Mark Haughton - Mental health champion (Berwick)
In 2011, Mark Haughton woke up one morning to learn that yet another young person in his community had been lost to suicide and he decided to take action. After suffering from stress and anxiety, physical pain and low self-esteem for many years, Mark had first-hand experience in overcoming personal obstacles. With the support of Michael Spiteri, his fellow committee member at the Berwick Junior Football Club, and Di Ashton, head of human resources at the local Cardinia Council, Mark established the Beehive Foundation. Mark now drives structured programs that build resilience, self-esteem and confidence in teenagers. More than 600 teenagers have taken part in Beehive’s programs over the last year and Mark is aiming to reach 6,000 people in the next year. While the challenge is enormous, Mark is determined to take on issues such as suicide, domestic violence, depression and poor performance at school through positive psychology, leading to happiness and good health for all.
Kon Karapanagiotidis - Asylum seeker advocate (Avondale Heights)
Growing up in a Greek household in country Victoria, Kon Karapanagiotidis experienced racism and witnessed the exploitation of his parents in farms and factories. This injustice planted the seeds of Kon’s passion for human rights. After many years as a lawyer, social worker and lecturer in welfare studies, Kon established the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). A TAFE class project with his students, the ASRC was created in just eight weeks with a vision to create a ‘place of hope and welcome where no one was turned away’. Since opening in 2001, the Centre has cared for more than 10,000 people seeking asylum. The ASRC provides the world’s only ‘one-stop shop’ for asylum seekers, with 30 programs spanning legal, health, aid, employment, social enterprises, advocacy and education. As Chief Executive Officer, Kon inspires a small team of employees and more than 1,100 volunteers to save lives and create a welcoming and compassionate Australia for refugees.
Melanie Raymond - Homeless advocate (Brunswick)
She may have countless accolades and awards under her belt, but Melanie Raymond has never lost sight of her drive to serve Australia’s homeless people. As the Chairperson of Youth Projects – a place for homeless youth to go to get help, care and training – Melanie oversees an organisation that helps more than 8,000 of Melbourne’s most disadvantaged people every year. Watching her father, a doctor, and her mother, a nurse, help people in remote villages of West Africa when she was a child, Melanie gained an appreciation of what it means to serve the community. Today, Melanie works long hours to ensure the unemployed and people suffering from addiction and mental illness find pathways back into the community. Serving on many boards and philanthropic trusts, Melanie also contributes her time on taskforces dealing with homelessness and the growing problem with ice. With the number of homeless people rising each year, Melanie is driving the push to improve health care for the ‘homelessness’.
Rebecca Scott - Social entrepreneur (Flemington)
Travelling the globe, Rebecca Scott created a vision to combine the best street-eating with a program to help young people living on the streets. With a social enterprise business model and initial funding in place, STREAT started operations in Melbourne’s Federation Square in 2010, providing young people with life skills, work experience and training. From two small food carts, three staff and nine homeless teenagers, STREAT has grown to provide training for 400 youth at risk while serving tasty food and coffee to more than a million customers. With drive, intelligence, relentless hard work and the support of her co-founder and life partner, Kate Barrelle, Rebecca has raised upwards of $6 million in philanthropic support. Despite immense challenges – training young people dealing with chronic homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency, family violence, mental health issues and learning difficulties is no easy task – Rebecca now runs five cafés and catering and coffee roasting businesses that help vulnerable youths kick-start their lives.