Meet your Westfield Local Hero Finalists
In the first year of the Westfield Local Heroes program, we have received an overwhelming response and many heart-warming stories after asking the Parramatta community to nominate individuals who they believe promote social wellbeing and harmony in their communities.
We congratulate every one of our nominees and recognise the important contribution they make to the local community.
The community has now cast its vote, the outcome of which will determine the three successful 2018 Westfield Local Heroes for Westfield Parramatta. Each of their affiliated organisations will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work, program or activities.
The successful Westfield Local Heroes will be announced on 13 August.
Your five finalists for Westfield Parramatta are:
Salwa Al Baz: Cumberland Women's Health Centre
Committed. Dynamic. Determined.
Salwa works tirelessly to assist women affected by domestic and family violence to receive the help they need to survive, recover and thrive. Salwa is a migrant from a war torn country who has overcome great challenges and adversity to make a life for herself in Australia. It is this personal history that makes her such a determined advocate for the women she works with and ensures that she never gives up the fight for justice and equality.
Wilson Giles: Black Dog Institute
Giving. Motivated. Optimistic.
Wilson works with the Black Dog Institute as a lived-experience volunteer. Volunteers, like Wilson, out of kindness willingly re-live some of the most difficult times in their lives in front of groups of people in order to help promote mental health discussions and reduce (and hopefully remove) the negative stigma that surrounds mental illness. Wilson makes others feel they are not alone by speaking about their personal experience and showing he has come out of his personal experience as a survivor. Wilson shows that mental health issues can be treated and managed, but that one of the most dangerous and damaging factors around mental illness is that people do not talk or seek-help.
Candice Graham: Fitted For Work
Caring. Joyful. Meanigful.
Candice Graham is the Sydney Operations Coordinator of Fitted for Work in Parramatta. Her work's purpose is to alleviate disadvantage among women. Candice manages a large team of volunteers who deliver Outfitting and Interview Preparation Services, as well as services through Multicultural Women’s Job Preparation Hub. She regularly facilitates Interview Presentation workshops for women who are looking for work. Candice was originally referred to the Fitted for Work service as a client to receive assistance in finding work. She took it upon herself to offer her time while she wasn’t working as a volunteer to give back to the organisation.
Bilal Hafda: Sydney Story Factory
Visionary. Creative. Empathetic.
Bilal is Storyteller-in-Chief for the Sydney Story Factory’s new creative writing centre, located in the heart of Parramatta. With Sydney Story Factory, Bilal leads creative writing programs to bring marginalised young people together in a creative, safe, inclusive environment. Through growing their self-confidence and instilling in them respect for themselves and others, Bilal is giving the youth of Western Sydney the tools to succeed, and instilling appreciation of the wonderful community in which they live.
Emina Kovac: Immigrant Women's Speakout Association
Generous. Community Orientated. Advocate.
Emina coordinates the operation and administration of the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association. Being the teacher of the Computer Literacy Program, Emina opens doors of opportunities for potential paid employment for migrant and refugee women. Many of the participants in the program, who have escaped domestic and family violence, have reclaimed their self-confidence and reduced their level of disadvantaged and vulnerabilities in their lives in the course of their participation at the program.