UPDATED: Seven of the most helpful people in Australia

UPDATE: Congratulations to Di Carroll from TRANSHELP who was the overall winner and to American Express for giving each finalist $10 000 so in effect everyone was a winner.

This is a sponsored post brought to you by American Express. Today’s post is a feel good story.  A REAL feel good story, about seven extraordinarily helpful people and how you can vote for one of them to win a $100,000 grant to realise the true potential of their cause. Lana writes:

Last month American Express began a nationwide search for Australia’s most helpful person. This was no mean feat – it is no surprise that there are a LOT of helpful people in Australia. In fact, according to recent American Express research, 85 percent of Australians enrich their lives by volunteering and helping the community.

585 people entered the competition to receive a $100,000 grant.  To be eligible, entrants had to demonstrate how they dedicate their lives to helping others realise their potential and how they intend to use the grant to continue their selfless work.

The seven finalists (one from each state) were all chosen by members of the American Express Enriched List – a group of 14 everyday people who are using their skills and talents to help others realise their potential.

In addition to the $100,000 grant, the seven finalists will receive a double pass to The Oprah Winfrey Show in Sydney on 14th December.

Now American Express would love YOU to vote for the person you believe should win – you can vote here (go to the helping others tab) but first read a little about each of the amazing finalists.


Grace McQuilten (Victoria)

helpful people, grace mcquilten
Grace McQuilten

Grace started The Social Studio in early 2009 as a direct response to witnessing social injustice in her community. Through her volunteer work with local migrant and refugee communities, Grace saw the difficult journey refugee youth face. She was also made aware that because many of these young refugees are spending years in refugee camps, some are missing out on education and find themselves struggling to compete with their peers in school.

The Social Studio uses the positive and empowering world of fashion to build self esteem, create a supportive training environment and create jobs for young people who need support.   It has become a second home for young designers, who also have access to financial counselling, legal advice, social support and even driving lessons.


helpful people, inga shea
Inga Shea

Inga Shea (West Australia)

Inga is a doctor with works for an organisation in Perth called Street Doctor. Street Doctor provides quality health care to the homeless and disadvantaged people of Perth.  The organisation has a van that has been turned into a GP clinic and is driven  to various sites around Perth providing a mobile service that is readily available, non judgmental and non discriminatory.  Street Doctor has a doctor, nurse, outreach worker and a mental health worker and they are able to meet the many needs of the communities they serve.


Di Carroll (Australian Capital Territory)


helpful people, winner, di carroll
Di Carroll

In February of this year Mari’s husband was killed in a heavy vehicle accident. He left behind his wife and four children. Mari nominated Di Carroll, Founder and CEO of TRANSHELP Foundation to receive the $100k grant.

TRANSHELP is a 100% volunteer based organisation that assists and supports drivers and families within the Road Transport Sector who are living with the effects of road trauma through an injury that has killed or made a family member permanently incapacitated. Di’s aim is to enable TRANSHELP to reach more people within an industry that has the highest fatality rate in Australia.


helpful people, matthew
Matthew Bakunowicz

Matthew Bakunowicz (Northern Territory)

Matthew offers an ongoing opportunity for young Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory to create and perform RnB and Hip Hop music.   He offers a positive, creative and constructive outlet for them to release their frustrations and general feelings in a way that can be used to encourage others who face a lot of the same difficulties growing up.  Matthew would like to build a studio to create professional/studio level music with local vocalists and musicians in the Northern Territory.


helpful people, jane crosswell, american express
Jane Crosswell

Jane Crosswell (Tasmania)

Jane is developing a scholarship project called the Sandakan Best You Can Be Scholarship.  The Scholarship will provide leadership, community contribution, social inclusion and physical and mental wellbeing development opportunities for young people aged 16-25 in the Brighton Municipality.

The challenge offers participants a unique opportunity to develop life skills such as tolerance, self-worth, team spirit and leadership while giving back to the community.



helpful people, aimee schnook, american express
Aimee Schnook

Aimee Schook (South Australia)

Aimee helps children who fall through the cracks of the education system. Children with Autism, Dyslexia and general learning delays can often fall behind and find it hard to catch up as teachers try to teach classes of mixed abilities with up to 30 children.  Aimee plans to help these children with their own individualised program designed to help bridge the gap between them and their peers.

Aimee would like to open a shop-front where she can set up programs and train students who are studying teaching and other interested parties and teach them how to implement programs.  This would allow her to supervise and construct programs that the children can do at home or in the centre with staff that are aware of that child’s individual needs.


helpful people, sue knight, american express
Sue Knight

Sue Knight (Queensland)

Sue is the President of the Parents and Family Support Group at the Aboriginal and Islander Independent Community School in Acacia Ridge. Sue runs events to raise funds to pay for the students’ multiple needs.

The students come from all walks of life and many of them have experienced terrible hardship.  Sue’s aim is to ensure that every student knows that the Parents and Family Support Group will indeed support them in any way possible.

If she were to win the grant, Sue would use the money to keep the school in operation, to run courses to put parents back into the work force and give them the skills that they need.  She would also like to see the school continue to support the many children who rely on the services of the Parent and Family Support Group

Don’t forget to click here and go to the helping others tab to vote for the person you think deserves to win the $100,000 grant.

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Who is the most helpful person that YOU know and why?