Jill Bilston

Ms HENNESSY (Minister for Health) — I rise today to pay tribute to an outstanding community advocate for the arts from Melbourne’s west. Jill Bilston is the unstoppable centre manager of the Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre, and through her work she has made a spectacular contribution to the vibrancy of life in Melbourne’s west. Jill is retiring this week from the Louis Joel centre, having managed it since its infancy, and though a break is well earnt, she will be sadly missed.

The Louis Joel centre was formed in 1997 through the hard work of the Hobsons Bay Community Advancement Co‑operative, which campaigned tirelessly to preserve the site of the former Altona hospital for the use of the local community. Jill has overseen much growth and change at the centre, managing renovations and expansions along with countless gallery exhibitions and community meetings. I have no doubt that without Jill’s tenacity and commitment, the Louis Joel centre would not be half what it is today. Her contribution is immeasurable.

Jill’s passion and hard work has impacted on many in our community, and its impact has spread across the world. In 2012 Jill travelled with other members of the Louis Joel centre to Bwindi in Uganda. Working with a local co‑operative, they set up the Bwindi sewing project, teaching sewing skills and producing items to be sold in Australia. This project has helped to socially and economically empower the women of Bwindi and provided funds for power and water to be connected to the Bwindi community centre. Jill is a champion of the arts, of the community and of Melbourne’s west. We will miss her, and I thank her for her fantastic contribution.