Westfield Kotara announces its local heroes

Westfield Kotara announces its local heroes

Westfield Kotara has announced its three Westfield Local Heroes, as nominated and voted for by the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie community.

The three selected heroes have each been awarded a $10,000 grant for their organisation to put towards their community initiative.

The Westfield Local Heroes program recognises individuals whose work promotes social wellbeing and harmony across Family, Youth Opportunity and Inclusion. Launched earlier this year, the community was called upon to submit nominations and vote for six finalists, three of which are now the communities Westfield Local Heroes.

With hundreds of votes received for all six finalists, Westfield Kotara has announced that Lianne Dean of Respectus Limited, Melissa Histon-Browning from Got Your Back Sista, and Catharina Howman from Firstchance Inc. have been chosen as Westfield Kotara’s inaugural local heroes.

Launched in 2016, Respectus is a charity that provides safe and affordable housing to women and children when they need it most. With a passion for women’s issues and helping those affected by homelessness and domestic violence, Lianne Dean has been volunteering her time at Respectus since their first project, with particular focus on supporting women with financial hardship.

Lianne said it was a great honour to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. The support her nomination received in the local community will kick-start another plan to help women in need.

Melissa founded Got Your Back Sista in 2016 to help local women experiencing domestic violence. Two years on, the charity assists women and children all the way from Taree to Lake Macquarie and the Upper Hunter to thrive and live independently after escaping abuse.

As volunteer CEO, Mel is involved with everything from telephone triage, fundraising, liaising with other providers and speaking at public events to raise awareness in the community. She is also responsible for organising Got Your Back Sista’s self-defence classes.

Got Your Back Sista will use its $10,000 Westfield grant to fund workshops on self-defence and resilience, reaching 200 people across the Hunter region over the next 12 months.

Finally, the third local hero is Catharina, who is a Family Worker at disability support service, Firstchance. She is often the first point of contact for parents who discover the development of their child or baby is not typical. Catharina supports these families throughout their whole journey, as they learn to navigate the system and how to access the support that is available to them.

Firstchance will use its $10,000 Westfield grant to cover some of the costs of its Little Ones – Resilient Families group, which supports families who have children affected by Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Westfield Kotara awarded these three Westfield Local Heroes organisations a $10,000 grant to contribute towards their amazing initiatives, re-investing these funds into the local community. The $10,000 grants will help their affiliated organisations continue to grow and thrive, or to help kick-start a brand-new initiative directly impacting the local community.

Westfield Kotara Centre Manager, Kate Murphy said the business is thrilled to support these three individuals and organisations.

“We are thrilled to honour these deserving community members as our Westfield Local Heroes and to support the incredible work they have been doing for our community,” Kate said.

“We have seen such an overwhelming response to the Westfield Local Heroes program and would like to acknowledge each of the wonderful community members who have been nominated throughout this process.

“It’s incredible to see all the work that our community members are doing to support the people of Newcastle and we hope to see their initiatives continue to benefit the local area and assist those in need.”

The Westfield Local Heroes program has awarded almost $1.2 million in grants throughout Australia and New Zealand in 2018 and aims to benefit local communities in all areas including business, sport, government, education, welfare, advocacy and not-for-profit.

IMAGE | Catharina Howman, Lianne Dean and Melissa Histon Browning.

Westfield Kotara

Westfield Kotara is managed by Scentre Group and is currently home to more than 256 retail stores. The centre is under development with a launch expected in late 2018, which will see the addition of 30 new retail stores and an extension to the Rooftop precinct.



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