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    Leichhardt Champion of the Month - July

    My office churns out a lot of media releases when things happen in the community or there’s information that people should be aware of. They’re not all picked up by media outlets and one recently was fairly mundane, about a one-off payment of $75 to Australian pensioners to help with the cost of rising electricity bills.

    Local radio journo Megan Hughes, from HIT Far North Queensland 103.5, gave me a call to get some extra comments and it played on the news the next morning.

    I was very surprised to then get an email from a Cairns resident, Leanne Schuler, who said she had heard the item and it had prompted her to give my office a call.

    Leanne explained that she’d been thinking for a while about how she could find a suitable pensioner who really needs a bit of help as she would like to pay their electricity bill on their behalf.

    “I see people sponsor children overseas and I thought, why don’t I sponsor a pensioner in Australia, in my own backyard? We can see where the money’s going and help someone who may be struggling,” she said.
    “It’s one thing less for them to worry about… Can you please point me in the right direction?”

    Well, I was blown away by this amazing gesture of generosity so I rang Leanne and we had a yarn, and agreed that she would pay a worthy pensioner’s electricity bill for a whole year.

    I got in touch with Illy and Shad, the breakfast show presenters on HIT FNQ, and explained the situation.

    They too appreciated Leanne’s gesture and ran an interview with me on the station about the offer, and put a promotion on their HIT FNQ Facebook page asking for people to nominate a suitable aged pensioner for a ‘Pensioner Pay Day’.

    In her interview, Leanne described to listeners the type of person she’d like to assist.

    “You’re always hearing about people who go to bed early because they don’t want to pay for heating costs, or leave the TV going because they’re terrified of their electricity bill.

    “It may be someone who doesn’t have family support around them to help them out when times get tough - that’s the kind of person I am looking for.”

    There was a strong response to the Facebook post and soon after Illy announced that a local pensioner called Susan would be benefiting from Leanne’s offer. Leanne has been provided with Susan’s details and they have connected this week.

    Leanne is modest about her gesture but on behalf of the Leichhardt community, I’d like to thank her for her wonderful initiative. We both hope that it might inspire others do the same – if you have capacity to help out in a similar way, please get in touch with my office.

    As Illy said, it’s not just about financial generosity; it’s about connecting with your fellow community members and creating relationships with those who might not be fortunate enough to have a support network around them.