Nominations open for the 2023 LGAQ Annual Alison Woolla Memorial Award for Local Leadership in Preventing Domestic and Family Violence (DFV)

Published: 14th August 2023

Nominations are now open for the 2023 Annual Alison Woolla Memorial Award for Local Leadership in Preventing Domestic and Family Violence (DFV).

There are two categories to enter:

Category one is specifically for local government, mayors, elected members, CEOs and council officers only. This category provides an opportunity for LGAQ members to share and showcase their leadership in championing the prevention of DFV. The winner will receive a trophy commemorating their win. No bursary will be awarded in this category.  

Category two provides the opportunity for community-based individuals in a paid or volunteer capacity to be recognised for their contribution to the prevention of DFV through place-based activities and/or support provided to people who are escaping or have lived experience of DFV. The winner of category two will receive a $5,000 bursary to be used to continue their work in preventing and/or raising awareness of DFV. Please refer to the Terms & Conditions for further information.  

Entries must be received by 11.59pm on 22 September 2023.  


Download Entry Form

Download Terms & Conditions


2020: May Ballie and Myrtle Foote, 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 (DFV). 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.

Myrtle Foote and May Ballie established Pormpuraaw’s first women’s shelter in the 1990s (ABC News, Supplied: Christine Howes).

Myrtle Foote and May Ballie established Pormpuraaw’s first women’s shelter in the 1990s (ABC News, Supplied: Christine Howes)

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 DFV.

“When we first started out, we had women getting bashed up, and no other stronger people used to stand up and take women in. We used to take them in,” May said.

“The main thing was about children and the wives – looking after them.

“Back in those first days, we didn’t have counselling – we had to talk to the women and the men ourselves.” 

Of her experience, Myrtle said there were some wonderful breakthroughs.

“When the council came back to me and said they have got a house available for the women, that was really for me, you know, I was so happy women can go to the place where they can be safe. It was a big relief for me,” Myrtle said.

“I’m so proud of working with my people in the community, with women and children especially.”

2021: Anonymous

A Queenslander who provided life changing support to protect another from domestic abuse was recognised for their selflessness and awarded the 2021 Award, however, due to an ongoing situation, their name is unpublished for safety. 

Described as ‘a selfless bearer of Alison Woolla’s legacy’, the winner had provided vital support to protect another, including offering temporary accommodation in their own home, transport to appointments as well as caring for their children and relocating them to safety.

The winner said of their work: “I just wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if something happened to them and I hadn’t offered my help.”

“I always knew the relationship wasn’t the best, but as soon as I knew how bad it was, I gently started offering support to help get them to safety.

“I’m so relieved they are now safe; however, the work continues to ensure their continued safety and recovery from the abuse.”

LGAQ President and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor, Mark Jamieson said the actions of the winner were actions that often went unrecognised but made an incredible difference.

“We are grateful to be able to recognise the sacrifices of the winner through this award and in doing so, to further honour the legacy of Alison Woolla.”

2022: Kellie Bowie

Townsville woman Kellie Bowie opened her home to the LGBTIQ+ community for emergency housing won the third annual $5,000 Alison Woolla Memorial Award for local leadership in preventing domestic and family violence.

Redlands City Council Mayor Karen Williams presents the Award to Kellie Bowie

Redlands City Council Mayor Karen Williams presents the Award to Kellie Bowie

Kellie provided 24-hour support, emergency accommodation and a safe space for members of the LGBTIQ+ communities to access in times of need.

Kellie said she received calls from community members in desperate situations with nowhere else to go—whether it be as a result of relationship breakdown or young people rejected by their parents.

She said while community attitudes were changing to domestic and family violence prevention, “there’s a lot more to be done”.

The annual winner receives a $5,000 cash prize, along with hosting the hand-crafted artwork created by Brisbane artist Laura Vincent for 12 months. The piece was created using resin and timber and represents the complex emotions felt by those who experience domestic and family violence.


Started in 2020, the award recognises anti-violence leadership in the Queensland community.

But we can’t tell the history of the Award without first telling the story of the remarkable woman whose legacy it honours.

Alison Woolla was a pioneering former Mayor of Aurukun Aboriginal Shire Council—the town’s first female mayor—and dynamic reform leader who provided remarkable leadership and support for members of her community when they were experiencing abuse. 

Ms Woolla served from 1983 to 1985, and 1991 to 1994, and was instrumental in establishing a women's shelter in the Indigenous community.

In her leadership, Alison did not only advocate for victim-survivors of DFV and raise awareness of the issue, but she truly ‘walked the walk’, opening her doors in her own home and inviting women and their children fleeing violence to stay with her. Through her compassion, Alison’s home became a sanctuary for those in the Aurukun community whose own homes were not always safe.

Her daughter, current Aurukun Shire Mayor Keri Tamwoy, said her mother raised her and her five siblings by herself, and often provided a safe haven for victims of abuse.

"The police would come at any hour of the day or night," she said.

"They would drop off victims of domestic violence at my mum's house because that was the only safe place the women knew of and they would always ask the police: 'Drop us off at Alison's house'.

"Mum always welcomed these ladies. She'd wake myself and my two younger sisters up in the middle of the night and ask us, 'Hey come and make a bed up'."

Alison was also an advocate of educating the perpetrators of domestic violence, talking to them—without shaming or belittling them—when they would show up looking for their wives and partners and encouraging them to change.