Thank you for voting for your Westfield Local Hero

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Thank you for voting for your Westfield Local Hero

We congratulate all of our finalists and recognise the important contribution they make to the local community. The successful Westfield Local Heroes will be announced on 27 October.

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 2020 nominees for every Westfield centre. Each of the affiliated organisations of the successful heroes will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work to thrive. Westfield will award 126 grants across Australia and New Zealand – totalling $1.26 million.


Your finalists for Westfield Knox are:

Allan Small

The Basin CFA
Kind. Big-hearted. Generous

Allan Small has been a selfless volunteer for the Country Fire Authority (CFA) for more than 50 years, thanks to his love for his wife and her family. Allan's brothers-in-law wasted no time in recruiting him to join the local fire brigade when he started courting their sister in the 1960s. Over the past 53 years, other CFA volunteers in The Basin have become like family to him; and keeping people safe has become his passion. Allan is proud that his three sons have also volunteered as firefighters. "It gets in the blood," he says. "It's about protecting our own."

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 Allan is successful, The Basin CFA will use its grant to set up a digital training facility for volunteers.


Julienne Rankine

St Luke's Primary School Mini Vinnies
Passionate. Caring. Inspiring

Teacher Julienne Rankine is touching hearts and showing children they are never too young to help. Julienne founded the St Luke's Primary School Mini Vinnies program, which is affiliated with the St Vincent de Paul Society, affectionately known as Vinnies. Over the past two years, volunteers from prep through to Year 6 have made and donated blankets and scarves during winter, fundraised by running clothing and cake stalls and put together toiletry packs. "This process is very empowering for the students. Their role is voluntary, and their enthusiasm is immense," Julienne says.

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 Julienne is successful, the Mini Vinnies will use their grant to fund many more meals for families in need, hold a seniors' lunch and distribute more blankets and toiletries.


Martina Eaton

CHAMPION - an initiative of the Temple Society Australia
Kind. Fair. Helpful

Martina Eaton set up the CHAMPION community hub to help families put food on their tables when she recognised that many people don't qualify for Centrelink or other assistance. "I decided to start a service that would help these members of the community, not only with food parcels but also support to navigate a way out of the crises they were facing," says Martina, who is a Community Care Worker at The Temple Society Australia. CHAMPION has been open for seven years and stands for Community Hub and Meeting Place in Our Neighbourhood. It provides support to 300 clients a month.

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 Martina is successful, the Temple Society will use the funds to cover staff costs so CHAMPION can open an extra morning or afternoon each week and help more people in need.


Melissa Bell

Knox and District Toy Library
Positive. Tireless. Dedicated

Without Melissa Bell’s dedication, many local children would miss out on high-quality educational toys and a space to meet new friends. As president of the non-profit Knox and District Toy Library, the mother of two has worked hard to ensure its financial viability and increase awareness within the community. It has been no easy task, but the membership has grown to a healthy 227. One of Melissa’s most significant achievements has been to secure funding to transform the space with all new shelving and signage. “I am passionate about promoting the importance of play in children. I want the library to be around for years to come,” Melissa says.

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 Melissa is successful, the toy library will use its grant to buy toys and cover operational costs.


Merrin Ayton

Different Journeys
Passionate. Fearless. Selfless

Merrin Ayton is opening the world up to young people with autism. A mother of two sons with autism, Merrin was feeling powerless as her eldest son’s mental health plummeted in Year 10 because he was being bullied and ridiculed. After meeting another mum with similar challenges, they came up with an idea for a social group for teens with autism. Demand has soared, with 500 teens and adults now attending events. “We hear stories of teens refusing to leave their rooms for two years who are now begging their parents to bring them to the next event,” Merrin says.

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 Merrin is successful, Different Journeys will use its grant to cover event costs, including for lifeguards, staff, a BBQ and marketing.


Roger Petrucci

Ulysses Club, Yarra Ranges Branch
Selfless. Kind. Caring

Roger Petrucci is always there to help fellow motorcycle enthusiasts and others in the community in times of hardship. The treasurer of the Yarra Ranges Ulysses Club, a social club for people over 40 who love motorcycles, spends hours looking after anyone he sees in need. Roger provides transport and assistance for members with a disability so they can participate in social events and feel appreciated. "I am particularly interested in helping our members ensure they have somewhere to go and someone to talk to if the pressure of life gets too much to handle on their own," he says.

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 Roger is successful, the Ulysses Club will buy a much-needed defibrillator and the remaining funds will distributed to local charities.


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

Recognising all our 2020 nominees

View all of the nominees and their organisations

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