Mum of the year

Mum of the year

A single mum from a remote outback town who admits her teenage years are a big blur has become Australia's youngest Mother of the Year.

Rebecca Healy from Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory was named Barnardos Australia’s Mother of the Year 2011 at a gala dinner held at The Ivy in Sydney last Friday. Rebecca was presented with her award by The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for Human Services, Minister for Social Inclusion who commended Rebecca for her dedication to her family and being a passionate advocate for youth.

Rebecca has turned her life around to become an inspirational mother to not only her own two children but also too many in her remote community.  

At just 25, Rebecca is the youngest recipient of the title in the awards’ 16 year history. Rebecca was overwhelmed, humbled and honoured by the announcement and paid special tribute to her friend Jessica Arnold who nominated her and to all the other deserving mothers from the other states and territories.

“Rebecca is a dynamo with a clear mission for community service, along with a devotion to her own family. She somehow manages to still find the energy to encourage development of those less fortunate than herself. It’s her mission to help as many people as she can,” says her friend Jessica who nominated her.

Rebecca has turned her life around to become an inspirational mother to not only her own two children but also too many in her remote community.

After leaving home at 12, Rebecca lived in refuges for seven years and was taken in by friends.

At 19, she decided to clean up her act. She bought her first house, lost 50 kilos and decided she was going to lead by example. Now a single mum to her two boys Blake, three, and Chase, four, she also cares for her 16-year-old sister full-time and is an emergency foster parent.

“My teenage years were a big blur. I was 50kg heavier, I had black hair that came across my face, I didn’t speak to anyone, you wouldn’t see me at daylight and I certainly didn’t go to school,” says Rebecca. “I was taken into a refuge and a lady just believed in me. For some reason, she looked past everything else and said there’s something special in you and we’re going to bring it out. Because of her, I swore that I would always give someone that opportunity too.”

Rebecca is a passionate advocate for the local youth and is regarded as a role model in her local community. She works as an indigenous economic development officer, and participates voluntarily on a range of committees, including the Barkly Youth Service Providers Network, which she formed. Rebecca’s story and her message is synonymous with Barnardos’ belief that if children are given positive encouragement and support, and a safe and loving family environment, they will feel good about themselves and that attitude can inspire them to lead happy, productive lives.

“I congratulate Rebecca on being awarded Barnardos Australia’s Mother of the Year 2011. Her ability to overcome life’s adversities and dedicate her life to her children by becoming a mentor to the youth in her community is truly inspirational. I also commend Barnardos in honouring all mothers through these national awards and, in doing so, recognising and promoting positive parenting,” said Minister Plibersek.

As the Barnardos Australia’s Mother of the Year 2011, Rebecca receives a brand new Ford Fiesta from City Ford Sydney; a Murray Princess cruise from Captain Cook Cruises; a pearl and diamond pendant from Autore Pearls; A 42” Full HD LCD television from Aldi; a Breville Scraper Mixer Pro; a $500 gift hamper of pampering goods from Erina Fair retailers; a flower arrangement from EasyFlowers.com.au and a Lindt chocolates hamper.

The Barnardos Australia’s Mother of the Year Awards marks the start of Barnardos’ winter appeal with a target of over $1 million in donations from the Australian public. This appeal focuses on childhood neglect and how Barnardos makes a real difference. The developmental and emotional consequences of neglect in the most vulnerable early years of life can be lifelong. These children need someone who truly believes in them. To find out more call 1800 061 000 or visit www.barnardos.org.au