Rhonda Talbot awarded OAM for help, support and advocacy for public housing tenants in Sutherland Shire

"Shocked and humbled": Rhonda Talbot joined the Sutherland Shire Area Tenants Council in 2001 and chaired it from 2008-17. Picture: John Veage
"Shocked and humbled": Rhonda Talbot joined the Sutherland Shire Area Tenants Council in 2001 and chaired it from 2008-17. Picture: John Veage

A Kirrawee resident has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours for providing help, support and advocacy over 17 years to public housing tenants in Sutherland Shire.

Rhonda Talbot was awarded the medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division.

Ms Talbot joined the Sutherland Shire Area Tenants Council in 2001 and, after filling other senior roles, became chair in 2008.

She relinquished the president’s role last year “because I thought someone else needed to get experience and I needed some ‘me time’, but remains a committee member.

Ms Talbot said she “shocked and humbled” the other committee members nominated her for the award.

“I don’t do this work to get pats on the back,” she said.

“It’s all voluntary, and I do it because I think what I do is right for other people.

“I feel lucky I was given public housing in the shire and that is one of the reasons I try to help everybody else.”

Ms Talbot said there were about 4000 public housing tenants in the shire. 

“I give them a voice and a say in where they live and the place they live in,” she said.

“The majority of them are elderly, and they tend to to be  a little bit withdrawn when it comes to speaking out for themselves.”

“I have people on the phone most days, sometimes all day, asking me questions about what they should do or asking for help, and it’s the same with most of the other committee members.”

Ms Talbot said the work was very satisfying.

“I attend meetings all over the shire,” she said.

“It gets a little bit tiring at times but it’s still something I enjoy  and I will keep doing it as long as I can.”

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