21 August 2015

It was with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of a treasured community leader—Uncle Les Elvin.

It was with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of a treasured community leader—Uncle Les Elvin. Les was not only recognised as a great artist but a valued role model to hundreds of school students across the region. One of my last catch-ups with Uncle Les was at the Cessnock Youth and Outreach Centre during NAIDOC Week.  He was teaching a screen printing workshop to youth as part of the week’s activities. A testament to his selfless character, it was also the day of his 77th birthday! Uncle Les was named Australian Aboriginal Artist of the Year at a ceremony in Canberra in 2008. He was also named Cessnock’s Citizen of the Year in 2012 and he was the major prize winner of the Weston Art Show last month. He will be sadly missed.

I attended the Wise on Waste (WoW) information night at the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on Monday 17 August. The project encourages local food businesses to reduce food waste and increase the rate of recycling. Sending less waste to landfill is an important way for businesses to reduce their impact on the environment. NSW businesses send more than 400,000 tonnes of food to landfill each year. I commend Council staff who have been instrumental in this project, especially Environmental Health Officer Abbie Bagnall who is credited with being its brainchild.

It was impressive to see the Branxton Croquet Club host a major two day tournament earlier this month. Players came from as far afield as Lismore and Sydney to compete and enjoy the revamped facilities. Council staff recently completed work on the club rooms at Branxton. Works included improvement to the toilets and two disabled car spaces.

Council is calling for nominations for the 2015 Cessnock City Hall of Fame by 5pm Monday 21 September 2015. Established in 2006, the Cessnock City Hall of Fame recognises outstanding individuals in categories such as arts, business, public service, science and sport. I encourage residents to nominate members of our community who are yet to be recognised. Previous inductees include legendary jockey Robert Thompson, international motorcycle champion Phil Lovett and renowned winemaking families from the region. Keep an eye out for these past inductees and others in our Hall of Fame profiles that are being published every Wednesday on Council’s website and Facebook page. Nomination details are available also available on Council’s website.

Organisers of the Kullaburra awards have announced there will be an annual Uncle Les Elvin Memorial Award. The Kullaburra awards aim to recognise and encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from K-12 across the Cessnock and Kurri Kurri areas. They celebrate the successes of year 12 students as well as all-rounder, sport and leadership categories. Congratulations to all the students who won awards at the recent ceremony at Cessnock High School on 19 August.