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Community Champion Award

Strengthening Community


Round 1

South East Community Links

South East Community Links (SECL), established in 2015, work across the south east of Melbourne to achieve better social and economic outcomes for people in our community providing; emergency relief, casework, housing support, youth and family support services, financial counselling, resettlement services for refugees and asylum seekers, financial capability assistance and volunteer programs.

Watch the interview

Round 3

Gihan Senanayake
(Carlton Junior Football Club)

Gihan has been nominated by former Community Champion, Peter Behrendorff, recognising achievements at Carlton Auskick & JFC. Gihan is the co-founder and Vice President since 2015 of the Carlton JFC, with unwavering commitment to Carlton families.

Gihan volunteers his time, juggling university requirements, without the typical incentive of his own kids being at the club. His warm personality and diverse background have brought much fun and empathy to those new to footy, creating a welcome environment for all abilities.

Watch the interview

Round 4

Aiden King
(Fortunate Footy Cards)

Aiden, 13, saw that after trading AFL trading cards with his friends, they all had duplicates. Aiden decided to create ‘Fortunate Footy Cards’ which is a platform for kids around the country to donate their duplicate cards to children less fortunate.

For more information, or if you want to get involved, visit the Fortunate Footy Cards Facebook page, or email

Watch the interview

Round 6

Professor Declan Murphy
(Pratt Foundation)

Declan has been nominated on behalf of the Pratt Foundation, as part of their annual awareness raising match. Declan has been nominated for the work he does for Prostate Cancer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, as a consultant urological surgeon.

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Round 10

Laura Thompson
(Victorian Aboriginal Health Services)

Laura is proud to be a mentor in the local Melbourne Aboriginal community and is committed to supporting young people to extend their leadership qualities and get the most they can out life.

Laura runs a number of grass roots community health and physical activity programs and has entered Aboriginal teams into various fun run events in Melbourne. She takes pride in delivering these programs and watching community members get more active and healthy.

Watch the interview

Round 15

Matt Janssen
(Jodi Lee Foundation)

Matt has been nominated by former Community Champion Nick Lee, CEO of the Jodi Lee Foundation (JLF). Matt is an Advisory Board Member and Ambassador for JLF, doing work on customer service and member engagement.

Matt is also passionate about building an inclusive culture and specific LGBTI initiatives including Pride in Sport membership.

Round 16

Zoe Paulo

Zoe, 12, was the only girl on the school footy team, however she was incredibly passionate about following her dreams and instead of quitting, encouraged others young girls to play. Through her resilience and determination, she encouraged another three girls to join the school team and to join her local team also.

Showing her resilience and commitment, she continued to play on the school footy team, determined to demonstrate the importance of gender equality.  Zoe now and encourages and supports other girls to play footy.

Watch the interview

Round 17

Tarang Chawla

Blues Foundation Ambassador, Tarang, has been nominated for the work he has done to prevent violence against women. Following the murder of his sister, Nikita, in 2015, Chawla began advocating against men’s violence being named as the 2017 Young Australian of the Year Finalist.

Watch the interview

Round 19

Osama Butti
(AMES Australia)

AMES Australia provides a range of comprehensive settlement support programs and services to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

In an effort to combat social isolation for migrants and refugees, Osama assists recently arrived refugees and migrants settle into life in Melbourne.

Watch the interview


The Blues Foundation Community Champion is nominated by their community for the timeless work they invest into their community. Awarded to an individual/s living out the Carlton values and supporting the community in the areas of:

  • Cultural inclusion
  • Indigenous affairs
  • Gender equality

As part of the prize, the Blues Foundation Community Champion is provided with:

  • The ability to invite 15-20 people associated with their work in the community to step onto the ground and watch the players run through banner pre-game in our guard of honour
  • Level one reserved seats to the game for families of all people taking part in the experience (up to 100 tickets).
  • Recognition on the big screen being interviewed by the game day MC
  • Carlton FC community staff to host the experience

The Blues Foundation acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to elders both past and present.