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Conversations from the Hot House

A series of podcasts showcasing the diverse and inspiring people who take action in local communities.

Our podcasts aim to create a platform for local leaders

to literally have a voice!

Leaders from diverse backgrounds and experiences share their knowledge, skills and reflections. 

Remember, we always start with the strengths that exist in the community. These podcasts are a great starting point!

Hot House podcasts involve young people as guest interviewers, supporting skill development and local employment opportunities. 

Season One: Women leading

Season Two: Champions for the environment & sustainable living

Season Three: Stepping up to lead in local government 

Season Two: Champions for the environment & sustainable living


Episode One: Jane Louise Hearn

Ep. 1 Jane
00:00 / 20:15

In this episode, we’re going to be hearing from Jane, who participated in the Connecting Maribyrnong Community leadership program with Maribyrnong City Council in 2019. Jane is the owner of leading Melbourne eco florist, Lilac and the Cat. Her business is founded on the philosophy that floristry can be sustainable if you’re committed to using locally grown blooms, ethically foraged flora from farms and suburban backyards alike and definitely no plastic!

Jane's passion for flowers comes from her deep care for the land. Her eco floristry business is rooted in recycling, upcycling, planting trees, buying organic, supporting local and keeping her ecological footprint low, all the while staying ever conscious of the history of the colonised land we live upon. A recent creative endeavour Jane initiated to raise awareness of the financial struggles flower farmers are up against (due to the number of imported flowers coming into Australia) was a public assemblage of a crop of flowers that would otherwise have gone to waste. 

Episode Two: Bruce Boddington

Ep. 2 Bruce
00:00 / 23:12
In this episode we are going to be hearing from Bruce Boddington. Bruce participated in the Building Blocks Community Leadership Program in 2015 with Wyndham City Council. The program's theme was environment and sustainability. Bruce is also a member of the Wyndham City Council Environment Portfolio Committee, a committee member of the Werribee River Association and Nature West.

With a background in agriculture and farming and a commitment to sustainability, Bruce is especially interested in involving suburban community groups in urban environmental initiatives. Bruce initiated Point Cook Open Spaces, developing a litter collection and prevention program that has become a model for other "Litter warriors" in other suburbs in Wyndham. 

Episode Three: Alison Peake

Alison Peake.JPG
Ep. 3 Alison
00:00 / 21:09
In this episode we’re going to be hearing from Alison Peake. Alison is passionate about reconnecting us all to how we eat, in a way that is more thoughtful and in tune with the environment, and works toward addressing the way our current industrial-scale food systems are negatively impacting the planet, local communities, and our health.

Alison participated in the 2018 Women’s Community Leadership program with Hobsons Bay City Council. Alison is also involved with the Slow Food Movement, whose philosophy is ‘good, clean, fair food’. As part of the leadership program, Alison instigated the Slow Fish Festival to highlight the impact of new fishing policy on the local fishing families who for generations have sustainably fished Port Phillip Bay. 


As one of the key leaders behind Slow Food Melbourne, she currently runs the monthly Slow Food Melbourne Market, operating out of the inner-west and showcasing local food growers and artisans. The market plays a crucial role in the promotion of sustainable food practices, with strict guidelines for stallholders taking into account food miles, free-range, organic and other sustainable practices.

Episode Four: Giacomo Barchesi

Ep. 4 Giacomo
00:00 / 22:45
In this episode, we’re going to be hearing from Giacomo Barchesi, a spoken word poet and environmental activist. Giacomo is dedicated to promoting ways to live more sustainably, kindly and compassionately on the earth. Through the arts and community initiatives, Giacomo wants to call people to action in order to create change locally and globally, personally and politically.

Giacomo participated in the 2019 Connecting Maribyrnong community leadership program with Maribyrnong City Council. Giacomo’s project was a spoken word poetry & exhibition event, held on International Women’s Day in 2020. Giacomo’s aim was to raise awareness about environmental issues through the medium of poetry and art. The event was also combined with a gender equity and gender diverse theme, held in the vibrant suburb of Footscray.

A woman is like a tea bag- you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Red Rose

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

- Anaïs Nin

Season One: Women Leading

Episode 1 - Achut Thuc
00:00 / 21:07

Achut is an early childhood educator and facilitator of youth programs living in the suburb of Derrimut. She shows an outward and passionate commitment to fighting inequality and racism. She hopes to not only fight oppression at a local level but to spread the ideals of social justice at an international level.

Achut had originally participated in the Hot House Projects program to develop her understanding of Australia’s political systems. In the future, she hopes to contribute at a local government level to address issues of discrimination and to involve herself in the safeguarding of marginalised youth. 

Episode 2 - Najmo Said
00:00 / 19:25
In episode two of Conversations from the Hot House, Najmo discusses how health, and the support of mental health, play a crucial role in maintaining strong communities. 

Najmo is a paediatric nurse living in Melbourne. As a young up-and-coming community leader, she is a proponent for change, whether small or large. Her passions lie in the empowerment of women within all areas of Australian life, as well as women’s mental health and well-being.


Najmo can always be found toiling away at a brand-new idea for a community project with the people she has connected with at Hot House Projects. With her keen eye on the needs of her community, she intends to carve out a place for her own projects and programs to sit alongside established ones.

Episode 3 - Soraya K. Barr
00:00 / 21:23
In episode three of Conversations from the Hot House, Soraya K. Barr discusses the freedom and empowerment that comes from knowledge and shares her experience immigrating to Australia and rediscovering community.

Soraya is a part-time community development student and full-time community leader living in the suburb of Braybrook. Soraya focuses her attention on eliminating the social and cultural barriers between members of her local community. This battle is fuelled by her own experiences in feeling isolated, with limited support and information with which to assimilate into her new life.


Following on from her participation in the Hot House Projects leadership programs, Soraya fulfilled a life-long dream of pursuing a university education, a path not open to many women from her 

home country of Thailand.

Episode 4 - Nayran Taibei
00:00 / 21:41
In episode four of Conversations from the Hot House, Nayran Taibei explores navigating dual identity in Australia and connecting with the community through food.

Nayran Taibei is a passionate community leader hailing from the inner-city suburb of Braybrook. Nayran is driven by her commitment to empowering the lives around her. As an asylum seeker and a member of the Australian Muslim community, she strives to give both communities a voice and place within our political landscape. 

To achieve this, Nayran chose to put herself out into the community through her speech-giving ventures and catering community projects. Her passions lie not only in the fields of community leadership and asylum seeker outreach but as an early childhood educator.

In episode one of Conversations from the Hot House, Achut Thuc discusses the divisive consequences of racism in a 
community and the need to combat socialised discrimination effectively at a grassroots level.
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