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Awarded for service to the Community
Born: 4 March 1952
Entered on roll: 2008
Catherine Fernon grew up in a family of six children in Melbourne. In 1983 she took a years leave from her teaching job in Wangaratta Victoria to live in Tasmania with her new husband who was then studying at the University of Tasmania. She felt straight at home in Tasmania, so resigned from her teaching position and obtained employment working in community arts in Hobart. She moved to the North-West Coast of Tasmania in 1988 and bought land and a house in Boat Harbour where she now lives with her husband, dog and a very active and social local community.
Catherine Fernon has a diverse academic background, holding a number of tertiary qualifications including an Associate Diploma of Art, a Graduate Diploma in Education and a Postgraduate Diploma of Business in Tourism Development.
Her career path has been no less diverse. Following nearly a decade working in the arts field, Catherine had her first taste of community development when she took on the role of Community Development Officer with the Waratah-Wynyard Council from 1988 to1994. Following this, Catherine returned to her academic roots in business and education, teaching management at TAFE Tasmania and going on to become Team Leader of TAFE’s Institute of Business. A stint as Manager of the Portside Small Business Incubator followed before Catherine returned to the community development field, working for the Burnie City Council, firstly as Manager of Community Development, then in the role of Director of Community and Recreational Services. During her time with the Council, Catherine built a strong and successful community development department, founded on extensive community consultation.
Under Catherine’s leadership, and with a strong community connection in place, the department undertook a number of successful collaborative initiatives. They include the Spark Up project in Burnie, a major event involving 400 community participants led by five professional artists, culminating in a performance for the 2003 Ten Days on the Island festival. The project has been credited with building community capacity, attracting cultural tourism and boosting a number of local small cultural businesses. Catherine’s leadership of the Community Development Department has also seen the development of the Burnie Shines festival, an annual umbrella marketing activity that links many small to medium events under a common banner to attract business into Burnie throughout the six weeks of the event.
Catherine went on to become Business Manager of the Institute of Regional Development at the Cradle Coast campus of the University of Tasmania, a position she still holds.
Catherine’s acumen in the fields of business, arts, education and community development has led to her participation on many prominent boards, including the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, the Tasmanian Community Fund, Tasmania Together Progress Board, the Cradle Coast Authority and the North-West School Improvement Board. Catherine was also a member of the Community Leaders Group which had primary responsibility for the development of the Tasmania Together plan. Catherine was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001, for service to this group.