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 Mt Druitt are:

Bronwyn (Bronnie) Mackintosh

Girls on Fire
Inspirational. Humble. Influencer

Firefighter Bronwyn (Bronnie) Ngaire Mackintosh has developed an innovative camp to empower at-risk young women and drive gender-inclusion in the emergency services. Bronnie’s Girls on Fire camps introduce 30 local teenagers to the skills used by emergency services and give women volunteers in the services an opportunity to develop as team leaders. The camps have been running since 2018 and are led by volunteers from Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service, Airservices Australia and NSW National Parks and Wildlife. The volunteers teach firefighting skills, wildfire behaviour, road crash rescue, first aid and how to wear breathing apparatus.

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 Bronnie is successful, Girls on Fire will use its grant to fund four additional camps.


Gary Pontifex

Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation (fundraising for The Children's Hospital at Westmead)
Dedicated. Generous. Admirable

Gary Pontifex has been rattling the tin for sick children for over 20 years, giving up his weekends and days to raise as much as he can. The full-time driver and Rail Protection Officer was inspired to help after visiting The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and seeing some of the children’s suffering and the hard times parents go through. Gary raises funds by selling Bandaged Bear merchandise at local shopping centres and train stations and is on track to raise more than $200,000 this year. “Raising money for the hospital is a very big part of my life,” 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 Gary is successful, the Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation will put the funds towards research or equipment.


Ivanka Pelikan

Graceades Community Cottage
Selfless. Humble. Dedicated

Ivanka Pelikan is so dedicated to helping vulnerable people that she has adjusted her work hours so she can be available in a crisis. A community worker with Graceades Community Cottage, Ivanka supports the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and isolated in her community. She has a significant impact on the people she assists, offering practical help, a listening ear and social connections. “My office door is always open, and I have changed my work hours to fit with the community’s hours of need,” Ivanka 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 Ivanka is successful, Graceades Community Cottage will use its grant to provide meals and food hampers to vulnerable people.


Tinonui (MC Free) Isaia

Rap 4 Change
Passionate. Dedicated. Selfless

There is no such thing as 9 to 5 in the life of Tino (MC Free) Isaia. She makes herself available to at-risk youth day and night, all while being a dedicated parent to her own children. MC Free is the Operations Manager of Rap 4 Change, a charity youth organisation that uses music, sports and creative arts programs as a medium to engage and redirect disadvantaged youth to make positive decisions in all aspects of life. MC Free is also the Vice President of R4C Mt Druitt Lions Baseball Club that actively engages around 200 participants, keeping our youth off the streets. Last year alone, 15 young people who were lost and facing an uncertain future resumed their schooling or started an apprenticeship after attending Rap 4 Changes Leadership Program that MC Free facilitated. “I have always had a passion for helping our youth find a platform to express themselves,” she 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 MC Free is successful, Rap 4 Change will facilitate a 10 week Express Yourself Workshop, where young people from all walks of life can express themselves through creative arts and music which will empower and encourage our young people to have a voice in society.


Vicki-Julia Crawford

Next Step Communities
Generous. Strong. Amazing

Vicki-Julia Crawford gave up a well-paid job, her house and cars to help the people who are struggling to put food on the table. “I saw a need in our community that I couldn’t ignore,” Vicki-Julia says. She now devotes her time to providing food security, employment training and friendship to people in need through the charity she co-founded, Next Step Communities. In two years, she has assisted 80,000 people with a hand up. One of Vicki-Julia’s most successful programs is Open Pantry, where people doing it tough can buy groceries and basic items for a small fee, while also receiving free bread, fruit and vegetables.

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 Vicki-Julia is successful, Next Step Communities will use the funds to develop online ordering for Open Pantry.


Yousef Abou Ammar

Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency (MECA)
Passionate. Committed. Humorous

Yousef Abou Ammar helps refugees and asylum seekers on their assimilation journey, smoothing the bumps on the road to their new life in Australia. The dedicated caseworker with the Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency (MECA) puts himself in their shoes, to help provide the help they need the most. Yousef has created several programs to guide people through the challenges they face, including opportunities to practise speaking English, access free driving lessons and further their education. He assists with housing, explains Australian rules and laws and relieves the burden of filling in confusing and complicated forms.

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 Yousef is successful, the Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency will put the funds towards programs and infrastructure costs.


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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