ANY discussion about quintessential Footscray will throw up some obvious icons: the Western Bulldogs, Jimmy Wong’s, Dimmeys and Franco Cozzo.
But it would be hard to find a truer Footscray local than Leonie Hall.
Every major stage of Leonie’s life – from her childhood to her most-loved professional role – has been forged within a radius of a few kilometres.
Now Western Health’s Director of People and Culture, Leonie’s passion for Melbourne’s inner western suburbs – and their residents – was instilled from birth. And it continues to grow.
“I was born in Footscray Hospital, where IT currently resides in 3 South, and I’ve now been working here for the past seven years,” Leonie says.
“I sit in an office that overlooks the primary school I went to, St John’s Primary School. It’s literally down the street.
“Then in the other direction, five streets from this hospital, is the house that I grew up in.”
And as far as Leonie’s local links go, that’s just the beginning.
Four generations of Leonie’s family have been largely raised in and around Footscray, with many members leaving lasting legacies.
Footscray’s Vipont St was named in honour of her grandmother, Linda Vipont (Hall) – community-minded citizen who dedicated many of her 105 years to the Red Cross.
Leonie’s aunt and uncle spent three decades running the St Vincent de Paul charity store on Barkly St.
“There’s a long line of fabric, running through both sides of the family, around caring for people,” Leonie says.
So when the human resources expert – and “massive” Western Bulldogs fan – saw a position advertised at Western Health in 2010, it’s of little surprise she jumped at it.
“I’m really drawn to the mechanics of organisational behaviour and I love dealing with people,” Leonie says.
“And the people I’ve met at Western reaffirm my faith in human nature. They are so passionate about caring for our patients. It makes me want to come to work every day because I know that our employees are giving their absolute all.”
Leonie admits she has been “cross”, at various times in her life, about the way western Melbourne is sometimes perceived.
“For a long time it’s certainly been looked down upon, but I think that’s made me more determined,” she says.
“People are people. It doesn’t matter what they’ve got or what they haven’t got.”
Among Leonie’s top priorities is helping addressing the disadvantage among the Aboriginal communities in the western suburbs.
“I’ve got a special interest and a place in my heart for the indigenous,” Leonie says. “I’m a great believer that charity begins at home and I believe we haven’t looked hard enough at what we’re doing for our first people. Their needs are paramount, from my perspective.”
The Greatest Need Project is an online story-sharing website with two major goals – to help patients facing significant hardship and disadvantage, and to facilitate research, at Western Health.
As a staff member, Leonie is sharing her story in bid to help those at Western Health who need it most.
By making a donation on Leonie’s behalf – and sharing her story on social media – you are making a difference too. Thank you.