The 2023 Leaving A Legacy Award was presented to Connie Salamone from the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) at the Victorian Protecting Children Awards in Melbourne this week.
The Centre CEO Deb Tsorbaris presented the award at the Awards event celebrating the achievements and impact of community service organisations and individuals across the child and family services sector.
“I’m really excited to celebrate the many individuals and teams that are pushing for better outcomes for children and young people across Victoria, and who are being recognized for their work today,” said Ms Tsorbaris.
“The Leaving A Legacy award means a lot to the Centre and our sector. It is the pinnacle of career achievement, and I am delighted to present the award to Connie Salamone from VACCA.”
“Connie is an incredible force and has been at the forefront of change – shaping our sector, and the way we work, listen and share, and guiding many great leaps forward.”
Ms Salamone’s life has been devoted to working in the child and family sector. In 2002, she commenced with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) and went on to hold responsibility for VACCA’s front-line services.
She was instrumental in VACCA being authorised in the Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care program, cultivated the development and inclusion of cultural elements across child protection training and practice, and led the development of an Aboriginal Evidence base across VACCA’s work.
Ms Salamone is an exceptional leader and advocate for the rights and wellbeing of Aboriginal children, young people, and families, and communities. She has a strong sense of the importance of culture, system reform and addressing the distinct needs of Aboriginal people. She has been a strong advocate of the need to invest in Aboriginal children and young people as ‘just and right thing to do’.
On receiving the award Ms Salamone said: “It takes many people to make a difference in our field and I have worked with the best. I am incredibly proud and feel very privileged to win this award.”
“For me, playing a part in seeking to promote and advocate for Aboriginal self-determination in policy, service design, evaluation methods and most importantly in practice is what has driven me for the last 20-plus years.
“My hope is one day this to be just a given and not require the determined advocacy that’s still needed today. Over my whole career, it has been obvious that it’s the children and families who do the hard work, and who have to manage multiple services and often disrespect. I want to say thank you to them for what they have taught me without which I wouldn’t be standing here today,” Ms Salamone said.
Ms Tsorbaris said it was the third time this Leaving and Legacy award had been presented by The Centre.
“I am delighted that we have this opportunity to recognise some of the truly amazing people who have had a lasting impact on the work we do,” she said.
Previous Leaving a Legacy Award winners are Luke Rumbold, director of Upper Murray Family Care, and the late Gerard Jones, former deputy CEO of MacKillop and a pioneer in our sector.
There were many inspiring and heart-warming moments shared at the 2023 Victorian Protecting Children Awards 20th-anniversary ceremony.
The Awards recognise and celebrate people from across the child and family services sector, child protection, government and academic organisations, foster, kinship and permanent carers, volunteers and community members.
Awards were presented across 11 categories, honouring the individuals, teams and groups who help keep children and young people safe, and families strong.
Each of the winners has shown exceptional commitment to positively impacting the lives of children, young people and their families across the state. You can read the short stories behind each of the outstanding winners by visiting the Victorian Protecting Children Awards website www.dffh.vic.gov.au/victorian-protecting-children-awards