Last night we announced the winners of the 2019 Yarra Community Awards, where we celebrated the everyday heroes doing fantastic work in our community.
Citizen of the Year - Grant Guppy
Grant Guppy is our citizen of the year for his significant contribution to the Yarra community through his work as a member and Vice President of Finbar Neighbourhood House. Grant has been a positive role model who encourages others to try new things, offers support and welcomes everyone in the community to participate.
Grant’s cheerful disposition, enthusiasm and commitment to this community has seen the development of several new activities at Finbar. This has included an Ancestry group, Ukulele classes and a men’s group designed to help them open up and explore issues in a safe space.
Grant’s work at Finbar Neighbourhood House is entirely voluntary, and he is often there four days a week or more, running classes and groups and carrying out his responsibilities as Vice President.
Young Citizen of the Year – Nakier Chol
19-year-old Nakier Chol has been an integral member of the Yarra Youth Ambassadors for over three years, acting as a role model and advocate for other young people in the community.
As part of this role she has started conversations and explored major issues facing young people in Yarra including diversity and inclusion, employment, youth justice and gender equity.
She has taken on a number of leadership roles in youth activities, contributing to the ‘I Live Bigger Than Your Labels’ initiative which explored racial profiling, the Gertrude Street Projection festival after party at Atherton Gardens, and organising a forum addressing Youth Justice.
Community Initiative of the Year - LGBTI+ Elders Dance Club
The LGBTI+ Elders Dance Club is an ongoing social transformation and dance project for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex elders (65+). Held every month for the last four years in the City of Yarra, LGBTI elders attend this interactive creative event for free, learn new dances, enjoy delicious catering and drinks, and interact with other LGBTI elders and allies.
The LGBTI+ Elders Dance Club addresses ageism, homophobia, lesbiaphobia and transphobia by supporting the recreational, physical and social rights of LGBTI elders, through creative and social actions. Central to the project is creating a regular space for LGBTI+ elders that is safe and inclusive.
Contributions to Arts – Girl Zone
Together Atong, Achol, Akuech, Zoe and Nyawechand make up Girl Zone, a group of girls from Fitzroy aged 12 and 13 who record and perform rap music about their lives and future ambitions.
Through their participation at RYMS (Real Youth Music Studios), a local program for young people aged 8-13 from the Collingwood and Fitzroy housing estates, they continue to develop their skills, creativity and identity as young artists as well as mentoring their younger peers in their song writing.
They started their career performing at community events on the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate, and have now performed at local events including the Peel Street Festival and Leaps and Bounds, supported international artists and recently performed at Dark Mofo’s Night Mass in Hobart. They have also been commissioned by Music Victoria to develop an educational video resource to be used in schools across the state, inspiring even more young people to pursue music.
Contributions to Heritage – Virginia Noonan
Virginia Noonan has made an outstanding contribution to the protection of heritage in Queens Parade, Fitzroy North, in particular the protection of the shopping strip’s heritage significance.
She worked tirelessly to mobilised her friends and neighbours to respond to the Queens Parade Amendment C231, and led the push for the Queen’s Parade shopping strip to be heritage-listed by the Heritage Council of Victoria.
In her own time, Virginia carried out detailed historical research on the heritage significance of Queens Parade. She used her research as a tool to initiative community action, along with letterbox drops, flyers, posters and conversations with locals and business owners.
Contributions to Diversity and Inclusion – Richmond Churches Food Centre
The Richmond Churches Food Centre helps provide food to people living in the local area who are experiencing food insecurity. The food centre supplies visitors with a balanced variety of nutritious food items that can be prepared at home, including non-perishable items and fresh food.
A diverse group of volunteers not only sort through food donations and create the food packages, they are also very welcoming, greeting visitors to the food centre in a friendly, supportive manner, helping to create a sense of community. They even organise a Christmas lunch for the community to celebrate together.
Due to the welcoming community spirit of the centre, many visitors return as volunteers to give back to the community.
Contributions to Sport – Julia Reslan and Mariam Taleb
Julia and Mariam support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Yarra community as managers for the Fitzroy Lions Soccer Club.
The Fitzroy Lions Soccer Club supports young people from culturally diverse backgrounds who live in Yarra’s Housing estates. Many of these young people cannot afford club fees, uniforms and other expenses related to being part of a sporting club, and are able to get involved in team sport thanks to the Fitzroy Lions.
As team managers Julia and Mariam go above and beyond to ensure that every season is successful, and that all of the young people involved are included and having fun. Throughout the season they act as mentors for the young players, both on and off the field.