2021 Westfield Local Heroes: 6 Westfield Chermside Finalists Vie for Grants

Westfield Local Heroes
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Westfield Chermside has announced the names of the six individuals nominated for the 2021 Westfield Local Heroes. Now on its fourth year, the program provides a $10,000 grant to help these nominees pursue their advocacies and the community can help decide who shall receive the funding by casting their votes.



Under the Westfield Local Heroes program, 42 Westfield centres in Australia and New Zealand will name three local heroes or role models who have made significant and positive contributions to benefit the community. For this year, the finalists come from a broad range of sectors, including not-for-profit groups, registered community groups, sporting clubs,  emergency services, and environmental advocates.


The voting period, which started on 10 Aug 2021, will close on Monday, 30 Aug 2021. Here are the nominees for Westfield Chermside: 

Eileen Mary Jane Cooke, Preterm Infants Parents Association (PIPA)

  • Key attributes: Determined, Supportive, Compassionate
  • Social value: Family support and new parents
  • Primary suburbs: North Brisbane
  • Local Westfield: Chermside

Why She’s Nominated: “Eileen is a Westfield Local Hero because whilst battling cancer, she still found the strength and courage to help parents of preterm babies. She helped those who had lost hope or were just simply overcome by the financial stress of NICU. Eileen was there right by their side.”

Photo Credit: Supplied

Veteran volunteer Eileen Mary Jane Cooke is the driving force behind support for Queensland parents of premature babies. Eileen has been volunteering with the Preterm Infants Parents Association (PIPA) for over 20 years and has helped many parents in that time. It is her way of giving back for the support she received from PIPA when she needed it. Eileen was a Westfield Local Hero finalist in 2019 and 2020 and appreciates being nominated for a third time.

Photo Credit: Supplied

Amy Dawes, Australasian Birth Trauma Association 

  • Key attributes: Inspirational, Generous, Thought-leader
  • Social value: Mental health and wellbeing
  • Primary suburbs: Arana Hills, Geebung, Brisbane metro North 
  • Local Westfield: Chermside

Why She’s Nominated: “Amy is a Westfield Local Hero because she has the strength to face her own trauma every day and use her experience to raise the profile of birth-related trauma to create a community of support and she works to prevent others having the same experience.” 

Photo Credit: Supplied

Amy is an effective advocate for bringing consumers, clinicians, and researchers together to support women, birthing people, and families affected by birth-related trauma. In 2016, Amy founded the Australasian Birth Trauma Association (ABTA), is a charity focused on the recognition and understanding of birth-related trauma. Her vision is for safer births, better healing.

Jodie Frisch, RizeUp Australia

  • Key attributes: Committed, Compassionate, Determined
  • Social value: Domestic and family violence
  • Primary suburb: Chermside
  • Local Westfield: Chermside

Why She’s Nominated: Jodie is a Westfield Local Hero because, in the darkest moments of life, she  brings warmth, happiness, and light to people in our community who need it most.”

Photo Credit: Supplied

Jodie Frisch is on a mission to ensure families fleeing domestic violence have everything they need to rebuild their lives. As Homes Manager at RizeUp Australia, Jodie works tirelessly to furnish new accommodation, provide clothing for children, and source critical items at a moment’s notice. She is known for being strong, loyal, and kind. 

Garry Hunt, SANDBAG (Sandgate and Bracken Ridge Action Group)

  • Key attributes: Resolute, Compassionate, Humble
  • Social value: Homelessness and welfare
  • Primary suburb: Sandgate
  • Local Westfield: Chermside

Why He’s Nominated: “Garry is a Westfield Local Hero because he has impacted the lives of thousands of people directly through his service. He is a role model who inspires many others. The 4017 area wouldn’t be what it is today without the selfless contribution Garry has made for more than a decade at SANDBAG.”

Photo Credit: Supplied

Garry Hunt is a hard-working community worker dedicated to providing practical support to people in need. The volunteer turned staff member at Sandgate and Bracken Ridge Action Group (SANDBAG), Garry has supported thousands of people facing poverty, homelessness, mental illness, domestic violence, and discrimination. Garry always treats people equally and is known for his inclusive, welcoming, and respectful nature.

Sammy Leone, The Boss Boxing 

  • Key attributes: Dedicated, Hardworking, Leader 
  • Social value: Indigenous recognition
  • Primary suburb: Zillmere
  • Local Westfield: Chermside

Why He’s Nominated: “Sammy is a Westfield Local Hero because he noticed there was a need for a program for young people within the local community. Through The Boss Boxing, Sammy has been able to engage through physical activity, which is making a big difference and changing lives.”

Photo Credit: Supplied

Former boxing champion Sammy Leone is a proud Aboriginal man who has supported the Zillmere community for more than a decade, using his sport to transform the lives of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Sammy is passionate about using the skills developed in boxing to keep people away from substance abuse and crime. A few years ago, he founded The Boss Boxing, where he is head coach.

Len McCandless, Rosies – Friends on the Street Brisbane North Branch 

  • Key attributes: Kind, Empathetic, Funny
  • Social value: Homelessness and welfare
  • Primary suburb: Nundah 
  • Local Westfield: Chermside

Why He’s Nominated: “Len is a Westfield Local Hero because he has been through so many of his own challenges but still wants to give back to those in need. He knows that a kind word spoken at the right time can truly change someone’s life.”

Westfield Local Heroes
Photo Credit: Supplied

Len McCandless is an empathetic community worker who uses his own experience of living on the street to help homeless people or those living with a disability. He is the team leader at Rosie’s – Friends on the Street Brisbane North Branch, where he is known for his big heart – always greeting patrons with a smile, a cup of tea, and a chat.



“Now in its fourth year, the Westfield Local Heroes Program has been an instrument for change and support for deserving organisations,” Westfield Carindale Centre Manager, Matt Powis, said. “It’s with great pleasure that we announce our six 2021 finalists and call upon the local community to vote and help us determine our three Westfield Local Heroes grant recipients.”

Since 2018, Scentre Group’s Westfield Local Heroes program has invested in over 489 community organisations. The contribution represents the ongoing support to connect and enrich the local communities in which Westfield Living Centres operate. 

​​Grants provided to the winners total $1.2 million. The winners will be announced on 21 Oct 2021.