Four of Queensland’s most inspirational advocates and community services have been celebrated at the QCOSS Queensland Community Impact Awards.

A First Nations international human rights advocate and lawyer, a housing initiative saving older women from homelessness, a community service transforming into a regional disaster centre during the floods and now establishing a food distribution hub for tens of thousands of people, and a former refugee who has devoted her life to ensuring others feel safe, welcome and empowered, all took home a QCOSS Queensland Community Impact Award (QCIA) last night.

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said each of the winners embodied the tireless efforts, commitment and passion of those in the social service sector who were making a positive difference in Queensland every day.

“Right now, community service workers are helping Queenslanders dealing with bushfires. They are supporting people living through a cost-of-living crisis so they can feed their families. They are putting roofs over people’s heads. Whether as advocates, service providers or through the provision of resources and connection, they are there in Queenslanders’ darkest times to provide hope, support and practical solutions that help,” McVeigh said.

“The QCIA winners and finalists embody the important and positive change that happens as a result of a strong and engaged community sector in Queensland. The QCIA winners and finalists have overcome obstacles to make an incredible difference in people’s lives. Their stories last night were heartwarming.

“It is an honour to celebrate them and the exceptional work of the community services sector, which is the beating heart of Queensland.

“Congratulations to the four winners and all our finalists. Queensland is in a much better place thanks to your work.”

The four winners are:

Human Rights Award winner: Professor Sandra Creamer

A proud Waanyi/Kalkadoon woman, Professor Creamer’s extraordinary, tireless advocacy has seen her affect important change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples on a local, national, and international stage. From water security to menstrual health, climate change, domestic violence protection and better financial security for women, Professor Creamer’s influence has been powerful and far-reaching. The highly respected human rights leader, who is also an author, lawyer and academic, sits on a range of advisory boards, and is currently the Chair of the 2023-2025 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action plan under the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children.

Frontline Hero Award winner: Lida Daliri
Multicultural Australia Community Development Worker

Arriving in Australia as a 19-year-old refugee, Lida has dedicated her life’s work to ensuring refugees feel safe, connected, and empowered. A founder of numerous, annual multicultural events and programs that support refugees, including the ‘Through Culture in the Kitchen’ program and financial literacy workshops, Lida was behind Multicultural Australia’s signature LUMINOUS lantern parade moving from South Bank and into local neighbourhoods during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her own lived experience, passion for equality and justice, and strong commitment to service have helped many displaced individuals discover their potential, build their confidence, and thrive in their chosen career pathways.

Community Impact Award winner: Tivoli Social Enterprises (TSE)

When hundreds of households were forced from their homes during the floods in the Ipswich West Moreton region last year, TSE became a Regional Disaster Relief Centre. Shipping containers were turned into clothing warehouses, 2,000 pre-cooked meals were made weekly and distributed across the region, while an on-site kitchen served free breakfasts and hot meals, as well as pre-packed lunches, to the mud army and impacted families. From March 2022 to March 2023, the TSE has provided over 100,000 meals to vulnerable or flood-impacted families. They are now turning their experience into a new Food Distribution Hub, which will support 120 community agencies (or 20,000 people a week) as well as building emergency housing to help families impacted by the housing crisis.

Neighbourhood Centre Award winner: Nambour Community Centre (NCC)

An NCC housing project for older women experiencing homelessness, which brings together local businesses and government, highlights how local, grassroots solutions can be implemented to ease the state’s housing crisis. Faced with the death of women who had experienced homelessness in the area, a powerful grassroots advocacy group called the Dignity Circle, which includes women with lived experience of homelessness and housing insecurity, formed at NCC. Together with Coast2Bay Housing, a generous and reputable local landowner and the Sunshine Coast Council, and the support of Nambour Rotary and St Lukes Lutheran Church, the Dignity Circle created the Housing with Dignity Project, which is now providing housing for older women; the fastest growing demographic of Australians experiencing homelessness.

The Queensland Community Impact Awards were handed out last night by QCOSS Patron, The Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC PSM, at a ceremony at Brisbane City Hall.

3 November 2023