Disaster Relief Australia wins Australian Charity Award

Disaster Relief Australia, whom we support through the Lions Disaster Relief Australia Project recently won the Outstanding Achievement category at the 2021 Australian Charity Awards. The Australian Charity awards recognise charitable organisations achieving outstanding results through initiatives significantly benefiting communities.

DRA’s nomination highlighted the impact of their spontaneous volunteer program, specifically during their time assisting the Adelaide Hills community after the devastating Cudlee Creek bushfires during the 2019/20 Black Summer. During their 8 weeklong recovery operation, the team at DRA coordinated more than 250 spontaneous volunteers, all keen to help out their community, neighbors, family and friends.

Spontaneous Volunteer is a term used to describe people exhibiting incredibly old and typical prosocial behaviours. People with no formal association with the emergency management system who put their hands up to help when a disaster happens. It encapsulates the Australian spirit of helping others, and mateship – one of DRA’s core values.

DRA can be called upon to manage and lead those wanting to volunteer to assist within their community in the wake of a natural disaster. By onboarding, inducting, leading and supporting SponVols, DRA is able to significantly increase the assistance provided to disaster-affected communities. The SponVols are employed in a structured, gainful and safe manner. The well-considered approach empowers the communities we serve.

DRA CEO Geoff Evans is immensely proud of his veteran-led organisations’ award. “Volunteerism is an Australian way of life and deeply rewarding to those who take up the challenge. There have previously been few avenues for the community to spontaneously volunteer after a disaster. By providing communities with a way in which to do this, we can help them cope better with the impact of disasters and bounce back faster. With almost half of the Australian population living in communities that have a low-to-moderate level of disaster resilience, there is much work to be done. DRA is proud to be part of this leading effort.”

Lions will continue to support Disaster Relief Australia in their efforts to provide Australian communities help where it’s needed most!

If you’re interested in assisting with this initiative, or their disaster relief efforts, you can find more information here.

Hannah Roberts, Peace Poster

3 International Awards for Lions Australia – Peace Poster Contest and Kindness Matters Service Award

It is our great pleasure to announce that Western Australia student Hannah Roberts has been chosen as a merit award winner in the 34th Annual Lions International Peace Poster Contest, while two Australian Lions/Leo clubs have both been presented with Kindness Matters Service Awards.

Lions International Peace Poster Contest

The Booragoon Lions Club’s sponsored International Peace Poster entry created by Hannah Roberts has been hailed as “amazing” by those who have seen it. 

Peace Poster Winner - Hannah Roberts

Hannah Roberts with her amazing Peace Poster entry.

Approximately 600,000 children from 55 countries participated in this year’s Peace Poster Contest. The posters were judged at the club, district and multiple district levels before reaching the international level, at which point they had been narrowed down to 109 posters.

Based on creativity, originality and portrayal of the theme “We Are All Connected”, Hannah’s entry was chosen as one of 23 merit award winners. As such, Hannah will receive US$500 and a Certificate of Merit.

To be chosen as one of just 23 merit award winners from across the world is indeed a superb honour. Congratulations Hannah! 

Kindness Matters Service Awards

Meanwhile this month, Lions Clubs International presented The City of Adelaide Lions Club and The Leo Club of Melbourne Next Gen with their Kindness Matters Service Awards.

This year, only 30 out of 48,000 Lions clubs received this prestigious award, which is given annually to Lions and Leo clubs for performing an outstanding service project in one of Lions Clubs International’s global cause areas: diabetes, hunger, vision, environment, childhood cancer, humanitarian, disaster relief or youth.

The City of Adelaide Lions Club was presented with the award for their Hear Me Roar! Project founded by the club in 2016. It started by creating care packs and making multi-purpose heart shaped cushions for both adult and child patients in hospitals. It quickly grew to include making port pillows to provide cushioning to the chest and/or abdominal area for people with port/incision/surgical/trauma sites.

They added cushions for children in hospital going through cancer treatment or craniofacial surgeries, disadvantaged and vulnerable youth in various organisations and foster care. In 2018, the project started another initiative, sorting and labeling children’s books, and packing them into age appropriate book bags to be distributed to disadvantaged and vulnerable youth across South Australia. The project has supported over 7,700 individuals across SA so far.

The Leo Club of Melbourne Next Gen was also presented with the award for holding a fundraiser in August, 2021.

Aside from pledging AUD$1000 to support the Lions and Leos from Sri Lanka (in collaboration with Lions Club of Melbourne Next Gen) and the Lions Clubs International Foundation for the purchase of medical and laboratory equipment to fight Covid-19, the Leo Club organised a Virtual Telethon to raise further funds for the ‘Thousand Hopes’ campaign!

Well done to all!

Lions volunteers give the gift of education to young non-verbal autistic boy

Lions volunteers give the gift of education to young non-verbal autistic boy

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child and this is especially true for young children with autism.

Early intervention is key for the learning and development of children with autism and with the support of Lions volunteers a young non-verbal autistic 4-year-old is kickstarting 2022 with the education he needs to reach his full potential.

Thomas’ parents are from Columbia. They are not permanent residents in Australia and therefore cannot access the NDIS. Navigating the system is particularly difficult and expensive. Despite both working Thomas’ parents couldn’t afford the early intervention their 4-year-old son needs.

Lions supporting young boy with autism

Lions volunteer Elvio Munzone with Thomas and his Dad Daniel.

When he came across the Martinez family last year, Sydney based Lion volunteer Elvio Munzone was on a mission to do what he could to help.

He quickly rallied within the Lions network and was able to secure $22,000 funding which will give Thomas access to 48 weeks of early intervention education.

“At Lions we’re passionate about helping those in need in the community. When Thomas’ parents reached out to me and explained their situation I was very keen to do what I could to assist. Early intervention is so important particularly for children with autism. This is not the first time Lions has supported young children with autism. A few years ago, we supported a young non-verbal boy with autism who benefited greatly and is now speaking and attending school.”

Thanks to Lions Clubs of Bondi, Manly, Lugarno, Coogee, Hunter Business Lions Club, Blacktown Ponds, Parramatta, Epping Eastwood, Sydney Seaside, Sydney Champions Inner West, Follow Your Dream Foundation-Australia and a grant from the Australian Lions Foundation, Thomas will now have the opportunity to benefit from early intervention too.

Thomas’ parents say they are very grateful for the support.

“As a young family and not permanent residents in Australia, navigating the health and education system can be hard and it’s very expensive. Thomas is everything to us and we are just so grateful that he is now able to access the early intervention that he needs, “says Daniel Martinez.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you to Lions for your support. It’s hard to find more words to express just how grateful we are. It is such an important time in our son’s life and we are sure that he will benefit greatly from this early intervention education. Thank you.”

Lions Club of Whitford Donates to Mobile Laundry Van


For many Australians, clean clothes are an unattainable luxury. The team at Perth-based Fortuna Foundation are trying to change that.

Launched in August of 2021, their Positive Spin Van operates as a laundromat-on-wheels providing free laundry services to those in need.

Currently, there are over 9,000 people experiencing homelessness in Perth. Of these, it is estimated that 1,100 are sleeping rough.

Recognising the importance of such a service, the Lions Club of Whitford recently donated $1,000 to the initiative.

“(Project Spin) is such a good and generous project to help those not as fortunate and their work should be recognised, I believe,” said Derek Best, President of the Lions Club of Whitford.

The Van, with its two washing machines and two clothes dryers, parks alongside partnering community centres and churches according to a roster that is distributed by flyers and community groups.

During the wash and dry cycle, those utilising the service will be provided with food and a safe space to share stories and conversations with Positive Spin’s volunteers.

Through bridging the welfare gap, Fortuna Foundation hope to restore dignity in its users and inspire confidence to seek out employment.

“The Positive Spin Van was birthed with a vision to better address the needs of our community. We hope that by providing this free service we will alleviate some of the common stresses our homeless friends face every day; that they won’t have to worry about something as simple as clean clothes and hygiene which we often take for granted,” said Fortuna Foundation Board Member, Dinesh Aggarwal.

Although the Positive Spin Van is not a permanent solution to eradicating homelessness, it is an important and necessary step in restoring the dignity and humanity of those experiencing homelessness in Perth.


To make a donation or to learn more about this initiative, click here.

Lions Clubs Join to Sponsor Hearing Assistance Dog


In November of 2021, Deborah Mayfield was presented with a Hearing Assistance Dog by the Australian Lions Hearing Dogs, as supported by two local Lions Clubs.

The Lions Clubs of Bundaberg and Bundaberg North teamed up to sponsor the dog, who is expected to provide more than a decade of service.

Currently, one in six Australians experience some form of hearing loss; however, this is expected to rise to one in four by 2050.

Hearing Assistance Dogs offer their owners confidence, companionship and an improved sense of emotional and physical wellbeing.

Bundaberg Lions Club president Grant MacDonald, member Gail McKewen, Deborah Mayfield, trainer Nick Liemandt from Australian Lions Hearing Dogs and Lions secretary Allan Williams with hearing dog Dudley.

Deborah’s dog, Dudley, was accompanied by Australian Lions Hearing Dogs trainer Nick Liemandt to Bundaberg from the Training Centre in South Australia. He spent a week in Bundaberg settling him in and training her on how Dudley operates.

Complementing this, trained Lions members have spent the following 12 weeks supporting Deborah in Dudley’s training.

Although the training and care costs of each Hearing Assistance Dog total more than $37,000, the Australian Lions Hearing Dogs, supported by Lions Clubs and corporate sponsors, gift the dogs to deaf or hard of hearing people.

Since their founding in 1980, Australian Lions Hearing Dogs have delivered more than 600 dogs to deaf or hard of hearing Australians. ALHD continue to train, on average, 25 dogs per year.


If you wish to donate to Australian Lions Hearing Dogs or learn more, click here.

Lions Healthcare Heroes

For the past two years, our nurses and frontline healthcare workers have been under the pump.

Soaring COVID-19 cases as a result of the spread of the Omicron variant has put immense pressure on the healthcare system.

An online fundraiser launched by Lions volunteers is giving the community an opportunity to say thank you to their COVID Healthcare Heroes.

Covid Healthcare Heroes

The Coogee Lions Club’s Healthcare Heroes GoFundme page has now raised over $5,000 to help recognise the hard work of frontline staff working tirelessly in COVID-19 Red Zones.

Recognised nurses are presented with a Lions Healthcare Heroes certificate of thanks and a $50 shopping voucher.

Coogee Lions Club Co-President Sari-Elle Kraemer says the project is encouraging the community to get behind the fundraiser and show healthcare workers how much they are appreciated at this difficult time.

“Healthcare staff have been working under extreme conditions now for many months.”

“Many are working under extreme conditions right now with longer and more frequent shifts in physically challenging environments, having to perform their role in double layered personal protective equipment and not to mention endure the stress and trauma of increasing case numbers. We wanted to show them how much they are appreciated.”

Covid Healthcare Heroes

“We encourage the community to help us through making a donation or helping spread the word. The more funds raised the more hardworking Healthcare Heroes we can recognise.”

For more information on how you can help thank our COVID-19 Healthcare Heroes, click here.

Every dollar raised will go to the Healthcare Heroes.

Disaster Relief Australia Launch New Initiative


When Covid-19 arrived on Australia’s doorstep in early 2020, recovery efforts following the devastating Black Summer bushfires were halted in accordance with public health orders. Bushfire-affected communities, off the back of drought, fire and floods, were then faced with extended periods of pandemic induced isolation. Now, nearly two years on, there is still much work to be done on the relief effort and the volunteers of Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) are rolling up their sleeves to help.

DRA, a partner of Lions Australia, is a veteran-led, non-profit organisation specialising in disaster relief. Since their foundation in 2016, volunteers have helped over 200 communities in the wake of natural disasters, both in Australia and abroad. Much like Lions, members are dedicated to serving their communities and working together to help those in need.

DRA have recently launched Project Resilience, which aims to assist at least 34 vulnerable communities become more resilient to natural hazards by 2025. DRA intends to empower these communities with projects that build resilience to natural disasters and foster a sense of community pride.

The first Project Resilience activity took place in Mallacoota, in Victoria’s Gippsland region, one of the hardest hit towns during the Black Saturday bushfires of 2019/20. As the bushfires raged across Australia, it was apocalyptic images of Mallacoota that were plastered across the globe. Photographs of an entire community huddled on a beach as the world glowed red around them became an emblem of Australia’s bushfire crisis.

With disaster recovery activities limited as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mallacoota is still in need of assistance. As part of Operation Thorpe, DRA recently spent two weeks in the area working to make safe and assist with the clean-up efforts whilst building community resilience and mitigate any future disasters.

As Disaster Relief Australia deploys teams across Australia under Project Resilience, the organisation is seeking volunteers. If you’re interested in assisting with this initiative, or their disaster relief efforts, you can find more information here.

Lions Bushfire Relief in Kiah

When the smoke clears, Lions are still there

Whilst the spotlight is no longer focused on the horrific Black Summer bushfires, the long road to recovery is only beginning for many communities.

Lions volunteers were some of the first on the ground and the first to provide emergency support to affected communities. This continues today.

In addition to those providing community service in affected areas, over $4.6 million of emergency funding was raised and distributed to communities as part of the Australian Lions Foundation’s National Bushfire Appeal. But the support from Lions did not stop there. Over the past two years, even through a health pandemic, volunteers have continued to support those affected and are focusing on helping communities rebuild.

A recent grant of $567,000 from Lions Clubs International Foundation is supporting 9 projects across 7 LGA’s ranging from Balmoral in the South of Sydney to Bruthan in Victoria.

Lions Bushfire Relief in Kiah

One local was very grateful for Lions’ support

One of the superhero team of volunteers spearheading this work is Past District Governor Gordon Matthews along with other Lions PDG Geoff Hobart, PCC Kim Forrest, PDG Neil Wingrave and DG Steve Boyce have coordinated the grant.

“The Black Summer bushfires devastated many communities. But when disaster strikes Lions volunteers roll up their sleeves and do what they can to help. That’s exactly what we did when the bushfires hit in 2019. From supporting frontline staff and those who had lost their homes to purchasing tanks and delivering water and rebuilding infrastructure, Lions have been providing vital support each day. But it takes many years for a community to recover from this kind of disaster.”

With many of these communities still picking up the pieces, Lions are working with other likeminded organisations to help them rebuild, and making these grants go even further. Just this month, Lions and Connecting Communities Australia (CCA) volunteers linked up to support those in the Kiah area, installing water tanks, clearing fence lines, removing fallen trees and repairing chicken runs.

Lions and CCA volunteers bushfire relief

Lions volunteers taking a well-deserved break in bushfire ravaged Kiah

“The most recent grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation is supporting 9 important projects across 7 LGA’s ranging from Balmoral in the South of Sydney to Bruthan in Victoria. We have consulted with local communities, groups and governments to see what they need most. The projects range from rebuilding halls, fencing, picnic shelters, BBQ areas, parks and toilet blocks to building memorial parks in locations where communities gathered during the fires.”

“This funding and the work of our local Lions volunteers is not only about recovery and reflection but also resilience. Many communities are investing in back up solar systems and we are also purchasing firefighter trailers which hold 1500 litres of water and can be used for back burning.”




Deborah Hutton Lions Ambassador for Skin Cancer Screening

Lions appoints Deborah Hutton as Ambassador for Skin Cancer Screening Program

Lions Australia have appointed Deborah Hutton as their first ever ambassador to advocate for their skin cancer screening and detection programs.

The media personality praised Lions after sharing a moving account of her own skin cancer battle at the 2021 Lions Convention in Canberra, singling out their mobile screening vans in Western and South Australia.

“These projects are vital in waking up Australians to the dangers of skin cancer,” says Deborah. “It’s critically important to get your skin checked, not only for yourself but for your loved ones.”

At the Canberra Convention, Deborah set a new challenge for Lions in New South Wales and Queensland to step up their fundraising efforts for their own skin cancer screening vans.

“Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world,” she said. “I’m calling on Lions to do more to reduce that level and its impact on families in two of our most pertinent states for skin cancer”.

Deborah Hutton Lions Canberra Convention

Deborah Hutton speaks at the 2021 Lions Canberra Convention

The incorporated charity, the Lions V Districts Cancer Foundation, launched its mobile skin check van in March 2021.

With over $400,000 raised through the generosity of Lions Clubs and philanthropic donors, the van is now offering free skin check services, especially to those in rural and remote areas with limited access to specialist skin care professionals.

“These guys are amazing,” Deborah told her social media followers after inspecting the new V-Districts van on show at the convention.

As it tours around, the unit will be a valuable resource for local people to access not only the skin check, but timely information about skin care and self-checking techniques.

“The fear is not finding something,” Deborah explains. “The fear is that if you have something you can’t detect and you leave it, you’re not going to be around to tell your story – and that’s scary.”

As their first ambassador, Lions is excited for Deborah to lend her voice in raising awareness about the importance of skin checks and early detection through their skin cancer screening programs.

You can find out more about the program here.

Photographer Showcases the Community Spirit of Storm-Ravaged Trentham


Partially Funded by the Lions Club of Trentham

When faced with disaster, Australians roll up their sleeves and help their communities, in any way they can. Following the ferocious storm that tore through central Victoria in June of this year, freelance photographer Sandy Scheltema realised just that.

Image – Sandy Scheltema

Over June 9 and 10, Trentham and its surrounds were battered by winds that reached over 100km/hr. The combination of rain and strong, South-Easterly winds resulted in the collapse of masses of trees. This led to loss of power, road closures and approximately $10 million worth of damage.

“Sixty houses were damaged, (fifteen left uninhabitable), seven cars and water tanks destroyed, 63 sheds and 123 fences were damaged. 35% of the Shire’s footprint was affected, and 220 council roads impacted,” writes Scheltema.

Image – Sandy Scheltema

Moved by the heroic and inspiring stories that emerged from the disaster, the Trentham local set to work on a photo series to showcase the “courage, tenacity, bravery and resilience within (her) community”.

Funded by the Lions Club of Trentham, Hepburn Shire Council and Districts Community Bank, the series, titled ‘Stories of the Storm,’ consists of 15 of Sandy Scheltema’s photographs; each accompanied by a story about the subjects’ experience of the storm.

Image – Sandy Scheltema

The subjects range from an SES volunteer recounting co-ordinating the retrieval of a woman in labour, to the Director of Nursing at the aged care facility riding his bike through a treacherous graveyard of trees to get to work and provide care for the residents, to an 88-year-old woman offering warmth and shelter to “storm refugees”. Each story is as inspiring as the one before and serves as a valuable reminder to look out for one another, not just in times of crisis.

In Australia, community spirit never fails to triumph in the face of adversity and Sandy Scheltema has showcased it so eloquently. The collection ‘Stories of the Storm’ can be found here.