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These awards publicly acknowledge an individual renter or a group of renters who contribute positively to their community.

Nominate someone for an award

Nominations for the 2023 Social Housing Volunteer Awards open Monday 31 July and close on 29 September 2023:

More information

For more information about the awards

Frances Penington Award

The Frances Penington Award celebrates an individual public or community housing renter, or a group of renters, who have made an outstanding voluntary contribution to their community.

The award honours the late Frances Penington who, as a Commissioner of the Housing Commission, was the first woman appointed to the board of a statutory authority in Victoria. She was also a strong advocate for women in housing estates and was active in building and supporting the renter community and sparking community involvement.

2022 winner

Deepa Gupta

Deepa is a committed advocate for her community, working alongside the Paving the Way Forward program to improve the lives of public housing residents. Her commitment is clear in her attendance at all department-led residents’ Zoom meetings, her advocacy for residents’ housing concerns as well as her regular contact with socially isolated residents via phone. 

Deepa attends community forums and plays a key role in community participation. She is a community leader who shares valuable resources and information with those who may not get online or read posters in their building. Deepa has been an active member of resident action groups, made significant contributions to developing the North Melbourne Local Action Plan, and chaired community meetings.

Past Frances Penington award winners


Jade Bradley

Jade volunteers at the Wurruk Community House (WCH) on the outskirts of Sale in Gippsland – one of the most disadvantaged communities in Australia. She got involved with WCH’s Foodbank Outreach program in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. When community need quickly outstripped capacity, Jade helped to establish the Wurruk Food Panty as an in-house service, which she had up and running within three weeks. The service provides weekly calls for registered community members to book appointment times and to make sure they are ok. Her work has helped transform WCH into a flourishing, unified community. 


Judith Jackson

Aunty Jacko is a widely respected and loved elder and volunteer in the City of Port Phillip community. She has helped establish and maintain the weeking Wominjeka BBQ at the Veg Out St Kilda site, which is a core support for many indigenous members. The community gather to share connections and foster a sense of belonging. 

Aunty Jacko is an integral part of 'Our Rainbow Place' in St Kilda. This is a place the local Aboriginal gather and share a healthy meal and have a yarn. Recently, Aunty Jacko has been involved with the St Kilda Surf Lifesaving club to help establish an indigenous group.

Aunty Jacko is a caring and generous mentor who has been advisor to a number of groups such as Star Health, City of Port Phillip for National Aborigines and Islanders Day observance Committee week events, Centrelink Windsor and City of Kingston.


Andie Sweeney

Andie Sweeney was nominated for her voluntary contribution to several not-for-profit community organisations. She has been responsible for the establishment of the Ashwood, Chadstone and Ashburton-Alamein Tenants groups that provide support and advocacy to public renters.

Over the last eighteen years, Andie has been a volunteer for the North Shepparton Community & Learning Centre. In this role, she has been part of the Committee of Management and taken on the role of President, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice- President.

Andie has engaged many of the youth in the Shepperton area by creating several programs in cooking, craft and food sharing. Andie is also part of the Foster Parent Program and cares for several young children, as well as raising her own daughter.


Ashburton, Ashwood and Chadstone Public Tenant Group

The Ashburton, Ashwood and Chadstone Public Tenant Group was established in 2005 to represent the needs of local public renters.

This group of about 40 people meet monthly to discuss issues within the community.

They have advocated strongly for local renters, organising forums and information sessions.

The group hosts a number of social events, including a popular annual Public and Proud celebration.

The group has used these social events, offering free food and entertainment, to bring the local community together and help people get to know each other.

Their efforts have created a real sense of pride within the Ashburton, Ashwood and Chadstone community.


Marlene McKay

Marlene has been a part of the Park Towers Housing Tenants Association for over 25 years. In that time she has been the group's Secretary and occasional Chair.

She is a long-standing advocate for the interests of the renters on the Park Towers estate in South Melbourne.

Marlene has developed information in the languages spoken by the local renters and trained and mentored many renter volunteers.

She has also led the development and upgrade of the estate's community facility and motivates and organises community events.

In addition to her strong commitment to the renters of Park Towers, Marlene has helped other renter associations in the southern suburbs.

Marlene is held in high regard within the South Melbourne community.

2017-2013 Frances Pennington award winners .docx.

Molly Hadfield Award

The Molly Hadfield Award honours outstanding services to older renters.

The award is named after the late Mary (Molly) Hadfield OAM, who was a dedicated advocate for public housing renters. She was also a founding member of the Housing for the Aged Action Group, which formed in 1983.

2022 winner

Vanessa Heart

Vanessa is a passionate member of Housing for the Aged Action Group’s (HAAG) Peer Education program – a group of older women with lived experience of homelessness. She has actively recruited more than 100 new members. 

Vanessa has shared her story of homelessness in two documentaries and in print, presented at events, and been interviewed in the media. She has volunteered at the Laverton Community Hub, at Williamstown and Sunshine hospitals, at a local polling centre, and even cuts hair for people who can’t afford it. Vanessa assists those in need in any way she can, including donating clothes, linking people with services, or sharing what limited resources she has. 

Erika Lodge's story

Have a listen to Erika Lodges story of volunteering and winning the Molly Hadfield Award 2018. Read the transcript (Word).

Past Molly Hadfield award winners


Mila Milne

Mila has worked as volunteer for MOSS Foodbank for more than two years, ensuring residents of MOSS high rises and disadvantaged members of the local community receive food parcels. Within a week of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020, Mila worked with MOSS staff to put in place a plan that would allow the foodbank to reopen. The successful operation of the foodbank came down to Mila’s ability to take on additional work and create new procedures. Without Mila’s massive effort as a volunteer, MOSS Foodbank would not have been able to provide food parcels to residents of Darebin, Moreland and Hume.


Linda Newman

Linda is actively engaged in representing the experiences of older people in metropolitan Melbourne. Linda's contributions enable Housing Choices Australia and City of Melbourne to improve service delivery and the experience of community housing for people over 55 years of age. 

Linda volunteers as a member of Housing Choices Australia's Victorian Resident Advisory Committee and has not missed a single meeting since its inception, eight years ago.

Linda has advocated for the 55 plus cohort via guest speaking roles at housing events and volunteered her time to sit on panels to review and monitor small grants programs for residents to improve their participation in recreation and education activities. 


Erika Lodge

Erika Lodge is the President of the 78 Seniors Club Inc, which is a resident led group that provides social activities for seniors living at the estate. The clubs main aim is to create a sense of community, encourage friendship, reduce isolation and loneliness and encourage participation in activities and involvement in club planning and decision making.

Erika was chosen to represent Kensington residents on the Unison Housing Tenants Advisory Group that meet bimonthly. Erika also works in a volunteer capacity with Ozanam Community Centre where she has helped in the community kitchen once a week for the last twelve years.

Erika’s advocacy outside her home in Kensington has led her to consult on homelessness. She volunteered for 56 years with the Council to Homeless Persons. Last year she was interviewed by the ABC production of “You Can’t Ask That” in the episode on homelessness.

Erika’s philanthropic mantra is

it doesn’t matter what age one is, if help is needed, I will help and volunteer the best I can


Merri Outreach Support Service Food Bank volunteers

The Merri Outreach Support Service (MOSS) Food Bank volunteers are a group of around 15 older retired public housing residents of Barkly Street, Brunswick.

They put together between 80 and 100 food parcels for families and older people struggling with the cost of essential food and groceries. Parcels may include a range of items like fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, and even nappies and baby formula.

Each week, the volunteers pick up and put away food for the food bank, grade fruit and vegetables and organise and distribute the food parcels. They take suggestions and feedback on the items people need.

These hard working volunteers are supporting people in the local community and helping older residents stay independent in their homes.


Let's Get Together Group

The Let's Get Together Group was formed in 2003 when older community members saw the need for local activities and outings in Shepparton.

With initial funding from the Mental Illness Fellowship, the group has gone on to successfully raise funds and form financial partnerships with local businesses. The group has also expanded its activities and fundraising to regional towns.

It holds popular community barbecues every eight weeks. Up to 60 people attend, including residents from local aged care services.

The group, which won the 2014 Shepparton Volunteer Team Award, held its 100th barbecue in June 2016.

2017-2013 Molly Hadfield award winners .docx