Meet your local hero finalists

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Meet your local hero finalists

Read about your Westfield Local Hero finalists

Westfield Local Heroes is a community recognition and grants program, connecting and enriching local communities.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the outcome of the public vote determining the three successful 2019 nominees for Westfield Bondi Junction. Each of the affiliated organisations for the successful three heroes will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work to thrive. In total, Westfield will be awarding 120 grants across Australia and New Zealand – totalling $1.2 million.

Your Westfield Local Heroes will be announced here on 1 October.

Your six finalists for Westfield Bondi Junction are:

Diana Ucles

PCYC City of Sydney
Committed . Energetic . Caring

Senior Constable Diana Ucles joined the NSW police 13 years ago, but it was only after being deployed to the Police Citizens Youth Club in 2015 that she found her true calling. Since then, Diana has been a stable influence and confidant to many young people in the inner-city Woolloomooloo/Darlinghurst area. She says her easy-going nature helps build rapport with the people she is trying to help. “My role is to prevent youth crime by supporting and empowering young offenders and youth at risk through targeted crime prevention programs and case management.”

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Diana is successful, PCYC will buy additional gym equipment to encourage others to join the gymnastics program.


George Freund

COA Sydney
Compassionate . Inclusive . Powerhouse

When George Freund’s father passed away a few years ago, George stepped in to continue his legacy as an enthusiastic volunteer at COA’s popular drop-in centre in Woollahra and making deliveries for the Kosher Meals on Wheels program. George, a Holocaust survivor who arrived in Australia at the age of 12, had an immediate impact, taking on a leadership role, recruiting additional volunteers and starting new programs and services. Now in his 80s, George is still actively involved in managing the organisation, which helps Jewish seniors and others to live independently.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If George is successful COA will provide extra funding to the Kosher Meals on Wheels program, which runs at a loss because nobody is allowed to go hungry regardless of their ability to pay.


Grant Trebilco

OneWave
Legend . Kind-hearted . Passionate

Grant Trebilco was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012 and found it helped to go surfing with his family and mates. One Friday morning, he dressed up in a shirt and tie and went for a surf at Bondi with the aim of starting conversations about mental health. Soon after that the now world-famous OneWave Fluro Fridays were born, with people in bright outfits going for an early-morning surf or swim, or doing yoga on the beach. A highlight of Fluro Fridays is the “anti-bad vibes circle” during which people share stories in a safe environment.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Grant is successful, OneWave will fund schools outreach programs to spread the word that it's OK not to be OK. It will also buy surfboards for people to borrow at Bondi Beach and offer free surfing lessons.


Jose Bello

Soccajoeys Next Step Foundation
Dedicated . Generous . Inclusive

As an early childhood educator, Jose Bello knows that having a child with special needs can cause families to disengage from their community. As a former professional footballer, he knows sport brings people together and improves wellbeing. He formed Soccajoeys Next Step Foundation seven years ago to give children with special needs an opportunity to improve their physical, emotional and cognitive development in a fun and safe environment. He says the main objectives of the Next Step Program are to integrate participants into mainstream Soccajoeys programs and local soccer clubs and help children transition to school.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Jose is successful, the foundation will recruit more coaches to expand its reach and invest in much-needed specialist equipment for children with high needs.


Rachael Natoli

Lokahi Foundation
Dedicated . Compassionate . Strong

Rachael Natoli is a domestic abuse survivor who is grateful to her empowering and supportive caseworker for helping her to conquer the stress and difficulty of starting a new life. The experience inspired Rachael to start the Lokahi Foundation, which provides case workers to support women during the process of escaping from domestic abuse. “We provide unlimited support with no time restriction,” says Rachael, who understands it can take two or three years for women to begin reclaiming their lives. “Our caseworkers will tailor their service to what each individual woman needs.”

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Rachael is successful, the Lokahi Foundation will invest in financial empowerment courses for eight women or full-time caseworker support.


Rikki Stern

Pink Hope
Brave . Strong . Resilient

When Rikki Stern was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the age of 20, she craved contact with others in her position but could not find community support for women her age. That’s what inspired her to launch Cancer Chicks, an Australian social media support group based on a similar concept in the UK. Thanks to Rikki’s initiative, more than 130 young women share the highs and lows of their journey with each other. “These women benefit from group rehabilitation. They have a network that provides comfort and support through shared experience,” says Rikki.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Rikki is successful, Cancer Chicks and Pink Hope will put on a Girls Getaway for young women to connect and share stories and attend workshops.


Recognising all our 2019 nominees

View all of the nominees and their organisation

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