Prime Minister Tony Abbott celebrated Mother’s Day today with Australia’s top mums at the Barnardos Mother of the Year 2015 National Announcement.

The Prime Minister presented Leanne Robson from Queensland with the prestigious award, which celebrates the importance of mothering and acknowledges the enormous role Mothers play in shaping Australia’s future.

Nominated by her police officer husband Geoff, Leanne was named Barnardos Mother of the Year 2015 out of the thousands of nominations received by the charity, for dedicating her life to the care of her own children in addition to foster care of children with high needs.

The Prime Minister paid tribute to all the Barnardos Mother of the Year 2015 National Finalists.

The Prime Minister said The Barnardos Mother of the Year 2015 National Finalists come from every background and have very different stories – but what they have in common is a deep and abiding love for the children entrusted to them.

“They are women who look after their own children sometimes in difficult circumstances, in the face of tragedy, and who care for other children who are in need of a mother.

“They are also mothers who help other mothers that are struggling – and mothers who bring children in and make them their own.

“Today is the twentieth anniversary of the Barnardos Mother of the Year awards. Congratulations to Barnardos Australia on this milestone – and to Barnardos Australia CEO Louise Voigt who is retiring from the role in July after 30 years in the role.” 

In an emotional and heartfelt ceremony, Leanne was warmly congratulated on her win by her fellow State and Territory finalists – Chauntell McNamara (ACT), Sidona Hodge (NSW), Jenne Roberts (NT), Rachel Mayes (SA), Lisa King (TAS), Dreena Lawrence-Gray (VIC) and Anne Caldwell (WA) who together embody the true meaning of motherly love and dedication to their children.

Seven News Presenter Melissa Doyle was the MC for the event, whilst Gabrielle Trainor, Barnardos Australia Chair reflected on the 20th Anniversary of the Awards and the evolution of mothering. Other Barnardos Australia Ambassadors in attendance included Professor Kerryn Phelps and Jackie Stricker-Phelps, Debra Lawrance, Dennis Coard,  Jodi Anasta, Natarsha Belling, Lisa Wilkinson, Dr Ginni Mansberg, Renae Smith and Samantha Harris.
Manisha Amin, Marketing Director for Barnardos Australia said, “This year marks the milestone 20th Anniversary of the awards and on behalf of Barnardos Australia I congratulate Leanne on being awarded Barnardos Mother of the Year 2015. Leanne has shown incredible strength, generosity and selfless dedication to one of the hardest jobs there is. She has chosen to nurture foster children with high-needs, who are without doubt the most vulnerable members of our community. Her unwavering commitment to giving these children the best possible start in life is just extraordinary and should be applauded. ”
“These awards showcase the importance of good mothering and aim to encourage positive parenting across Australia. Unfortunately, current statistics show that a child dies every 15 days in Australia as a result of abuse or neglect. This demonstrates the critical need for Barnardos Australia to continue our vital work with children, families and the community to stop child abuse and neglect,” said Amin 

When asked about the hardest part about being a mum, Leanne continues to focus on the positives, “They can challenge you to the hilt, but the reward of seeing them learn things you perhaps thought they wouldn’t is wonderful. Geoff and I really enjoy every aspect of their development, and their kisses and hugs at the end of the day make all the hard work worth it.”

Leanne and Geoff, along with the other State finalists and their nominators, have been in Sydney for three days of festivities including a visit to the Barnardos centre in Auburn and a cocktail party at Sails Restaurant, McMahons Point. 

As the Barnardos Mother of the Year 2015 Leanne receives a major prize pack worth over $5,000, including a Breville Home Chef pack, Simone Perele lingerie voucher, Dial an Angel voucher from Woman’s Day, Leona Edmiston gift voucher, Fresh Discover Beauty Online voucher, Harlequin Schoolbag gift voucher, Woman’s Day magazine 12-month subscription, Blackmores Deluxe Hamper, Magdalena Photography Portraiture photo shoot and a framed certificate to mark the occasion.

About Leanne Robson, Queensland
Leanne Robson has put up her hand for the really tough gigs in life. The early childhood teacher has successfully raised two children to adulthood, including an intellectually impaired daughter, who also suffers from heart defects. Additionally, for the past eight years Leanne has dedicated her life to being the care-giver to three children with extreme disabilities. Leanne was nominated by her husband Geoff, a police officer who works a 24-hour rotational shift, for always being on call for her children and family. “Leanne’s day regularly starts at 5am, with dirty nappies and tantrums, and ends after 9pm, once school lunches are prepared for the next day and the house is put back together,” says Geoff. “On top of this, she is a great support for me, her elderly widowed mother, and her recently widowed sister.” Leanne has twice been nominated for foster carer excellence awards and works closely with the department of child safety. She is a tireless advocate for the very best care for the three boys and is determined to give them the very best possible start in life. “She is an excellent mother and wife and would be embarrassed as all heck if she knew she was nominated,” Geoff says.

Read the full media release.