The winners of the first-ever HESTA Impact Awards were last night announced as part of a national celebration of health and community services professionals working to protect the future of our people and planet.

The Youth Projects team behind ‘The Living Room’ initiative, which provides people facing homelessness with health services and social support, took out the gong for ‘Team Innovation’ for improving health outcomes and patient wellbeing.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey congratulated the Award winners, who she said have gone above and beyond to have a lasting impact on the world.

“Issues such as poor health, climate change and inequality can affect our shared future, particularly as they also pose a financial risk for Australians’ investments for retirement. It’s important we all keep working to address these issues and recognise those who are creating positive change."

Youth Projects has been recognised for going above and beyond to provide people experiencing disadvantage with access to essential services through ‘The Living Room’ health initiative.

Youth Projects CEO Ben Vasiliou said the win was an opportunity to generate awareness and “bring light” to the significant challenge of managing health concerns and homelessness.

“People experiencing homelessness are often voiceless and forgotten,” Mr Vasiliou said.

“To be able to lifts their spirits by providing access to the most basic of human rights is truly amazing to see each day. The most incredible journeys ultimately end in no longer needing our services.”

When COVID-19 hit, the team pivoted their services to meet the needs of their clients and the wider community. Over the past year, The Living Room provided nearly 28,600 services to people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage, with their nurses and outreach crews covering 74,600 kilometres on foot across Melbourne’s CBD to deliver critical care to those in need.

“Our amazing team of frontline warriors and healthcare heroes really deserve the acknowledgement, particularly in the challenging 12 months that has been,” Mr Vasiliou said.

Mr Vasiliou said the team will use the prize money to support their most high-risk clients, including through the provision of medical supplies, emergency accommodation for women fleeing family violence and transporting vulnerable clients to hospital appointments.

HESTA Impact Awards sponsors AIA Australia, Link and CMS Australasia donated the prize money, which the winners will use to continue their work. Each standalone winner took home $10,000, with the joint recipients for the 'Individual Distinction' award sharing the winnings.

You can check out other winners from the night and read more about HESTA's mission to make measurable progress to tackle world challenges here