The 30th Annual WJ Craig Lecture and Presentation of Anti-Poverty Awards

We warmly invite you to attend the 30th Annual WJ Craig Lecture & Presentation of the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards.

This year's Lecture will be delivered by Seri Renkin, Managing Director of the ten20 Foundation.

Seri brings over twenty years’ experience in senior executive and advisory roles to her leadership of the ten20 Foundation. Having worked across the corporate, non-profit, philanthropic and government sectors, Seri has a unique perspective of how diverse sectors operate.

She utilises her strategic, innovative and entrepreneurial skills to build cross sector collaborations focussed on social impact. She joined ten20 as founding CEO in 2012.

About the WJ Craig Lecture
The Annual WJ Craig Lecture honours Connections’ history and the philanthropic legacy of William John Craig (1839 – 1899) and his family, which endures in the work of Connections to this day.

The Lecture aims to stimulate and encourage debate on important social issues.

About the Anti-Poverty Awards
The Anti-Poverty Awards recognise the many young people passionately working towards tackling inequality and injustice within Australia or abroad.

The awards acknowledge and highlight the hard work and dedication of individuals and schools across Australia who demonstrate a deep understanding of those in need.

When: Friday 21 October 2016

Where: Deakin Edge
Federation Square
1 Batman Avenue

Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm

RSVP: Christine Williams or 1800 137 036 by Friday 14 October 2016

RSVP is essential

Refreshments provided

16 Sep 2016

Gawler East Primary School students are true global citizens

Gawler East Primary School in South Australia was the recipient of the 2015 Anti-Poverty Awards School Award.

It is the first time in the awards’ history that a primary school has won the award; highlighting children are learning early the value of thinking about others and the call to action which can occur.

“Throughout this whole process our students learnt they can be true global citizens. They realised they have a voice and can promote real change around the world”, said classroom teacher, Ms Anita Marling-Bauer.

“We hope this experience will be just the start of them thinking of others less fortunate than themselves.

“The Anti-Poverty Awards make real for children and young people the knowledge that they can contribute, no matter what age they may be, for the children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow,” said Ms Marling-Bauer.

  • Do you know a young person aged 16-30 working towards tackling inequality and injustice within Australia or abroad?
  • Do you know a school involving and educating its students about poverty-related issues?

If this sounds like you or someone you know, apply now!

Any school or young person aged 16-30 working on a project to overcome poverty within Australia or overseas is encouraged to apply.

Applications for the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards have been extended until 11:59pm AEST Friday 9 September 2016.

For more information about the awards, visit or contact

Aspiring teens dream big and aim for gold

Not letting a disability stop them from competing at the highest level, Casey residents, Alefosioi Laki (19) and Jack Howell (12) are well on their way to the Paralympics, with thanks to Connections UnitingCare and Member for Narre Warren, Judith Graley MP.

Connections’ South Eastern Chances program provides financial support to young people up to the age of 25 living in Melbourne’s south east to pursue their dreams and academic ability. The program aims to unlock the potential of motivated young people who have an obvious talent in a particular field but whose financial situation is preventing them from succeeding.

For young Hampton Park man, Alefosio, affectionately known as Sio, suffering from Cerebral Palsy, was never going to stop him from living his dream. With the support of South Eastern Chances, Sio, will get his opportunity, being selected to represent Samoa in the Discus at the upcoming Paralympics.

Like Sio, Jack (12) has also caught the eye of the Australian Paralympic team and has been touted as an athlete with potential Paralympic pathways. Jack, born with one hand, has been selected and will represent Victoria at the upcoming National School Swimming Championships in September.

Supporting both Sio and Jack’s application to the program was Member for Narre Warren, Ms Judith Graley MP, who believes it is important that programs such as this exist to give young people the best possible chance in life.  

“Both Jack and Sio are outstanding young men who are amazing leaders in our community, who I knew would undoubtedly excel if they were given the opportunities which might have been restricted because of their family’s financial situation.

“I commend Connections for offering such a wonderful program which really gives young people the chance to shine and achieve their dreams,” said Ms Graley.

Connections’ Manager, Communications, Development & Events, Kirrilee Torney, echoed Ms Graley’s thoughts and said that for many families in our community, being able to afford the basic necessities of life is a struggle, let alone being able to support opportunities which may arise for their children.

“Providing the support necessary for young people to unlock their true potential is vital in the work that we do,” said Ms Torney.

“We believe in investing in the future of young people and by doing so, we believe we are helping them to build a better future for themselves and for the local community. Through South Eastern Chances we aim to alleviate some of this pressure by giving young people the opportunity to shine without the financial burden,” said Ms Torney.

To learn more about the program visit


A Crucial Inquiry into the Abuse of Young People in Prison

A joint media release from the Uniting Aboriginal Islander and Christian Congress Uniting Church in Australia Assembly.

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Mr Stuart McMillan has welcomed today’s announcement of a Royal Commission into a youth detention centre in the Northern Territory.

The Royal Commission was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull following the broadcast of shocking footage obtained by the ABC’s Four Corners program of the abuse and torture of detainees in Darwin’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.

“The treatment of these young people in detention is unspeakably appalling and a national disgrace. Such abuse is inexcusable. It must end now,” said Mr McMillan.

“I thank the Prime Minister for his swift response. I also urge him to set terms of reference that will allow a comprehensive examination of juvenile detention, not just limited to the Northern Territory, and including the policies and practices that lead to so many young indigenous people ending up behind bars.”

“The tragedy of the incarceration rates and treatment of First Peoples in detention has never been adequately addressed, despite the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and many other inquiries and reports. The culture and the systems of detention in our country are broken and can no longer be ignored.”

Moderator of the Northern Synod Rev. Thresi Mauboy also welcomed the Royal Commission announcement.

“The images in the Four Corners report were horrifying. It’s offensive that anyone should be treated this way in detention, let alone our precious young people,” said Rev. Mauboy.

“The Northern Territory Government must immediately act to ensure that the shameful treatment of our young people stops. Appropriate care and support must be offered to all young people in juvenile detention.

“The Northern Synod of the Uniting Church will engage with the Royal Commission in presenting the case for a corrections system based on rehabilitation rather than cruel punishment.”

Chairman of the Northern Regional Council of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Rev. Djawanydjawany Gondarra has also called for immediate action.

“First Peoples have been telling stories of abuse and mistreatment for many, many years.  It’s outrageous that it has taken so long and these shocking images for people to listen.”

“Now people are awake, we want to see action,” said Rev. Gondarra.   

For more information, visit

Celebrating young people making a positive difference

Applications for the Anti-Poverty Awards open 1 August 2016

The Anti-Poverty Awards, now in its twelfth year, acknowledge the many projects of both schools and individuals; highlighting their hard work and dedication and the significant contribution these projects have on the wider community’s understanding of poverty.

The unique awards not only incentivise traditional forms of philanthropy, but also the energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial nature of young Australians.

Helping launch the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards is Victorian, Andrew Mellody. Andrew, the 2015 Individual Award recipient was commended for his work with Co-Ground, a not-for-profit organisation, which launched in response to the devastation following Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu.

Almost one year on, Co-Ground has completed two international development projects and is currently working on a social enterprise - a mobile café. One hundred percent of profit will go towards sustainable funding for other global development projects, whilst supporting the sale of direct trade coffee and implementing training, development and leadership opportunities for young people in Australia.

Australia’s current youth population is hungry for the chance to create a better world and Connections believes young people, like Andrew should be given the chance to be catalysts of social change.

“The Anti-Poverty Awards reinforce to me there is still a place for dialogue about poverty and the community is open to having such important conversations. I am honoured to have won the award in 2015 and to be able to share the story of the people we work with to a broader audience,” said Andrew.

Applications for the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards are open from 1 August 2016.

Any school or young person aged 16-30, working on a project to overcome poverty within Australia or overseas is encouraged to apply.

For more information about the Anti-Poverty Awards, visit

Sponsorship opportunity for Anti-Poverty Awards

Sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards.

The Anti-Poverty Awards, now in its twelfth year, is a national award, which recognises those who are making a significant contribution towards tackling disadvantage and poverty within Australia or abroad.

Sponsorship is a great way of promoting your organisation and sending a message to the community of your organisation’s commitment to supporting and encouraging young Australians who are dedicated to helping those less fortunate.

We will ensure this collaboration compliments your existing brand values, enhances your image, and provides a platform to increase the positive community perception and credibility of your business.

Sponsorship of any form is welcome and the packages can be tailored to suit your needs.

Click here to download our sponsorship package.

For more information about the Anti-Poverty Awards or to discuss sponsorship opportunities available, please contact:

Christine Williams
Connections UnitingCare
Communications Officer
03 8792 8999 or


Making dreams come true

From a young age, Brooke displayed a natural talent for dancing. Her parents worked tirelessly to put her through dance classes to help her achieve her dream of being a professional performer.

“Everything for me has always been about dancing. I can’t think of anything else I’ve ever wanted – I’ve always wanted to dance, it’s just what I’ve done and what I know."

“Every time I’m dancing or on stage performing, I don’t really need to think about anything. It’s just such a different world. Nothing worries me while I’m dancing", said Brooke.

Things became difficult for the family when Brooke’s father was unable to work. Brooke’s dance classes were in jeopardy and her family relied on financial support from Brooke’s grandparents.

Brooke applied for a South Eastern Chances scholarship and through the program, Connections was able to provide her family with much needed support. The program provides funding to ease the financial pressure on young people to support them in reaching their goals.

For Brooke, this scholarship was much more than just the financial boost her family needed.

“I was at the stage where I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I could do. And then getting that little push, I was like ‘I’m doing it! This scholarship is helping me and I can get to where I want to be.’”

“It all comes back to when you get recognised or something good does happen, you kind of forget that it’s not all bad,” said Brooke.

The support Brooke and her family received from Connections enabled Brooke to continue with her lessons and enabled her to join an elite dance school where she teaches and helps mentor other young dancers.

There is no denying Brooke’s drive and dedication to dancing, but without the right support she may never have had the opportunity to reach her full potential.



By making a donation towards our South Eastern Chances scholarship program you will be providing young people like Brooke with more than an opportunity to succeed, you will also be giving them hope, support and encouragement to follow their dreams.

Make a donation     Learn more

Designing a brighter future

Young people experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to apply for a scholarship to pursue their dreams and academic ability through our South Eastern Chances program.

South Eastern Chances is an innovative scholarship program which aims to unlock the potential of motivated young people who have a talent in a particular field, but whose financial situation is preventing them from following their passion.

The program provides young people up to the age of 25 with an opportunity to focus on their area of interest without the financial burden attached, through the disbursement of scholarships up to $1500 in value.

Young Melbourne artist Gemma was awarded for her outstanding graphic design skills with a scholarship valued at $1000 to purchase equipment to enable her to continue her dream of a career in graphic design.

For Gemma, the costs associated with pursuing a career in art and graphic design were not within her reach.

“My main goal over the past few years has been to pursue graphic design and produce the best work possible. In doing this, I have applied myself through my studying. Without this scholarship I likely would not have purchased the equipment needed, due to the costs associated with living out of home – rent and bills are obviously a higher priority for me.

“I am so grateful for this generous opportunity and gift,” said Gemma.

Providing the support necessary for young people to unlock their true potential is vital in the work that we do. For many families in our community, being able to afford the basic necessities of life is a struggle, let alone being able to purchase extra items for their children, with tertiary studies almost impossible. Through this program we aim to alleviate some of this pressure by giving young people the opportunity to shine without the financial burden.

South Eastern Chances aims to:

  • Create opportunities which develop the interests and talents of young people.
  • Develop a sense of self-belief and hope for the future.
  • Foster and support disadvantaged young people, including those from migrant backgrounds and those with refugee status, in Melbourne’s south-east with the aim of strengthening the wider community and engaging broader support networks, including clubs, groups and schools.

Connections believes in investing in the future of young people and by doing so, we believe we are helping them to build a better future for themselves and for the local community.

Our funding rounds for 2016:

Round 1 closes: Friday 4 March
Round 2 closes: Friday 1 July
Round 3 closes: Friday 28 October

To learn more about the program visit

Providing Positive Pathways for Young People

A new initiative to support young people (aged 10 to 25 years) find the support they require was recently launched by three local governments in partnership with Connections UnitingCare and Monash Health.

Positive Pathways brings local service level information together in one place. It aims to assist young people, families, schools and agencies by improving awareness of and accessibility to services available to young people and their families across the City of Greater Dandenong, City of Casey and Shire of Cardinia.

Speaking at the launch, Connections UnitingCare’s School Focused Youth Service Co-ordinator, Simone Cunningham said the project began in 2014 after a strategic partnership was formed to develop an online resource tool for young people.

“The website was developed after consultations with schools who identified that it is often difficult to find a service for young people and their families, make a referral and get the family connected to the appropriate service,” said Ms Cunningham. 

“The aim of the Positive Pathways website is to improve the support and responses provided to young people by having a ‘one stop shop’ to find support services in their local area,” said Ms Cunningham.

“This website is a commitment to working collaboratively in innovative ways to achieve the best possible outcomes for young people at risk in Melbourne’s south,” said Ms Cunningham.

Positive Pathways is supported by the City of Greater Dandenong, City of Casey, Shire of Cardinia, Connections UnitingCare, Monash Health, South East Local Learning and Employment Network (SELLEN) and Department of Health and Human Services.

The Positive Pathways Project is a School Focused Youth Service initiative funded by the Victorian Government through the Department of Education and Training (DET).

For more information visit 

Youth Positive Pathways

Respectful Relationships

With thanks to a grant from Share, the fundraising arm of UnitingCare and Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania, Connections will soon be rolling out a Respectful Relationships education program.

The program helps young people build respectful, non-violent relationships and supports the development of respectful practices by removing harmful behaviours which ultimately impact on families’ health and safety.

Currently, there is an absence of primary violence prevention programs in schools. Violence prevention and respectful relationships education is an important focus of the Victorian Government’s Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and their Children 2012 - 2015 and the Federal Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

Designed to address the intergenerational issue that disrespectful attitudes towards women is a key factor in incidences of family violence, the program aims to increase the young person’s understanding of the impact of their behaviour on others, as well as interrupting the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage in the context of family violence.

This project also aims to progress violence prevention and respectful relationships education programs in schools within our catchment areas, particularly where the incidence of family violence is demonstrably high. We are excited to receive these funds and deliver such an important program in the community. We look forward to sharing the results in later news.

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