About the award

Founded in 2008, the David Jolley Leadership Award recognises the achievements of third year students in the field of Social Work at La Trobe University. The yearly prize of $500 is given to one student who shows excellence in their academic and placement results, and who takes a leadership role among their peers, on placement or in the wider community.

David Jolley, a La Trobe graduate and social worker, tragically died in 1987 at the age of 34, leaving a daughter Ingrid and partner Liz Lowe (both social workers). He is remembered as an active figure in the Ballarat community and a leader in social and political issues. Ingrid and Liz established this award with support of family and friends, to honour his memory.

In 1977 David graduated with a BA (Hons) and a BSW degree in 1981. He had an intense interest in social work and its value in community building. It was through his own father’s role as a GP in small rural communities that David encountered the diverse needs of individuals, families and communities and his interest and ideas turned to social work. David contributed to the School of Social Work during his student tenure at La Trobe through his enthusiastic engagement with the program as a whole and was generous in his peer support to other students.

After graduation David first worked in the Grampians Region (Ballarat) as a general case worker with DHS, then became the Principal Officer of the Regional Foster Care Program and his last position was Supervisor of Substitute Care. This role involved the development, monitoring, management and review of regional substitute and reception care for children and young people at risk.

David was an engaging and charismatic person and social worker, who demonstrated deep commitment to his chosen profession, work colleagues and the people he assisted. He showed great respect and caring capacity for people in crisis or who were disadvantaged, and related warmly to people of all ages. He was a great organiser, had innovative ideas, displayed a positive attitude to all things and worked energetically to improve social work practice and overcome social injustices. During his short career David was a member of the State Foster Care Advisory Committee, Chair of the Foster Care Principal Officers Forum, Convenor of the Grampians Parent Aide Committee which was a child protection interagency group, and member of the Child Protection Service Protective Unit Care Consulting Group that examined complex child protection cases.

In 1985 David was accepted into the MSW program at La Trobe for the following year. He was very excited about furthering his social work learning and building a strong career in social work. He had also taken initial steps to undertake  overseas graduate social work study. David was very disappointed when illness prevented him from taking up these post graduate study opportunities.

David held a keen interest in politics and majored in politics at La Trobe as part of his BA. He was actively engaged in community political life and was a leading member of the former premier, Steve Brack’s political campaign team in Steve’s early political life in Ballarat. David held positions of Branch President, Secretary and local candidate Campaign Director within the Australian Labor Party. Social Work and politics had much in common for David as he strove to make a positive contribution to our society.

On the 20th anniversary of David’s death, Liz and Ingrid hosted a lunch to launch the David Jolley Leadership Award. Many friends and family gathered together, to recall happy times shared with David and gave         support to establishing the Award in his honour. Others who could not attend, also gave generously to the Award which commenced the following year. In July 2009, at the request of the family, the Board of the Australian Communities Foundation established the David Jolley Leadership Award as a sub-fund of the ACF. Being part of the ACF strengthens the future sustainability and success of the Award, and it is through the ACF that grants are made for the Award.