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The second rule is that the trip to some idyllic country inn is not a trip to be taken alone. Which isn’t to say that it can’t be done alone, but it’s not as much fun and it’s difficult–even more difficult, I found, than being on your own in a foreign country. This has partly to do with the food: for some reason, you can more easily sit down alone to a croissant and a demitasse of strong black coffee at the Ritz in Paris than you can face a stack of blueberry pancakes all by yourself at a country inn. I pulled into the Inn at Weathersfield alone and found myself one of only five guests–the others were two couples on their honeymoons. An experience like this can leave you feeling like a character in one of Barbara Pym’s novels–pathetic and valiant–when what you came for was a vacation.
BLANTYRE, IN LENOX, Massachusetts, is in none of the guidebooks, and it’s so lavish and imaginative that you can’t help but want to share it with someone, and so expensive that you want someone to share the cost. Constructed in 1902 as an anniversary present from a man to his wife, the main building is a Scottish manor house, a copy of her family’s ancestral home. There are tennis courts, a swimming pool, a hot tub, and a sauna, and only eight rooms in the main house, some of them suites, which range from $150 to $300 a night. (I did not see the fourteen rooms in the carriage house.) Mine, the Ashley Suite, was a small bedroom with a queen–size canopy bed, a sitting room, and a bathroom, all wallpapered and upholstered in Laura Ashley prints, which this suite carried off without looking twee. There were fresh daisies, a bottle of wine, a plate of Brie and Bremner wafers, and fresh fruit waiting for me on my arrival. There was a telephone on the nightstand and a television in the sitting room, shampoo and a disposable razor in the bathroom, all of which may be standard in a luxury hotel but are rare in an inn. what you pay for at Blantyre is a sense of generosity, and it’s well worth the high price.
Blantyre’s proprietress, as she is called in the brochure, is Ann Fitzpatrick, a young woman of great humor, good taste, and sophistication, and the daughter of the keepers of the Red Lion Inn, in Stockbridge. Blantyre is clearly her notion of what an inn should be. It is a very persuasive notion.
Dinner was four courses and fortysome dollars, and, though the chef offered to make me any abbreviated version of the full menu and serve it in my suite, I decided to skip it and go for a drive around the Berkshires instead. I found Edith Wharton’s house, in a disgraceful state of disrepair, and wandered out toward Tanglewood. When I got back to Blantyre, Anu was standing in the main hall playing hostess, engaging the guests in conversation and pouring after–dinner drinks, none of which ever show up on your bill.
Ann took a small party of us on a tour of the unoccupied guest rooms. (She offers this favor only to guests; in her efforts to ensure their privacy, she discourages all sightseers.) My favorite was the Corner Room, wallpapered with trompe l’oeil swags of yellow satin and furnished with a queen–size carved fourposter bed, Oriental occasional tables, and pieces from the original estate. If the Corner Room is already booked when you call to make your reservation, you might ask for the Laurel Suite, a large bedroom with a sitting area and adjacent dressing room.
When I got back to my room, I found that the maid had closed the curtains and turned down the bed. On my pillow was a chocolate mint and a breakfast menu, to be filled out and hung on the doorknob. Would I like room service to call me before they brought my breakfast in the morning? Well, yes, come to think of it, I would–I hate being surprised by room service. What time? What newspaper would I like? The Berkshire Eagle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal? I’ll take the Times, thank you. French toast, eggs any way you like, sausage, bacon. … I checked the box for the basic continental breakfast, and went to sleep. Next morning, my breakfast arrived on schedule, but not before room service had called to ask, Would it be all right to bring it now? The tray held fresh daisies, a glass of freshsqueezed orange juice, a pot of coffee with a cosy to keep it warm, and a basket of fresh blueberry muffins that were 90 percent blueberries held together with a little muffin batter. In the midst of all this, propped up on a placecard holder, was a card. The message on it, written in a graceful script, read: “Good morning, Miss Brubach. The temperature is 52[degrees].”
Mt. Desert Island, despite its name, has no desert at all. The name is from the French; Champlain called it the “island of the deserted mountains.” Most of them are in Acadia National Park, which is half a mile from Grey Rock. Whether or not you’re the backpack type, the park is one place you must go, if only to take a turn around Ocean Drive and see the scenery. Since my friend and I are the sort of people who take their sleep when they can get it, we missed watching the sun rise from the top of Cadillac Mountain, a daily ritual that, we were told, draws quite a crowd.
THE INN AT Weathersfield, near Perkinsville, Vermont, is an eighteenthcentury farmhouse set back from the road, framed on all sides by giant maple trees. Like Grey Rock, it is furnished in different periods and styles–in this case, colonial, Victorian, and what–haveyou. But the similarity ends there. Where Grey Rock is elegant, the Inn at Weathersfield is funky. The towels look slightly worn–clean, mind you, but worn. The phone booth (most inns have no phones in the rooms) is the closet under the stairs, but the closet wasn’t emptied when the phone was installed–there’s still an old soccer ball and a Mouse Trap Game on the shelf. And on the nightstand in my room was a driftwood sculpture, with a little glass seagull hovering in flight, supported on a wire. Maybe this was somebody’s souvenir of a trip to the shore. At any rate, it was not in keeping with the brass bed, the American Empire love seat with dolphins carved into the frame, or the oak dressing table with kerosene lamps on either side of the mirror.
Part of this inn’s charm is that it looks so lived–in but doesn’t feel it: the beds are firm, and the plumbing is in fine repair. My corner room had a shower instead of a tub, but its fireplace, rocking chair, and little balcony giving onto the roof made up for it. Ron and Mary Louise Thorburn run the Inn at Weathersfield the way parents with lots of children and dogs run their homes. Doors open and close continually.
The area around Weathersfield is full of good day trips, including hiking, skiing in winter, and a drive across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire to Augustus Saint–Gaudens’s house. There are dozens of other inns nearby. I ran a reconnaissance mission one afternoon to the Three Mountain Inn, in Jamaica, and found it unselfconscious, homey, and inviting. Its keeper is a former New Yorker who got disgruntled working on Wall Street, moved to Vermont, and put out a welcome mat. I didn’t have time to stay for a night, but wished I did.
Tea at Weathersfield is served daily at five o’clock or so, in the front parlor or, if it’s nice, on the porch. It was long past five when I got back, and the other guests came in late too. But our hosts seemed to think nothing of it and–by this time it was seven o’clock–offered us tea, coffee, wine, sherry, and whatever they happened to have in the pantry. Mary Louise is the chef for dinner, which is served to the public, and breakfast, which is more extensive than the average continental rolls–and–butter, juice, and coffee. She cooks eggs Florentine or Benedict, French toast, or pancakes, and Ron delivers them to your room, a luxury few inns provide. Besides the Thorburns, the cast at Weathersfield includes Mary Louise’s two aunts, ages ninety–three and ninetyfive, who mostly keep behind the scenes. They help out with the breakfast dishes and trim the wicks on the kerosene lamps, a chore that has logically fallen to them because they had kerosene lamps when they were girls. Occasionally, the younger of the two snitches the mints set on the guests’ pillows at night, to satisfy her sister’s craving for sweets.
I DID FIND A third inn that seemed to me ideal, but not before checking in and out of a lot of others that weren’t what I thought they would be. In my searches, I was able to formulate a rule or two. The first is to be wary of guidebooks. No one of the four I bought could be trusted completely. Norman T. Simpson’s Country Inns and Back Roads, now in its eighteenth edition, was the first, and it created a market for other guides and a demand for new inns. Elizabeth Squier and Suzy Chapin’s Guide to the Recommended Country Inns of New England is amiable, but difficult to read because they are in the maddening habit of using hands (~) in the middle of their descriptions to call the reader’s attention to an inn’s distinguishing features. These may be as appealing as [*]:[*] home–baked bread and as drab as [*]:[*] smoke alarms. Architectural Digest’s Country Inns of America (one volume for lower New England, one for upper) is worthwhile for the full–color photographs, although experience soon proved that no matter how many words it’s worth, a picture may be only half the truth. I found Country New England Inns, by Anthony Hitchcock and Jean Lindgren, to be the most informative and down–toearth.
Discretion and magnanimity are wonderful qualities in a friend, but I would prefer that the person writing the guidebook I’m using be indiscreet and unforgiving. These guides, when they don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. They are all in the business of enticing their readers to country inns, and so they grant every inn the benefit of the doubt, avoiding superlatives and comparisons.
The only way to read these books is responsively. Do not let your imagination make a fresco out of the sketchy information they provide. Be suspicious.
Be tough. When the guidebooks list everything there is to do in the inn’s vicinity, ask why they’re trying to get you out of the house. When they rhapsodize about the two–hundred–year–old chandelier in the vestibule, come back with: Fine, but what about the guest rooms? Be on the lookout for backhanded compliments. If you’re as suggestible as I am, you might take Hitchcock and Lindgren’s description of the Old Tavern at Grafton, in Vermont, as “an inn that makes few mistakes” to mean that this inn is perfect. The descriptions make it sound more formal and sedate than an inn like Weathersfield, but you would have to go all the way to Grafton to find out just how dull a place the Old Tavern really is. True enough, it makes few mistakes, which is to say that it errs on the safe side. The meticulous restoration has been carried out by the Windham Foundation, and the style is anonymous, homogenized, as if the decorating had been done by committee. The dining room features “traditional New England fare”–cranberry relish, apple pie with cheese, and other specialties of Yankee cuisine–and Mozart’s Fortieth Symphony as background music. I would rather not eat to music, but if I have to, I would rather it not be such a big statement in G minor. I guess the rationale here is that Mozart is the right period. If anything, the Old Tavern’s dogged authenticity serves as a reminder that what was luxurious in colonial America is spare by today’s standards, and this is an idea you would rather run across in a history
HERE IS A LIST of the things I was looking for in an inn: Peace and quiet. Privacy. Beautiful countryside. A comfortable bed. A big bathtub. A home–cooked breakfast. A working fireplace, if that’s not too much to ask. No organized recreational activities. I figured that staying at an inn would be a lot like staying in a lovely private home, with all of the clean towels and none of the social obligations that come with being somebody’s houseguest. It seemed as if the quintessential inn would be somewhere in New England, so I bought all the guidebooks I could find and started looking for it.
The descriptions I read made most inns sound wonderful and pretty much alike. What makes them different, I soon discovered, is their innkeepers. It’s how an inn is run that will make your stay there memorable. After I visited several inns that had nothing more than a few four–poster beds to recommend them, it occurred to me that today’s innkeepers could learn a lot from Bing Crosby’s example in the movie Holiday Inn. His inn took on his personality, and his personality was irresistible. Eventually, I found three inns that, each in its own way, live up to the standards Bing Crosby set. But, as I learned the hard way, there are very few that do.
One is in Maine, in Northeast Harbor, a busy summer resort on Mt. Desert Island (at the opposite end of the island is Bar Harbor, a bigger and busier resort). If the Grey Rock Inn isn’t exactly away from it all, it is at least above it all, perched on a cliff overlooking the harbor and high above Asticou Inn, which is something of an institution. Asticou’s outlook on life is written right into its floorplan: the cocktail lounge and dining room are spacious, furnished in early-country–club decor, while each of the forty–four bedrooms is barely larger than its bed. There are bellhops and a swimming pool and moorings where guests who arrive by sea can park their yachts. This is the hub of the summer social scene in Maine, and the wrong place to go if you were thinking of holing up with a few good books.
People who prefer to be where the action isn’t would be far better off at Grey Rock, which was built as a private home. It has a cozy sitting room and breakfast room, and only nine guest rooms, all of them good–sized, light, and airy, each with a view of the harbor.
My friend and I turned up the Grey Rock Inn’s hairpin driveway just to get a look around, and found the front door standing open. We walked in. “Hello?” we called. The faint reply sounded British and as if it came from the rafters. Janet Millett arrived downstairs and introduced herself as the innkeeper. We had interrupted her window–cleaning on the top floor (we apologized) and caught her in her work clothes (she apologized). She had considered, she said, telling us that she was the maid and that Mrs. Millett had gone into town, but thought it better to stick to the truth and beg our pardon for her grubby appearance–not grubby at all by our standards, which are high enough.
After a guided tour of the guest rooms, she offered to put us up for the night, although she was not yet officially open for the season, which runs from early May to mid–October. (Most inns near skiresorts stay open year–round, but many others close after the peak time for foliage.) We settled on the room wallpapered with large roses and furnished with two four–poster beds–one canopied, with rose–patterned sheets; the other a high single bed, with ruffles of eyelet in tiers, that looked as if it had been designed for the Sleeping Beauty. There were two chairs, one a rocker; a green carpet; an antique floor lamp with a red silk shade that softened the light; a Victorian bench upholstered in pink velvet; and, on one wall, a scene of aristocratic–looking men and women dancing an open–air gavotte. The details were beyond the call of an innkeeper’s duty–crystal doorknobs, candlesticks on the dressing table, a bathroom mirror in a tooled silver frame.
Grey Rock manages to pull off warmth and grandeur at the same time, not an easy task. The breakfast room is an eyeful–a profusion of crystal, marble, antique glass, white wicker, peacock feathers, and Oriental fans. There are flowers everywhere, some real, some silk.
Decor isn’t everything, of course, but it does set the tone of an inn, and in this Mrs. Millett has the visual equivalent of perfect pitch. She brings together elements as disparate as cypress panelingand white wicker furniture, she mixes dissonant periods and unlikely colors with a free hand. The only unifying theme to these eclectically furnished rooms is Mrs. Millett herself. Her presence at Grey Rock is pervasive but unobtrusive, idiosyncratic, and gracious.
She serves only breakfast, which is included in the price of the room. But the island is at no loss for restaurants, and there are several lobster pounds nearby. The most famous in all Maine is in Lincolnville, which is not so nearby but is right on the way if you’re driving north to Mt. Desert Island. In fact, my friend and I managed to make the Lincolnville Lobster Pound on our way to practically every place we went. It has fresh fiddleheads in season, a takeout window, and no pretensions.
Stay fixed, sturdy, high accurate, can adjust to difficult angles,… these are all the strength a stationary sander can provide. For home use or commercial purpose, it still be one of electric tool you can miss for improving productivity and excel final result. There are 3 common types of stationary sanding tool to choose: the disc sander, the bench top belt sander and the combination belt disc sander. With each style, you can apply to different of projects. But these 3 ways are going to change a lot of your time and energy while using a stationary sander.
1/ Sanding the edges:
Before, with the wood that requires the curve or edges sanding, I usually use hand. You know, because it’s very small detail so that the request also tricky. However, now with a stationary sander, no need to spend more than 1 hour to sanding like this. The tilt particular permits special abrasion of your demand and I’m sure it faster than ever.
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One of the best performance the bench top sander can produce is the wonderful blade making feature. It can finish this hard task thanks to the tilt feature also. The high speed and powerful strength are important too. Instead of using stone by hand, this tool can save double your time, increase double your efficiency. And that’s also the reason why today many metalworkers choose the belt grinder as one of the most popular knife sharpening tool for their business.
3/ Smooth the flat big stock:
The third and most common action of this sander is to smooth, clear the unnecessary part of the materials, give the users very fine, smooth and nice surface at the end. You can use it for your furniture, any your DIY plan or even metal and non-metal component. The flat rough stock is not the big problem. But it still ask the certain skill and experience in controlling the stock and machine. So don’t forget that it can turn dangerous for who lack of expertise.
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But the Centre now has to command the visitor’s central attention.
Its palette is simple and elemental: concrete, timber, steel, stone, brick, glass.
Blue-grey reinforced off-form concrete makes the walls, blades and columns; recycled contrasting softwoods and hardwoods and hoop-pine ply veneer make the joinery and timber structures; waterproof ply clads the ceilings and window blades; brick and bluestone paves the floors; steel plates crisply articulate connections; and corrugated steel roofing and stainless steel downpiping shed and carry the rain.
The first image it presents is one of formal invitation: two thin, high rectalineal concrete columns topped with short steel blades support a sharp, wide-steel, leading-edge eave above a deep entry canopy.
Beneath this, the ply soffit folds down, skewed diagonally right, following the plane of the butterfly roof above the hall and kitchen. The eye is thus directed, invitationally, down to the slatted and glazed timber entrance doors set with robust steel and brass safety locks.
The second image is that of the hall itself, which is used as the centre’s dining and communal space but is large enough for performances.
It presents its high, temple-like eastern elevation to the river and the incomparable view is thus framed by seven concrete columns supporting the deeply eaved iron roof.
These spaces are half-glazed above a pelmet carrying a line of Renzo Piano uplights (used throughout) and guide rails for six glazed and vertically slatted timber sliding screens, recalling the use of screens in Asian temple architecture.
Rolled closed in inclement weather, the view remains tantalisingly visible, though fugitive, through the slats.
The third and fourth images of the complex spring from the lineal wings, which accommodate 32 visitors in eight four-bed rooms or, with central sliding doors closed, 16 two-bed rooms. To describe these as cabin-like and functionally ordered is to be accurate but prosaic, because structure and parts join with a care and attention that celebrates the materials. Externally, to the east, a cubist arrangement of white fins stands proud off the concrete structure, giving privacy, framing views, baffling sound, and providing shade and wind protection. Inside, each occupant has a framed view at pillow height and an ingenious timber window system, which allows a range of ventilation and view options by way of hinged, screened flaps and unscreened shutters.
Attached, but not en suite, are neatly fitted ablution and toilet units.
The devil can be in the details but so can the divine, and the latter has to be the case with the Education Centre, in the non-hyperbolic sense that the three architects have lavished care on them with that sense of creative enthusiasm that has always characterised Murcutt’s work.
The joinery and structural carpentry is exhilaratingly exact and expressive while subtle finishes, such as leather thong bindings to the emergency door rails, delight the eye.
As is appropriate for a centre devoted to art history and practice, for students of all ages, throughout the whole complex and in each bedroom, generous wall spaces are illuminated by many of Boyd’s works.
Around the parish pump of Sydney architecture, Murcutt, despite his immense national reputation and international acclaim, has his detractors. They argue, waspishly, that by confining his practice to relatively small projects, mainly housing, he has never had to face the problems of big architecture, out in the marketplace. “We need to raise our sights and come out of the corrugated shed at the bottom of the garden,” one of them recently wrote, with the implication being that, faced with a large, complex brief, calling for maximum efficiency at minimum cost, architects in the “shed”
would be hard pressed making the grade.
However, there’s a flip side to this devaluing comment, and it’s an equally mean one. It’s probable some of those not in the shed would themselves be hardpressed if asked to design the small and the beautiful to Murcutt’s commanding standards. In any case, the plain fact is that the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Center at Riversdale shows Murcutt, Lewin and Lark working at a peak of creativity for a noble, educative enterprise that honours Boyd’s memory. Their work is itself a gift. One trusts all members of the parish pump will forgive them for making it.
The properties contain an extraordinary variety of natural and man-made habitats and are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. In fact, it was the relatively untouched nature of the area that first attracted him and, as the distinguished art historian Ursula Hoff wrote in 1986, he read a powerful environmental message into it.
“The element of destruction in nature itself, the struggle of each live organism against chaos, as well as the threat posed to nature by man’s activities are present in (his) Shoalhaven landscapes,” she wrote. “Boyd . . . looks at the scenery with the objective eye of the naturalist, as well as with the anxious care of the conservationist.”
Gifting the properties in a public trust to be an art education centre was, accordingly, also an act of determined conservation.
It would be hard to find a more sympathetic building to celebrate those ideas and ideals -the conflation of structural creativity, natural and made environmental conservation, and art teaching and contemplation -than that designed by Murcutt, Lewin and Lark. As an autonomous, selfsufficient environment, the Centre wears its green credentials openly but not in any bark-and-gumnuts, counter-culture way. It is a work of great craft and artistry, standing high above the river, marking itself out clearly as a place of human habitation, and proclaiming its presence as a structure of elegance and seriousness, yet spare utility.
In 1973, following the opening of the Sydney Opera House, the highly regarded theatre writer and publisher, Katharine Brisbane, remarked that Utzon’s building had such a strong architectural form that it would probably survive many uses over time. Perhaps, in other ages, as a legislature or temple or palace.
While the scale of the Riversdale Centre is by comparison minuscule, one feels similarly that it could effortlessly take on uses far beyond the educational retreat program set by the Bundanon Trust, which administers the Australian Government’s one-off grant of $5.43 million and is charged with implementing the Boyds’ vision. With its reverential obeisance to site and nature, its columnar great hall recalling both refectory and temple, its adjacent simple kitchen, and its “cells” of accommodation approached by long timber and iron “cloistered”
corridors, it could be home to some future religious community. Indeed, to take that analogy further, as if following the way of Zen, the new Centre is complexity made simple and materiality constrained by a reserved creative energy.
Yet, it is important to see it in context.
Built in part as a result of a $1 million gift by Bundanon Trust board member Fred Street, it’s situated a short distance from the Riversdale homestead where the Boyds lived when they first came to the area. The homestead is now used for administration and teaching, while Boyd’s first Shoalhaven studio is used by artists-in-residence. Then, over the hill, through the bush or around a bend in the river, is the Bundanon Artists Centre by architects Tonkin Zulaikha. It’s centered on the homestead and provides other studio spaces for artists-in-residence, as well as storage for the study collection.
The work of Arthur Boyd has its critics, as does the architecture in his NSW property, Bundanon, but the influence of both will continue to be felt in the art world
‘The devil can be in the details but so can the divine, and the latter has to be the case with the Education Centre’
AS the artist Arthur Boyd lay dying 10 days ago, the sun shone brightly on his and wife Yvonne’s gift to Australia, the Bundanon properties near Nowra, on the NSW south coast. There, sharply cutting through the slightly milky Illawarra autumn light, was the splendid new visual arts educational focus that their gift made possible, the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre, at Riversdale.
To this visitor that coincidental weekend, it had been heralded by heady praise from several architects and architectural critics, but that did not diminish the shock of recognition. It is a masterwork of late 20th-century Australian architecture, one destined to star in the histories, and a triumphant collaborative work by the architects Glen Murcutt, Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark.
Boyd did not live to see the Centre. As he made plans to attend its official opening in February, he suffered the heart attack that began his decline. But, I guess, in bright sunlight would have been the way he wanted it and the Bundanon properties to look as he went out looking the way he had often painted them, with the glassy Shoalhaven River curving down below, and the bush crowding in. That Saturday, nothing disturbed the placid scene other than occasional speedboats dragging water-skiers -a raucous sound he, rightly, used to complain about, together with the possibility of destructive sand mining in the river.
Boyd, it has recently been written, had an “Aboriginal” attitude towards the properties he and Yvonne assembled on the Shoalhaven from the early 1970s to the early 80s. They believed they held them in trust for the Australian peoples.
The deed putting that into effect was accepted by the Commonwealth Government in 1993 and now the properties, together with paintings, drawings and ceramics by four generations of the Boyd family, are valued at more than $12 million. Fifteen Boyds are represented in the art collection, beginning with the artist Emma Minnie Boyd (1856-1936) and the great ceramicist Arthur Merric Boyd (1862-1940), and with it comes invaluable family papers, photographs, furniture and diaries dating from 1833. Other artists represented in the collection include Sidney Nolan, Charles Blackman, John Perceval and Joy Hester.
Covering a thousand hectares, the Bundanon properties comprise historic Bundanon station, with its fine listed sandstone and cedar Victorian Georgian homestead (1866), Riversdale station, with its vernacular weatherboard homestead buildings, and Beeweeree and Eearie Park. Sir Sidney also had an interest in Eearie Park and it was added to the gift in 1995, with the support of his widow, Mary, Boyd’s sister.
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THE highlight of the celebrations for this year’s United Nations International Day of People with a Disability on December 3, was the presentation of awards to the national winners of the Prime Minister’s 1998 Employer of the Year Awards.
The awards were presented by the Commonwealth Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman.
She said the decision to hire people with disabilities was good for business.
“One in five Australians has a disability, representing a growing market sector,” she said.
“Often the skills and talents of these people have gone unnoticed.
“Yet many businesses report the benefits of hiring from such a large and enthusiastic group of people.
“With low levels of absenteeism and staff turnover, employers value these loyal workers whose work contributes significantly to productivity.”
The awards were judged on several criteria, including employer initiatives to help staff with disabilities, integration into the business, length of employment, the nature of work undertaken, the number of people with a disability employed and the payment of award wages.
“This year’s awards attracted more than 350 nominations of an outstanding standard and this has made the judging extremely difficult,” Senator Newman said.
“All the entrants deserve our congratulations for recognising that people with disabilities can make a very real contribution to Australia’s workforce.” Employers, large and small, who were winners in their own States and Territories, travelled to Canberra with their employees with a disability for the ceremony in the Great Hall of Parliament House.
The annual Prime Minister’s Employer of the Year Awards recognise the contribution made by small and large employers in providing work opportunities to people with disabilities.
According to the Department of Family and Community Services, these employers are showing other employers, and the community, what people with disabilities can do.
Separate awards were presented to a Commonwealth agency employer and higher education institution that had demonstrated outstanding commitment to employing people with a disability.
The winner of this Commonwealth Government Employer category was the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science and Resources (ISR). It received an award in recognition of its commitment to providing employment opportunities for people with a disability.
“We are pleased to have won this award because it reinforces the culture we want to establish,” the Secretary of the department, Mr Russell Higgins, said. “That is to select the best person for the job and provide an environment in which they can contribute fully.”
The department recognises that all employees bring with them different sets of skills, a wide range of experience and perspective.
The selection, appointment and promotion of employees at the department is based on the merit principle which ensures that the best candidate for the job wins the position, irrespective of personal attributes irrelevant to the position.
ISR employees with a disability are involved in a wide range of jobs. Some manage files and deliver mail, while others are senior or executive managers.
The national winner in the higher education category, this time from Western Australia, was the South East Metropolitan College of TAFE (SEMC) which provides employment and education opportunities for seven people with disabilities.
SEMC was nominated for the Prime Minister’s Award by Workplus Employment Services. The college provides training opportunities for many of the agency’s clients.
The Workplus manager, Mr Trevor Paterson, said SEMC’s commitment to people with disabilities enchanced its clients’ chances of gaining meaningful employment in the community.
The national winner of the small business category was Benbro Electronics Pty Ltd, operating in Sydney’s Brookvale.
It designs and manufactures electronic equipment and is owned by brothers Steven and John Bennett.
The company employs 16 people, including four with disabilities. During the last eight years Benbro has worked extensively with CRS Australia and Shore Personnel helping 20 people with disabilities gain work experience and employment.
The winner of the large business category national award was the Victorian engine re-manufacturer, H.M.
Five Star Engines.
This company and Benbro Electronics were State winners.
H.M. Five Star Engines employs people with disabilities and has set up a range of initiatives to support these workers and to raise the awareness of disability-related issues throughout the company.
The company’s production manager, Mr Graham Smith, said it would not stand for any discrimination.
“We have had fantastic success with our program of employing workers with a disability, and I would defy anyone to come in and do a better job than any of these employees,” he said.
Senator Newman presented Prime Minister’s Awards to two employers from each State -large and small -and awards for employers in the ACT and the Northern Territory.
Together with Benbro Electronics in NSW, IBM Australia won the large employer category.
As a leading supplier of information technology, software and services, it has employed 31 people with disabilities in fulltime employment, work training, casual work and work experience in the last 18 months.
It has 20 such employees in its offices throughout NSW.
In Victoria, Dormit Timber Pty Ltd, as a small employer, joined H.M. Five Star Engines as a winner.
The Queensland winners were Coles Supermarkets, Capalaba, in the large employer category, and Brumbys Ingham, owned by Tack Bakery Pty Ltd, in the small category.
Coles Capalaba employs 10 people with disabilities and has set up a range of initiatives to support these workers and to raise awareness of disability-replated issues throughout the company.
“It is an honour for the supermarket to be recognised with this award,” the Coles Capalaba manger, Mr Peter Kleinschafer said. “But, employers of people with disabilities are rewarded every day in having staff who are dedicated, committed and hardworking members of a team.”
Brumbys Ingham set up a range of initiatives to support a worker with a disability and to raise awareness of disability-related issues throughout the company.
Launceston’s bread supplier Cripps Nubake Bakery -large category -and award-winning furniture manufacturer, Kam Joinery of Mornington, in the small category, were Tasmania’s winners.
Cripps Nubake employs two people with disabilities while Kam Joinery has employed a young man with a disability for the last two years.
The Western Australian Darowa Corporation -large category -and Forrest Grove Plants -small categroy -won the award. Darowa employs nine people with disabilities while Forrest Grove Plants has four.
In South Australia, the bank, Westpac’s Mortgage Centre, Australia’s largest Microsoft Windows new technology site with residential mortgages and Claridge’s Lawn Maintenance, based in Lonsdale, have respectively won their categories.
The Mortgage Centre employs 50 people with disabilities and Noel Claridge has provided opportunities for staff with disabilities and has involved himself in their training programs.
The winner in the ACT was Blue Starr Canberra, a stationery and office supplies provider, with three employees with disabilities out of a total of 30.
In the Northern Territory, Savannah Powder Coaters Pty Ltd was the winner.