Champions of the West

YMCA ReBuild – May 2024
Andy Moutray Read – April 2024
Liliana Bravo, Casa Bonita Lifestyle – March 2024
100 Story Building – February 2024
Jacob Thang – December 2023
Lesley Twidle – November 2023
WEstjustice – October 2023
Books ‘n’ Boots – September 2023
Melba Marginson – August 2023
Green Collect – June 2023
Community Bike Hub – May 2023
Footscray Community Arts – April 2023
Friends of Kororoit Creek – March 2023
Colleen Marion – February 2023

YMCA ReBuild

In June 2022, 10 per cent of Victoria’s adult male prison population were aged between 18 and 24. Just over half (52 per cent) return to prison within two years of being released. But for the young men who end up in Ravenhall Correctional Centre and commit to the six-week YMCA ReBuild program – learning work, life and woodworking skills – and a post-release transition program, less than 5% end up returning to prison. Read more: Champions of the West – YMCA ReBuild

Andy Moutray-Read, Inner West Community Enterprises

When he was 22, Andy Moutray-Read left his home in Lancing, West Sussex, England on a round-the-world trip and didn’t return. His departure would eventually be Melbourne’s gain. He has spent the past 23 years not only raising a family but making a significant contribution to civic life in the inner west. Read more: Champions of the West – Andy Moutray-Read

Liliana Bravo, Casa Bonita Lifestyle

It took Liliana Bravo, a Colombian-born and raised woman, 15 years to get her business in Melbourne up and running. She is determined to pass on everything she has learned, so that women who come after her have a much quicker, and easier journey and learn from her experiences. Read more: Champions of the West – Liliana Bravo, Casa Bonita Lifestyle

100 Story Building – Susan Kukucka

One in three students is not meeting minimum numeracy and literacy expectations, according to the most recent NAPLAN data. Such statistics throw into stark relief the success of 100 Story Building, a not-for-profit social enterprise in Footscray that develops the literacy and creative skills of students experiencing disadvantage. Keep reading: Champions of the West – 100 Story Building – The Westsider

Jacob Thang – Chin Myanmar Community Care

It has been just 11 years since Jacob Thang, a member of Myanmar’s persecuted Chin community, arrived in Melbourne, speaking not a word of English. In that time, he has made an extraordinary contribution, which has culminated in a Leadership Award at the 2023 Victorian Refugee Awards for his work in supporting the Chin community in Melbourne’s west, and his community in Myanmar. Keep reading: Champions of the West: Jacob Thang 

Lesley Twidle: Sunshine RSL secretary

With such a strong military pedigree, it is unsurprising that Lesley Twidle has devoted nearly two decades to supporting returned soldiers in her role as secretary of Sunshine RSL. Lesley’s father served in World War 2; she grew up on a soldier settlement in Yarroweyah; and her husband served in the Navy and was involved in the Malayan Emergency. Keep reading: Champions of the West: Lesley Twidle

WEstjustice community legal centre

The community legal centre WEstjustice advocates for some of the most vulnerable people and also has a strong record of innovative and rigorous policy work. The team works across four key areas: culturally and linguistically diverse communities; people experiencing gender-based violence; people experiencing economic injustice; and young people. Keep reading: Champions of the West: WEstjustice

Books ‘n’ Boots

For seven years, John Harding and Tara Newen, the co-founders of Books ‘n’ Boots, have been collecting pre-loved children’s books and football boots and sending them to First Nations rural and remote communities and schools around the nation. Their vision is to close the health and literacy gap, one book at a time. Keep reading: Champions of the West: Books ‘n’ Boots  

Melba Marginson

Awareness of the scourge of family violence can be traced back to the advocacy of Melba Marginson some 34 years ago. Less than two weeks after she arrived in Melbourne from the Philippines, Melba attended the funeral of a Filipino woman who had been strangled to death by her Australian ex-husband. Thus began her decades of advocating for survivors of family violence. Keep reading: Champions of the West: Melba Marginson  

Green Collect

Each year in the United States alone, between 50 and 60 million ring binders are sold. Because they don’t decompose, they generate a huge amount of waste. But enter Green Collect, a Braybrook social enterprise that transforms office items into items that can be used again or remade into other products. Keep reading: Champions of the West: Green Collect

Community Bike Hub

More than 660 bicycles donated to people in need; 1300 bikes saved from landfill; 2400 bikes repaired; and 560 donated bikes sold to raise money for volunteer and bike education programs. The stats tell an impressive environmental story about Footscray’s Community Bike Hub. But more powerful is the story about the social connections and the community identity forged; the experience given to young people to the adult world; and much more. Keep reading: Champions of the West: Community Bike Hub

Footscray Community Arts

As the only mainstream arts organisation signed up as a registered provider with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Footscray Community Arts is continuing its long tradition of being a trailblazer. Since 1991, FCA has supported d/Deaf and Disabled artists through its ArtLife program but has been able to step up the support since registering
with the NDIS in 2018. At its most recent audit, the organisation passed all 97 measures with flying colours – a measure of the dedication of staff. Keep reading: Champions of the West: Footscray Community Arts

Friends of Kororoit Creek – Jessica Gerger

Over decades, the Friends of Kororoit Creek (FOKC) have spent thousands of hours, mulching, digging and planting native grasses and wildflower seedlings, weeding and, of course, constantly picking up rubbish. It’s often tough physical labour, occasionally requiring heavy machinery. But the before and after pictures say it all. The area is unrecognisable. A once unkempt, overgrown industrial wasteland in the 1990s has been transformed into a haven of peace and beauty, an oasis of indigenous wildflowers, native grasses, shrubs and trees that attracts a variety of wildlife, including birds, lizards, frogs and turtles.

Keep reading: Champions of the West: Friends of Kororoit Creek

The Lizard Lounge (top) and Annie’s Garden (bottom)

Colleen Marion – The Gathering Place

Bidjara woman Colleen Marion has spent decades advocating for her people and has lost none of her drive to improve the conditions for First Nations people. Her hard work and determination have been recognised by a number of awards, including becoming the first Aboriginal person in Victoria to be awarded Save the Children’s White Flame Award. Keep readingChampions of the West: Colleen Marion

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