Warmun Art Centre reaps benefits of Telstra WA Social Change Maker Award win

After winning the WA Social Change Maker Award as part of the 2019 Telstra Business Awards, Warmun Art Centre has seen a huge boost in community pride.

Located 200 kilometres south of Kununurra, Warmun Art Centre is run by Gija Traditional Owners. To ensure self-sustaining community development, 100 percent of the Centre’s income goes straight back into the community.

Last year, the Art Centre entered into the Social Change Maker category of the Telstra Business Awards.

According to its criteria, the award is for organisations “where a positive social impact is at the core of their purpose” who are “applying innovative solutions to address social issues and better the world we live in”.

After a rigorous selection process Warmun Art Centre was selected out of tens of thousands as the state winner for Western Australia.

“For the Art Centre it was that [the award] goes beyond the community – it’s really the whole state and just having 20 years of the Art Centre’s legacy recognised in that moment was a proud moment for everyone,” said Warmun Art Centre Manager, Stephanie Rajalingam.

Rajalingam said the immediate and most important impact the win had was a “big change and sense of pride within community”.

“Whether that leads onto better sales and better outcomes, we have yet to measure that,” she said.

“[We] definitely received a lot of earnt free press … especially in the non-profit sector and also the government [sector].”

Telstra Business Awards Ambassador and Group Executive, Telstra Consumer and Small Business, Michael Ackland, said Australian business owners drive the economy.

“They are taking risks and leading us to the future through their hard work and commitment to innovation,” he said.

“Nominating for the Telstra Business Awards is a great way to acknowledge their successes and prove they are ‘that’ business.”

Warmun Art Centre Chair, Peter Thomas, said perceptions have changed for the positive since their big win.

“The public perception as well as the internal perception [has changed],” Thomas said.

Rajalingam added that the community feels really proud of their achievement.

“A lot of people within our community feel the win has given them a better chance of getting their word out, their message, and they feel proud.”

Warmun Art Centre was also invited to compete in the national finals.

“Even going to Melbourne and being able to meet all the other finalists, that helps put things into perspective.

“We’re quite used to just dealing with the Art Centre within the remote countryside. Leaving our community and seeing what the outside world thinks of us also put things in perspective.”

Rajalingam encouraged any small or medium business considering nominating themselves to get involved.

“It’s a very prestigious and rigorous awards program … it will be an award that’s recognised beyond your state borders. It’s very good for publicity across the whole nation,” Rajalingam said.

“It’s definitely a worthwhile exercise to do.

“There are a long series of questions … it can seem a bit daunting.

“The best advice I can give is just tell your story, share your story, share what you’ve gone through and people on the receiving end will pick that up.”

Nominations for the 2020 Telstra Business Awards are open now until April 7. To nominate, head to:

By Hannah Cross

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