Consumer Protection Awards winners and finalists

The Western Australian Consumer Protection Awards provides an opportunity to reward and recognise the achievements of individuals, non-government organisations, businesses, local governments, journalists and media outlets that have increased awareness of consumer issues, provided support for disadvantaged consumers or contributed to injury prevention for children. Potential nominees may have helped consumers with tenancy matters, scam prevention, debt management or understanding contracts.

Congratulations to all Consumer Protection Awards winners and finalists! A special thank you to all nominees for their dedication to consumer protection and to injury prevention for children in Western Australia.

Consumer Protection Awards 2021 finalists and winners
Consumer Protection Awards 2021 finalists and winners, by dolds
Consumer Protection Awards 2021 winners and finalists.

Back row, names left to right:  Joanna Josephs, General Manager representing CARAD; Anna Farrant, Acting Principal Legal Officer representing WLSWA;  Reheb Ahmed, Manager Carer Support representing Ishar; Gareth Parker, Breakfast Presenter, 6PR; Gary Adshead, State Political Editor, Nine News; and Emma Croft, Campaign and Event Advisor representing RAC WA.
Front row, names left to right:  Andrea Wakefield, Drowning Prevention Ambassador representing Kidsafe WA winner Melanie Mitchell, Lachlan's Legacy;  Lanie Chopping, Commissioner for Consumer Protection; Francine Bell, Managing Director, Additive Free Kids; Hon. Amber-Jade Sanderson MLA, Minister for Commerce; Kim Macdonald (behind Minister), Property and Urban Planning Editor, The West Australian Newspaper; Kombe Musonda, Womens FDV Refuge Coordinator, Starick and Gaelle Gouillou, CEO, representing the Spiers Centre.

To see the highlights of the 2021 Consumer Protection Awards presentation ceremony along with our winners – watch the video below.

2021 Consumer Protection Awards Highlights from ConsumerProtectionWA on Vimeo.

 

2021 Consumer Protection Awards 

Rona Okely Award

Finalist:

  • Kombe Musonda

Winner:

  • Francine Bell
cp_awards_2021_francine_bell.jpg
cp_awards_2021_francine_bell.jpg, by dolds
Names left to right: Francine Bell, Managing Director, Additive Free Kids and Hon. Amber-Jade Sanderson MLA, Minister for Commerce.

Francine has led Additive Free Kids (AFK), a Western Australian organisation advocating for additive free food since 2014. AFK represents over 35,000 Australian parents seeking guidance on additive free products. She is an additive free food coach, consultant and advisor to the Asia Pacific Anti Additive Association and a Chartered Accountant (auditor). Francine was inspired as a result of seeing the detrimental effects food additives had on her own children and the lack of information available to consumers. 

Francine audits ingredient and green/clean labels to cut through marketing tactics, claims and to identify the facts. Her product reviews enable consumers to make informed decisions about the food they eat. This has led to consumers voting with their dollar – in some cases causing product sales to plummet and being removed from the supermarket shelf. In addition to other initiatives, Francine has also achieved the first: 

  • AFK endorsement trial in Perth supermarkets – reviewing thousands of fast moving packaged foods; and 
  • online Australian Additive Free Market place directory – providing consumers with a list of additive free products.

Francines's testimonial: "This is amazing for our whole community raising awareness about additives in food for children who are our most vulnerable consumers. I was very shocked actually and very emotional. It just represented so many years of effort together with the community – so it was a lovely recognition of all of our efforts.

Richard (Dick) Fletcher Award

Finalists:

  • Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees
  • Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Services Inc.
  • The Spiers Centre Inc.

Winner:

  • Women’s Legal Service WA
Consumer Protection Awards 2021 Anna Farrant WSLWA
Consumer Protection Awards 2021 Anna Farrant WSLWA, by dolds
Names left to right: Hon. Amber-Jade Sanderson MLA, Minister for Commerce and Anna Farrant, Acting Principal Legal Officer representing Women's Legal Service WA

Operating since 2002, the Women’s Legal Service WA (WLSWA) is Western Australia’s only not for profit specialist community legal centre for women. WLSWA’s clients are women who have the greatest need and who may experience additional barriers in accessing support and justice. Through legal services and education, WLSWA raises awareness of legal issues affecting disadvantaged women in the community. Women are empowered to make informed decisions about physical safety, emotional wellbeing and housing in the short term – with improved emotional and financial security in the long term. 
COVID-19 saw WLSWA experience many challenges, including a 200 per cent increase in the number of phone calls received each day and an increase in complexity of client circumstances. WLSWA continued to provide support by adapting services and boosting the level of assistance across Western Australia together with:

  • a two-year partnership with BHP to deliver a pilot program in the Pilbara;
  • a state-wide telephone service;
  • a virtual office in the Newman Women’s Refuge; and
  • extra community legal education activities.

Anna's testimonial: "I think it’s really important recognition for our staff and for the other agencies we partner with – and for our clients to have their stories heard and acknowledged.

Kidsafe WA Award

Finalist:

  • RAC WA

Winner:

  • Melanie Mitchell, Lachlan's Legacy
Kidsafe Award winner 2021: Melanie Mitchell Lachlan's Legacy
Kidsafe Award winner 2021: Melanie Mitchell Lachlan's Legacy, by tvanderloo

Names left to right: Scott Phillips, CEO Kidsafe WA, Melanie Mitchell, Drowning Prevention Campaigner, Lachlan’s Legacy and Lanie Chopping, Commissioner for Consumer Protection.

Melanie (Mel) Mitchell’s almost three-year-old son Lachlan died after drowning in a backyard pool at a family day care (FDC) in 2015. Mel launched Lachlan’s Legacy to lobby for a ban on pools in FDCs. She is an ambassador for the joint Consumer Protection and Royal Life Saving Society Australia ‘Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE’ national portable pool education campaign.

Mel met with senior Western Australian politicians in a bid to make our State Government increase checks at FDCs with pools or spas and disallow new day cares with pools, spas or water features on the premises. As a result, the Department of Communities carried out a consultation on FDC regulations. Mel worked to encourage community submissions and gave out hundreds of flyers. In 2020 her goal was finally realised, with the State Government announcing new swimming pool regulations to make FDCs safer by:

  • commencing phase-out of swimming pools and spas for FDC services;
  • stronger regulations to immediately require additional safety measures; and
  • training for FDC educators whose residences have pools, spas or water features.

Melanie's testimonial: "Advocating for safer family day care regulations has been tough, as my determination for change and the grief for my son have been so closely intertwined. The process was long and much more taxing than I could ever have anticipated. However, I am so glad that in the end, effective and meaningful changes were enacted to minimise the risk of (and eventually negate altogether) another child drowning in a day care environment. Thank you to Royal Life Saving WA, Consumer Protection and Minister Simone McGurk for their support.”

Ruby Hutchison Media Award

Finalists:

  • Jerrie Demasi, Nine News
  • Kim Macdonald, The West Australian
  • Gareth Parker, Radio 6PR

Winner:

  • Gary Adshead, Nine News
Consumer Protection Awards 2021
Consumer Protection Awards 2021, by dolds
Names left to right: Hon. Amber-Jade Sanderson MLA, Minister for Commerce and Gary Adshead, State Political Editor, Nine News

State Political Editor, Gary has been a newspaper, television and radio journalist for almost 37 years, reporting on major political scandals, organised crime and breaking international stories. Gary reported on some corrupt and dangerous players in the unregulated tow truck industry. The story raised concerns about how some tow truck operators were using dishonest tactics to gain business from vulnerable consumers who had just been involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Gary’s investigation exposed the desperation of certain tow truck operators, such as unsafe driving practices, insurance price gouging, bribery payments and physical altercations between tow truck drivers competing to secure tow jobs. He followed several court cases and interviewed police about their concerns. Gary’s coverage led to him being physically threatened, with police advising he had ‘hit a nerve’ and exposed some of the worst people in the sector. His stories were widely covered in the media and contributed to Consumer Protection considering reform and regulatory changes to the accident towing industry.

Gary's testimonial: "It’s always great just to be recognised because you do put yourself in some strange and sometimes dangerous situations. So to do the stories, to work through it, then get rewarded for it and be acknowledged for it – I think it is a massive bonus.”

Previous years

2020

CP Awards 20 Group winners
CP Awards 20 Group winners, by Consumer Protection

Left to right: Sharryn Jackson, Executive Director Community Legal WA; Hon. John Quigley, MLA, Attorney General; Minister for Commerce; Andrew Ring, Education Programs Manager, Red Nose; Jodie Smyth, Project Officer, Indigo Junction Incorporated; and Callum Hunter, Journalist.

Rona Okely Award - Winner: Sharryn Jackson

Sharryn first began work as the women’s officer at the Trades and Labour Council of WA. She then went to the Miscellaneous Worker’s Union where she advocated to improve the working conditions for many. Sharryn was elected twice as a Federal Member of Parliament, supporting her constituents on issues such as Centrelink debts, immigration matters and better community services.

Sharryn is now Executive Director at Community Legal WA (previously Community Legal Centre Association), representing 28 community legal centres (CLCs) in Western Australia. CLCs provide free or low cost legal help and education to their communities. Under her leadership Community Legal WA has changed its name and rebranded, with a new website providing clients a ‘one-stop’ shop for information and referrals to a CLC. Her work contributes to long term outcomes where clients are less stressed, have increased financial well-being and reduced social exclusion.

Sharryn's testimonial: "I was surprised and delighted to be nominated for and to receive the Rona Okely Award 2020. I had the privilege of meeting Rona many years ago through her work with the Gosnells Community Legal Centre. She was a champion for the rights of people and advocated for a fairer and better world. It is an honour to receive an award in her name.

While I have been given the individual attention that comes with being the finalist, I am fortunate to work with a small, committed team at Community Legal WA (the peak body for community legal centres in WA) and it is our collective work that has been recognised by this award.

The community legal sector is passionate about people’s access to justice, for them to be informed of their rights and responsibilities under the law and to be assisted when they need it. Supporting the community legal sector to achieve its objectives is also a privilege.

The acknowledgement of our contribution through the awards process was heart-warming and motivating for us all. Unfortunately, the advent of the Covid pandemic prevented the usual award ceremony that so many of us enjoy annually. At Community Legal WA we watched and enjoyed the virtual presentation put on by Consumer Protection (accompanied by morning tea). I also appreciated the special presentation luncheon with other award finalists, the Minister and the Commissioner!

Congratulations to Consumer Protection for conducting these annual awards. There are many committed people in the community who work for a fairer and safer world. These awards provide a rare opportunity to recognise and celebrate their contribution."

Richard (Dick) Fletcher Award - Winner: Indigo Junction Incorporated

Indigo Junction Incorporated (Indigo Junction) have been providing services to Midland and surrounding areas for 39 years. With 38 staff including eight Aboriginal staff members, the organisation offers education, welfare services and early intervention and prevention programs for young people, families and individuals.

Indigo Junction’s Karnany Resource Centre provides holistic support to people facing crisis and disadvantage. Staff assist clients daily by providing food, food vouchers, pharmacy vouchers, fuel vouchers and help with bills. Clients are also provided with information and education about scams, payday loans and rent-to-buy schemes. In the 2018–19 financial year the centre assisted 2,228 people. Two of the Karnany Resource Centre programs of particular note are the:

  • Strong Father’s Program, providing mentoring, case-management and support to Aboriginal fathers and fathers of Aboriginal children; and
  • Money Support Hub which includes a financial counsellor and financial literacy worker to help people overcome financial hardship

Kidsafe WA Award - Winner: Red Nose

Red Nose is Australia’s leading authority on safe sleep and safe pregnancy, and provides bereavement support for families affected by the death of a baby or child. In Western Australia, Red Nose operates the RROSIAC (Reducing the Risk of SIDS and Sleep Accidents in Aboriginal Communities) program, aiming to lower the level of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). Death from SUDI amongst Aboriginal infants is reported to be four times as common as that in non-Aboriginal populations.

Red Nose’s Pepi-Pod RROSIAC program is the first of its kind in Western Australia. It was initially introduced into the Kimberley community as it recorded the highest infant mortality rate and increased rates of low birthweight and premature babies being born. The Pepi-Pod is a portable, small purpose-built plastic tub designed to reduce the risk of SUDI. The tub creates a safe sleeping space for infants aged up to four months when in co-sleeping situations. The success of the RROSIAC program has led to Aboriginal mothers approaching their child health nurse seeking Pepi-Pods for new mothers in their communities.

Ruby Hutchison Media Award - Winner: Callum Hunter

Callum began work as a cadet journalist, writing feature editorials for the South Western Times in May 2018. After seven months he was promoted to reporting on a range of topics including consumer affairs. Scam stories became his specialty, where he contacted Consumer Protection’s South West office weekly to get the latest scoops and warnings. Callum’s old-school investigative journalism led to two front page stories on the South Western Times and the Bunbury Herald which together have a combined readership of more than 60,000. Both stories were also syndicated by the West Australian, reaching hundreds of thousands of readers.

The first story centred on an Australind retiree who lost more than $2,000 to an advanced National Broadband Network (NBN) fraud scam. The second story covered a South West woman who lost almost $700,000 to an online investment scam – one of the biggest losses ever recorded in the region. Callum’s rapport with the victim inspired her to trust him with detailed facts, allowing him to write an in-depth story warning consumers what to look out for.

Callum's testimonial: "Winning the Ruby Hutchison Media Award has definitely been the highlight of my career so far and served as the ultimate reassurance that I was doing my job well. More than that though, it showed me that my work was being noticed and most importantly, having an impact. During the nomination process, I actually changed fields and the win didn’t go unnoticed by my then new employers. As for the prize money, that went towards new photography gear which has helped me upskill and diversify in my new role. Have a go. I didn’t think I’d win, but then I did…"

2019

2019 Consumer Protection Award Winners
2019 Consumer Protection Award Winners, by Consumer Protection

Left to right: Dee Quartermaine, Lanie Chopping, Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Hon. John Quigley, Attorney General; Minister for Commerce, Glennys Marsden, Ann-Margaret Walsh, Alan Hynd, Drew Broadfoot


Rona Okely Award - Winner: Glennys Marsdon

For 30 years Glennys has researched and advocated for WA consumers across a wide range of issues. In three years on Consumer Protection’s Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) Glennys has reviewed issues regarding retirement villages, will banks, student housing, overseas cruises, funeral plans, caravan parks and the Residential Tenancies Act.

Glennys alerted CAC to large scale professional ‘get rich quick’ seminars and even attended several of these day-long events to report on the sales techniques. As a result, Consumer Protection wrote to event organisers to make them aware of their legal obligations and placed staff outside the events to distribute leaflets warning consumers.

Glennys’ 2005 book 50 Ways To Grieve Your Lover reminds widows to be especially aware of scammers during the vulnerable period after a funeral. Her book was taken up by the Australian Red Cross, Solaris Care and has been used by counsellors during the Victorian Bush Fires and the New Zealand Pike Mine disaster, continuing to sell today. She has also run workshops on how to avoid being scammed when self-publishing.

Glennys' testimonial: "For the past seven years I’ve attended the Consumer Protection Awards ceremony to hear from quiet achievers doing great things that enrich our community. Motivating, heart-warming and grounding, the ceremony is my annual reminder about what’s really important in life. It was overwhelming to receive the Rona Okely Award this year given the other nominees, and more importantly having met Rona. I see it as recognition for all the consumers who’ve shared their concerns with The Customers’ Voice over the past three decades. Their openness has allowed us to ensure their voices get heard by key decision makers.

The Award has provided me with new opportunities to remind consumers about the value of speaking up, answering surveys and getting involved when they see an issue in the community. Problems can’t be solved if people don’t hear about them. Many thanks to the Department for all they do to protect us all. If you know someone toiling away in the background to make Perth a safer place I urge you to nominate them."

Finalists: Bev Jowle, Robert Evans

Richard (Dick) Fletcher Award - Winner: Street Law Centre WA Inc

Street Law has operated a specialist community legal service to people experiencing homelessness or to those at risk of experiencing homelessness since 2010.

It co-locates with various homeless persons’ community service providers to provide an accessible, collaborative and holistic approach. Street Law further increases its service delivery through pro bono partnerships with law firms that facilitate the secondment of their graduate law students and junior lawyers.

Street Law is also a partner in the Safe as Houses program, providing free, case-managed legal services to women and children experiencing or at risk of experiencing family violence.

Finalists: Tenancy WA, Goldfields Community Legal Centre

Kidsafe WA Award - Winner: Bolt It Back For Reef

Reef Kite tragically died in October 2015 after a set of drawers fell on him. His mum, Skye Quartermaine, had asked her landlord permission to anchor the drawers to the wall, but was not given approval. Reef’s aunty, Dee Quartermaine, started the ‘Bolt it Back for Reef’ Facebook page to share his story. The page now has more than 2,000 members and is used to raise awareness of the dangers, share tips on restraining furniture and answer questions.

In 2016 Dee obtained sponsorship to host a free community sausage sizzle, balloon release and information stall. Skye has made herself available for numerous TV interviews and in 2018 she teamed up with Take 5 magazine to share Reef’s story.

Dee and Skye have campaigned for law changes that would allow tenants to anchor furniture without requiring landlord approval, provided any damage is repaired. The WA Coroner’s report into Reef’s death made such a recommendation and a bill was introduced into parliament in October 2018 to amend the Residential Tenancies Act.

Finalist: Melanie Mitchell (special commendation)

Ruby Hutchison Media Award - Winner: Erin Parke

Erin reported extensively on the tumultuous operations of cruise company Ahoy Buccaneers, detailing with persistence and tenacity its ongoing issues with seaworthiness, safety and poor treatment of customers. This culminated with the company collapsing in mid-2018, owing millions of dollars to small businesses and booked passengers from across Australia.

The coverage was extensive and across multiple platforms, including television stories, online features, radio news and social media. Erin also became part of a network of ripped off passengers and businesses, some of whom she was able to refer to the local Consumer Protection office for advice.

The stories motivated government agencies to further scrutinise safety practices and helped consumers to make informed decisions as they booked Kimberley holidays.

The coverage was a continuation of Erin’s work advocating for consumers in remote areas of Western Australia, including throwing light on scammers targeting remote Aboriginal consumers, and shoddy second-hard car dealers in Broome. Her stories have distinctively focused on a remote part of Australia where there is less scrutiny of business practices and included vision and voices rarely seen in mainstream, Eastern States media.

Erin's testimonial: "There’s a cash prize!

I wouldn’t be a proper journo if I buried the lead.

There is a very generous cash prize involved with winning the Ruby Hutchison Media Award for Consumer Protection reporting, but also a lot more. It’s great to have stories that empower consumers and expose questionable operators recognised, as a way of honouring the memory of the late WA MP Ruby Hutchison, who sounds like a real character – a single Mum with seven kids who pioneered efforts to stamp out dodgy salesmen and unfair trading practices in this state. What a star!

I was fortunate enough to receive the award in 2019 for a series of stories about a Kimberley cruise ship company that repeatedly breached basic safety requirements and ripped off customers – and eventually went bust.  The stories involved some tense confrontations and lots of outdoors mobile phone filming in sticky Wet Season conditions, so it was a really wonderful surprise to have the series recognised. There’s so much great work being done by journalists to expose scammers and greedy institutions and the human stories involved, and it’s a vital public service. And did I mention… there’s a cash prize!"

Finalists: Ngaarda Media, Carla Hildebrandt

2018

Consumer Protection Awards 2018 Winners
Consumer Protection Awards 2018 Winners, by Consumer Protection

Left to Right: Stewart Windsor, Daniel Emerson, David Hillyard, Nanette Williams, Gemma Mitchell, David Smith, Jeff Michael


Rona Okely Award - Winner: Nanette Williams

Nanette Williams arrived in Karratha in January 1982 and since that time she has been a vital part of the community and its development. Nanette originally moved to the area to help establish the Community Health Centre. The project took six years and tremendous dedication to complete but was ultimately successful.

Nanette's work with the Health Department progressed and she held the roles of Coordinator at the Karratha Community Health Centre, Hospital Administrator and Pilbara Regional Manager. During this time she was also involved in setting up the North West Regional Women’s Association, Women’s Health Centre and the Pilbara Social Justice Council.

After 17 years working for the Health Department, Nanette accepted a role with the Pilbara Community Legal Service as a financial counsellor. After eight years she was appointed Chief Executive Officer and built the organisation from 7 to 30 staff, delivering services from four separate locations across the region.

Nanette's testimonial: "I was deeply honoured to receive the Rona Okely award. I pay tribute to Rona Okely and to her vision for the award and the prestige it has engendered.   My thanks to the Department for the huge role they play in consumer protection and for their work every year in producing and facilitating these esteemed awards.  The awards creatively enable consumer and tenancy advocates to be recognised while also highlighting the availability and importance of consumer protection services in W.A. and the role they play in educating and defending the rights of consumers."

Finalists: Helen Creed, Merv Mancer

Richard (Dick) Fletcher Award - Winner: Consumer Credit Legal Service WA

The Consumer Credit Legal Service is unique in Western Australia as the only community specialist legal service providing free assistance, advice and representation to Western Australian consumers in the areas of: home loans; banking transactions; debt collection; personal loans; motor vehicle finance; credit reporting; and the Australian Consumer Law.

The service commenced operations in 1991 as a specialist, not-for-profit community legal centre, advising West Australians in the area of banking and financial services. They expanded their service 25 years ago to provide advice on consumer law matters. They provide a telephone advice line offering legal advocacy services for people experiencing credit and consumer issues and debt. In the last financial year, 2677 West Australians were provided with their free legal advice.

Consumer Cregit Legal Service (WA) Inc's testimonial: "We were very honoured to be the winner of the Richard (Dick) Fletcher Award for 2018.  CCLSWA rely on a team of well- trained law student volunteers to deliver our service to the public, under the supervision of a small team of committed staff. Their hard work and professionalism is to be commended. The award was a moral boost to the whole team who work very hard to service the community every day."

Finalists: Goldfields Community Legal Centre, Kimberley Money Management Services

Kidsafe WA Award - Winner: Nature Playgrounds

Nature Playgrounds was founded in 2013 after Stewart Winsor’s landscaping company was approached to help build a nature playground project. The plan for the business was to supply safe quality materials to construct their playgrounds, while also providing a much needed supply chain for other businesses.

Nature Playgrounds is now a leader in design, supply and construction of nature based playgrounds for early learning centres, schools, public spaces and private use. Their product range has quickly expanded from the basic logs and steppers to custom forts, musical instruments, hand water pumps, flat packed vegetable/herb gardens and playground games. Now delivering products and services Australia wide, they deliver a safe, quality product that will stand the test of time in a playground setting.

Finalists: Bolt It Back For Reef, Britax Childcare Pty Ltd

Ruby Hutchison Media Award - Winner: Daniel Emerson

Daniel Emerson graduated from Curtin University in 2002, beginning his career at Community Newspaper Group in 2003 before securing a cadetship at The West Australian in 2005. He worked as a rounds man and online journalist before being posted to State Parliament bureau. He left briefly to travel and then returned to The West Australian and state politics. In 2011, he became the President of The West Australian parliamentary press gallery.

Daniel has followed the progress of ‘Project Sunbird’ – a joint effort between the then Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and WA Police and reported on the challenges facing the future of the project.

Ruby Hutchison Media Award - Winner: Noongar Radio

Noongar Radio (100.9FM) is Perth’s only Aboriginal community radio station which provides a safe space for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to listen, communicate and share their stories. Noongar Radio provides diverse programming suitable for listeners of all ages and is home to a family of producers, staff, broadcasters and volunteers alike. Station hosts include Jeff Michael and Perth’s first Aboriginal voice of Australia, Jeremy Garlett. Music of all genres is played, particularly First Nations music, and the station has a wide variety of listeners.

Over several years, Noongar Radio has offered Consumer Protection a dedicated weekly spot on their highest rating program, Drive with Jeff Michael. The show aims to promote fairness and equality among its listeners.

Finalists: Bret Christian and Ben Dickinson,  Helen Shield

2017

Consumer Protection Awards 2017 Finalists and Winners
Consumer Protection Awards 2017 Finalists and Winners, by Consumer Protection

Left to Right: Christine Layton, Laura Gartry, Steve Pratt, Justine Clarke, David Hillyard, Anne Driscoll, Kate Davis, Karen Merrin, Amy Bainbridge, Megan Butt, Chenee Marrapodi, Todd Dawson and Kelly Edwards


Rona Okely Award - Winner: Karen Merrin

Karen commenced work in the community legal sector in 1994 following a move to the city from the north of WA. She was employed as an Advocate at the Welfare Rights and Advocacy Service, initially for twelve months, and then as the Project Officer to set up to the Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre (NSCLC) in Mirrabooka.

The Centre commenced operations in 1996 with Karen as the  inaugural Manager, a position she has maintained for many years. During that time the Centre has grown from the initial small Mirrabooka office to expand to three centres located in Mirrabooka, at the Edith Cowan University in Joondalup and also at Wanneroo. The organisation has 20 employees including nine lawyers , a nurse advocate, a client advocate, two tenancy workers and one lawyer/educator all supported by  excellent and capable client service officers.  NSCLC delivers advice, advocacy and represents to over 3,800 people per year.  In addition, each year staff conduct over 100 education sessions for members of the community.

The development of a partnership with the Edith Cowan University School of Law  provides law students with the opportunity to undertake a community law course and spend time working in the Centre.   Up to 15 students each year are provided with the chance to further their career through graduate law placements at NSCLC.  A number of students are now community lawyers working in other community legal centres, private firms and across government.

Karen's testimonial: “Being the 2017 recipient of the Rona Okely Award was a pleasant surprise and a great honour.  I am truly humbled to receive such a prestigious award and thank Consumer Protection for its continuing support of consumers in Western Australia and their ongoing support of community organisations and support workers.  

As an Advocate I am committed to assisting the community and hope that I have been able to make   life a little easier for the most disadvantaged.  On behalf of the community I  gratefully accept the award and acknowledge my fellow Advocates  who each day work tirelessly to create a better world for us all.”

Finalist: Kate Davis

Richard (Dick) Fletcher Award - Winner: Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service

The Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service Inc. (Midlas) is a not-for-profit community legal centre offering free financial, emergency relief, legal, tenancy and disability advocacy and information services.

The Centre has had over 25 years’ experience in developing, delivering and managing programmes for vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers within the Northeast region of Perth. There are five essential programmes offered including financial counselling, tenancy advocacy, disability advocacy, emergency relief, and a family and domestic violence legal service. Midlas has been consistently selected to provide programmes to the community and is funded through multiple State and Federal sources.

Although Midlas engages with vulnerable clients from various cultural backgrounds and life circumstances, their nomination for this award has focused on their support for clients with a disability. Working across service areas, the Centre staff aim to empower people with a disability to access fair and equitable information and to assist them to make informed choices when it comes to the purchase of goods and/or services.

Guided by their Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, the Centre promotes the rights of people with disability and provides tailored services and customised delivery in line with the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the National Standards for Disability Services.

Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocay Service's testimonial: “Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service Inc. t/as Midlas was greatly honoured to be recognised for the fundamental work that we do in educating, supporting and building resilient communities by being chosen as the winner of the Richard (Dick) Fletcher Award for 2017. Although Midlas engages with vulnerable clients from various cultural backgrounds and life circumstances, this nomination focused on the work Midlas does to support clients with disability and the promotion of their rights to access fair and equitable information and to assist with informed choice and decision making.”

Finalists: Cancer Council Western Australia and Cocos Keeling Islands Community Resource Centre

Kidsafe WA Award - Winner: Goodstart Early Learning

Goodstart Early Learning (Goodstart) is Australia’s largest early learning and care providers, with 647 centres in all states and territories of Australia. They are a not-for-profit social enterprise with 13,500 staff who care for 71,500 children from 60,000 Australian families. Goodstart are reinvesting the surplus funds from their centres back into improving quality of early learning for all children and access for children who are vulnerable.

Goodstart was founded with a vision for all Australia’s children to have the best possible start in life. Goodstart in WA has the opportunity, in fact they believe an obligation, to advocate for the 6,100 children and over 5,300 families that use their early education and care services. Safety is reflected in their organisational overview and is integral to their operations, however in addition Goodstart also see their role in being to offer an important and trusted conduit of information on child safety to their client families, regulators and the broader community.

Goodstart’s size and scale in WA comprising 52 early education and care centres, provides them with a unique opportunity to engage with 5,300 families about child safety. They provide services to children aged 6 weeks to 6 years old, the ages where children are universally recognised as being vulnerable to injury as they learn, explore and grow.

Their broad geographical spread of centre across WA means their messages can be shared far and wide for the benefit of all children and families. They see this as an inherent obligation and part of their core operating ethos as a not-for-profit organisation and good community citizen.

Goodstart's testimonial:  “Winning the Kidsafe Award was amazing recognition of the work done day in, day out by our educators. It also highlights the commitment we have to ensure we have great outcomes for children, and our commitment partnering with families to ensure every child is safe. We also take great pride in the fact that our campaign highlighting the importance of safety, has enabled Consumer Protection to engage in the industry to promote these messages to a wider audience. It’s not just about Goodstart Early Learning’s responsibility to children. It about that influence and advocacy for all children across Western Australia. We see this as a platform to generate a much larger and longer-lasting positive impact across Western Australia.”

Ruby Hutchison Media Award - Winner: Amy Bainbridge

As the ABC’s consumer affairs reporter, Amy files nationally to a broad range of news and current affairs programs across the network. The Consumer Affairs round was introduced in 2013, and Amy has since grown in the role as she continues to expose wrongdoing and promote the rights of consumers. Amy has an excellent knowledge of Australian Consumer Law and has reported in a wide range of issues affecting WA consumers, as well as for consumers in all parts of Australia. These include stories on property investment schemes, scams, financial fraud, the national Broadband network, product safety and the solar industry.

All these issues have been important to WA audiences, particularly those in rural and remote communities. Amy uses social media to connect with young people, and is now helping to produce Facebook videos with simple consumer messages.

Finalists: Laura Gartry, Christine Layton, Chenee Marrapodi and Nick Sas

 

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