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Award winners feast out on Golden Pineapples


Creative elder engagement specialist Maurie Voisey-Barlin walked away with the top gong at the recent Golden Pineapple Awards at Newcastle NEX.

In front of a sold-out crowd, the popular Hunter “window therapist”, who pioneered an innovative way to stay connected with aged care residents during COVID-19, was named Person of the Year.

Other winners at the Hunter Diversity & Inclusion Collective (HDIC) event included Clear Sky Australia, much-loved Novocastrian Craig Hamilton, Leah Flanagan, Got Your Back Sister, Newcastle Pride and legendary Australian band Midnight Oil.

Honorary awards were also presented to Soul Hub’s Sue Prosser and Kia Handley, from ABC Radio.

HDIC chairperson Bill Armstrong described the night as “wonderful”.

“We hosted 350 guests… and a great time was had by all,” he said.

“The Golden Pineapples are as much a celebration of diversity in the arts community in the region as it is an awards ceremony.

“And, it covers the greater Hunter, all 14 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

“While the purpose of the HDIC is to enable more equity and inclusion in the workplace, the function is a chance to recognise outstanding achievements and employers who support that message.

“It’s certainly turned into a big production.

“Artistic director Geordie Anderson’s audio visual, film and music were both unique and spectacular.

“Our performers were also fantastic and, while all our acts – a diverse and engaging range of theatre, comedy, song, dance and even a 50-person choir – were well-received, Alexandra Hudson (Rising Star Award winner from the Melbourne Comedy Festival), soprano Kirsten Busby, dancer Max McAuley and renowned Novocastrian drag legend Glenda Jackson deserve special mention.

“Leigh “The Beast” Creighton and Maree Jenner debuted as the Golden Pineapples hosts this year and were outstanding.

“Not the least for their humour, which was spontaneous and totally engaging.

“Although, I hogged the microphone as always.”

Mr Armstrong said he was thrilled with the response to the annual event.

“In 2023, we had 40 nominees across seven categories,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“While it does always seem that Golden Pineapples only go to people, teams and organisations that are outstanding (at enabling diversity, equity and inclusion in our communities and workplaces), it is an accurate observation that all of them were worthy of being a recipient.

“A huge thanks go to our gold sponsors City of Newcastle and the Newcastle Weekly, without whom the event would not have been possible.

“And, finally, my gratitude to the HDIC charity board and Golden Pineapples team – Sharni Campbell, James Hunt, Annette Rudd, Kate Johnson, Leigh Creighton, Michelle Holland, Geordie Anderson and Sally Bathgate – for bringing this unique, meaningful and totally entertaining function to the Hunter.”

2023 Golden Pineapple Awards

  • Person of the Year: Maurie Voisey-Barlin
  • Employer of Choice: Clear Sky Australia
  • Community Initiative: Craig Hamilton (mental health awareness)
  • Outstanding Leadership: Leah Flanagan
  • Outstanding Team: Got Your Back Sister
  • Outstanding DEI Event: Newcastle Pride ‘Festival Day’ 2022
  • Outstanding DEI Media: Midnight Oil – video ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’

Honorary Awards

  • Sue Prosser – Soul Hub
  • Kia Handley – ABC Radio

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