After a year of many Awesome Newcastles via video pitches and Zoom calls, we were overjoyed to be back in action last night at The Criterion Hotel! We caught up, had a chat, had some chips, and began to read the room of interesting characters.We welcomed five guest board members last night including first timers: Lauren Devine, University of Newcastle, James Tocci, Puro People, Brandon McIntosh, City of Newcastle and Catalina Davidson of Newcastle Grammar School. We welcomed back Graham Batten, Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.
Our first Awesome Newcastle finalists of 2021 were Lisa Shaw of Let’s Talk About Death, Janette Hoppe of Women of Words and Tricia Martin of The Virtual Intern.
Lisa spoke first. She’s worked in health care for thirty years, and she’s spent a lot of time with families during the dying process. She considers this a privilege, and she wants to improve death literacy. She told us about her eight-episode podcast series that addresses many of the unspoken aspects of preparing for death-our own or that of someone else. Death is something that every living person will experience, yet for many people it’s not openly discussed. Her topics include: death and dying in the 21st century, chronic disease, frailty and aging and more. She’d like to feature guests from the health industry, funeral directors, social services, aged care and more. She told us if she won the money, she’d use it for podcast production training, studio access, remuneration for guest speakers and printed resource materials.
Next up came Janette, a performance poet and self-funded publisher with a publication platform called Papatuanuku Press. She told us about her Women of Words project which was created in 2016 in response to the alarming death toll of women and children at the hands of loved ones. The project highlights domestic violence through hosting events and publishing books that raise funds for local women’s refuges. This year the Women of Words project has submitted to two literary events: IF Maitland and The Newcastle Writer’s Festival. Previously Janette has always paid poets out of her own pocket, and she’d like to use the Awesome money to do this instead. The rest of the money would go towards publication costs.
And our third finalist was Tricia, a behaviour-change program developer and facilitator. Her project – Virtual Intern Platform is a digital response to the changing work landscape. VIP bridges a gap between Hunter youth and industry, allowing young people to be creators in their work placements. Virtual Intern Platform enables students to complete project-based and real-world tasks that they can submit to employers and receive real feedback. She would use Awesome funding to launch an additional placement in the health care industry for hunter high school students. Costs will cover video and audio development for this internship, specifically filming health industry employees who will be delivering the projects to students.
It was, as always, a tough call, but eventually the board reached a decision.
Then we asked Lauren to pass cash to the winner, Let’s Talk About Death!
Congratulations to Lisa for your cash to fund your interesting and important podcast, and congratulations to the rest of the finalists for a job well done! Remember, applications never expire so there’s a chance we might see you again soon at another Awesome Newcastle! We’ll see you in March, so start brainstorming ideas for your next Awesome application!