7NEWS Young Achiever Awards - NSW/ACT

2020 Finalists

Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award

Cassidy Strickland, 17 of South Windsor strives to help the less fortunate. Cassidy founded Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands (HHH) after witnessing a homeless man going through their family bin. HHH started from serving meals in the park to now doing Breakfast Club at her school and providing 50 lunches every day. HHH serves 550 people weekly. Cassidy also distributes hampers, clothes, tents, swags and sleeping bags and hosts Free Christmas Day Lunch. In 2018, HHH supplied 150 backpacks full of supplies to local students. Cassidy won the Blackmore Young Being of the Year and received a Parliamentary Citizen Award. Meanwhile, HHH won Hawkesbury Community Organisation of the Year.

Jarrett Anthoney, 24 of Gungahlin has a purposeful vision. Jarrett founded the Dainere’s Rainbow Brain Tumour Research Fund in 2014 after losing her sister. He has since made significant contributions to create awareness for paediatric brain tumours by supporting the innovative research at Sydney Children’s Hospital Kids Cancer Centre. Jarrett has so far raised $442,467.19 through the Fund and $78,000 through City2Surf. He also helped campaign and advocate for a paediatric palliative care nurse for the ACT. Jarrett is a youth participant in round table discussions with ACT Chief Minister. He is a children’s book writer and a 2015 ACT Young Australian of the Year nominee.

Lily Harrison, 18 of Corndale promotes compassion. Lily founded Period Pack, a community initiative where she collects sanitary products and basic toiletries to give to homeless and vulnerable women across the Bundjalung nation. She has made over 500 maternity packs for women accessing the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Services and women’s shelters. As Ambassador for One Girl, she worked on “Do It in a Dress”, a fundraising campaign where she hiked and joined sports events while wearing a dress. Lily received the Lismore City Council Australia Day Awards 2019 Young Citizen of the Year and 2019 BASE Youth Leadership and Community Leadership and Community Service Award.

Crystal Russom, 23 of Central Mangrove is a devoted volunteer. She volunteers for Rural Aid, helping farmer families through drought, and Take 3 For The Sea. She has been actively participating in Central Coast’s Youth for Youth Action Team, giving voice to local youth in Council decision-making. She helped put together a youth strategy, ran a youth forum and developed activities. She successfully managed the project ‘Central Coast For Our Farmers Donation Drive’. Crystal won 2018 Central Coast Council’s Youth of the Year and Volunteering Central Coast’s Youth Volunteer 2019. She was also presented a 2019 Rotary Youth Leadership Award. Crystal has a Diploma in Digital Content.


Western Sydney University Academic Achievement Award

Eliza Martin, 17 of Oatley has a passion for medical research and innovation. Eliza’s recent project is a long-term treatment for lactose intolerance. The treatment has been reviewed by health professionals at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Arizona, USA and placed her 4th in the Biomedical and Health Sciences category. In 2017, Eliza invented the Electro-Magnetic Mobility Assister (EMMA), a device that uses electromagnets to facilitate movement of legs of bed-bound patients and assists with walking. In 2018, she received a scholarship to represent Australia at the International Student Science Conference in Venice, Italy. In 2019, she represented Australia at the World Science Olympics.

Micheal Zhang, 18 of Beecroft is an inspirational role model. Micheal achieved “A” for all his subjects and was awarded as Dux from year 10 to 12. He likewise got a perfect score of 1600 in the U.S. college admission exam and achieved ATAR of 99.8. Micheal is College Captain, Vice-Captain of Tennis Team and House Captain at The McDonald College. His team won the 2018 National Schools Championship and represented Australia in the 2019 World School Tennis Championship in Italy. Micheal were Local Sporting Champions As College Captain, he rallied his fellow Prefects to raise over $10,000 for Youth Off The Street charity.

Sampavi Sivakumar, 21 of Toongabbie is an academic achiever and advocate for the marginalised. Sampavi is a Physiotherapy student at Western Sydney University who also works as an Allied Health Assistant at a rehabilitation hospital. She made the 2018 Dean’s Merit List for attaining a GPA above 6. She is the Treasurer of the Rural Health Union of WSU, helping organise events that promote peer-led health initiatives. Sampavi is a student ambassador for Australian Physiotherapy Association and Respect.Now.Always. A Red Cross Youth Emergency Services Volunteer, she has completed training in Mental Health First Aid, Psychological First Aid. She is completing a course in AUSLAN sign language.

Reem Qrma, 23 of Macquarie Fields has unwavering determination. A Physiotherapy student at Western Sydney University, Reem made the Dean’s Merit Award List for being in the top 10% of her cohort. She received the Crescent Foundation Leadership Scholarship in 2018 and the WSU-funded Opportunity Scholarship in 2019. She was also invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society. Reem was involved in the Women in Science and Engineering and the Lead, Engage, Aspire, Develop programs at WSU. She is a volunteer mentor for the Refugee Youth Peer Mentoring Program. Reem received the 2019 Great Irish Famine Award for her academic achievements and community involvement.


NSW Department of Education Early Childhood Educator Award

Ashleigh Muir, 25 of Belrose inspires children to think outside the box. Ashleigh has been in the early childhood profession for six years. As part of the Belrose Children’s Centre Pre-school, she prepares children for their transition to school and has introduced innovative science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) programs. Ashleigh is actively engaged with the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) program. As panel member in the ELSA Q&A session at the National Early Childhood Australia Conference, she had the opportunity to share her knowledge of STEM concepts to the wider teaching profession. Through her efforts, Belrose Children’s Centre was named a Little Scientists House.

Kirby Jayne Barker, 25 of Evans Head helps children be the best they can be. Kirby is an educator and cultural advisor with Evans Head and Woodburn Preschools. Her work includes ensuring practices are culturally appropriate and safe and developing programs such as the Bandjalang language program and a nature classroom – Boogul Jugoon, where 10 children heat out to learn in nature every fortnight. Kirby commits to developing programs that interest and develop children’s desire to learn. She is part of a working group that promotes reconciliation with the early childhood education sector. Kirby received the Children’s Services Trainee of the Year at the completion of her traineeship.

Taylor Palmer, 24 of North Ryde believes that all children are capable and confident learners. Taylor handles preschool at the Arthur Street Early Learning Centre, an open-plan facility with no walls. Taylor’s preschool curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which focuses on the benefits of learning through play. She successfully worked with the staff on a communal project based on transportation where Taylor’s preschool learned about bridges. She is also the Educational Leader and Sustainability Champion for Arthur Street, promoting sustainable practices within the Centre and inspiring children and their families. Taylor recently received the Educator of the Year Award in NSW Guardian Centres.

Emily Naudi, 27 of Stanmore is committed to building meaningful relationships. Emily was an ECT Room Leader and Educational Leader at Styles Street Children’s Community Long Day Care Centre where she implemented the “Hygge” to give children an opportunity to feel calm, indulge their senses and express themselves. Emily also helped design the Centre’s side playground to make it more reflective of the Centre’s philosophy of risk-taking, natural environments and play. Emily completed a Masters of Teaching (0-5) at Macquarie University before going to Denmark. While in Denmark, she worked in two early childhood centres and learned about their philosophies and beliefs of teaching young children.

First National Real Estate Leadership Award

Harpreet Dhillon, 19 of Eastwood a passionate action-oriented advocate and leader. A proud Punjabi-Australian, Harpreet represented Australia in New York for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for three consecutive years. She was Australian representative at Women Deliver 2019 in Vancouver. She is currently Chairperson for YWCA Australia, Youth Ambassador for Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network, Emergency Services Youth Team Leader for Red Cross, Young Social Pioneer Participant for Foundation for Young Australians, and Head of Bold Punjab, NSW Chapter. Harpreet overcame family violence, sexual violence and secondary homelessness to become the first in her family to finish high school and go to university.

Daniel Clarke, 23 and William Clarke, 21 of Frenchs Forests hope to inspire others to find their passion and make a difference. Daniel and William are brothers who are on a quest to save the critically endangered orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra from extinction. They have raised over $870,000 and sponsored 110,000 acres of orangutan habitat in Borneo. For the past twelve years, they have spoken to over 70,000 people at schools and corporate functions around Australia to create awareness of the plight of orangutans. They have authored and self-published two internationally recognised books that are now included in the NSW Government’s education curriculum. Daniel has had Cerebral Palsy since birth.

Mitchell Harvey, 24 of Woolgoolga leads in an all-inclusive manner. Mitch is Marine Rescue NSW’s youngest rated Vessel Master and Watch Officer. On his first year as Vessel Master, he was appointed as On-Scene Commander for a 2-day search for a missing swimmer where he worked with NSW Water Police and Surf Lifesaving NSW. He is also the Vessel Operations Manager, Training Officer, Unit Commander, Marine Rescue Master, and Trainer and Assessor. A Maritime Teacher with TAFE NSW, Mitch is instrumental in training less experienced crew members and mentoring students. In 2019, Mitch was selected to participate in the Rotary Youth Leadership Award Leadership Camp.

Emma Ayliffe, 28 of Lake Cargelligo is enthusiastic about helping the agricultural sector thrive. Emma is co-founder and co-director of Summit Ag Agricultural Consulting, which provides independent agronomy services. Emma collaborates with farmers and researchers to build efficient, profitable and resilient farming systems. She successfully sourced $40,000 to undertake a research trial into managing Silverleaf Whitefly. Emma champions the deployment of youth in agriculture to inspire pride. She sits on the Australian Cotton Conference Youth Committee and Irrigation Research and Extension Leadership Group, among others. She is currently Acting Chair of the Youth Voices Leadership Team. Emma was named 2017-2018 Runner Up Young Agronomist of the Year.

TransGrid Indigenous Achievement Award

Matilda Harry, 21 of Kurrajong Heights has a passion for creating positive social change through education. A proud Wiradjuri woman, Matilda is studying a Dean’s Scholars Masters of Primary Education and a Bachelor of Applied Leadership and Critical Thinking at Western Sydney University. She was awarded the Premier’s Young Volunteer of the Year, 2019 Young Woman of the West, 2019 Zest Outstanding Youth Leader and Western Sydney Unsung-Hero Award. Matilda has taken a leadership role in Western Sydney’s Aboriginal community as a Project Advisor for the new Kimberwalli Centre, where she works with her community and government to ensure First Nations people’s voices and aspirations are heard.

Aaron Chatfield, 27 of Yass inspires students to embrace their Indigenous heritage. Aaron enrolled in the Land conservation and management course at Bruce CIT and eventually gained causal employment with Greening Australia, Canberra region. He was just on his first year when he won the ACT Youth NAIDOC Award for Environment. He went on to become a full-time Indigenous Engagement and Training Officer, delivering cultural projects within local schools and community groups, taking on two Yass area revegetation projects and working on school Bush Tucker Programs. In March 2019, Aaron established his own business, Dreamtime Connections, and had the opportunity to work with Namadgi School.

Bryce Groves, 16 of Quakers Hill has incredible resilience. Bryce is a young Dunghutti man who has flourished despite early separation from biological parents and placement into foster care. He embraces his Aboriginal heritage and provides leadership to his peers at school and within the foster care system. Bryce serves as head of the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group at his school. He also serves on the Youth Advisor Committee to the Department of Community and Justice, representing the voices of 45,000 children in foster care in NSW. Bryce has participated in hygiene product donation drives with Western Sydney Homeless Connect and volunteered at a local aged care facility.

Steven Fordham, 28 of Muswellbrook is determined to work hard to achieve his goals. A proud Kamilaroi man, Steven co-founded Blackrock Industries with an aim of sustaining a large focus of Indigenous employment and providing opportunities to Indigenous inmates to be rehabilitated back into society. Their inmate program has provided a way to end Indigenous incarceration rates. Steven is a member of the Muswellbrook Aboriginal Land Council board, Advisory Committee for Muswellbrook PCYC and Upper Hunter Aboriginal Land Council board. He is an advisor for Minister Mathew Canavan for the 2030 mining oil and gas and has worked with the State Government on the IPP policy. 

NSW Ministry of Health Healthier Communities Award

Joshua Karras, 26 of Glebe is determined to educate and empower. Joshua is the Executive Manager of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) NSW Division. He started as volunteer with the UNAA and was appointed as Event Lead of World Health Day. Over 250 students from low socio-economic backgrounds attended the event to learn about mental health, bullying and infectious diseases. Joshua provided his professional support in updating the incoming PDHPE Year 11 and 12 syllabi to incorporate good health and wellbeing from the UN’s perspective, to empower young people to build their health-based initiatives. He recently published a peer-reviewed article in the journal “Vaccine.”

Sophie Wills, 21 of Wisemans Ferry is determined to empower her community. While studying Paramedicine at Western Sydney University, Sophie approached Dr Paul Simpson of WSU to discuss the limited access that her local community has to emergency medical assistance. With support from Wiseman’s Ferry Forgotten Valley Inc., WSU and the Defib Shop, Sophie founded and led the Community Defib Project – Wiseman’s Ferry. They applied for the NSW My Community Project Grants and received $35,000 NSW Government grant to implement community access defibrillation into Wiseman’s Ferry. The first community accessible AED was installed in October 2019. The goal is to have 24/7 access to a defibrillator.

William O'Keefe, 20 of Blue Haven is determined to make a difference in the lives of young men. While College Captain of his local Catholic school, Will advocated for change within his school by spreading awareness of men’s mental health and domestic violence against women. He held a domestic violence luncheon, promoted White Ribbon Day and every second Friday, Will talked to his peers about progressive issues that men and women face. This inspired him to become a Youth Worker. He has secured a job with Top Blokes Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that advocates for young men’s mental health through mentoring programs in schools and the community.

Nicole Sialeipata, 27 of San Remo advocates for improved living conditions for the youth. Nicole has made it her mission to increase childhood trauma awareness and youth homelessness through mentoring, group workshops, public speaking and charity events. She has actively helped secure temporary, semi-permanent and permanent housing for youth. Nicole volunteers as a mentor for disadvantaged youth in high schools across Central Coast. She is also a volunteer wildlife ranger and youth homelessness worker. Nicole aspires to create “Project Aria”, a program specific to re-skilling the youth and domestic violence victims to gain confidence and learn trauma while giving back to the community.

Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award

Jade Perry, 26 of Singleton is dedicated to promoting Aboriginal health. Jade completed a Certificate III in Aboriginal Primary Health, Fitness for Youth and Fitness for Children 5 to 12 and a Certificate IV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health while working full-time as an Aboriginal Health Worker for Hunter New England Local Health District. As Aboriginal Health Worker, Jade provides cultural support, education, advocacy and advice on improving cultural competency to improve access to health to Aboriginal Mothers, Non-Aboriginal mothers having Aboriginal babies and families. She also delivers programs in preschools like ‘Shake a Leg’ and ‘Let’s Talk Tucker’, a nutrition program.

Renee Thomson, 24 of Mt Druitt is empowering and creating opportunities for Aboriginal people. A proud Wiradjuri woman from Mt. Druitt, Renee founded the Western Sydney Aboriginal Youth Leadership Network after seeing the lack of leadership opportunities and safe spaces for Aboriginal Youth. In July 2019, she attended the United Nations as representative for the NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s Youth Council. She was previously the Aboriginal Education Officer at two different Sydney schools, and a presenter and mentor at the Australian Mentoring Indigenous Experience. Renee currently studies Health Science majoring in Indigenous Health at the Western Sydney University. she aspires to be a PDHPE secondary teacher.

Tamika Worrell, 24 of St Clair has a passion for sharing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) culture and history. As Aboriginal Academic Engagement Coordinator at Macquarie University, she ensures the success of ATSI students through pastoral and academic support and tutoring programs. Tamika used to deliver Indigenous programs as part of Australian Museum. As Program Officer at Reconciliation Australia, she used to work on the Narragunnawalli program. Tanika completed her Bachelor of Education (Secondary) major in English at Macquarie with support from Walanga Muru. She currently undertakes her Master of Research in Educational Studies. She is the Chairperson of Youth Action NSW’s Board of Governors.

Lily Ferres, 26 of Wilcannia is bringing hope and positivity. Lily started as a short-term casual at Wilcannia Central School before earning a full-time teaching appointment. As majority of her students are Indigenous, she works closely with community elders and liaison officers to achieve positive outcomes. She helps establish “Tracks”, a social initiative that empowers students to create art and craft works for sale. She and her students recently attended the Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards in Darwin. Lily earned her Bachelor of Design (Graphic Design) degree from Raffles College and Masters in Design Technologies and Visual Communication Design from LaTrobe University.

QPRC Performing Arts Award

Yve Blake, 26 of Sydney hopes to use theatre to build community. Yve is a playwright, composer and performer who had been writing and producing her own work since she was 18. Her biggest work is FANGIRLS, an original Australian musical about the underestimated power of teenage girls which Lucy wrote, composed and starred in. It was inspired by interviews with over 100 teenage girls. In her licensing agreement, Yve insisted to make the casting call completely open, inclusive and accessible. A hit at the 2019 Brisbane Festival before opening in Sydney (Belvoir), FANGIRLS is now being adapted for the screen in the United Kingdom.

Sam Wood, 14 of Acacia Gardens is driven by an innate passion to perform and overcome adversity. Performing professionally since he was 10, Sam balances full-time education with training, professional work and amateur performance. He recently completed a contract for Opera Australia where he performed three times a week at the Sydney Opera House. At the Australia Performing Arts College, he trains in RAD ballet, CTSD tap, jazz, hip hop, musical theatre and acting. To continue his contribution to the community, he committed for the School Musical and prepared for a performance trip to the United States. He aspires to be a role model for younger boys.

Lucy May Kelderman, 17 of Narara aspires to forge a career in music. Lucy started at a local music school where she met friends and formed a band called Damsel in Dismay. They won 1st prize at the National Rugby League Band Competition and performed at Sydney’s Leichardt Stadium to 20,000 people. Lucy moved to the Central Coast Conservatory of Music to challenge herself and learn more about music. She was offered many opportunities in Sydney, including putting up a band called “Closure”. Her band’s first single, Bedroom, has over 55,000 hits on Spotify. Lucy is currently studying for a Certificate in Sound Production and Lighting.

Ethan Hart, 15 of Wanniassa is committed to the development of dance and drama. Ethan is a key leader in Elevate Academy and Kulture Break, a dance school in Canberra. He has toured alongside New York dancers and steppers, performing at 35 schools and delivering a message of hope for positive mental health across Victoria and Canberra. Ethan regularly performs at community events including charity events and teaches dance routines. He is a student at Ace Drama and undertakes coaching with the National Acting School. In 2018, Ethan and Elevate Academy, entered competitions at The Canberra Dance Festival where they won first place in hip hop.


Awards Australia Small Business Achiever Award

Nathan Silm, 23 of Thirlmere has sheer determination to succeed. Nathan developed Cedar Creek Cider, a business producing apple cider straight from their family farm, Cedar Creek Orchard. He launched the brand in late 2018 and overcame numerous product failures in the process. Nathan has attended numerous workshops and meetings, including local council and NSW Government-ran seminars. Nathan used to work as an Apprentice Mechanic/Fitter at the local Tahmoor Mine and is now a qualified tradesman. For his work, he received the “Pride of Workmanship” award from Picton Rotary Group. In the future, he hopes to expand and build a Cellar Door on their farm.

Suzi Jamil, 28 of Croydon Park is deeply passionate about raising rational discourse nationally and globally. In 2014, Suzi founded Think Inc., a touring company specialising in conceiving live public events that present and promote ideas. Their mission is to promote the discussion of big ideas that can be shared, shaped and voiced and have substantial influence and impact. Suzi has built strong industry connections with a range of promoters, media outlets, agents and venues. Q&A opportunities, polls and evaluation surveys are conducted to hear perspectives from the community. Suzi has a Bachelor in Communication (Public Communication) from the UTS and Juris Doctor from the UNSW.

Blake Garrett, 21 of Artarmon is committed to improving processes. Blake founded School Bytes, a cloud-based SaaS administration solution to NSW government schools, when he was a Year 12 student. The software allows for statements of accounts and permission notes to students to be directly e-mailed to parents and carers. This significantly reduced paper use and allowed school office staff to reallocate their time to more important tasks. School Bytes is now used by 380 schools, with 5-10 new schools being added weekly. In mid-2019, School Bytes passed $1.5 million in annual recurring revenue. They won the “Digital Disruptor” category at the 2019 Sydney Young Entrepreneurs Award.

Alessandra Kitinas, 18 of Earlwood is dedicated to giving back. At 14, Ali founded The Freedom Scrub, a product-for-purpose business. They provide support to local and international causes through a business model that provides funds sourced from the profit of sales, raising funding and awareness through the selling of scrubs. Ali collaborates with The Freedom Hub Org to repurpose coffee grinds and turn aged coffee beans into ethically organic beauty scrubs. She has donated over $1 million globally. Ali has been nominated for Young Citizen of Australia award and Rotary International Community Service. She is the author of “Better Business Better Life Better World – The Movement."