On Thursday 6 June 2024 Upper Lachlan Shire Council received the judges recognition award in the category of Community Development at the Local Government excellence awards. This award recognises leadership in community services as evidenced by way of a particular project initiative; innovation in management and leadership practices; or demonstrated practicality and resourcefulness.

Last year (2023), Upper Lachlan Shire Council Council CEO Alex Waldron courageously invited drag story teller Betty Confetti to Upper Lachlan after neighbouring Councils were forced to cancel amid a spate of threats and rainbow story time cancellations across the country.

CEO Alex Waldron said.

“There are few moments in life when you know you can’t stay quiet and you need to stand up and say no i can’t accept this. As an openly gay female CEO I knew this would be controversial and I knew it would stir up homophobia and bigotry that would be aimed towards me. 

I even expected a petition or protest but I hadn’t however anticipated the level of vitriol, threats of violence or attempt to run me off the road that followed my invitation to Betty Confetti.

Council felt it was important to show leadership in this area, to promote the love of reading and to send the strong message to the next generation that it is okay to be different. Diversity and inclusion along with freedom of choice are what makes Australia a special place to live and that is something we should all be proud of and protect.

Our amazing library staff and Manager worked hard to make this event the most fabulous story time event ever held in Crookwell and Gunning libraries. Being the front line staff along with councils customer services meant they were subjected to daily abuse about the decision, but they remained resolute.”

The Upper Lachlan Shire Council Mayor and Councillors were also subjected to threats and abuse but remained steadfast in their support, issuing a joint statement with the CEO stating that;

“Propaganda spreading hatred, vilification, and attempting to force the cancellation of rainbow story time later this year has no place in our community” after leaflets spreading hatred and misinformation were handed out in Crookwell by persons unknown to the local community.

Rainbow story-time proved to be a resounding success with the highest recorded attendance of all specialised story time events held in the libraries which demonstrates how important diversity, inclusion and the rejection of discrimination is to the Upper Lachlan community.

Upper Lachlan Shire Council Mayor Pam Kensit said,

“This award validates the progressive leadership shown by Upper Lachlan Shire Council CEO, library staff and councillors to deliver such an important event.”

Council continues to celebrate Pride Month with events being held through the shire and at Council libraries.  Council CEO said she had never felt so much pride when being presented this prestigious award in front of 700 Local Government Professionals at the Local Government Excellence Awards ceremony.