North Melbourne Rotary provides awards to local community volunteers at Annual Phonse Tobin Awards


2018 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the Annual Phonse Tobin Award, created in honour of Phonse Tobin, former member of the Rotary Club of North Melbourne (and former President of the North Melbourne Football Club.) The annual event created in recognition of his contribution to the community of North Melbourne, continues his legacy and recognises volunteers in the community who actively serve their community.

This year’s awards, held on 12th October, 2017 presented awards to 4 highly dedicated volunteers, recommended to the club by sporting, cultural and educational organisations in the North Melbourne Area to celebrate their contributions to community.

Close to 100 guests attended and witnessed the presentation this year including a delegation of a table of members and friends from the Rotary Club of Southbank who moved their meeting night to coincide with the event and continue a strong partnership between the two clubs which grew out of last year’s District Conference. 

Other attendees on the night included our Past District Governor Neville John, wife of the current District Governor Anne Frueh, guest speaker for the night Peter Hollingworth who spoke of his early days in North Melbourne as a Parish Priest, and how then and now, the city of North Melbourne presents challenges to social inclusion. Representatives of the nominating organisations and Tobin Funerals as sponsors of the event were also present.

North Melbourne Rotary would like to make the event even better next year – looking to expand its reach and partner with other Rotary Clubs in our District who want to recognize people in their communities who make a difference.  With the 25th year of the awards, it is sure to be an event to remember.

For further information, about how your club can participate in future awards, please contact:


Successful Awardees this year were:

Hamdi Mohamed – Volunteer at the Huddle @ North Melbourne Football Club (

The Huddle is a program developed by North Melbourne Football Club in association with The Scanlon Foundation and the Australian Multicultural Foundation to improve social cohesion in the North Melbourne community by addressing the causes of disengagement among young people (Those who attended last year’s Conference in Shepparton will remember the presentation by Cameron McLeod, General Manager, Community Engagement at NMFC on the Huddle).  With the support of over 200 volunteers, including Hamdi, the club supports young people to build their lives and their identities in their community and use Football as an avenue for connecting communities

Hamdi came to Australia in 2011 at age 15, sponsored by her sister and is inspired to help young people overcome the challenges they face within their community.

Hamdi always puts her hand up to support activities. She has volunteered in Indigenous programs run by The Huddle in Hume (providing admin-type support), on excursions to the beach or the Australian Open Tennis (supervising younger participants), and generally lending a hand spontaneously whenever there is a need. She currently provides invaluable support to the Careers Pathways program by helping out at Reception and through informal tutoring, sharing her experience of looking for work and her administrative and business skills with other students.  With half of the volunteers in the Huddle also under the age of 25, the partnerships that NMFC and Rotary can forge, with leaders like Hamdi will help connect our organisations with the next generation of leaders.

George Te Whaiti (pronounced te Fighty) – volunteer at Hotham Mission (  

Hotham Mission provides community support for disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised people in and around North Melbourne, Flemington and Kensington.

George, formerly a resident of Ozanam House (emergency accommodation for men in crisis run by VincentCare Victoria), has given back to the community he became a part of, by working collaboratively with service providers which provide support for long-term homelessness in the North Melbourne area.  He is also a much-loved member of this community and each week leads the music program at the centre, encouraging others to express themselves positively through music.

Originally from NZ, George knows what it’s like to be homeless and what it’s like to have to ask for help for food. His passion is helping make sure that families can be looked after, can have a pat on the back and be encouraged to find their way out of homelessness and poverty.

Another role of his in the mission is to inspect donated fruit and veg donated to the organisation and ensure a level of dignity and respect in quality of the food. 

Arshi Abdi – Volunteer Somali Women’s Development Association (

The Somali Women’s Development Association Inc. was formed in 2003. They are a non-profit organization base in Kensington creating positive change for Somali women and young people who aim to achieve human rights through social development and advocacy, and to promote multiculturalism and social cohesion.

They offer support for women and young people 24-hour support, 7 days a week.

Arshi had been injured in Somalia and like many others came to Australia as a refugee.

Moving to Australia is often a huge culture shock which becomes even more complex for them when their Male partners have difficulty in changing from a Male dominated society to one of equality.

Her role at the Association includes volunteering as treasurer of the organisation.

Anne Shepherd – Retired Child Psychologist at Simonds College (

The longest serving volunteer (since 2012) at Simonds College is Anne Shepherd, a retired Child Psychologist. As a Clinical Psychologist she has worked with youths including those with specific learning disabilities, sometimes observing classroom behaviour in order to guide and advise teachers and students.

Anne contacted the school through Mercy Connect which was started by the Mercy Sisters to recruit and train volunteers who work in Australian schools. At Simonds her preference is to work with Year 7 and 8 students in Humanities and English classes.

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