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A TAFE New England community initiative has resulted in the restoration of a local cemetery and the Aboriginal elder who led the project being nominated for a prestigious award.
Len Waters says he had always felt a strong spiritual connection to the Toomelah mission cemetery. However, like a lot of other Toomelah locals, he'd been saddened to see the cemetery's decline over recent years.
"A lot of the old wooden crosses were falling over and some of them were rotted out," he told the Northern Daily Leader. "The headstones were painted without the names being put back on. There were a lot of people lost there."
So when TAFE New England spearheaded a campaign to restore the cemetery, Len was eager to be involved.
The project saw the expansion of the cemetery area, identification of unmarked graves and the creation of a rest area, gravel works and the planting of native shrubs and trees.
Participants in the project were awarded Certificates II and III in Construction, Certificate II in Civil Construction Statements of Attainment in first aid, weed spraying, reading GPS systems, working in confined spaces and WHS training.Len's tireless and passionate work on the project has been formally acknowledged. He has been nominated for a Premier's Award for Public Service in the Improving Government Services category. Len's involvement was as a TAFE New England education leader.