Ro Allen

A trip to Korea with the National Council of Churches led Ro Allen to spend over a decade championing the cause of marginalised groups in rural Victoria.

Honour Roll

While in Korea, Ro was questioned about the issues facing young people in country areas. The resulting discussion prompted the Melbourne-raised 20-year-old to apply for a 12 month position in Shepparton.

"I went to the country for a year about 14 years ago. There were so many issues and hardly any youth services, I was absolutely shocked." The Uniting Church asked Ro to start a welfare agency, UnitingCare - Cutting Edge (UCCE), in the Goulburn Valley and "at 21 I thought it was a great idea."

"The issues were so large and I have kept my passion about the bush ever since. Every time I thought I would go back to Melbourne the next big adventure turned up."/p>

As Chief Executive Officer of UCCE, and through various other roles, Ro has promoted the rights of LGBTIQ+ communities, refugees, young people, and single parents. Their agency recently won a Victorian Multicultural Council Award for services around multicultural communities.

"The stuff that makes me really smile is when a refugee Sudanese woman comes in with her driving license. They are those daily things now. It was nose to the ground at the bo's proudest achievements was the groundbreaking establishment of programs for LGBTIQ+ people more than 13 years ago.

"At the start I had death threats, lemons thrown at my house. Now those programs are just standard practice in rural Victoria."

Ro's achievements extend well beyond rural Victoria. They have been the Chair of the Victorian Government Ministerial Advisory Committee on LGBTIQ+ Health and Wellbeing, and former Chair of the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria and Goulburn Regional Youth Affairs Network. They have also been the Acting Chair of the Victorian Skills Commission, working to include marginalised groups in the Victorian Education and Skills Training Framework. In 2003 Ro received a Centenary Medal for services to youth.