victoria.

An awards ceremony was held during Reconciliation Week at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square where winners received a prize in addition to the awardThe community organisation winners were also awarded $1000 to support their reconciliation initiatives.

The Awards recognise Victorian partnerships and initiatives that contribute to  reconciliation outcomes at a local level. You can read about the 2015 & 2016 finalists and winners on our dedicated website page.

General Infromation 

For any queries on the awards process please contact us.

Reconciliation Victoria: or 0411 706 020

The VLGA: or 9349 7999



Previous Awards

2016 HART Awards

City of Yarra and Reconciliation in the Park (Geelong) were last week announced as winners of the Community HART Awards 2016. 

The City of Yarra received the Local Government Award for its Connecting with the Aboriginal History of Yarra: A Teachers’ Resource. The resource is a much needed toolkit for the local community and provides local teachers with a roadmap for teaching local Aboriginal history and engaging with Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri people.

Reconciliation in the Park (Geelong), conducted by Geelong One Fire Reconciliation Group & Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative, contributes to local relationships between Aboriginal people and the wider community.

Reconciliation Victoria Co-Chair, Belinda Duarte says “In their third year, the Community HART Awards make a significant contribution to our national journey of healing and reconciliation”. Ms Duarte goes on to say that the HART Awards “shine a light on the local initiatives and champions making a real difference in their communities, so that others might take ideas and inspiration forward into their own workplaces and communities”.

The City of Whittlesea and Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation also received special commendation for their initiatives in support of reconciliation in their communities.

Download the 2016 HART Awards Booklet with info on all this year's finalists

Bank Australia’s support of the Community HART awards is part of the bank’s commitment to increase awareness about reconciliation and contribute to improved opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Community HART Awards were presented at an event in Melbourne on Friday 3 June 2016 at the Koorie Heritage Trust, which falls on Mabo Day during Reconciliation Week.

Winners received a one-off piece of original artwork by local Aboriginal artist Emma Bamblett. The community organisation winner was also awarded $1000 to support their reconciliation initiatives. 

Media Contact: Damian O'Keefe (Reconciliation Victoria) 0427 030 545, Justin Kann (VLGA), 0419 639 514

Photos: Barbara Oehring


2015 Awards

On Thursday 28 May, at the start of Reconciliation Week, the VLGA and Reconciliation Victoria presented the 2015 Community HART Awards at the Korin Gamadji Institute in Richmond. Featuring a stirring performance by legendary singer songwriter, Kutcha Edwards, this was an afternoon of great celebration, as we recognised the passionate and dedicated individuals who work together to bring about mutual understanding and respect between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.


Uncle Colin Hunter performing a Welcome to Country.


The Deadly Dancers who were Highly Commended at last year's awards.

2015 Winners

The diversity of entrants this year showed how there is a myriad of ways that communities can work toward reconciliation - and this made the judges' decision extremely difficult!

Each of the 12 finalists showed how true reconciliation can only come from having two-way conversations in order to develop mutual respect and understanding.

Congratulations to the well-deserving winners Shearwater Festival Working Group for the annual Shearwater Festival on Phillip Island (community category, nominated by Bass Coast Shire Council) and Yarra City Council for the Smith Street Dreaming project (local government category)

Highly commended were Geelong’s Deadly Dancers and Corrina O’TooleUncle Boydie’s Dream TeamDarebin City Council and the Western Regional Local Government Reconciliation Network – comprised of Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley and Wyndham City).

You can read about each of the winners and all of the 2015 finalists in the 2015 Community HART booklet.

Partnership with Bank Australia

We were thrilled to be joined by Steven Lynch of Bank Australia at the 2015 Award presentation event, where it was officially announced that Bank Australia is now the principal supporter of the Community HART Awards!

2014 Awards

The inaugural Community HART Award winners were held on June 5th at Korin Gamadji Institute in Richmond. 

Awards were presented to:

Local Government Category

Winner: Glenelg Shire for the Glenelg Aboriginal Partnership

Highly Commended: Mornington Peninsula Shire for its Aboriginal Support and Development Team.

Community Organisation category

Winner: Northern Indigenous Employment Working Group

Highly Commended: Framlingham Aboriginal Community for its 150th Anniversary Celebration.