Media Release - We Are Brimbank Awards winners announced

Brimbank Council is proud to have announced the winners of the 2021 We Are Brimbank Awards at a special and entertaining online event last night, hosted by Mayor Cr Ranka Rasic.

The annual awards celebrate the pride and potential of the City of Brimbank, and they recognise the exceptional contributions, hard work and determination of organisations and community groups making a positive difference within the municipality.

A panel of independent community leaders judged the nominations across five categories, and the winners of the 2021 We Are Brimbank Awards are:


Jointly won by:  Friends of the H V McKay Memorial Gardens and Utsav Melbourne Association


Winner:  Café Sunshine & SalamaTea


Winner:  Inspire Hope


Winner:  Little Litter Project


Winner:  Inclusion Melbourne

Quotes attributable to Brimbank Mayor, Cr Ranka Rasic:

“The We Are Brimbank Awards are at the heart of recognising and paying tribute to community minded groups and organisations making a positive difference to Brimbank.

“We love to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work and wonderful projects and organisations that contribute to making Brimbank a great place to live, work and grow.

“The We Are Brimbank Awards are a tip of the hat in recognition of our community heroes, and we congratulate the award winners and all the nominees, and thank them for their contributions.

“The pandemic has created extra challenges for all communities on a global and local scale. More now than ever, Council would like to thank the nominated organisations and community groups for their efforts, resilience and commitment during these difficult times.”

The We Are Brimbank Awards were presented by Brimbank Mayor Cr Ranka Rasic at a special online ceremony on Wednesday evening 27 October 2021.

2021 We Are Brimbank Award recipients

Culture, Arts and Tourism Award:

This award demonstrates outstanding contribution to the rich cultural, heritage, tourism and artistic fabric of the Brimbank community.

Joint winners: Friends of the H V McKay Memorial Gardens

The Friends of the H V McKay Memorial Gardens (the Friends) was established in 2007 to promote the restoration and maintenance of Brimbank's only heritage listed gardens.

The Friends work tirelessly to promote the gardens to the local community as a source of pride and part of the history of the community with optimism and resilience. They have promoted the local community's understanding of the historical significance of the Gardens and engaged with Council and the community in rescuing the Gardens from vandalism and neglect.

The Friends’ activities vary from researching the history of the gardens, historical walking tours, oral interviews with long term residents on their recollections of the Gardens, community festivals, planting and weeding days, to making submissions to Council.

In addition, the Friends continue to currently run the only community festival in Sunshine that showcases the talents of local dance and song groups, providing a stage for the diverse cultures of Brimbank as well as local youth. They have established collaborative associations with other volunteer groups in Brimbank and encourage and support others in their goals.

Joint winners:  Utsav Melbourne Association

Utsav Melbourne Association (UMA) is a vibrant Bengali/Indian community charity with people coming together from varied professional backgrounds to promote and celebrate their culture and traditions.

In 2020 UMA hosted Durga Puja, one of the largest annual Indian/Hindu festivals, and due to the pandemic UMA had to quickly pivot to an online event. Every effort was made to re-create a live event with online trivia quizzes and arranging local restaurants to deliver dinner to the homes of viewers. The online performance involved over 150 local performers showcasing Indian traditions, music, culture and history.

During the pandemic, UMA has delivered food to people impacted adversely; including the homeless. They have organised grocery and food collection drives across the entire local area, as well as raising funds for Foodbank Australia.

In addition, UMA members that are psychologists, have organised community as well as individual counselling sessions to help their members stay active and positive during the pandemic.

Employment & Enterprise Award:

This award demonstrates outstanding contribution to the prosperity of Brimbank.

Winner:  Café Sunshine & SalamaTea

Founded in 2019, Café Sunshine & Salamatea has created a thriving and sustainable social enterprise that supports refugees, asylum seekers and recent migrants in Sunshine through employment and innovative training opportunities.

Café Sunshine draws people to visit the café, connect over incredible Persian food, and listen to the stories of the refugees and asylum seekers that work there. Café Sunshine has created a community hub that offers employment and supports people with training opportunities, teaching over 300 cooking classes and running barista training courses for refugees/asylum seekers and recent migrants.

Inclusive Brimbank Award:

This award demonstrates outstanding contribution to promoting participation in community life and supporting proud, safe and healthy citizens.

Winner:  Inspire Hope

Inspire Hope bring relief and support to the disadvantaged and those living in hardship by providing the basic essentials and food supplies. They give vital emotional support to the most vulnerable members of our community including provision of mobile phones to rough sleepers to ensure they can remain connected with support providers.

By supporting the disadvantaged, Inspire Hope empowers them to take control of their lives and move on to contribute to community life, and they provide the vital conduit between the disadvantaged and service agencies.

During the pandemic, they have provided support for rough sleepers by responding quickly to requests to provide food, clothes, phone credit and even hotel accommodation.

Inspire Hope have been running a regular BBQ event in St Albans which provides an opportunity for the disadvantaged to maintain connections.

They have made a significant impact on the lives of many vulnerable people and their commitment to helping people with love and a smile has helped many survive this difficult period. Inspire Hope seek to assist in the growth of a stronger thriving community that will serve future generations.

Environment & Sustainability Award:

This award demonstrates outstanding contribution to the protection, enhancement and awareness of Brimbank’s natural and urban environment.

Winner:  Little Litter Project

Little Litter Project educates community members on the importance of managing waste and plastic pollution through community events such as clean-ups, talks and education posts on social media.

This project has changed the mindset of many local residents and organisations about the importance of keeping our public spaces clean and healthy in an environmentally conscious way.

The Little Litter Project helps keep local spaces clean and healthy by auditing the litter to determine where it has come from and to break down what has been collected.

Learning Excellence Award:

This award demonstrates outstanding contribution to the ongoing education, learning and engagement of the Brimbank community.

Winner:  Inclusion Melbourne

Inclusion Training offers a range of courses for individuals with an intellectual disability. The training model includes small classes and a student to staff ratio of 1:3, offering a highly personalised training experience.

Inclusion Training connects students with their community, working together to better their opportunities, and encourages students to actively participate in community events which builds confidence and increases community interaction.

Inclusion Training has been instrumental in designing and establishing a person centred experience for students at the Sunshine campus.

They offer meditation, mindfulness and fitness programs to help students learn to work in teams, respect others, practice gratitude, and develop a sense of contributing for the benefit of others.

During the pandemic, using online platforms, the training team have supported the students to learn and use new technology tools which has opened opportunities and enriched their experiences during training sessions.