Media Release

May 10, 2010

The voluntary treasurers of a Newcastle disability support organisation, a Buckingham rowing club and a Bribie Island orchid society have been crowned Australia's greatest treasurers.

The winners of the 2010 Westpac Community Treasurers' Awards were revealed today:

  • Toni Lawler (winner: large organisations category) is the treasurer of Newcastle & Hunter Community Access (NHCA), which supports people with severe disabilities to connect with the community.
  • Bernadette Stewart (winner: medium organisations category) is the treasurer of Buckingham Rowing Club in Hobart, Tasmania.
  • Ian McLaren (winner: small organisations category) is the treasurer of Bribie Island Orchid Society in Queensland.

Each award winner will receive a certificate, a trophy and a $5000 prize for their organisation.

The awards, launched by the Federal Treasurer The Hon Wayne Swan MP in 2009, are an annual nationwide celebration of the commitment of the thousands of Australians who volunteer their time to help community organisations in Australia. All 431 nominees for the awards have been given a certificate in appreciation of their efforts.

"The Westpac Social Sector Banking team is delighted that so many people were recognised by their peers for their amazing contributions, and that so many entries were of a high calibre," said Head of Community Markets Vanessa Nolan-Woods.

"We believe community treasurers are an integral part of our community. Many work long hours for no pay and bear a high burden of responsibility for the financial health of our community organisations, which are so important to this nation."

Our Community Managing Director Denis Moriarty said the Community Treasurers' Awards program was just one of the many ways Westpac and Our Community were working to upskill those who oversee the finances of community groups across Australia.

"We're working to revolutionise banking and the way financial literacy is viewed in the community sector," Mr Moriarty said. "With customised banking products, an accredited team of bankers with specialised knowledge of the sector, financial literacy programs and awards programs such as these, we're working to ensure that the financial wellbeing of community groups across the country is in good hands."

Competition entries were judged on how well a nominated treasurer fulfilled his or her duties of ensuring good financial management, good financial governance and good financial outcomes.

Nominees for the 2010 Awards were drawn from major cities, regional centres and tiny towns across Australia, and were a mix of retirees, full time and part time workers.

2010 Westpac Community Treasurers' Awards Judges' Comments

Winner, Large Organisation Category

Toni Lawler, Treasurer, Newcastle and Hunter Community Access Inc. (NSW)

The judges were impressed with the strong leadership Toni has shown in taking the organisation to a new level of financial maturity and sustainability. This has involved sensitively leading the board and the organisation to an understanding of current financial challenges and overseeing a process of fundraising diversification, introduction of service efficiencies, and the development and implementation of more rigorous financial management and budgeting mechanisms. The judges noted Toni's work in helping to inculcate a level of financial sophistication within the organisation, a process that has helped stakeholders develop a clear understanding of what is necessary to keep the organisation financially healthy, while maintaining standards and serving clients to the best of its ability.

Winner, Medium Organisation Category

Bernadette Stewart, Treasurer, Buckingham Rowing Club (Tas)

The judges noted the significant contribution Bernadette has made to turning around the club's fortunes, helping to take it from a struggling club with an uncertain future to a thriving, successful one. Under Bernadette's stewardship, the club has undergone a modernisation in record-keeping, introduction of financial safeguards, and development of a strategic plan that has led to a tripling of turnover in five years. Among Bernadette's many achievements has been the introduction of a diversified fundraising strategy, ensuring the organisation is tapping into all possible areas of fundraising, from sales to sponsorship to special events to memberships - a strategy well-recognised as one of the keys to success for a modern community group.

Winner, Small Organisation Category

Ian McLaren, Treasurer, Bribie Island Orchid Society Inc. (Qld)

The judges noted Ian's commitment to financial stewardship, transparency and succession planning, and his diligence in ensuring that all Committee members are fully informed about, and understanding of, the organisation's finances. They noted Ian's entrepreneurial approach to fundraising and his understanding that a Community Treasurer's role is not just about managing money, but about bringing it in. The judges were particularly impressed with Ian's willingness to get his hands dirty, both figuratively (he's not afraid to do the photocopying or make the cups of tea), and literally (providing in-home orchid re-potting services for people who are housebound or ill).

About Westpac and Our Community

As Australia's first bank, Westpac has been supporting the Australian community for over 192 years. A dedicated team was created in April 2009 to provide support to community organisations such as charities, sports clubs, churches and support groups that are a vital part of the local communities in which Westpac operates, and its customers live and work.

Westpac Community Markets partnered with community sector industry body Our Community ( to contribute to and learn more about the requirements and needs of its not-for-profit customers and create solutions and services that would help them to achieve their financial potential.

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