Connect With Your Community / Community

Pilbara Mentor of the Year!

Port Hedland resident Leanne Ruston has been awarded Pilbara Mentor of the Year 2021 as part of the Pilbara Mentors program.

The program is delivered by EdConnect Australia, in partnership with the Roy Hill Community Foundation a charity made up of 13 companies who all contribute funding and participate in the programs.

Leanne was celebrated at an awards ceremony at the end of last year at the Gateway Village, South Hedland.

The Pilbara Mentors program trains and supports volunteers to work in local schools, providing a safety net for young people who might otherwise struggle to realise their potential in school and life.

Kay Corda, EdConnect Australia, Pilbara Liaison Officer said Leanne has been one of the program’s longest standing mentors and truly deserves the award.

“She started mentoring in 2017 when the program first commenced in Hedland. Leanne goes above and beyond when it comes to helping kids, whether at school or the wider community she’s totally invested in them. With her background as an education assistant, she has a natural way with young people. She’s kind, caring and I’m sure her students will agree, brings out the best in each of her mentees. Leanne also does a lot of other volunteering roles within the community. Pilbara Mentors is just one of the hats she wears, fabulously of course,” Kay said.

“We’re so proud to have a committed presence in the Pilbara region through the program. The Roy Hill Community Foundation’s support has been vital in keeping the program running for so many years. The Pilbara Mentors Program has had a positive impact on the students creating a more engaged and connected cohort of young people – who are the future of our community.”

Leanne’s first student through the program, Jesse Thompson, was at the awards ceremony and he spoke about how Leanne was able to connect him to a wider support system.

“Leanne definitely brightened me up, helped me to find myself and I’m still here at high school and haven’t dropped out. She helped me find a way at the start, because I didn’t know who to go to. She connected me with other people who were able to help me as well,” he said.

Jeanette Hasleby, Director of the Roy Hill Community Foundation spoke about the importance of the program for the Hedland community.

“Mentors can be that important person outside family and friends that a child or young person can talk to and relate to,” she said.

She urged potential mentors to find the one hour a week to join the program.

EdConnect Australia is calling for new volunteers to commence in the 2022 school year. For more information visit or Facebook@edconnectaustralia.

Contact or call 1800 668 550.

Celebrating the Pilbara Mentor of the Year Awards: (l-r) Carin Mccashin, Kay Corda, Jeanette Hasleby, Gerri Clay and Claudia Redman.

Student and mentee of Leanne: Jess Thompson.