Leanne Petrides: Westfield Local Heroes 2018

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Leanne Petrides: Westfield Local Heroes 2018

Nagging Leanne leads by example to help those doing it tough

The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled the Cranbourne ISS to initiate flexible support program that gives volunteers the capacity to assist vulnerable clients in more flexible, out of the ordinary ways. The grant has also helped the Volunteers feel they are able to make a real difference instead of taking a band-aid approach.

Leanne Petrides has a crucial job supplying emergency relief and support to people doing it tough. But she has an interesting side-gig — nagging politicians.

As Director of the Cranbourne Information & Support Service (CISS) for 20 years, she has spent countless hours advocating on behalf of her clients, many of whom are poverty stricken or escaping domestic violence.

Thanks to her good relationship with local politicians, she is able to phone them for support or invite them to visit the service to see the pressures people are under.

This has helped win increases in funding that have paid for a financial counselling service.

One of the service’s role is to negotiate with Centrelink, real estate agents and utility companies on behalf of clients.

And Leanne’s canvassing has also made money available for emergency relief, which provides people with essentials like food, petrol or baby essentials in a crisis.

“There have also been times when a politician has mentioned the agency and the work we do in Parliament in a bid to raise awareness of local issues,” Leanne says.

It’s a credit to Leanne that the service has become a major relief provider in her area. It received over 26,000 inquiries in the last financial year and directly assisted more than 3,200 people.

Much of the success is attributable to Leanne’s dedication and excellent management. She leads by example and often takes on the most difficult clients.

“It is great to see people walking out of our doors looking brighter and happier than when they walked in,” she says.

She is constantly coming up with new ways to help. An example is the service’s popular Back to School program that helps families with school costs and settling into school.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.

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