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Aware Super NSW Community Hero Finalists

2021 NSW Community Hero of the Year Award Award Finalists

She works tirelessly for her community. She’s the first to roll up her sleeves to help others, and motivates those around her to contribute to their communities.

Mrs Chris Cleary

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Chris Cleary spent almost a decade founding two organisation, which provide healthcare to people experiencing homelessness and veterinary services to their pets.

‘StreetMed – Homeless Support Team’ provides first aid, mental health support and advocacy for those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness in Western Sydney. This expanded to include free veterinary care and food to animals through ‘StreetPets – Paws for the homeless’.

During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Cleary single-handedly provided meals to over 50 people a night, to fill a gap after several food services were halted.

Ms Cleary is a qualified medic, teaches first aid, and is trained in mental health and suicide prevention. She also volunteered for 24 years with the SES among other community organisations.

Ms Donna Ciccia

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Donna Ciccia founded Endometriosis Australia and spent more than eight years striving to improve outcomes for over 260,000 NSW women living with the disease.

Ms Ciccia created an ambassador program, which led to the establishment of the ‘Friends of Endometriosis Parliamentary Committee’. She was also integral to developing the National Action Plan for Endometrisois.

Continuing her volunteer work, Ms Ciccia is a member of committees including the National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials Network, which connects patients, clinicians and researchers.

Many celebrities and advocates joined the effort thanks to Ms Ciccia launching programs like ‘Endo Champion’ and ‘Mendo Champion’ to raise awareness and funds.

Mrs Jean Vickery

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Jean Vickery has been a dedicated volunteer for more than 60 years, through fundraising initiates, charitable services and as the Woolgoolga Lions Club President.

Bushfire and drought relief are two of Ms Vickery’s focus areas. She travelled to affected communities to understand the best ways to help. Ms Vickery also assisted at her local bushfire evacuation centre through Red Cross Emergency.

From fire to water, Ms Vickery is a driving force behind fundraisers for the Disabled Surfer's Association. Successful purchases include all-terrain wheelchairs to promote inclusivity.

The octogenarian never lets age stop her from learning new things like technologies. Ms Vickery continues to motivate those around her and even made reusable facemasks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs Joh Leader

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Joh Leader founded ‘LeaderLife’, linking children and families to holistic programs, which boost confidence, nurture relationships and teach positive choices to tackle life’s challenges.

Ms Leader launched the not-for-profit to provide long-term support for those affected by complex social issues like drug use, violence and trauma. Her partnerships aim to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in the judicial system.

Ms Leader is is passionate about finding community solutions for kids instead of jail terms. In 2020, she started a social impact venture of running a lime farm to create jobs and meaningful training for young people struggling to find work.

Mrs Sharon Robertson

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Sharon Robertson is the founder of the ‘Dilly Drought Drive’, which raised $1 million in product and donations for farmers in its first two years.

Now in its third year, the Dilly Drought Drive has saved the livelihood of more than 20 farmer by providing vital access to water, hay and food during drought.

Ms Robertson also takes a leading role in crisis response and charity work. She ran the Wollondilly World’s Greatest Shave for four years, raising $95 thousand.

When the local Riding for the Disabled was in danger of closing, Ms Robertson stepped up to save the service. She also volunteers for numerous community organisations including 15 years with the Camden Show and 10 years at Right Start.

Mrs Theresa Mitchell

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Theresa Mitchell is the Founding Director of Agape Outreach Incorporated and worked for over a decade to provide food, clothing and support to people experiencing homelessness.

Ms Mitchell leads a team of volunteers to cook meals, collect ‘rescued’ food, run an op-shop, facilitate programs and fundraise. Agape has over 500 clients and also assists in case management to help secure housing.

Successfully sourcing a $1.5 million donated venue, Ms Mitchell has been able to expand Agape’s services. The outreach programs have grown to include Byron Bay, Tweed Heads and the Gold Coast.

Establishing accommodation for people experiencing homelessness is the next vision, including corporate support to build tiny house estates.

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Last updated: 06 Apr 2021