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Presenting your 2022 Westfield Local Hero

We are excited to announce your 2022 successful Westfield Local Hero for Belconnen.

The successful Westfield Local Heroes organisation, will receive a grant of $20,000 to help them continue to grow their impact in the local community. Westfield will award 126 grants across Australia and New Zealand – totalling $1.26 million.

In early 2023, we will open nominations for the 2023 Westfield Local Heroes program, so start thinking about those people in your communities who make a difference.


Your 2022 Westfield Belconnen Local Hero is:

Andrew Nolan

Refugee & Migrant Swimming Project
Determined. Spirited. Compassionate

Determined Andrew Nolan is saving lives through Canberra’s first free swimming program for migrants and refugees.

Andrew helped establish the Refugee and Migrant Swimming Project (RMSP) after the drowning death of his close friend Najeeb Rafee at a local swimming spot.

Like many people who migrate to Australia, the Afghanistan refugee had never learnt to swim. Moreover, Andrew was horrified to discover that about 80 migrants and refugees drown in Australia every year.

Andrew decided to make a difference after finding out that Canberra was the only capital city without a specialist swimming program for adult refugees and migrants.

He and the other volunteers can accommodate 20 students per semester. Andrew is thrilled that the students progress to swimming safely in just 10 weeks.

In addition to ensuring that affordability is not a barrier, the project team have taken care to make the lessons culturally safe for people from migrant backgrounds.

Andrew is proud that the program provides many benefits beyond water safety. For example, the exercise improves the swimmers’ mental and physical health and the English lessons run before the classes help increase their social confidence.

“The project allows us to channel our grief into an initiative that Najeeb would be proud of,” Andrew says.

Refugee & Migrant Swimming Project will put the grant towards being able to teach 130 more people to swim.


We also congratulate our finalists who will receive a $5,000 grant for the organisation they represent, and we thank them for their incredible contribution to the local community.

Carol Jennings from WaterWombats

Compassionate Carol Jennings is filling a local gap with her gentle and supportive swimming lessons for children with autism. Hundreds of Canberra children have benefitted from her non-profit school, WaterWombats, where the primary mission is to teach water safety, protecting students and giving their parents peace of mind.

Jenny Dunstan from Story Dogs
Empathetic Jennipher Dunstan has revitalised the non-profit Story Dogs program in Canberra, helping around 100 local children improve their reading confidence. Jennipher, a retired lawyer, took over as local coordinator in 2020.


If you need support, please phone Lifeline: 13 11 14

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