Change of pace for community-minded Karen Collins
A BREAK during the Sydney Olympics led journeywoman and social rights advocate Karen Collins to the place she now calls home.
The much-loved Tweed Shire Council aged and disability development officer retired this month after a lifetime of helping people in various roles around Australia, including working south, north, west and east in the country.
Gardening and crafting are on the top of the list of "things to do" as part of having a whole six months off in the town she and husband Bill fell in love with on a driving holiday north during the Olympics.
However, for someone with Karen's experience, she already knows there will be other projects.
"I'll probably do a bit of consultation on projects that interest me," she said.
Her retirement marks the end of eight and a half years of service to the Tweed Ccommunity and more than 40 years of similar work around Australia.
"It's a bit weird but good," she laughed when asked about finally putting her feet up.
But if anyone has earned a break, it's Karen.
For almost a decade after coming to live on the Tweed she has worked on making sure people with disabilities in the region have been able to live and work with more freedom in the region.
"This was my first experience of local government. I have worked all across Australia but never for a council before coming here."
Here she was able to have a small regional focus and see the impact her work has had first-hand, something she has obviously found rewarding.
Her legacy? Karen believes that is the Disability Action plans she has helped put in place to make the council and region more inclusive.
The plans had a big impact right across council, something she is rightfully proud of.
She is also the woman behind the annual Tweed Shire Access and Inclusion Awards launched in 2013 to celebrate achievement and innovation in building an accessible community.
The awards recognise and acknowledge action by individuals, community groups, organisations and businesses that build and promote a more accessible and inclusive Tweed and culminate in an awards ceremony in December to coincide with the International Day of People with Disability.