Rotary wins thanks to support from North West City News


The Rotary Club of Flemington Kensington has been recognised with a “public image” award by its Rotary District Governor Dale Hoy following a successful nomination.

Thanks to North West City News, and the materials on our website, newsletter and social media, we won the category – thanks to the team at North West City News for its support.


Neighbourhood House manager awarded for “outstanding leadership”  

The highly respected manager of Kensington Neighbourhood House Rebecca Smith was recognised for her outstanding community leadership at the recent Rotary Flemington Kensington president’s dinner.

The Vance Hilton Community Leadership award is presented annually, recognising a member of the community who has gone beyond what could be expected of them. The award is in memory of one of the club’s founding members and a past Rotary District Governor who was passionate about community and developing leaders to help others.

In presenting the award, president Lesley McCarthy spoke of the significant strategies and programs implemented by Kensington Neighbourhood House during COVID, and the support given to local residents and their families.

From food parcels, to homework packs, technology and digital support and health and wellbeing, the breadth and depth of support provided to the community across these three priority areas was extraordinary.

The award comprises a certificate of recognition, membership of the club and a donation to the charity of the recipient’s choice. Rebecca chose to donate to Kensington’s The Venny – a free communal backyard and safe space for children aged 5 to 16 located in JJ Holland Park.


Let’s talk about mental health

After becoming aware of a need in the community, the Rotary Club of Flemington Kensington held a mental health forum in May titled, “Let’s Talk About Mental Health”.

A large group attended including many from the culturally and linguistically diverse communities living in Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne.

Featuring a keynote address by well-known local psychologist Maria Ruberto, who has worked in local schools for more than 20 years, the audience heard about the reasons behind some mental illnesses, the signs and symptoms, the “two-week rule” and how to support family and friends experiencing distress. Maria also spoke about mental health first aid (MHFA) and its importance in training community members to better understand and support people experience mental illness.

The club’s ARH PhD scholar Catherine Johnston focussed on mental health in primary school aged children and how teachers and school staff can recognise, understand and support children with mental health issues. Her presentation focussed on teachers having the skills to support children and work with parents.

Dr Parisa Shiran from the Centre for Multicultural Women’s Health spoke on the challenges facing women and their families in the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) setting. She challenged the audience to explore how migrants are able to seek and find support when their visa/migrant status does not allow them to access Medicare; when unemployment or economic issues prevent private healthcare; how racism impacts on mental health; the waiting lists and time difficulties to access help; and the language challenges when there is no vocabulary for anxiety, depression, mental health in your ethnic language.

Finally, the audience heard an interview with a young woman from an Eritrean background who has “lived” experience of mental health in a CALD setting. Fatima was interviewed by Catherine from HeadSpace who asked Fatima to describe her early symptoms her response to the illness, where and how she was able to access support and how support from a counsellor helped her heal.

At the end of the presentations, audience members were encouraged to ask questions either in the main forum, or individually as our presenters offered their time and counsel.

One issue which arose during the evening, was the lack of support for teenagers and their parents in accessing assistance, and for the CALD communities, knowing where to go, how to ask for help and the dialogue between parents and their children. •

A request was made for another session at a more “mother friendly” time and this is planned for later in the year.

Another request was made for MHFA training for local community workers and those supporting teenagers and younger children in the high-rise estates and CALD communities, and this has been listed as a focus project for the club. •


For more information: or email [email protected]


Caption 1: Rebecca Smith, Melanie Del Monaco (City of Melbourne) and Lesley McCarthy.

Caption 2: Rebecca Smith, Tony Laycock, Lesley McCarthy.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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