Jesuit Social Services was proud to welcome more than 300 guests to the National Gallery of Victoria’s Great Hall on Saturday night for the second annual Great Australians Gala Dinner.

The event featured a who’s who of Australian identities from the worlds of politics, sport, entertainment, academia and law including Gold Logie winner Daryl Somers, world champion boxer Danny Green and AFL great Kevin Sheedy.

Guests enjoyed interviews with Great Australians by event MC Stephen Quartermain, as well as live entertainment from the likes of Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens, Ross Wilson and Glenn Shorrock.

Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards spoke about our work in four key areas: justice and crime prevention, settlement and community building, education, training and employment and mental health support and wellbeing.

The event had a particular focus on our work in the mental health space, with Support After Suicide participant Chris Nolan sharing her story with the crowd.

Chris spoke of losing her 21 year old son Luke to suicide, and the support she received from the program by attending Support After Suicide’s Early Bereavement Group.

“This was my first true connection since Luke had died, my first feeling of belonging somewhere and, in retrospect, my first step in regaining some sense of meaning, purpose and hope in life,” she said.

Chris now volunteers with Support After Suicide and says she is proud of her long-standing connection.

“I learn so much from every person I meet connected to that organization, whether they be the very special people who run the organization who are the counsellors too, fellow volunteers or suicide bereaved people at all different stages of their journey.”

Dozens of live and silent auction items – including an Audi A3, a package to London to attend Wimbledon (including flights, accommodation and tickets) and meet-and-greet tickets to see KISS – were sold on the night.

All money raised at the event will help support our mental health programs including Support After Suicide, Artful Dodgers Studios, Connexions and The Outdoor Experience.

We thank all the Great Australians, guests, speakers and event partners Incognitus for their generosity and support towards the event.