For: Contribution to Public Policy (Build Beyond Bricks Report)
Western Sydney Community Forum leads and shapes social policy and service delivery to foster and sustain thriving and inclusive communities. It advocates for close to 2.4 million people, and a community services industry that invests over $2.7 billion each year in the Western Sydney regional economy. It is led by Billie Sankovic, a woman with many years of service to regional social issues, most recently at Liverpool Council.
The WSCF’s Build Beyond Bricks report outlines a number of recommendations for fostering community health and wellbeing in Western Sydney and is aimed at delivering improved mental and physical health outcomes for Indigenous Australians; improved aged care services; empowering neighbourhoods; and generating social change.
For: Ongoing contribution to environmental, economic and social outcomes in Western Sydney
Managing Director Kevin Young has led Sydney Water’s success over the past five years, with the state-owned corporation playing a key role in helping shape the region’s environmental, social and economic future – from its office in Parramatta. He is due to retire soon after a distinguished career in public service.
As Australia’s largest water and wastewater service provider, delivering water, wastewater and some recycled water services to over five million people across Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Illawarra, Sydney Water has maintained the highest standards of service delivery and been a willing regional collaborator.
Under Kevin’s leadership, Sydney Water has embraced new technologies, innovations and partnerships that have saved tax-payers millions of dollars, while also generating improved environmental outcomes.
Some of these many successful projects include the development of cloud-based scheduling tool to reduce traffic congestion by ensuring road opening and resurfacing is minimised, leading a world-first collaboration that better detects pipe failures, as well as the globally-recognised, award-winning Keep Wipes out of Pipes advertising campaign. Kevin has also been a champion for protection of our regional catchment area and water recycling, an advocate for a ‘utilities coalition’ to help deliver Western Sydney infrastructure projects and a beacon of good governance after the terrible attacks on Sydney Water by Eddie Obeid et al.
In addition to addressing current customer needs, Sydney Water has shown that it most certainly also has an eye on the future and has worked closely with councils, the Greater Sydney Commission, the State and Federal Governments, fellow utility groups and the private sector to ensure that water is firmly embedded within the early parts of the urban planning and design of Western Sydney and within our major growth centres such as the Aerotropolis (South Creek) and Greater Parramatta & Olympic Peninsula (GPOP).
For: Services to education and to refugees in the region
Dorothy Hoddinott AO last year retired from her role of principal of Holroyd High School, in Greystanes, which she first took up in 1995 and was widely considered the most outstanding educator in the region. As a long-standing public advocate for the human rights of refugees she led the school in addressing the needs of an expanding enrolment of refugee students.
In 2008 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her career-long commitment to social justice and humanitarian issues, her teaching of English as a second language (ESL) and her contribution to leadership and professional teachers’ associations.
She won the 2014 Human Rights Medal in recognition of her lifelong passion for and commitment to education, particularly for disadvantaged and refugee students. Today she presides as Pro-Chancellor Sydney University and is one of the most widely recognised school educators in Australia.
Dorothy is passionate about the decline in human rights, especially with the rights of children and is proud of those students at her former school who, with support and encouragement, have gone on to university.
For: Providing professional and personal support to migrant entrepreneurs (‘Migrapreneurs’)
Usman Iftikhar is the CEO and co-founder of Catalysr, a social enterprise that empowers refugees and migrants to build Australian tech start-ups, with an aim of generating 10,000 jobs over the next 10 years.
Usman, who was named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year in 2018, has been recognised for providing professional and personal support to migrant entrepreneurs in Western Sydney. Originally from Pakistan, he moved to Australia in 2013 as a qualified engineer, and his work helping new arrivals, many who are non-English speaking, has seen them not only start their own businesses but to connect and strengthen their communities.
Catalysr provides migrapreneurs with a 6-month bootcamp, teaching them a range of skills to help build a business, scale an offering and enter the market. In a short time Catalysr has already helped over 100 Migrapreneurs from 25 countries to create 30 new businesses.
For: Driving reputational change through the establishment of West HQ including Sydney Coliseum and as a key partner in the inaugural Run West and his role in regional branding.
The ambitious West HQ project is an expanding cultural, sporting, commercial and accommodation destination that currently attracts over three million visitors a year. The precinct includes two-luxury hotels, an Olympic-standard Sydney Gymnastic and Aquatic Centre and the iconic Rooty Hill RSL, among other projects.
West HQ also includes the Sydney Coliseum a $100m, privately-funded, world-class, 2000-seat venue that will host some of the biggest names in entertainment and performance. Due to open in December 2019 it is an absolute game-changer for the region and is accompanied by an evocative branding campaign about having community pride in Western Sydney to impact positively on our reputation.
Additionally, West HQ recently unveiled a number of exciting new dining partnerships, including Chu by China Doll, Pizzaperta by Manfredi, Steak & Oyster Co by Sean Connolly, Chur Burger and Gelatissimo.
The inaugural ‘Run West’ event attracted more than 7000 people of all ages and abilities, who ran, walked and rolled 12km or 4km through some of Western Sydney’s most notable landmarks - including the soon-to-be opened Sydney Zoo. At least half of the runners in Run West hailed from the Blacktown local government area, but others came from as far afield as the Northern Beaches, the Blue Mountains and the Sutherland Shire.
For: Corporate success through Vitex Pharmaceuticals
Vitex Pharmaceuticals, a state-of-the-art $100m manufacturing facility based at Eastern Creek, is one of Australia’s leading producers of vitamins and nutritional supplements.
The company was started by Ellie Chami, a Lebanese migrant, and his son Aniss, in 1989 and is now focused on becoming a leading global manufacturer of complementary medicines, a growing industry worth $4.9 billion in Australia alone last year.
In 2018, Vitex signed an MOU with the NSW Government to invest an initial $10 million in a new 10,000 square metre facility that will support about 100 jobs and train up to 200 students at a time, within the Western Sydney Aerotropolis. It has been a stunning success Western Sydney commercial success story coming from a base of migrant family business.
Dr Chami was recently named the 2019 Blacktown Corporate Citizen of the year for his philanthropic work, particularly with the Antiochian Orthodox Church and in helping migrants when they first arrive in Australia.
For: Community development and services to charity
Phil (Gus) Gould AM is the most successful NSW State of Origin coach in history with six series wins, however his commitment to community development, multiple charities and his unrelenting work as a public advocate for Western Sydney make him a standout. He also coached Penrith Panthers rugby league to its first ever premiership win in 1991, raising local community aspiration and confidence in the process.
A recent retiree from club football Mr Gould is a highly respected Channel Nine football commentator, columnist and one of the country's most authentic sports experts. He is also a prime advocate for the West.
His experience as rugby league broadcaster, journalist, administrator and formerly a player and coach has introduced him to a plethora of community groups. He is recognised for making a difference to the welfare of children, young people and families, especially in the place he loves so much – outer Western Sydney.
Phil grew up in Greystanes and played juniors for Wentworthville Leagues. He helped spearhead ’Panthers on the Prowl’, a community development foundation helping young people by diverting them from risky behaviour into education to promote learning, self-esteem, social skills, resilience, healthy lifestyles and functional literacy. He also played a key role supporting the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Penrith and secured the Panthers training, junior development and youth engagement academy after years of determined work.
His community development and charitable activities include visiting and organising other rugby league legends to visit sick kids at the Children’s' Hospital, being an Ambassador for Bravehearts Child Protection and the White Ribbon Foundation. He supports fundraising for homeless people, women with breast cancer autism research hearing impairment and recovery after natural disasters. In 2014 he was awarded Australian Honours to recognise his service to sport and the local community.