Leanne Petrides: Cranbourne Information & Support Service
Nagging Leanne leads by example to help those doing it tough
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.
Leane says being voted a Westfield Local Hero means a lot to her personally.
And the service will use its $10,000 Westfield grant to extend its practical help beyond petrol and food vouchers.
This could involve helping someone buy clothes to take up a job, repair windows to keep a domestic violence survivor safe or pay for a child to go to school camp.
Leanne says the money will help the service look at people’s situations in a more holistic way and “make a difference, not just put a band-aid on it”.