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Mental health champion named Kingston’s 2021 Woman of the Year

5 March 2021

A local mum who has dedicated much of her life to supporting her community, particularly in the area of mental health, has been announced as the winner of this year’s Kingston Woman of the Year Award.

Simone Hardham accepted her coveted award from Kingston Mayor Steve Staikos at the city’s annual International Women’s Day event on Friday 5 March at Kingston City Hall.

Kingston Mayor Steve Staikos said the 24 outstanding nominees for this year’s award made it almost impossible for judges to select just one recipient.

“Simone has dedicated much of her life to support and serve communities through volunteering, fundraising and campaigning. She works full-time, is a mum, President of a neighbourhood centre and runs the not-for-profit organisation Mindful Makings, which delivers services that positively impact the lives of those who live with mental health concerns or are secluded from others.”

The annual event, now in its third year, provided the community with a chance to celebrate the remarkable contribution of women across all walks of our society. This year, for the first time, a Lifetime Award was also presented alongside the Woman of the Year Award recognising 40 years of outstanding service to the community.

“We decided to present the Lifetime Award to Joan Bradd, a long-serving Member of Scouts Victoria, who established the Dingley Scout Group. Over her 40 years of service, Joan has held many leadership positions within Scouts Victoria, including District Commissioner Kingston District and State Commissioner of Training,” said Cr Staikos.

With such a strong field, Councillors also presented three ‘Honourable Mentions’:

  • Megan King: Megan is a single working mum who has created a local group for the carers of children with special needs. During the COVID lockdown she utilised a grant to send out care packages. Megan’s Facebook group ‘Autism & Special Needs – Melbourne’ connects over 1,500 families to local services and support.
  • Vanessa Heredia: Vanessa was inspired by her children to become involved in the community, supporting those less fortunate. With her husband Vance and a dedicated team of volunteers, she established Chelsea Community Christmas Lunch bringing hope and love to so many who are alone.
  • Arna O’Connell: Arna is dedicated to the field of community development, working as both a volunteer and in management of the Cheltenham Community Centre, and previously at the Mordialloc Community Centre.  She works tirelessly and passionately to ensure the local community is provided with quality programs that connect people with each other and respond to community needs. 

To learn more about the winners and nominees visit 


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