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Merri-bek Awards

2022 Merri-bek Awards

Each year we call on the local community to help celebrate those who have enriched our community and inspired their peers through outstanding service and commitment over the past 12 months.

The annual Merri-bek Awards are open to any group or individual whose activity has improved the quality of life of others in Merri-bek. A nominee could be anyone who lives, works, studies, plays, or volunteers in Merri-bek.

Entry information

Nominations can be made for individuals or groups that live, work, volunteer, or study in the Merri-bek municipality and have made a special contribution to Merri-bek for the year.

Submitted entries must include the following to be considered:

  • a completed nomination form
  • a written statement addressing a minimum of one selection criteria (200 to 500 words)
  • detailed information including how the nominee demonstrated excellence, overcame adversity or made a significant contribution to Merri-bek (please include any significant dates)
  • where possible, please include a copy of any supporting attachments or documents

Nominations can be submitted for more than one category for the same group/individual. However, a separate nomination form must be submitted for each category you would like to nominate the group/individual for.

Nominations close Sunday 18 September, 2022.
Winners will be announced at our Merri-bek Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 18 October.

Award categories and selection criteria

The award categories for 2022 are listed below. Click each category name to see the selection criteria.

    • Event is held in Merri-bek
    • Event’s primary role is to engage the Merri-bek community
    • Event benefits the Merri-bek community.
    • Nominee has made a valuable contribution to arts and culture in Merri-bek
    • Nominee has shown commitment to the development of arts and cultural activities for the Merri-bek community
    • Nominee is a Merri-bek resident that has demonstrated significant achievement in the arts.
    • More than two individuals and/or community groups working successfully in collaboration or partnerships
    • Creates a positive outcome in the community
    • Increases social connection, builds capacity and / or strengthens relationships.
    • Made a significant impact to the development, integrity and professionalism of sport in the community
    • Increased physical activities opportunities for all members of the community including juniors, women and girls, people with disability or CALD
    • Committed to training, recruiting and recognising volunteers and coaches
    • Made a significant contribution to sport as a leader and role model.
    • Nominee must be 25 years or under on Saturday 17 September 2022
    • Nominee has made a valuable contribution to young people in the Merri-bek community
    • Nominee supports others to succeed
    • Ongoing contribution to the Merri-bek community
    • Supports and encourages others to succeed
    • A commitment resulting in outstanding and visible results.
    • Demonstrated how your project has positively contributed to the environmental sustainability of the Merri-bek community
    • Description of consultation, stakeholder or community collaboration and partnerships, which have contributed to achievement or results
    • Description of innovative practices or approaches used to overcome obstacles to deliver achievements
    • Description of how your project influenced the attitudes of others in the local Merri-bek community (and potentially beyond) regarding the environmental, social and financial sustainability in the short term or longer term.
    • Nominee has made a valuable contribution to building better relationships between the wider Australian  community and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples in Merri-bek
    • Nominee has shown commitment to create positive change by encouraging community awareness about reconciliation between wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Merri-bek.
  • Please describe the activity of the individual or group and how they have advanced gender equality through one or more of the following:
    • Encouraging participation and leadership
    • Improving health, wellbeing or human rights outcomes
    • Providing opportunities or inclusion and social cohesion in the community.
    • The nominee has made a valuable contribution towards disability access and inclusion
    • The nominee has made a significant contribution towards advancing the rights and interests of people with a disability
    • The nominee has provided opportunities for increased participation, access and inclusion for people with a disability
    • The nominee has created a positive change in raising awareness about important issues relating to people with a disability.


2021 Merri-bek Award winners

Collaborative Partnerships winner: Adam Tardif

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winner of the Collaborative Partnerships Award: Adam Tardif from Dads of Merri-bek.

Adam has achieved a highly successful partnership between local dads, Dads Groups, and the Maternal and Child Health team. Adam has been instrumental in starting new Dads Groups in Merri-bek, during the last 18 months Adam has ensured dads stay connected through weekly and weekend online sessions, and when restrictions permit to come together in person to have a coffee, chat, and play with our children.

Adam has shared his own journey of dad hood with so many, is easygoing, approachable, reliable, a skilled collaborator, and committed to making a difference. Adam has changed the culture of dad hood and built a network of volunteers throughout Merri-bek supporting local families.

Honouring Women in Merri-bek winners: Thasleem Banu, Arjumand Khan, and Faiza Syed

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winners of the Honouring Women in Merri-bek Award: Thasleem Banu, Arjumand Khan and Faiza Syed.

Arjumand, Faiza, and Thasleem are three passionate women with careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). They are entrepreneurs, active community members, and mothers. They founded STEM Catalyst with the aim to increase gender equality in STEM. You can see more of their work on the STEM Catalyst website. They received funding and support from ‘The Great Idea Program’; a Hello, Fawkner! initiative supported by Merri Health. They run family-friendly, community-based STEM workshops in Fawkner.

In the past year the group has facilitated:

  • 6 online sessions with 400 attendees
  • 4 webinars with 200 attendees
  • 2 face-to-face workshops with 85 attendees
  • 80 participants engaging with content and conversation through their WhatsApp group

These sessions encourage participation and topics discussed have included water bugs, wild pollinators, and coding.

Volunteer of the Year winner: Billy Moore

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award: Billy Moore.

Billy Moore is a young man who lives in Brunswick with his family. He has autism and intellectual disability and is an NDIS participant. With the guidance of his support worker Jakub, Billy spends much of his week helping out in his community. Billy is a regular volunteer at the Brotherhood of St Laurence op-shop in Brunswick where he sorts and cleans. He can often be spotted removing rubbish from the streets of Brunswick and has recently started helping with neighbourhood gardening.

Outside of Merri-bek, Billy is a regular volunteer at the Royal Botanic Gardens where he helps keep the children's garden neat and tidy and helps out in the potting shed. He also picks up rubbish on Melbourne's bayside beaches and does gardening work at an autism charity. Billy loves to smile and to give a reason for others to smile as well.

Contribution to Youth winners: Paige Cunningham, Bailey Papic, and Monique Marshall

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winners of the Contribution to Youth Award: Paige Cunningham, Bailey Papic, and Monique Marshall.

Paige, Bailey, and Monique are Fawkner-based creatives who run a digital content-creating service, Untitled Creations. You can find out more about this organisation on the Untitled Creations website. The trio has used their digital design skills to support local businesses impacted by COVID-19, whilst also boosting community connections and becoming a role model to young people in Merri-bek. The arrival of COVID-19 required businesses to increase their digital presence in order to reach customers. Paige, Bailey, and Monique recognised that many Fawkner businesses lacked the creative skills, resources, or finances for this.

The trio knew they could use their skills to support local businesses to succeed during this challenging period. They turned their desire to help into a project, Promoting Fawkner. Their work helped support these businesses to succeed, built pride in local businesses, celebrated local culture, people, and stories, and encouraged engagement and participation in local life.

Lisa Bellear Award for Contribution to Reconcillation Activities winners: Gary Murray and Sowing Sistas Living Together on Stolen Land

We would like to congratulate the 2021 joint winners in the Lisa Bellear Award for Contribution to Reconcillation Activities: Gary Murray and Sowing Sistas: Living Together on Stolen Land.

Gary Murray, a First Nations Elder of the Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa, Dja Dja Wurrung, Djupagalk and Baraparapa Peoples based in Fawkner. A father of 12 and grandfather to 28 grandchildren. Gary has lived in the Merri-bek area since 2008 and is an active member of his community. Gary is an Academic, Researcher, Writer, Cultural Activist and Spokesperson for environmental, social justice and human rights issues. Through the examples set by his grandfather Sir Doug Nicholls and father Stewart Murray he was inspired to educate himself in lore/law and continue the family legacy with his leadership. For more than 50 years, Gary has been a driving force in the local community sharing his knowledge to empower community members and provide culturally informed guidance, direction and support to people from all walks of life. He has a range of commitments in the community including his recent involvement in the Merri-bek Reconciliation Working Group. Gary has been a great advocate for all people and bringing cultures from across Merri-bek to promote community harmony. Gary believes in diversity, inclusiveness, and real participation, and all walking together on our journey to reconciliation and co-existence.

The Sowing Sistas living together on stolen land formed the Merri-bek Reconciliation Network to progress reconciliation in Merri-bek and now consists of 165 members. Activities and events are all community based anti-racism initiatives in collaboration with Indigenous people. These include online courses such as “Speak to self, speak to others’ highlighting the voices of Indigenous people living in Merri-bek and beyond. These activities have contributed to increasing community awareness of the complex issues around reconciliation and consequently build stronger and more respectful relationships between the wider community and Indigenous people in Merri-bek. Sowing Sistas living together on stolen land consult with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and have informal partnerships with groups such as Aboriginal Community Elders Services.

Environmental Sustainability Achievement winner: Paul Ting

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winner of the Environmental Sustainability Achievement Award: Paul Ting from Brunswick Secondary College.

Over the past year the Student Representative Council of Brunswick Secondary College, led by Paul, has committed to fostering and promoting sustainability throughout the school community and beyond. Within the school, this has meant consultation with the school authorities, as well as recycling companies like Redcycle, to develop the school's waste system. In an effort to reduce waste going to landfill the school has a three-bin system, consisting of recycling, landfill, and compost, and the introduction of a school-wide soft plastic recycling system.

During the lockdown period, the students have been distributing a fortnightly newsletter that provides sustainability tips for around the home, including but not limited to reducing energy consumption and how these changes can benefit the environment.

Beyond the school, the Student Representative Council has partnered with the local Australian Conservation Foundation to assist with their social media efficacy, organise environmental activities for the school and contribute to the Australian Conservation Foundation's regular meetings. This relationship will continue to grow with student participation in environmental education and discussion on current topics, especially around Climate Change.

Access and Inclusion winner: Jess Mitchell

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winner of the Access and Inclusion Award: Jess Mitchell.

Jess is a peer worker and disability advocate living in Merri-bek and has made a valuable contribution towards disability access and inclusion through the provision of inclusive-only events. Jess has found ways to use the pandemic to the advantage of people with disability through the creation of online spaces that welcome people of all disability types and life experiences.

Jess has always prioritized making the outcomes of research accessible, including the provision of PowerPoint and plain English summaries. This ensures that people with disability who participate are included and can access the findings. Jess has participated in the Disability Royal Commission, the National Youth Disability Summit 2020, and researched how to improve school transitions for young people with disability, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first half of 2021, Jess established the inaugural CYDA Youth Council and was also approached to co-chair the National Mental Health Commission’s Technical Advisory Group on Public Stigma which will contribute to a national strategy about reducing mental health stigma.

Community Event of the Year winner: Sophie Koutoulas

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winner of the Community Event of the Year: Sophie Koutoulas from Our Daily Bread Coburg.

Our Daily Bread Coburg is a local charity operating from ‘The Presentation of Our Lord Greek Orthodox Church’ located in Coburg. Every Tuesday morning from 8am to 9:30am they provide the local community with 100 grocery bags filled with fresh produce and non-perishables, 25 homeless packs, and 25 toiletry packs. On Thursdays at 4pm they also offer free dinners and dessert to the community as well as groceries and non-perishables.

There is also a dedicated outreach team that delivers freshly prepared meals and groceries to people in need directly to their door. Community residents only need to reach out to ‘Our Daily Bread’ and they will be ready to assist.

Contribution to Arts and Culture winner: Brunswick East Entertainment Festival

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winner of the Contribution to Arts and Culture Award: Brunswick East Entertainment Festival.

The Brunswick East Entertainment Festival is a collective of 4 performers who brought the arts, sheer joy, and connection to the local community in 2020 at a time when it was needed most. Losing their livelihoods throughout the pandemic they decided to put on some 80s outfits from their costume room and took to the front lawn of their Brunswick home and danced for 1.5 to 2 hours each day at the same time.

Their performances were an anchor for the community in a time of despair and offered joy to all those that passed by. During this time, these talented performers also made The Wholesome Hour, a children's web series that won Best Design at the Green Room Awards in 2021. You can find out more about them on the Brunswick East Entertainment Festival website.

Their outstanding perseverance throughout the first lockdown and their engagement with their community has inspired and motivated so many throughout these times. Still they dance!

Contribution to Sports winner: Michael Carney

We would like to congratulate the recent 2021 Merri-bek Award winner of the Contribution to Sports Award: Michael Carney from the Coburg Harriers Athletics Club.

Michael is the president of Coburg Harriers Athletics Club, a historic sporting organisation with a rich 125-year history. Michael has worked tirelessly to engage with organisations for desperately needed upgrades to the facility and formed partnerships with neighbouring sporting clubs. He has invigorated the Coburg Harriers Athletics Club with new marketing initiatives, policies, targeted development programs, calendars, and membership packs.

Michael addressed important issues facing the club, including a lack of cultural diversity within its membership base. He designed the first brochure for over 10 years that was printed in multiple languages, which he personally delivered to thousands of households around Merri-bek. As a direct result of Michael’s initiatives, the Coburg Harriers are now working with Jesuit Social Services to create volunteer positions so that young people seeking employment can get real-life work experience.

With Michael’s expertise and application, the club has developed its first-ever Strategic Plan with an inspiring vision for the club over the next ten years. During the pandemic, when COVID-19 restrictions have devastated communal sporting activity, Michael has almost singlehandedly kept the club going, growing and hopeful.