Local businesses’ contribution to hard-hit communities celebrated


Over 350 business, government and community leaders gathered last night for the Business Council’s annual dinner and the inaugural Biggies awards designed to celebrate the people in business who have gone beyond their usual remit to help their communities cope with the double-barrelled assault of the bushfire and COVID crises.

David Gonski, chair of the Biggies judging panel, highlighted the contribution local businesses make to their communities in Australia and around the world.

“I think it’s time that we actually looked at that, saluted it, and absolutely praised the people who do it,” Gonski said.

The Big Heart award – that celebrates an individual or team who has gone to great lengths to help community members in need – was won by John Appleby from Coles in Batemans Bay. The judges cited Appleby for demonstrating “exemplary leadership and a commitment to his community” by keeping the Bateman’s Bay store open to give the community access to food despite the fact that his own family were being evacuated from their home. The award incorporated a People’s Choice segment, voted for by the public, that was also taken out by Appleby.

The Big Impact award – recognising a company’s outstanding contributionto their community – was won by ATCO who designed and despatched demountable buildings within two weeks of the village of Mogo on the NSW South Coast being ravaged by bushfires. The buildings ATCO provided formed the Mogo pop-up mall – an initiative that and offered the village’s small-business community the opportunity to get back on its feet. ATCO were also recognised for the $1 million donation they made to the Business Council’s BizRebuild initiative.

“They stepped forward to assist small businesses who were smashed and helped them get back on their feet,” BizRebuild chair and Biggies judge, Sir Peter Cosgrove, said. “I think this was an amazing venture by business.”

Woolworths won the Big Impact People’s Choice award through the commitment of their employees to show how “people in everyday jobs going above and beyond to help the communities they are so much a part of”.

“These awards were about people,” Gonski said. “Businesses are people, they are not an abstract concept. They are part of and care about their communities. I warmly congratulate the winners, we are proud of you all.”