2015 Anti-Poverty Awards Encouragement Award Recipient

Heidi Zajac recognised for her efforts in supporting socially isolated Timorese women.

Connections UnitingCare have announced the recipients of their unique Anti-Poverty Awards for young Australians to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week.

Receiving the 2015 Encouragement Award and prize of $1000, is young Canberra-based woman, Heidi Zajac. Heidi was inspired to create Cooking Circles after a trip to Timor Leste in 2012. Simple and loosely framed, Cooking Circles creates carefully constructed spaces where women identify skills and resources in cooking, develop confidence and form networks.  

“Cooking Circles aims to help women build social connections for their own wellbeing in their communities.

“It’s about telling stories about the women of Timor Leste which are positive and engaging. It also aims to promote a positive, strong image of Timor Leste, painting a more complete picture of the country,” said Ms Zajac.

Speaking at the presentation, Connections’ Chief Executive Officer, Angela Forbes said the Awards are an important way to acknowledge the work of many young people, which often goes unnoticed.

“Each year, I am moved by the motivation and commitment of the young people who apply. Through their actions, whether they be working in communities in Australia or overseas, they have taken up the challenge of making a difference and are working toward the common good,” said Ms Forbes.

“These remarkable young people know that genuine investment in an individual is worthwhile, just as Connections knows that honouring their work and contributing positively for better outcomes for the families with whom we work, is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves as well as to others.

“I commend the recipients for continuing to keep the conversation about poverty-related issues open and relevant,” said Ms Forbes.

The Anti-Poverty Awards recognise there are many young people in Australia who are passionately working towards tackling inequality and injustice in Australia or abroad. The Awards highlight the hard work and dedication of individuals and schools across Australia who demonstrate a deep understanding of those in need.

“I am delighted to be receiving this Award. The nomination alone has helped increase the profile of Cooking Circles and with it, a depth of understanding between Australian and Timorese women,” said Ms Zajac.

Heidi is now taking Cooking Circles into its next phase, collaborating with women who are social isolated and Timorese women living in Australia. As part of this, she is working with a young Timorese woman, establishing a cooking circle for Timorese and expat women to share their recipes and thoughts on cooking, culture and what it means to be a Timorese woman today.

Connections, UnitingCare, community, non-profit, anti-poverty, awards, cooking circles, canberra,