Zena Armstrong

John Walters

Chair – Cobargo Community Development Corporation Limited
Director – Cobargo Co-operative SocietyPty Limited


Session title

Reaching across the aisle – Creating unity in a time it’s needed most.


Having endured fires and floods in recent years, the community of Cobargo has beenthrough its fair share of challenges. Galvanised by those challenges, Cobargo is acommunity that is working togetherand punching above its weighton the long tail of disasterrecovery.From Cobargo’s agricultural societyto the folk club, a variety of communitystakeholders from different walks of life have leveraged existing social capital, including localevents and assets for the benefit of the community as a whole. In this sessionJohn Walterswill take us through how locally–managed, place–based activity can foster the strengths andconnections that help bring a community of varying persuasions together for collective goodand a stronger, more resilient future.


John Walters has been Chair of the not-for-profit Cobargo Community Development Corporation since it was forged out of the crucible of the disastrous 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires. John has also been a director since 2016 of the village’s largest business – the Cobargo Co-operative Society Limited – a multi-faceted member-owned enterprise providing a range of rural, hardware and nursery products to the community. John’s volunteering extends to his presidency of the local Rural Fire Brigade, as vice-chair of the Cobargo Quaama Business Recovery Group Inc, and as a committee member of the Cobargo RSL Sub-branch.

Awarded the 2024 Australia Day Cobargo Citizen of the Year, John is an active community volunteer who is employing his corporate experience drawn from along and varied careers panning journalism, media and sales, and his personal advocacy skills and passion for community. John’s experience includes some 30 years in media, including with News Corp, and more recently 10 years in the renewable energy industry. John “retired” from the corporate world in 2014 and moved with his wife to a cottage in the heart of Cobargo to enjoy a more “relaxed”new life on the beautiful Sapphire Coast.

As chair of the Cobargo Community Development Corporation John has worked for the past four (4) years with a team of dedicated volunteer directors to successfully gain major Bush Fire recovery funding from NSW and Federal Government and deliver the REBUILD COBARGO project needed to restore the vital commercial heart of Cobargo tragically lost in the Black Summer bushfires, and to reinvigorate and secure the socio-economic survival of the village into the future. Under a unique model of community ownership and management, the project has drawn acclaim from NSW and Federal Government stakeholders as the“gold standard of community led disaster recovery”

Community Development Corporation