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CSEA Winners at WACOSS Conference 2023

Ruah is proud of Winnie Hayward and Elena Petrici who were selected as winners in their categories, ‘Above and Beyond’ and ‘Excellence in Leadership’ at the Community Service Excellence Awards, automatically nominating them both in the West Australian of the Year Awards.

An outstanding achievement and recognition of their commitment, passion, and dedication to the work that we do and the people we serve.

Winnie Hayward, is a proud Noongar woman of the Goreng people in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. She works as a Support Worker at Ruah Community Service’s refuge for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, Kambarang Place, as well as within Ruah’s Business Development Team as an Aboriginal Research Officer.

Winnie uses her lived experience of grief and loss as she walks alongside the Aboriginal women seeking refuge at Kambarang. In 2021, Winnie conceived a project The Moorditj Weirn (Strong Spirit) Wreaths initiative, funded by the Department of Communities Grant for Women. It involves our clients and volunteers at Kamabarang working with consultant floral artists and staff members to hand make dried flower funeral wreaths that are gifted to Aboriginal families who have lost loved ones.

The floral wreaths are a symbol of shared grief with the community. The act of making and offering the wreath is empowering for the women and increases their sense of worth and value.

Winnie acknowledges that if it wasn’t for the support of a strong community that wrapped around her when she needed it, she may not be here today. Winnie now wants to be that same practical beacon of hope to others.

Elena Petrici identifies as a Peer Professional with a Lived Experience of mental health challenges and family and domestic violence. Elena leads the largest Lived Experience Peer workforce in Western Australia, as General Manager Peer Programs at Ruah Community Services.

She has over 20 years of experience in the mental health and human services sector, with a clinical background, both here in Australia and internationally. Elena thrives on being an agent for change integrating and innovating solutions to bridging both service and workplace culture gaps, for an effective, compassionate and trauma informed approach to both the individuals Ruah serves, and the teams she supports.

Thank you, Winnie and Elena, for bringing your passion, lived experience, and dedication to the hard work you do at Ruah. Ruah is a better place with you both as part of our greater team.