Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program
Participant Biographies 2017
Moustafa Al-Rawi, Junortoun, City of Greater Bendigo
City of Greater Bendigo Scholarship recipient
Moustafa is an Iraqi born Australian who migrated to Australia with his family in 1999 and has been living in Bendigo since 2000. He has a degree in science specialising in chemistry from Lybia, and completed a degree in computer science at LaTrobe University in Bendigo in 2004. He is currently employed by Bendigo Bank as an analyst programmer. He is married and has two boys who are 8 and 5 years old.
Moustafa is involved in a number of voluntary organisations including: executive member of the steering committee of the Bendigo Islamic Association; executive member of the steering committee of Believe in Bendigo; steering committee member of Monash University’s One Bendigo Action Research Committee; and as a volunteer with Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services and Bendigo Hospital. His interests are in helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds where he can help close the cultural bridge between people from different ethnic backgrounds. He is also passionate about cooking.
Charlie Aves, Gisborne, Macedon Ranges
Charlotte Aves – Known as Charlie – is a full time PhD research candidate studying in the grains industry. Charlie aims to undertake research to find options that will develop resilience through on-farm risk mitigation and enable producers to farm in a way that suits them and their environment.
Charlie’s agricultural career has spanned three countries in research, financial and farm based roles with the common thread of working closely with the agricultural community to provide information and options to help farmers to be successful.
She volunteers for Australian Women in Agriculture as a Board Director and membership coordinator which allows Charlie to strive for the change she would like to see: – An inclusive agricultural industry where all are recognised for their contribution and to invest in providing women with pathways to develop learning and leadership.
Charlie believes that strong rural communities help build resilience and create a supportive environment where all members are able to thrive, grow and achieve. With diversity of opinion and experience we can create positive change. This belief drives Charlie to encourage all to step up and achieve their goals and have their voice heard.
Dawn Bamforth, Tylden, Macedon Ranges
Dawn is currently working independently as an actor/producer for Theatre in Schools, and as a singer, florist and a recreational activities officer in Kyneton and Woodend Aged Care. She has worked as a horticulturist, in hospitality, customer service and telephone market research and has extensive experience in voluntary and community organisations across Melbourne and the Macedon Ranges. Most notably: Footscray Community Arts Centre, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Tylden Community Planning Group and Tylden Hall Committee of Management, BUPA Woodend and Trentham Cool Country Ukes.
Dawn is passionate about community and about maximising access and services in her local area. She is also passionate about the effective use of local talent and resources and would like to see more regular employment opportunities for local artists and musicians in her Shire, more use of open spaces, halls and reserves and more investment in the social and psychological welfare of people living in rural communities.
She plays social tennis and practises yoga. Dawn loves to sing and play music. She also loves working creatively and collaboratively on projects to help others to achieve their personal goals.
Wayne Bell, Lockwood South, City of Greater Bendigo
Coliban Water Scholarship recipient
Wayne currently works at Coliban Water as the IT Manager and finds it satisfying working for an organisation which provides services to the community. He has been involved with Bendigo Basketball as a junior domestic and representative coach, and is involved in a local church as an elder and worship / band leader. Wayne is also involved in a cover band.
He would like to explore more about the community and how he can contribute more effectively.
Matthew Bennett, Charlton, Buloke Shire
Buloke Shire Scholarship recipient
Matthew Bennett is the Buloke Loddon L2P Learner Driver Mentor Program Coordinator, and a local road safety advocate. He also works with re-engaging and resourcing youth of the North Central district through the FLO (Flexible Learning Options) program. Matthew is actively involved with several community based road Safety groups from Swan Hill to Bendigo.
After travelling all over Australia in his career as Hotel Manager of 5-star luxury resort properties, Matt moved to Charlton just in time for the flooding in 2010 / 2011. It was during this time he realised his passion was working with under-resourced youth.
Matthew is a qualified Driving Instructor and in addition holds a certificate IV in Training and Assessment. On behalf of VicRoads, he proudly delivers programs aimed at improving young driver behaviour and drug and alcohol awareness to schools and sporting groups across the district.
He continues to work with local groups through youth engagement activities and mentoring programs. Matt’s future plans include resourcing our communities to reduce the number of young lives lost on our regional roads, and minimising the trauma passed on to our families by these losses.
Matthews’ passions are heavily focussed on motor vehicles (of all kinds), their restoration, modification and enjoyed safe usage.
Brendan Cossens, Maldon, Mount Alexander Shire
Brendan Cossens lives in Maldon with his partner Sera and their four children: Harry, Ava, May and Billy.
Brendan is employed as a Senior Hydro-geologist with Goulburn-Murray Water where he is responsible for undertaking technical assessments to support licensing and planning decisions and providing policy advice; although currently he is working on secondment with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning within the Licensing – Groundwater and Unregulated Systems Team.
In his role at Goulburn-Murray Water, Brendan works with a number of groundwater reference committees made up community members as well as stakeholders from other organisations. Brendan enjoys working with these groups, understanding their values and beliefs, and collaborating with them to bring about positive change.
Brendan is actively involved in the activities of his four children, including school, dance, tennis, football and basketball which he coaches. Brendan has strong belief in creating a supportive and nurturing environment for young people so that they feel encouraged to do their best.
Jan Farrell, Keely, Gannawarra Shire
Gannawarra Shire Scholarship recipient
Jan has lived in the Gannawarra Shire area all of her 41 years. She works for the Gannawarra Shire Council as a Local Laws Administration Officer for 50 hours per fortnight.
The rest of her time is taken up by being a mother to three children (Matt 16, Kara 13 and Lachlan 10), assisting with activities in the local community, horse-riding and spending time with family and friends.
Jan has spent one week each January for the past three years volunteering at the Portsea Children’s camp. This has been an amazing experience which has changed her in so many ways.
One of Jan’s future goals is to continue to be a valuable part of each organisation with which she is involved, and expand on her capability in this area.
Donna Fearne, Taradale, Mount Alexander Shire
North Central Catchment Management Authority Scholarship recipient
Donna grew up in the Southern Highlands in NSW and has lived in various places including Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Philadelphia and San Francisco. She has lived in Mount Alexander Shire for 12 years during which time her family has expanded from 1 child to 5 and she has completed a BA in Fine Art and a Masters in Cultural Heritage Management (Hons), with a particular interest in Heritage Landscape management.
Donna has been a member and active volunteer of her local Landcare group, historical society, arts group, Thompsons Foundry Band, and the Mount Alexander Heritage Advisory Committee. She started, edited and published the Malmsbury Mail Newsletter before relocating to Taradale. Donna’s recent community projects have included assisting the Taradale Historical Group to develop an archival policy for their collection, assisting with the development of some signage and production of the Taradale Community Website, for which she also secured funding.
In the past Donna served as Secretary of the Bong Bong Common Management Committee (NSW) during which time the committee managed a sought-after area of land subject to multiple competing interests and as a community representative on a liaison committee between a large Australian cement manufacturer and local residents.
Donna’s chief interests are in heritage (vernacular, landscapes and introduced plantings), art, music, reading, gardening and ballet. She undertakes small contract heritage projects and is interested in undertaking community research and developing community resources to further investigate how communities value heritage and how heritage may be of practical value to a community.
Josh Greene, Flora Hill, City of Greater Bendigo
Mandalay Resources Scholarship recipient
Josh moved to Bendigo in 2014 where he is an adopted son and slow convert to the Bendigo way of life. Studying Economic Geology with Honours at the University of Tasmania, he has worked Fly-In Fly-Out (FIFO) as a mine geologist across the country and abroad but has now found himself owning a house with his partner and putting down roots in Flora Hill.
Josh currently works as a project geologist for Mandalay Resources within the community of Costerfield and now finds himself home every night. In his spare time, he loves to explore the outdoors and travel but also volunteers organising professional development opportunities for members of the mining industry. He describes himself as a passionate, enthusiastic, self-driven individual that is constantly looking to improve within his spheres of life.
Djallarna Hamilton, Swan Hill, Swan Hill Rural City Council
Bank Australia Scholarship recipient
Djallarna is a 25-year-old mother of three and a very proud Wamba Wamba women from Swan Hill. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Education at the Institute of Koorie Education which is part of Deakin University. She started this degree while working in a Catholic primary school as an Integration Aide/KESO during which time she found a real passion working with children and teenagers. Growing up Djallarna was subject to a lot of traumatic events and always felt safest while at school. She wants to be able to share that safety with other young people that may have a rough life outside of the school gates and she wants to prove to those kids that you can be successful and pursue your dreams despite the hand you are dealt.
Djallarna believes that health and education go hand in hand and being a part of a Cultural group who suffer the highest poverty rates, suicide rates and mortality rates in a first world country makes her feel a sense of duty to do her part in closing the gaps that her local Aboriginal community faces. She is also currently studying a Certificate 4 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care to compliment her current job role of Aboriginal Health Worker/Health Promotion Officer at Mallee District Aboriginal Services. She chose to pursue employment in her local Aboriginal Health Service so she could develop an understanding of how the local services work and create networks that she knows will be very helpful when it comes time for her to step into her own classroom as a teacher.
Djallarna has taken on many community projects that aim to benefit her community such as Healthy Lifestyle Programs and the Koorie Youth Girls Focus Group. She is part of a few local committees with the aim to provide programs and resources to her local community such as the local NAIDOC Committee and the Swan Hill Council Aboriginal Advisory Committee. She feels it is very important that she make a positive impact on her local community particularly in the Aboriginal community, to be a role model and a leader.
Tayla Hansen, Bendigo, City of Greater Bendigo
Dennis Tricks State-wide Scholarship recipient (for a young person under 30) (shared)
Tayla is passionate about multiculturalism and promoting diverse and inclusive communities. She is passionate about human rights and equality for all. She wants to ensure that Bendigo is a welcoming and supportive place for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as travelling the world to learn about other cultures.
Tayla has completed a BSc in Biomedical Science and currently works full time at MSD Animal Health as a Viral Production Technician, producing the solution and antigen components that go into animal vaccines.
Tayla is the President and Founder of Young People for Refugees, a Community Representative on the Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services board, and a member of Rural Australians for Refugees.
Jennifer Hurrell, Strathfieldsaye, City of Greater Bendigo
Although born in Melbourne, Jennifer was raised on a dairy farm in rural Victoria, which gave her a love of wide open spaces and an appetite for hard work. This work ethic took her to university (the first in her family to do so), and to work as a nurse and midwife in large metropolitan hospitals. But the appeal of the country was strong, so she returned to Bendigo and has for the last 13 years been working with homeless and at-risk youth in the community health sector.
Jennifer has always had interests outside her work: advocating for those around her through leadership in her union, representative groups, and her children’s school council; but also serving the community through volunteer and fundraising work for sporting, community and educational organisations.
Jennifer’s great passion is supporting mothers to breastfeed their children, filling roles including volunteer counsellor, group leader, Cert IV qualified trainer and State-wide leadership team member of the Australian Breastfeeding Association. This has led to her becoming an internationally certified Lactation Consultant, a role she is increasingly keen to focus on in years to come.
Jennifer has been married to Damien for 20 years, and together they have two children, Nicholas (14) and Sarah (11).
Lyn Kelson, Drummond, Hepburn Shire
North Central Catchment Management Authority Scholarship recipient
Lyn has made a career in nursing and midwifery spanning thirty years and encompassing community nursing, private practice midwifery, caseload midwifery, tertiary learning and senior nursing positions in rural health services. She holds a Masters Degree by research in nursing.
Lyn is also a beef farmer and advocate for the implementation of regenerative farming practices. She has established a business in soil health consultancy (The Green Cocky). It has become Lyn’s passion and work to raise public awareness about how precious healthy soil is, and what a limited and threatened resource it is on a global scale. Integral to healthy soil is the living component of the soil food web; the microscopic inhabitants of healthy soil that comprises over one quarter of the Earth’s biodiversity. This is the world that excites and motivates Lyn to innovate and share soil health knowledge and practices. It is her belief that healthy soils are the lifeblood of healthy rural, indeed all communities.
Lyn is a National Rural Women’s Coalition Alumnus, and a member of Australian Women in Agriculture, Stipa (native grasses association), Holistic Management Support Group and Landcare.
Shelley Kretzschmar, Prairie, Loddon Shire
Gardiner Foundation Scholarship recipient
Born and raised in South Africa, Shelley immigrated to Australia with her husband and two children in 2014. She trained in the hotel industry and then retrained as an accountant, changing to a career as a financial executive for the agriculture industry. Shelley is currently Production Manager at Hazeldene’s Poultry Farm and has a couple of sheep of her own.
She and her husband are currently looking to buy a farm and Shelley has an interest in adding value to and a new supply chain for local dairies by making specialty cheeses and small goods. She is very involved in the Bendigo ‘Pay It Forward Group’ and loves the anonymity of helping others in this way.
Tessa Laing, Bendigo, City of Greater Bendigo
Coliban Water Scholarship recipient
Tessa currently works for Coliban Water as a Planning and Design Engineer. Her role involves infrastructure planning for the next 25 years in our water and sewer networks, notably project managing an integrated water management augmentation plan for Echuca. Tessa relocated from Adelaide to Bendigo at the start of 2015 to take up her position at Coliban Water, and living in regional Victoria has been a big personal change.
Tessa was involved with Young Adelaide Voices from 1998-2014, and toured internationally to seven countries over four tours. She sat on the board of the choir from 2013-2014 as secretary.
Tessa has been on the Bendigo Young Professionals Network committee as the treasurer since mid-2016. She would also like to get more involved with the Bendigo music community in the future.
Marilyn Lozada-Fernandez, Pyramid Hill, Loddon Shire
Loddon Shire Scholarship recipient
Marilyn was born in San Rafael Bulacan which located in northern part of the Philippines, and had a typical happy childhood with her two sisters and three brothers. As the second eldest, Marilyn helped a lot at home and supported herself through primary and high school. She was fortunate to be given a scholarship through her father’s employer to study veterinary sciences. Marilyn married Richard Fernandez when she was 22 and they now have 6 children, the eldest being 20 and the youngest is 5. Marilyn now works at Kia Ora piggery in Pyramid Hill after having being interviewed for the position in her home country, which she was delighted to be successful for, and which brought Marilyn and her family to Australia. She became an Australian citizen in 2013. She is so happy and pleased with the decision to migrate to Australia for her children’s future. Marilyn is very involved in the local Phillippino community in Pyramid Hill and volunteers for events such as the multicultural festival. She is looking forward to learning about how she can contribute more to the region.
Narelle Lyle, Goornong, City of Greater Bendigo
Narelle relocated from Tasmania to Victoria with her family in 2007 seeking a more positive environment to raise their 4 children; she has been married to Gavin for 23 years. They live in a small regional town just outside Bendigo, Goornong, which has many benefits but also a few challenges.
Narelle has more than 27 years’ experience in Customer Service. Most of that time was for the Tasmanian State Government in the Tourism Unit but more recently with local government at the City of Greater Bendigo where she is a Community Grants Officer.
Narelle has been a member of the Bendigo Rugby Union Football Club, Multiple Birth Association and the Australian Breastfeeding Association. She is a member of the local CFA and on the memorial hall committee and enjoys reading in her spare time. Narelle has recently discovered meditation and aspires to move into yoga.
Adam McKie, Gisborne, Macedon Ranges
Adam McKie has a combined Business Management / Marketing degree and is a trained mediator. He has been self-employed for the past 12 years running a number of successful businesses. Adam is a volunteer Director with the Gisborne and District Community Bank.
In 2012 Adam was sponsored by Rotary (D9800) to attend a group study exchange in Silicon Valley, California. His interests include reading, biographies, walking, yoga, golf and squash. Adam has visited all seven continents including Antarctica.
Natasha Miles, Sebastian, City of Greater Bendigo
Samantha Bell Memorial Scholarship recipient (City of Greater Bendigo)
Natasha lives in her hometown of Sebastian, located just out of Bendigo. Natasha and her brother run a hobby farm raising, shearing and selling their own sheep. She is currently studying a degree in Outdoor Environmental Education, majoring in Nature Tourism at LaTrobe University Bendigo.
Natasha enjoys being involved with her community and is a member of the Sebastian Community Progress Association. She is also now a fully acting member of the State Emergency Service for the Marong unit, and truly loves participating in call-outs, completing frequent training, and helping with their fundraising projects. Natasha is also a member of the Bendigo branch of Conservation Volunteers Australia.
Wendy Murphy, Kurting, Loddon Shire
Wendy is from a 6th generation Inglewood family. She grew up helping out on the family’s poultry farm and attended Inglewood Primary School followed by Golden Square Secondary and then Bendigo Senior Secondary. Wendy completed a Bachelor in Applied Science (Natural Resource Management) at Deakin University. She played junior cricket at Kingower and Netball at Inglewood. She also played French Horn in a combined secondary colleges school band which included a tour to California. She has worked in several vineyards before starting her career in the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (and its various predecessors) in 2004.
Wendy is secretary of Kingower cricket club, on the committee of management for Kingower Cricket and Recreation Reserve and is a member of friends of Kooyoora. She is also a committee member of the Inglewood and District football and netball club and a member of the Inglewood and District Historical Society and is also Vice President of Inglewood Primary School Council.
Sarah O’Brien, Donald, Buloke Shire
Sarah grew up in the country, mostly in Victoria although with 3 years in Darwin from Years 7 – 10. She studied science at Monash University (with a year in Gatton, Qld), followed by a Graduate Diploma in education majoring in chemistry and biology. Sarah knew that laboratory work was not for her and has thoroughly enjoyed her career in education, having worked at Donald High School for the past 15 years teaching an array of subjects and with other responsibilities.
Sarah took 6 months off in 2016 and spent the first three months volunteering in various education systems and animal welfare industries, after which she travelled to South East Asia volunteering in a number of organisations. She worked in the Jorja Wildlife Rescue centre in Indonesia, at an orphanage run by a monk in Ho Chi Min City in Vietnam, and taught English to students living in a very remote and poor village two hours from Siem Reap in Cambodia. There she ended up working with the local people on a temple preservation project for her final two weeks. She treasures these opportunities.
Locally Sarah has been President of the Donald Nightingales – a chapter of the Country Women’s Association, volunteers at Swan Hill Specialist School, and organised the first Donald Field and Game – Ladies Day Shoot. She enjoys horse riding, shooting, craft and baking.
Aileen O’Sullivan, Goornong, City of Greater Bendigo
Gardiner Foundation Scholarship recipient
Aileen is a farmer. She lives and works on her farm in rural Victoria.
Aileen has a vested interest in Agriculture and loves living in a rural environment. She believes a stable, vibrant future for people living in rural communities is dependent on the long-term sustainability of Australian Agriculture.
Aileen is married to Greg. Together with their sons, they conduct a Primary Production and Contracting business. Aileen’s role is supporting the administration and production of cereal crops, hay, lucerne, prime lambs and wool, and a Dairy.
Aileen completed a Bachelor of Education and taught in Melbourne before returning to Central Victoria to raise a family. She has been an active member of the community and has volunteered on Boards of community groups for over 30 years.
Aileen is currently the Vice President of Australian Women in Agriculture and Treasurer of the Goornong Soldiers Memorial Hall Committee.
Rajiv Patney, Swan Hill, Swan Hill Rural City Council
Swan Hill Rural City Council Scholarship recipient
Rajiv was a Colonel in the Indian Army before he decided to join his family in Australia in 2016. He is a science graduate with a Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies. Being an ongoing learner, he has continued his education with short courses in IT and Accounts. He has commanded an Armed Regiment, has been the Deputy Commander of an Armoured Brigade and other service management positions.
Rajiv lives in Swan Hill, volunteers with the SES, is a member of Sunrise Rotary Club, and is Station Manager of the Community Radio Station. He is an avid reader and enjoys tennis, swimming and horse riding.
Travis Price, Echuca, Campaspe Shire
Travis Price lives in Echuca where he is employed by Mawson’s Concrete and Quarries as a Regional Concrete Operations Manager, managing 5 Northern Victorian concrete plants, the concrete testing team, the concrete maintenance division, and a sector of the concrete transport division. Travis’s primary role is to ensure these operations are running safely and effectively while maintaining budgets. Travis was previously employed as a concrete contractor working for a well-respected local business, therefore it was a natural progression into the concrete and quarry industry.
In his free time, Travis likes to spend time with his wife and three young children and attending local sporting events.
Lauren Randle, Castlemaine, Mount Alexander Shire
Murray Mallee Primary Health Network, Partners in Recovery Scholarship recipient
Lauren works as a volunteer for the charity HALT (Hope Assistance for Local Tradies), organising community events focusing on suicide prevention and mental health awareness. She is originally from Melbourne but has made Castlemaine her home where she is raising three children with her husband Jason.
From her personal experience with anxiety and depression and ongoing community work she has identified a need for continued awareness around this subject and the services available to the public.
She hopes to create a series of local events in central Victoria as well as an annual music event. All funds raised by these events will go back into the community and local support services. Her hope is that by being proactive and providing positive events, this will break down the stigma and barriers associated with mental illness.
Nicki Renfrey, Castlemaine, Mount Alexander Shire
Nicki was born and raised in Castlemaine, and has spent most of her working life in Administration roles but within a wide range of industries including manufacturing, financial, media, training, childcare and education. This has also included a mix of corporate, small business and not-for-profit organisations. She has completed a Certificate III in Childcare, Certificate III in Fontline Management and a Diploma of Small Business Management. Nicki works three days per week at Central Victoria Primary Care Partnership and also job shares the Business Development role at Harcourt Primary School.
Nicki enjoys scrapbooking, family history research, a little bit of running, and spending time with family and friends. She has been involved in a number of community / sporting organisations and is currently co-captain for the Castlemaine Relay for Life Team, the Pink Ladies. She is very proud of their fundraising efforts as in 2016 they raised almost $10,000 for Cancer research, education and support.
Angela Roney, Kerang, Gannawarra Shire
Angela has lived in the Gannawarra Shire for the majority of her life, with early years in Kerang, returning during secondary school years and then returning again after completing her nursing studies and working away. During her marriage, Angela was involved in a family farm, growing sheep for wool production.
Angela is separated and has 4 adult children: Danielle 28, Luke 25, Joel 21 and Olivia 19 and 2 grandchildren, Rhys 7 and Chase 6.
Angela is Registered Nurse and Diabetes Educator. Her work has been predominately in Community Health, with 20 years at Northern District Community Health in Kerang, almost 3 years at Southern Mallee Primary Care Partnership (SMPCP) in Swan Hill in Health Promotion [finishing in this role in early 2017] and has been with Inglewood and District’s Health Service since July 2016.
Much of Angela’s work and personal interest in the past year at SMPCP has been around promoting mental health and wellbeing. Angela carries this interest into her personal and community life. The role at SMPCP has provided Angela with opportunities to work and partner with a broad range of organisations and community groups. Angela has been very involved in planning, promoting and supporting HALT [Hope Assistance Local tradies] events in Gannawarra and Buloke Shires through her work at SMPCP. Angela plans to continue to provide a level of community connection and support of HALT in the future.
Her current role with Inglewood and District Health Service is a return to a Diabetes Education role including community health, community development and Health Promotion in the south of Loddon Shire.
Angela has enjoyed volunteering and connecting in her community, predominantly with her children’s sports including hockey, athletics and football, holding a range of committee positions and coaching and team managing roles. Angela has also been Kerang Technical High School council member and School council president. Angela is keen to help foster a sense of inclusion for all in her community. Angela’s interests include rekindling a love of singing and music, photography, walking and travel. And there is no shortage of fabulous scenery and walks in the Gannawarra Shire.
Louise Scott, Emu Creek, City of Greater Bendigo
Louise is a Mum of three kinder and primary school aged girls (and step Mum of three adult girls) and lives on a “lifestyle” property at Emu Creek, just out of Bendigo, where she and her husband Tony breed a few Clydesdales. She rides and shows them and their girls ride ponies.
Louise works for Forest Fire Management Victoria (Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, DELWP) as a Strategic Bushfire Planner and as the Lancefield Recovery Manager. Having worked with fire affected communities after both Black Saturday and now Lancefield/Benloch, as well as with agricultural and horticultural industries experiencing challenges (industry downturns, flood, drought, disease, locusts and fruit fly) Louise has a real passion for recovery and resilience and how we can improve these within communities and organisations. She has training in Psychological First Aid after Natural Disasters, Family Violence after Natural Disasters and is a trained Peer Supporter within DELWP and has a keen interest in the Psychosocial impacts of disasters.
Louise volunteers as the Castlemaine Pony Club President and as an instructor, and has a lifelong passion for horses. She is researching the possibility of branching into the field of Equine Facilitated Learning. Louise is the Secretary and bookings officer of the Emu Creek Recreation Reserve Committee of Management and the media officer for the Victorian Branch of the Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society.
Louise is a firefighter and works in incident control centre, and pre-children was a CFA volunteer. She has been working in Community Based Bushfire Planning, and believes Community based planning could be used for a range of issues in the region, not restricted to emergency management. She has worked as a facilitator and has been working with the Benloch Community and would love to share her experiences and use some of her skills to expand this into other areas.
Tiffany Speight, Malmsbury, Macedon Ranges
Macedon Ranges Shire Scholarship Recipient
Tiffany is an Opera Singer/ Performer and mentors up and coming opera singers through competitions and performances in Australasia and beyond. She also works with children with special needs to enable them to participate and excel in the classroom and in their school community.
Tiffany is also an active advocate for her home community of Malmsbury where she is involved in implementing projects to enhance the Malmsbury community as a whole. She is President of the Malmsbury Advance Association Inc. and has had the privilege of working with some great team members from Macedon Ranges Shire Council. Some past projects include a Social Media campaign giving away over 150 truckloads of mulch from 2 Pine Plantations, an Easter Egg Hunt that helped fundraise for RCH and Malmsbury CFA’s new fire truck. Projects she is currently working on include a pilot plan with the Juvenile Justice Centre workshop to build much needed BBQ Shelters, a new Botanical Bridge and walking tracks. She is also part of the Recreation Program to reinstate the Malmsbury tennis courts with a view to build a Skate Park and other infrastructure to deal with the youth disconnection in her community and beyond. Tiffany also ran a change.org program to save Malmsbury Primary’s Music/ French room which was successful in updating old facilities and also gained an outdoor performance/play area. She has a new initiative which she will be working on this year, the “Malmsbury Project” which seeks to engage our community through events and performances with a focus on youth.
As a former international opera singer, Tiffany has often used her voice as a tool for fund raising and speaking at charity events including Cancer Council, Stroke Foundation, One Drop International Campaign to raise awareness of water shortage in the poorest countries, and she has been an Ambassador for Animal Aid and Artists for Orphans.
Tiffany has an eight-year-old daughter and she loves having Melbourne adventures with her daughter, travelling, murder mysteries, community events and projects, and sitting down and chewing the fat with the locals.
Jacinta Torres-Gomez, Long Gully, City of Greater Bendigo
Jac Torres-Gomez is a passionate community development practitioner, teacher, facilitator and author from Bendigo. She has worked in education and community development in Australia, Japan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Bolivia. She is deeply passionate about supporting sustainable community and educational partnerships through innovative program management and policy, with a particular focus on enhancing education in fragile contexts and the prevention of violence against women and children.
Jac works as Educational Partnerships Officer, in the School Partnerships Program at La Trobe University. She is author of the children’s book ‘Cycling to Grandmas’ and is also a Celebration Day for Girls facilitator (running positive puberty workshops for girls aged 10-12), and is on the Board of Crusoeden Wellness. Jac is a member of: the Australian Holistic Healers and Counsellors Association; the Australasian Yoga Institute; BikeBendigo; and ParkRun Bendigo. Jac loves cycling, running, yoga, meditation, writing / photography, story-telling, supporting innovative ideas, travel, volunteering, singing, cooking, gardening and spending time with her daughter Isabella and their puppy Rosie.