Alison Woolla Memorial Award 2020 finalists announced

Published: 15th October 2020

A young lawyer who sews to raise vital funds for women’s legal services, the co-founders of a life-saving women’s shelter, and a volunteer instrumental in the creation of a trailblazing domestic violence awareness group have been revealed as the finalists in the running to win the Local Government Association of Queensland’s inaugural Alison Woolla Memorial Award.

The award is named in honour of the late Alison Woolla, the first woman to be elected Mayor of Aurukun Shire Council and the driving force behind the Aurukun women’s shelter. 

The finalists – in alphabetical order – are: 

Famin Ahmed 

A young lawyer in Brisbane, Famin started an Instagram page @famin_makes when she saw firsthand how under-resourced the Women’s Legal Service QLD (WLSQ) is. The full-time lawyer uses her spare time to sew hats and scrunchies out of donated fabrics. She then donates 100% of the proceeds to the WLSQ. Famin started the project in May 2019 and, as of September 2020, she has raised more than $24,000 for WLSQ.

May Ballie and Myrtle Foote 

May Ballie and Myrtle Foote are the co-founders of Pormpur Paanthu (Women's house) in the Aboriginal community of Pormpuraaw. The centre provides a refuge and services to assist women and children experiencing domestic and family violence. Through the creation of the centre, May Ballie and Myrtle Foote have been instrumental in saving the lives and improving the futures of many women and children in their community. They have also been active in expanding the services to include a safe place, specifically for children, through vacation and after school care, childcare, as well as a DFV support service for men. Many lives have been saved and many families have been assisted to have a brighter future as a result of the centre’s work, while an entire community has come to better understand and manage domestic and family violence.

Rosemary Skelly  

Rosemary Skelly OAM has been working on a volunteer basis in the Redlands, raising awareness of domestic and family violence and helping survivors, for more than 30 years. In 1987, she became President of a working party that subsequently became the Redlands Domestic Violence Action Group. In its infancy, the organisation raised awareness and funds to support DFV survivors at a time when emergency relief was not readily available. The organisation ran bush dances and raffles to raise funds. The action group initially struggled to gain acknowledgment that domestic violence existed in the local community. The Maybanke Association is now a well-established organisation and is well respected by the community and government. A key driver behind the association’s success, Rosemary has gone on to hold several roles within Maybanke, always working tirelessly to end family and domestic violence and to build the reputation and strength of the organisation to ensure high-quality local support services and emergency accommodation are available in the Redlands.

LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said the Alison Woolla Memorial Award was designed to acknowledge those unsung Queensland heroes making a significant local contribution to the awareness and prevention of domestic and family violence.  

He said it was hoped it would further her fantastic legacy, with the entrants’ work worthy of winning an award in her name. 

“The award is a wonderful way for us to honour the work of Alison Woolla, who was not only a powerful advocate for awareness and prevention of domestic and family violence, but at a personal level was directly involved in helping safeguard members of her community,” Mr Hallam said. 

“It is encouraging and inspiring to see the type of work that is happening across the country and we look forward to holding the award for years to come.”

LGAQ Project Officer for Domestic and Family Abuse, Jim Boden, said the calibre of the entries was high.  

“The entries we received show the extraordinary work that is being undertaken across the state to end domestic violence.

“These are often unsung individuals and organisations who are working tirelessly in social work, legal representation, policy, advocacy and campaigning.”

The winner will be announced at next weeks’ LGAQ Annual Conference on the Gold Coast. 

The winner of the Alison Woolla Memorial Award will take home a piece created by Brisbane artist Laura Vincent, who has had her own journey through domestic violence. Laura works with timber and lovingly creates beautiful homewares, art, and practical pieces.  

The unique artwork Laura has created for the 2020 Alison Woolla Memorial Award has been handmade using resin and timber, and which holds significant meaning to the artist.  

“I’ve got my own journey through domestic violence, so when I was asked to do this, there was no way I could say no,” Laura said.   

“But just with my own experience with it and knowing what it’s like to come out of that on the other side, and be able to be creative, and be able to do this kind of thing, and for the other ladies, I might be some kind of inspirational hope to them.

“The piece will be filled with a purple iridescent resin, and that’s going to signify the ladies and the children...the darker side, it signifies the darkest experience for the women and children when they're in violent relationships, and coming through to the front will signify the lightness, when you’re out of that relationship, and able to move forward and be more free.”

You can see Laura Vincent’s work on her Timber Heart Creations website

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Vogler, Media Executive
Local Government Association of Queensland