7NEWS Young Achiever Awards - NSW/ACT

2024 Winners

All Winners on stage with The Hon. Emily Suvaal and MC Michael Usher


2024 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of The Year - Renee Wooton

The Hon. Emily Suvaal (left) and Winner Renee Wooton (right)


Spirit Super Connecting Communities Award

Daniya Syed, passionate about robotics and helping others is a Mechatronics Engineering student representing Australia in numerous international Robotics competitions. Her project, MediBot, A personal Health care assistant robot garnered national acclaim for its potential to transform healthcare. Daniya also serves as a Youth Ambassador of an international charity, advocating for STEM education and leading initiatives impacting education, water accessibility, and emergency relief locally and internationally. In 2022, Daniya won the silver medal at the Robotics Olympics – First Global Challenge in Switzerland, the 2022 Community Impact Award from Crescent Awards and was a finalist for the 2023 NSW Young Women of the Year award.

Hayley Berndtsson, Digital Marketing Manager, Spirit Super (left) and Winner Daniya Syed (right)


Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award

Jessie Waratah Simon-Fitzpatrick is a Gamilaraay and Warlpiri woman living on Bidjigal Country. A passionate advocate for First Nations visibility and cultural empowerment, Jessie has transformed education through art and mentorship. Her journey from student advocate to community artist is marked by initiatives like exhibitions, murals, and workshops. By including teachers, parents and Elders, Jessie creates inclusive spaces where young peoples’ voices are heard and celebrated. Jessie’s commitment to truth-telling and cultural exchange enriches students’ sense of connection to Country, school and community; her strengths-based approach inspiring others to embrace their heritage and contribute to a more inclusive society.

Sharon Galleguillos, President, Aboriginal Education Council (left) and Winner Jessie Waratah Simon-Fitzpatrick (right)


Awards Australia Career Achievement Award

Amira Khela of Northmead is enriching the lives of individuals with disabilities and promoting community inclusion. Amira founded Steps2life, an allied health and disability hub that embodies her dedication and innovation in speech therapy and disability care. Her pioneering approach prioritises holistic support, evidenced by the establishment of a unique therapy shop and parent training course. Amira collaborates with healthcare professionals, schools, and community groups, fostering inclusive practices and enhancing client well-being. Her commitment to ongoing research and community engagement ensures the sustainability of Steps2life's impact, bridging gaps in disability care and empowering families. Amira's legacy is one of empathy, education, and transformative change.

Councillor HY William Chan, Councillor, City of Sydney (right) and Winner Amira Khela (left)


Department of Regional NSW Create Change Award

Kupakwashe Matangira of Lake Macquarie is a human rights activist committed to youth empowerment. Kupakwashe empowers young people across regional NSW and beyond through amplifying their voices in decision-making processes. Through lobbying and youth empowerment programs, she ensures young people's political participation without discrimination, particularly in post-disaster rebuilding efforts. Kupakwashe's advocacy has resulted in the establishment of youth advisory bodies and has influenced government policies at various levels. From addressing climate change to enhancing mental health support in schools, Kupakwashe's efforts have led to tangible changes, safeguarding the rights and well-being of young people whom she believes are a key driving force of social change.

The Hon. Emily Suvaal (left) and Winner Kupakwashe Matangira (right)


Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award

Yasmin Jimmieson of Muswellbrook and Armidale has unwavering dedication to volunteering. Yasmin is a member of the NSW State Emergency Service (SES), where she has performed leadership roles such as Deputy Unit Commander. She is currently employed as a Flood Rescue Operations Officer with the SES. Yasmin is an instructor with the Australian Air Force Cadets, performing the Training Officer role. Despite encountering ageism and sexism, Yasmin's resilience and determination has seen her rise above challenges, becoming an inspiration to others. Her passion for personal and professional development, positive attitude and her academic pursuits make her a shining example of youth empowerment and community service.

Stephen Green, Grand Secretary and CEO, Freemasons NSW & ACT (left) and Winner Yasmin Jimmieson (right)


Ministry of Health Achievement in Health Award

Dr Ashna Basu of Randwick advocates for gender equity. From Chair of the Young branch of the Medical Women's International Association, President of the Medical Women’s Society of NSW to leading COVID initiatives, Dr Ashna’s contributions are multifaceted. She has received national and international accolades like the Australian Medical Association’s Women’s Health Award and NGO CSW Global Youth Fellow Award. In March, Ashna moderated a panel about the gender gap in education at the United Nations in New York, invited by the President of the General Assembly and UN Women. Ashna has been a doctor with NSW Health since 2020, now training in Psychiatry.

Professor Sarah Lewis, Dean, School of Health Sciences, Western Sydney University (left) and Winner Ashna Basu (right)


Nura Gili Indigenous Youth Leadership Award

Renee Wootton of Rushcutters Bay champions diversity and inclusion in STEM. Renee is an aerospace engineer and pilot who has led Australian aviation projects in Sydney in the last 10 years. Through speaking engagements and board memberships, she inspires youth and women to pursue careers in aviation and engineering. Renee has empowered students nationwide, particularly indigenous and underrepresented groups, to aspire to careers in STEM. Her dedication to improving female and indigenous representation in the field, evidenced by her participation in the 2021/2022 Superstars of STEM program and board membership with Shalom College, exemplifies her vision for a more inclusive and diverse future in aerospace and aviation.

Scott Parlett, Director, Nura Gili Centre for Indigenous Programs (right) and Winner Renee Wooton (left)


OSMEN Furniture Creative Design Award

Haniya Syed, a resident of Western Sydney passionately advocates for causes through her design endeavors. As a Year 12 student, she shines as both an emerging artist and a tech enthusiast. Recognized with the NSW Women of the Year Award 2023 in the One to Watch category, Haniya serves as a role model for young girls in STEM, actively volunteering for organizations such as the Shahid Afridi Foundation and Meri Pehchan Pakistan. Utilizing her design skills, she supports underprivileged communities. With a fervent dedication to education, she aspires to pursue degrees in Creative, Design & Technologies, embodying a commitment to empowerment and positive change.

Michelle Lam, Brand Director, OSMEN (right) and Winner Haniya Syed (left)


The Fullerton Hotel Sydney Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Award

Indigo Penn of Terrey Hills is uplifting NSW's tourism sector through innovative leadership and community engagement. Indigo is the Managing Director of On Course Tours & Travel, a tour operator dedicated to providing diverse travel experiences. By crafting unique travel experiences and fostering partnerships with local businesses, artisans, and communities, she promotes the state's rich heritage and natural beauty. Indigo's commitment to sustainable tourism practices benefits both the environment and regional economies, generating employment opportunities and economic growth across NSW. Through her initiatives, she not only showcases NSW as a premier destination but also enriches the lives of residents and visitors, leaving a lasting positive impact.

Linda Scully, Director of Human Resources, The Fullerton Hotel Sydney (right) and Winner Indigo Penn (left)


Transgrid Indigenous Achievement Award

Emma Johnston of Hay embodies leadership and community spirit. A proud Wiradjuri woman, Emma's impact extends to art workshops, sports coaching, and cultural celebrations, enriching the lives of her peers. Her role in the Hay Youth Taskforce (YT), advocacy for youth mental health, and coaching endeavours showcase her dedication to empowering young people. Through her initiatives, she addresses critical issues like mental health support and social inclusion, Emma was a key contributor the YT’s grant project, “Empowering Hay’s Youth.” Her commitment to service and leadership sets an example for youth involvement and community engagement. In 2023, Emma was named Hay's Young Citizen of the Year.

Maryanne Graham, Executive General Manager Corporate & Stakeholder Affairs, Transgrid (center) and Michael Bradbery (left) and Winner Emma Johnston (right)


Western Sydney University Academic Achievement Award

Derick Luong is committed to social justice. Derick is a litigator at MinterEllison, holds a First-Class Honours Bachelor of Laws from UTS, and teaches law at leading universities. His exceptional academic achievements, including topping six law subjects, underscore his dedication to legal education and empowerment. Derick also founded the transformative Senses Awakened project with NSW Health, revolutionising healthcare services for vulnerable populations. Derick champions public policy and legal advocacy, earning recognition as a finalist for the Australian Law Awards' Law Student of the Year and NSW Volunteer of the Year. His multifaceted contributions exemplify a tireless pursuit of justice and community welfare.

Professor Graciela Metternicht, Dean, School of Science, Western Sydney University (left) and Professor Brian Falzon, Dean, School of Engineering, Design and Built Environment, Western Sydney University (right) and Winner Derick Luong (center)