2015 Anti-Poverty Awards Individual Recipient Announced

Social entrepreneur Andrew Mellody has won the 2015 Anti-Poverty Award for his work on a remote island in Vanuatu.

The national awards, run by Connections UnitingCare, seek out young people who can demonstrate a great understanding of those in need and who make a significant contribution to tackling inequality in Australia and abroad and includes a $4000 grant.

The 30-year-old is the director of non-profit organisation Co-Ground, which launched in response to the devastation following Tropical Cyclone Pam.

Mr Mellody has a history of tackling inequality, volunteering with community development organisations in the Philippines and the Maldives, locally with YMCA Victoria for more than 10 years, and working in the disability and youth sectors.

He’s shaped his life in a way to give him the best chance at making a difference, trading in a rental house for a caravan in Northcote has allowed Mr Mellody to live a more environmentally sustainable life, but has also afforded him the economic freedom to work on the social enterprise.

Co-Ground focuses on education and enabling small business in the developing world, two vehicles for tackling poverty, generating funds here in Melbourne through live music-events and a coffee-based social enterprise in 2016.

The organisation completed the first stage of a partnership program with the remote Sara Primary School on Epi Island, Vanuatu in July.

In collaboration with the school and nearby villages, Mr Mellody and the Co-Ground team coordinated the shipment of more than 100 litres of paint, 52 bags of cement, plywood, solar equipment, teaching materials and furniture, and supported local builders and volunteers to repair and upgrade the walls, floors, windows, doors, desks, lighting and electricity.

He said Co-Ground had now developed a community in both Melbourne and Sara village, who work together to improve education outcomes.

“We are developing our programs “yumi olgeta” (“all together” in Bislama), it’s important that ownership remains with the communities we’re working with to ensure what we’re doing is empowering and sustainable,” he said.

Connections Chief Executive Officer, Angela Forbes said these awards were an important way to acknowledge the work of many young people which often goes unnoticed.

"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," Ms Forbes said.

“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.”

Mr Mellody also won the Most Votes competition, with just over 2000 votes and received a HD camcorder.

To find out more, visit www.co-ground.org or www.antipovertyawards.org.au

Connections, community, anti-poverty awards, young person, co-ground

From left: Andrew Mellody and Nicole Precel