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The charitable duo helping each other through grief with films

I knew nothing about running a charity, but Vicki and I helped each other, encouraging each other to take on challenges. We’ve both got “can-do” attitudes. Don’t tell us “no” because that’ll only inflame us. We complement each other well. Sometimes I just want to get on with things, but I know I need to be patient: Vicki’s got the eye for the detail.

“We’ve both got ‘can-do’ attitudes. Don’t tell us ‘no’ because that’ll only inflame us. We complement each other well.”

If it hadn’t been for Vicki, my life could’ve taken a very different turn. I grew up in housing commission flats, with a single mum and different stepfathers. Vicki has showed me a whole new world and made me believe that there’s beauty in life and anything is possible. Her investment and belief in me changed my trajectory. She has been like a loving big sister, and I feel so much love and gratitude towards her. There are no words for that. It makes me cry.

Vicki: When I met Susan, my kids were growing up and I was looking for something meaningful to do, something that would touch my heart. When I saw the work she was doing, I felt as though I’d found my soulmate.

I was used to the corporate world, but what Susan was doing was all heart, coming from a place of compassion. We connected immediately and I started volunteering half a morning a week, but it soon grew to be more.

The more we worked together, the more impressed I was. Here was this gorgeous young woman, who came from a tough background, changing the world in the work she was doing with homeless children. I admired her enormous determination, and I learnt from her that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Susan challenged me, but also encouraged me, and that gave me the confidence to take on more responsibility within the foundation. As our friendship developed, she also gave me unconditional love.

Susan has supported me through some tough times. One of my family members had a drug problem, and I’d talk to her about that. She introduced me to a youth worker who helped enormously.

“One thing I’ve learnt from [Susan] is the importance of family meetings, where everyone can express their feelings.”

Then in late 2007, one of my sisters died and my life changed drastically. I’d become chair of the foundation that year and had to step down because I couldn’t put in the time. That was a tough decision. Although Susan didn’t want to lose a trusted colleague and friend, she supported me and my decision. We both know we’ll always be there for each other in any situation. One thing I really like about Susan is her ability to just not talk sometimes. We can just be together, without talking, and feel totally at home.

Susan and I have shared values, especially around our families. One thing I’ve learnt from her is the importance of family meetings, where everyone can express their feelings and be heard without interruption. I took this practice to my own family and to this day we still hold family meetings where we take turns listening to each other.

Susan has always welcomed my children and given them a hands-on example of what it means to work within a community. She has given them an understanding of philanthropy and the real benefits it provides.

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For the last 10 years, Susan and I have been going to the movies together at the Palace Cinema Como in South Yarra every Thursday night, lockdown permitting. We chat and giggle our way through, wondering if we’re watching the same movie we saw last week. It’s a way for us both to escape everyday life and enjoy each other’s company.

Susan has a great passion for her work that inspires everyone around her. She has helped me to open my heart, mind and eyes to the world. I respect her as a trusted leader and feel fortunate and honoured to have worked besides her. Our friendship is respectful, loving and non-judgmental.

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