Close Search

Australian Social Entrepreneur of the Year Named

21 November 2011 at 12:42 pm
Staff Reporter
The founder of the Miracle Babies Foundation has been named the Social Entrepreneur of the year at the 2011 Australian Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Melbourne.

Staff Reporter | 21 November 2011 at 12:42 pm


Australian Social Entrepreneur of the Year Named
21 November 2011 at 12:42 pm
Above:  Miracle Babies founder Melinda Cruz. 

The founder of the Miracle Babies Foundation has been named the Social Entrepreneur of the year at the 2011 Australian Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Melbourne.

After having two babies born prematurely and cared for by Liverpool Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Melinda Cruz wanted to stay linked to other mums of premature babies and give back to the NICU and its staff.

Cruz started Miracle Babies as a support group for mothers of premature babies, and it has since grown into a national charitable foundation that supports NICU’s across Australia.

Cruz said she was delighted to win the award. “To also receive a donation of $103K to Miracle Babies Foundation from the auction proceeds was absolutely overwhelming.”

Each year in Australia 42,000 babies require intensive care, and while hospitals provide the necessary medical care, Miracle Babies provides long-term emotional support to the families through NurtureSupport, a parent-to-parent support program. The programs includes a national, 24-hour helpline, in hospital face-to-face support and out of hospital play and support groups.

Miracle Babies also maintains an online resource centre for parents, provides equipment grants to NICUs and has developed the world’s first app to meet the needs of these families.


“The core activity of our business is supporting families that have had premature and sick newborns and the Australian hospitals that care for them,” said Cruz.

“What makes our organisation unique is that we were founded by mums who have had premature of sick newborns”.

“The key to our success is the dedication of our team and their passion – being mums who have all gone through the experience we know what it was like the be there”.

Melinda Cruz impressed the 9 member judging panel, which selected Miracle Babies Foundation’s CEO based on 6 categories: Entrepreneurial spirit, Innovation, Personal integrity and influence, Financial performance, Strategic direction, and National and global impact.

Other finalists in the 2011 Social Entrepreneur category included:

David Barbagallo, Endeavour Foundation.

The Endeavour Foundation is an organisation which offers opportunities for people with a disability to participate in the everyday life of the community by offering services including accommodation, employment opportunities and education programs.

Since taking on the role of CEO of Endeavour Foundation in Febraury 2009, Barbagallo has significantly expanded the organisation and strengthened Endeavour’s positions as a leader in the disability sector. Today, Endeavour Foundation is the largest non-government disability service provider in Australia, contributing more than $300 million annually to the Australian economy.

Michael Henderson and Bruce Robinson, International Skills & Training Institute in Health

The Indian Ocean Tsunami in late 2004 destroy a significant number of health training facilities, and many health professionals and teaching staff left the region.

Henderson and Robinson founded the International Skills and Training Institute in Health (ISTIH) in 2005, to provide assistance in the training of health-care workers, primarily in the Asia Pacific region.

John Shepherd, Operation Flinders Foundation

Former police officer John Shepherd is Executive Director of the Operation Flinders Foundation, which runs a world leading wilderness adventure program for young offenders and young people at risk, offering them the opportunity to take a new direction in life. In the 19 years he has led the foundation, four as Chairman and 15 as Executive Director, the foundation has traded with a surplus.

Marion Webster and Renata Singer, Fitted for Work

Webster and Singer started Fitted for Work in 2005 to help disadvantaged women find work by providing free, interview appropriate clothing, and it has grown from a two-room operation into a national Not for Profit organisation.

Since 2005, Fitted for Work has assisted over 6,500 women experiencing hardship with free, interview appropriate clothing, and a range of other support services to give them the skills and confidence to get decent jobs and improve their lives.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year program is sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at or download our contributor guidelines.
Most Viewed



Get more stories like this


Your email address will not be published.


Bursaries open doors for those in remote areas

Wendy Williams

Thursday, 12th May 2022 at 8:24 am

Nespresso joins B-Corp community

Danielle Kutchel

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022 at 4:27 pm

Social enterprise sector commits to shared vision

Jonathan Alley

Tuesday, 5th April 2022 at 4:55 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook