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Social Justice Leaders Recognised in Community Sector Awards


Wednesday, 27th September 2017 at 1:57 pm
Lina Caneva, Editor
Australia’s most outstanding community sector organisations and individuals have been recognised with the announcement of 15 finalists in the 2017 HESTA Community Sector Awards.


Wednesday, 27th September 2017
at 1:57 pm
Lina Caneva, Editor


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Social Justice Leaders Recognised in Community Sector Awards
Wednesday, 27th September 2017 at 1:57 pm

Australia’s most outstanding community sector organisations and individuals have been recognised with the announcement of 15 finalists in the 2017 HESTA Community Sector Awards.

The awards shine a spotlight on service provision, advocacy, innovation and leadership in social justice and community services in Australia, across the categories of unsung hero, outstanding organisation and social impact.

And Victoria appears to have scooped the pool receiving 11 of the 15 national finalist awards – from organisations advocating for vision impaired Australians to those trying to improve the social outcomes for young people involved in the Australian criminal justice system.

Individual finalists have been highlighted for their efforts as long-time volunteers, working with people with rare skin diseases, accessing crucial historical records for children in care and establishing a specialist charity for people with acquired hand injuries.

The CEO of industry superannuation fund HESTA, Debby Blakey said this year’s finalists had shown leadership in developing community programs and initiatives that addressed social inequality and disadvantage.

“It’s an honour to be able to highlight the amazing work of these organisations and individuals, whose services significantly improve the lives of others,” Blakey said.

“They have addressed some of the nation’s most important social issues, and have given a voice to people who otherwise might not be heard. Their vital work contributes to a more compassionate, prosperous, and fairer nation.”

The 2017 finalists are:

Unsung Hero Award

Simone Nicole Baird, Rowville, VIC

For her commitment and contribution to DEBRA Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that supports people living with the rare skin disease Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).

Jenny Glare, South Melbourne, VIC

For helping people raised in orphanages and children’s homes access historical records and information from their time spent in child institutions across Victoria.

Margaret Jorgensen, Watsonia, VIC

For developing programs and activities to encourage social participation and improved wellbeing for elderly members of the Watsonia Returned Services League of Australia (RSL).

Elizabeth Serpell, Melbourne, VIC

For establishing The Aussie Hands Foundation Incorporated (Aussie Hands) which supports children and adults who have been born with a hand difference or have an acquired hand injury.

Edward Thomson, Ringwood East, VIC

For his contribution working as a volunteer for community and social justice organisations around Australia for over 50 years.

Outstanding Organisation Award

Good Shepherd Microfinance, Melbourne, VIC

For their role in facilitating and implementing the FIAP Program which engages with businesses, government, academics and the community sector, to increase financial inclusion and resilience for vulnerable Australians.

Little Dreamers Australia, Southbank, VIC

For supporting people under the age of 25 who care for or have family members with a chronic disease, disability, mental illness, addiction or serious injury.

Orange Sky Australia, Brisbane, QLD

For developing the world’s first mobile laundry service for people experiencing homelessness.

Puuya Foundation, Lockhart River, QLD

For developing community-led projects that equip Indigenous people living in the Lockhart River community with the skills and knowledge necessary to overcome disadvantage and build better futures.

WEstjustice, Footscray and Werribee, VIC

For establishing the ‘Employment Law Project’ which helps migrants and refugees living in the western suburbs of Melbourne improve employment outcomes.

Social Impact Award

Blind Citizens Australia , Melbourne, VIC

For advocating for changes in policy that empowers and promotes equality for people who are blind or vision impaired.  

Community Legal Centres Queensland, Stones Corner, QLD

For successfully campaigning for increased government funding for their services, which provide support and advocacy to 33 independent, community-led legal centres across Queensland.

Good Pitch Australia, Moore Park, NSW

For bringing documentary film makers together with foundations, not-for-profit organisations, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and policy makers to create films that influence public discussion and policy on social justice issues impacting Australians.

Jesuit Social Services, Richmond, VIC

For advocating for improved social outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people who are involved in the Australian criminal justice system.

WIRE Women’s Information, West Melbourne, VIC

For their programs and advocacy initiatives that support and educate women who are experiencing financial hardship or abuse.

The winner of each category will share in a $30,000 prize pool, courtesy of awards sponsor ME banking. Winners will be announced at the 2017 HESTA Community Sector Awards on 24 October 2017.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and Editor of Pro Bono Australia News since it was founded in 2000.

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