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Canberra region’s Tomorrow Makers

HerCanberra Team

A Yass family respite provider, a disability advocate and social innovator, and a climate adaptation expert from Canberra have shared in $1 million in AMP Tomorrow Fund grants.

Natasha ‘Tash’ Maguire, Nipuni ‘Nip’ Wijewickrema and Tayanah O’Donnell have been named 2017 AMP Tomorrow Makers, the three local women among 45 individuals making a positive impact on the nation who are sharing in the annual grants program.

For the fourth year, AMP’s Tomorrow Fund invited Australians from all walks of life, abilities and interests to share a goal they are working towards that will benefit the community. This year’s AMP Tomorrow Makers are made up of community champions, social innovators, scientists, educators, musicians and more, trying to create a better tomorrow for Australians.

TASH, already recognised in 2016 as Lifeline’s Rising Woman of Spirit and a finalist in the 2017 ACT Australian of The Year Local Hero category, was lauded for her incredible work providing respite for families of children with life-threatening illnesses.

When her daughter, Maya, was battling a very rare form of cancer, Tash’s family sought respite at a Sydney children’s hospice. It was a place to escape the daily grind and concentrate on making memories.

After Maya passed away, Natasha, her husband Mark and daughter Amelia decided to honour her memory by creating Maya’s Rest—a retreat where families of children with life-threatening illnesses can spend precious time together. Their retreat is also a place where grieving families can connect with people who understand what they’re experiencing.

“It’s so important for families to take time out and spend time creating precious memories. We offer them a chance to escape, to forget about everything else and just be together,” says Tash.

The Maguires have drawn on their savings and community support to offer free accommodation, meals and activities. The AMP Tomorrow Fund grant will help them to support more families.

NIP was awarded for her commitment to her social enterprise, GG’s Flowers, a floristry business she established to ensure her sister, Gayana, would have fulfilling employment after school.

Gayana was born with Down syndrome and struggles to communicate verbally. However, her winning smile and the huge high-fives she gives when delivering flowers speaks volumes. With the help of florist step-mum, Geetha, GG’s Flowers—and its spin-off hamper business—now provides meaningful employment in a supportive environment for more people with special needs. Nip is using her grant to buy a portable flower cool room, which will enable GG’s Flowers to cater for corporates and events further afield.

TAYANAH has long been interested in how coastal communities are adapting to climate change. Drawing on her legal and social science backgrounds, she recently completed a PhD examining how two coastal regions—Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie—are responding to a changing environment.

tayanah

Tayanah’s research examines the relationship between law and climate adaptation from government, private sector and community perspectives. She is now working on a book featuring stories of coastal adaptation and new academic insights, as well as evidence for industry, government and the community at a critical time. This grant will help Tayanah undertake further fieldwork and analysis in order to produce her book.

Head of the AMP Foundation Helen Liondos said the calibre of AMP Tomorrow Makers was particularly strong this year, which is also the 25th  anniversary of the charitable foundation:

“The 2017 AMP Tomorrow Makers all share a selflessness and sense of determination that we believe should be supported and celebrated. We hope these grants will help them to take their good work even further and make a positive impact on their community and the nation.”

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