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Citizen on the Year Award



Br. Harry Prout

27/05/2014: Australia

Recently the Banyule City Council in Melbourne, Australia, held its Volunteer Awards Evening involving a Dinner attended by over 400 people. There is a range of categories of awards and this year, in addition, an inaugural award for Citizen on the Year was inaugurated. Br Harry Prout received this award. His citation reads: 

“Brother Harry has provided long and distinguished service to the community, which is unanimous in its praise of him. Since 2001, he has helped the disadvantaged through his work with the Olympic Village Exodus Community. Whether he is supporting struggling families, establishing youth initiatives or advocating on behalf of the community, Brother Harry is committed to those in need and makes himself available around the clock. The most vulnerable in our community can rely on him for practical and emotional support, from driving people to hospital to sorting out and paying bills or life issues. He consistently, selflessly and tirelessly gives service to the community above and beyond what is expected. 

Community members have described him as genuine, loving and accepting of all... Harry has been transformative in the lives of many, all the while keeping a low profile, never seeking personal glory.”


Heidelberg West was built as the Olympic Village for the Melbourne  Olympic  Games in 1956. The majority of the cottages and flats used by the athletes are still there and occupied. Two Brothers, Brothers Harry Prout and Barry Lamb, live in 273 Liberty Parade, a dwelling used by some of the Danish athletes in 1956.

Fifteen years ago, a group led by Redemptorists from Western Australia, sought a suitable location for an alternative Christian community with special  ministry to poorer and needy folk. Various places on the east coast of Australia were considered, amongst them the Olympic Village area of Heidelberg West. At the time the area was "run down" and many residents struggled with their lives, and there was a reputation for drugs and violence. Many battled loneliness financial problems, living with mental illness, poor parenting skills, detachment from the community and detachment from the church.

How to address these personal, financial, social and spiritual needs and best minister to the folk living in the area?

Through mulling over this question emerged the "Exodus Community." The original idea was for those ministering to the people to live together like a religious community. With this in mind two modest houses were rented by the parish and Father Frank Smith CssR and Mercy Sister Sally Bradley and some others formed the first community. Very soon after these first tentative steps to establish the Exodus Community, Brother Harry Prout joined, having recently completed his term as coordinator of the Marist Retreat Centre at Mount Macedon.

With the passing of time and changes of personnel the word "Community" not longer refers to a group living together in a particular house like a "religious community". It refers, rather, to a wider community of folk living in or near the old Olympic Village and bonded through neediness, the desire to care and friendship. The idea of the name "Exodus" springs  from  the  hope  of  journeying  to something better.  The logo  shows several figures, young and old, straining forward. The symbolism of both the logo and the name, Exodus Community, is HOPE.

At the back of the residence in Liberty Parade (now the "Brothers' House") is a "shed" which acts as a small hall/activity room/dining room. It has a kitchen area and toilet. This is the venue for a number of the activities as well as meetings.

A somewhat special aspect of the Exodus Community outreach activities is that the local people themselves are part and parcel of the provision of the services. While some generous people who are not in need are volunteers, other volunteers are from amongst those in need themselves. 

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