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."



2019 Finalists

NSW Deputy Premier's Regional Achiever Award 

Annabelle Smith, 16 of Broulee has a passion for community. As part of the Youth Frontiers Mentor Scheme, Annabelle created ‘The Inclusive Sports Day’ for students with disabilities and mental illnesses, to have fun, be involved and get active. She was actively involved in the NSW Youth Parliament, voicing her passion for youth with disabilities. Annabelle contributes to the local Surf Life Saving club as an Age Manager for the Under 9 age group. She teaches them how to perform rescues and to be safe at the beach. Recently Annabelle has been accepted into the Rotary Youth Exchange Program where she will study abroad for 12 months.

Jessica Duncan, 23 of Moree is the youngest female to be on the Aboriginal Medical Service Board. She has volunteered hundreds of hours to the Moore Reconciliation Week Committee, helping to co-ordinate the event and MC at the Awards night. She was the key note speaker at the NAIDOC week opening ceremony and undertook a speech about the importance of languages. Jessica can speak the Kamilaroi language and is an advocate of the Kamilaroi family history. Jessica created her own charity organisation called DONATE FOR DIGNITY, helping the women’s refuge and hospital provide care packs to over 300 disadvantaged or homeless people.

Joshua Gilbert, 27 of Buladelah is a Worimi man who combines his environmental and agricultural knowledge with Indigenous wisdom and values to tackle climate change. He was invited to take part in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, resulting in the ‘Australia’s Young Green Farmers’ video, viewed in 75 countries by over 100 million people. Josh is the Co-founder of Australian Farmers for Climate Change, calling for urgent climate action to ensure a prosperous future for rural and regional Australia. He has received multiple conservation and sustainability awards and is on the boards of Bridging the Gap, Intrepid Landcare, and NESP Earth Systems and Climate Change.

Martha Gouniai, 29 of Broken Hill moved to Broken Hill in 2015 to volunteer on behalf of the Baha’i Faith. Working predominantly with the local Indigenous community, Martha set up youth empowerment programs and neighbourhood activities. Martha created the Western Landcare Youth Network, a program providing mentoring and training to young people interested in a future in agriculture. Martha sourced the funding and sponsorship, wrote the policies, organised logistics and undertook workshops. The program supports and mentors 20 young people each year’ to build skills whilst developing their personal capacities. Martha is also Vice President on the Broken Hill Soccer Association Board… Congratulations Martha


Western Sydney University Academic Achievement Award

Dr Anosh Sivashanmugarajah, 28 of Greenacre graduated in 2015 with a 'Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery' Degree with an Academic Medal, the Dr. David Graham Prize & the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Prize. He is currently a Medical Registrar at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and is completing a ‘Masters of Internal Medicine’. Anosh is an Associate Lecturer in the School of Medicine at University of Sydney, University of Queensland and James Cook University. He was a 2017 NSW Junior Medical Officer of the Year Award Finalist. Anosh is currently pursuing a research project on ‘Statin Intolerance’, with the aim of publishing the results soon. 

HY William Chan, 29 of Camperdown has worked towards urban sustainability through architecture and social innovation for over 10 years. A Convocation and University Medallist, William has led community-building projects for the homeless, slum dwellers and refugees around the world. His design solutions have been showcased across 40 cities globally and recognised by over 90 industry accolades. Recently, he founded a plastic waste circular economy initiative that educates youth in design-thinking and STEM skills, which was presented at the 2018 UN General Assembly. Named one of Australia’s ‘Brightest Young Minds’, William is a Fellow of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and volunteers as a surf lifesaver at Tamarama Beach. 

Samantha Bobba, 27 of Wentworthville has completed a Masters of Public Health and is dedicated to improving health outcomes in Indigenous communities. A senior resident medical officer, she has contributed to advancing knowledge of ocular stem cell therapy and early screening for keratoconus. Samantha has authored over 20 peer-reviewed publications and presented at over 10 scientific conferences. She is committed to education, and leads health workshops for Indigenous primary school children and tutorials for medical students within her role as a Conjoint Associate Lecturer. In recognition of her clinic skills and compassion, she was awarded Junior Doctor of the Year at her hospital. 

Victoria Pham, 22 of Lewisham is an archaeologist, composer and artist. She holds a Bachelor of Music Studies, Composition and a Bachelor of Arts, Archaeology/Art History. She has received many awards, prizes and scholarships and was the youngest person to present independent research in the Australian Museum Research Institute’s Annual Seminar. Victoria has worked with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History as a researcher, photographer and illustrator and has had field experience in Mongolia and Sri Lanka. Her first solo fieldwork project is in Catalonia as an Olwen Tudor Jones Scholar. Victoria specialises in prehistoric archaeo-acoustics, focusing on analysing auditory and sonic environments.


NSW Department of Education Early Childhood Educator Award 

Noelle Tsang, 29 of North Ryde has a Masters of Teaching and is the Centre Manager/Nominated Supervisor at the Montessori Academy, Macquarie Park. Her enthusiasm and unflagging desire to improve herself is admired by staff and parents. Noelle seeks to create new educational ideas for her team and involves staff in brainstorming new activities. Both staff and children benefit from her approach to learning and development as a result. Noelle was instrumental in developing the ‘Emotional Project’ which focuses on promoting positive emotions in children and helping them to express how they feel towards one another. Other centres have now implemented the ‘Emotional Project’ program. 

Lauren Welch, 26 of Bolwarra has created two successful early childhood learning centres. They have state of the art play spaces and are filled with meaningful natural resources to foster learning and development. Lauren created policies and procedures and researched to ensure that the children are receiving the most in-depth and current strategies and theories in regards to educational development. She is currently creating an app for parents, carers and educators to provide a detailed and accurate reflection of the child's individual learning development. Her centres hold regular markets for local vendors, aged care education days, family barbeques, grandparents’ day and charity fundraising days. 

Niki Ficsor, 25 of Silverwater is an Early Childhood Educator at Victoria Avenue Children’s Centre. She develops individual education plans for each of the children in her room, considering their interests and in consultation with their families. Niki’s ‘minibeasts up close’ program had children investigating insects whilst incorporating key developmental areas. Mathematics through weight, age, counting and social skills via communication about insects and working in teams to complete scavenger hunts on excursions. Curriculums Niki has developed include ,‘Tiny Tails’ encounters, embedded sustainability, inclusive practices, successful school transition programs, and the development of the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Program. 

Rebecca Linfoot, 22 of Frogs Hollow is an Early Childhood educator at Bermagui Preschool. Her ideas are innovative and have a transformative effect on the long term vision for the Preschool. Rebecca doesn’t rely upon a reprocessed or existing approach, but is always looking to develop new ideas and concepts. This has included enhancing Aboriginal perspective by promoting the local Yuin culture and language. She encourages sustainability in the Preschool by contributing ideas to sustainable gardens, recycling, reusing and reducing. Rebecca recently contributed to fundraising for the Moodji Cultural Garden Project, has been involved in the Bermagui Sea Side Fair and also facilitated a Vacation Care Program.


First National Real Estate Leadership Award 

Joe Harris, 22 of Matraville is founder of Gratitude, a startup focusing on building technology to assist clinical psychologists with mental health treatments. Gratitude was accepted into the Young Social Pioneers Incubator 2017 cohort. He mentors scholar students and aims to change the way we approach mental health treatment, globally. Joe has received several scholarships to work in China and Singapore with startup accelerators, assisting them as a software contractor and helping them raise hundreds of thousands of dollars of funding. Joe has recently returned from the University Scholars' Leadership Symposium at the United Nations in Bangkok to discuss the future of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Joshua Gilbert, 27 of Gloucester established the NSW Young Farmers Council and was instrumental in securing over $500,000 in funding for the organisation. He is a volunteer firefighter for the Rural Fire Service and an Australian Red Cross volunteer. Joshua is on the Board for Intrepid Landcare, The Tucker Patch Gloucester, Bridging the Gap and the NESP Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub. He was also the founder of Farmers for Climate Action and has recently stepped down from the board after turning it into a successful charity. Josh was named as one of 16 Young Entrepreneurs Revolutionizing Food and Farming. 

Kate Fitzsimons, 26 of Cronulla is the Director of the Nicole Fitzsimons Foundation, established in honour of her sister who died in an accident. Determined to save others from her sisters’ fate, she stopped working in 2013 to dedicate herself to educating about the importance of travel safety, through an eye-opening school presentation. Kate teaches students about building resilience during challenging times. Being described as ‘life-changing’ and ‘unforgettably inspiring’, her presentations have reached over 60,000 students at over 200 schools around Australia. She is a Motivational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence and the 2018 Cronulla Woman of the Year. 

Usman Iftikhar, 28 of Darlington is a global systems thinker and social entrepreneur. In 2016, he created Catalysr to support refugees and migrants to create startups. He has so far supported 66 migrapreneurs with 14 startups. Usman was part of the Australian Delegation to G20 Young Entrepreneurs' Alliance Summit in Berlin to advocate for better mobility, education and smart taxation schemes. He has worked alongside the technology giants in Silicon Valley to come up with bold solutions for climate change. He is currently working on Democratisation of Outer-Space, with two other co-founders to design the world’s first solar power satellite, to be launched in 2020.


NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation - Innovation Award 

Angelina Arora, 16 of Glen Alpine is an environmental scientist, innovator and inventor of a biodegradable plastic. Made completely of waste it decomposes 1.5 million times faster than conventional plastics, significantly reducing the amount of pollution caused by plastics. She is currently researching micro plastics in fish which could potentially be entering our food chain. Angelina speaks at environmental events, in television and print, where she advocates for a sustainable future and raises awareness about plastic pollution. She wants to encourage more young people and women to engage in STEM subjects and careers. She received a green globe award and fourth place in the World Science Olympics. 

Damian Veling, 27 of Petersham is the co-founder of Okra Solar, a startup using cutting-edge “Internet of Things” technology to bring solar energy to off-grid communities globally. Around 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity, and Okra aims to reach as many as possible with clean, reliable and affordable solar energy. Damian and his team have transformed this initiative to a successful startup with over $400,000 in funding. Currently, 80 off-grid families in Cambodia are using Okra Solar. They have won worldwide accolades and awards such as the POWERACE 2018 Start-Up Competition and the Eurelectric 2018 - "Most disruptive Energy Company” award. 

Matthew Childs, 26 of Strathfield is an entrepreneur. He has launched eight successful start-ups, which combined, generate over 3 million dollars revenue each year. His first start up was the successful Wine Stash, making professional wine storage affordable and available to everyone. Last year he was the first Australian to be selected for the prestigious Innovation Fellowship program at Stanford University. The 12 month course covered innovation fundamentals and advanced design thinking processes. Matthew is now focused on automation and is currently working on his charity, “The One Dollar Tree” which aims to plant 1 million trees across Sydney each year. 

Rowan Smith, 23 of Peter is studying Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering. After watching his grandmother experience a difficult rehabilitation after her stoke due to a shortage of physiotherapists, he cofounded Tech Gym. Tech Gym uses robotics to assist the rehabilitation process. A robotic arm is programmed to operate a series of rehabilitation games and exercises. Through the use of gamification and music therapy, Tech Gym creates a fun and immersive experience that improves patient motivation and self-independence. Tech Gym was a finalist in the 2018 Virginia Tech Global Entrepreneurs Challenge. They were one of the 16 out of 105 startups nominated at the UTS Startup Awards.


Scouts NSW/ACT Youth Development Award 

Marcus Saint, 28 of Turramurra is an outstanding, supportive, empathetic and encouraging mentor of young children. He has been a volunteer Scout Leader for six years and has been instrumental in the 1st Turramurra Scout Group maintaining the highest standards in scouting. He nurtures, cares, teases, encourages and challenges the scouts to achieve their best. Marcus led the scouts to three Jamboree’s and group trips to Kakadu and the Kimberly’s. Marcus works as a Social Worker for Treehouse Innovative Families, an in home care for children who have experienced trauma. He has assisted in building development programs to develop coping mechanisms and improve behavior management. 

Meg Cummins, 21 of Avondale is the youngest State Commissioner for Scouts NSW. She assists the State Youth Council, running youth awards and forums. Meg was instrumental in creating change in Rwanda as Assistant Project Manager to a Humanitarian Engineering project, she also spent a month in Borneo helping at an Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. As a member of the National Youth Council, she redesigned the Youth Program, raised awareness for Climate Change and advocated for 17 Sustainable Development Goals. She also led Team UOW Australia's Interior Design team to produce a world class sustainable dementia-friendly house. In her spare time, she helps raise orphaned joey kangaroos. 

Tianna Graham, 17 of Limeburners Creek is a proud Worimi/ Durrick woman and is strongly passionate about her culture. She completed a Certificate 1 in the Gathang language and spent many hours with local people and Elders developing her language skills into song. She is an active member the Navy Cadets and was recently hand-picked to sail on the “Young Endeavor” as a state representative. She was a leader in the 2018 NAIDOC events and implemented the local Gathang language into numerous schools and community everts. Through her role with the Dyiyagan Dhanbann (Strong Women) women’s group, she aided the development of indigenous programs into schools. 

Mitchell Harvey, 23 of Woolgoolga is the Deputy Unit Commander at Marine Rescue Woolgoolga. He has worked with the unit for more than seven years, amassing over 5,000 hours of volunteer service. Mitchell has been instrumental in the units training and development. As the first qualified Radio Operator, he was responsible for training the remaining 15 crew members up to the required standard, to meet State Rescue Board requirements. He has been responsible for developing countless training aids and resources, making the unit more efficient and compliant. Mitchell has been responsible for the training of close to 50 radio operators, 10 watch officer and 50 trainee crew members.


Western Sydney University Science and Technology Award 

Aj Verma, 26 of North Ryde was a founding team member for the first solar car project at Western Sydney University. In the past six years, he has built teams, raised funds and developed technology for building world class solar vehicles. Recently, his team won 1st place in the world solar challenge. Aj is currently working in a small startup focused on brushless motor controllers for electric vehicles. They have product lines focused on unmanned and manned aircraft, and have collaborated with companies such as Google. He was recently interviewed with SpaceX for a position in their engineering team, and hopes to be part of this revolution. 

Domenic Raneri, 29 of North Strathfield is a forensic scientist who has adapted technology from the mining industry to develop new 3D capabilities for the NSW Police. This has enabled the capture of evidence and crime scenes of any size with incredible detail, permitting the novel analysis of evidence in the 3D space. Crime scenes can now be virtually explored by any Police Officer, and complex incidents reconstructed to reveal new information about what has occurred. Domenic’s evidence was instrumental in the investigation to reveal what occurred inside the Lindt Café Siege, allowing the Coroner and public to thoroughly understand how the incident unfolded. 

Macinley Butson, 18 of Mangerton is an inventor. Her invention, the “Spoonge” accurately measures and delivers medicine without the risk of overdosing or underdosing. Her ‘SMART Armour’ project looks at improving outcomes for radiotherapy breast cancer patients. This year, Macinley has invented the SMART System, an improvement to the SMART Armour to further improve aspects of radiotherapy treatment. She has also invented the SODIS Sticker, a device to show when water in developing communities has successfully been disinfected of biological pathogens. In 2017, Macinley became the first ever Australian to win first place in the world in the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair. 

Lisa & Zoe Paisley, 23 of Arcadia are co-founders Aggie Global, an agricultural consulting business addressing food security and poverty in developing countries. Starting in Fiji, they are connecting smallholder farmers to resources and expertise to improve farmer income and ensure a consistent supply of quality food in a sustainable manner. One farmer had in just three months, increased his weekly crop income from $200 to $1,000. Lisa and Zoe are developing an application to connect farmers to buyers and suppliers, whilst providing tailored advice to farmers in remote areas. This will allow them to reach millions of farmers living in poverty around the world.


Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award 

Isaiah Dawe, 23 of Redfern is the founder of “ID. Know Yourself”, a mentoring initiative for young Aboriginal people in foster. ID. Know Yourself helps young people know where they came from, what they can achieve, and to know that they can be a solution to any problem. Isaiah is the ABSEC Youth Ambassador 2016-2018, representing and introducing recommendations on current policy and procedures to Government on behalf of all Aboriginal young people in ‘out of home care’. He has won many awards and been invited to the USA National Indigenous International leadership Exchange Program and the 2018 National First People’s Congress World Indigenous Business Forum. 

Kayla White, 28 of Kew has a double degree of Diploma of Aboriginal Education and a Bachelor in Education. She is a proud Biripi women and is in her second year of teaching at Camden Haven High School. She is a strong advocate for Aboriginal Education and is the coordinator for the Aboriginal Education distance learning module. Kayla has implemented and led many programs including the “NAIDOC Road Show” which was a program taken to students allowing them the opportunity to celebrate their culture. She volunteers and is an active member of her local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and represents her community at the regional meetings. 

Lily Ferres, 25 of Wilcannia has a Masters in Design Technologies and Visual Communication and is a teacher at Wilcannia Central School. She first started working across many subjects including mathematics where she devised a program based on cooking to engage the students. Through her efforts, the students learnt many practical skills. Lily empowered them to create art works for an exhibition in Broken Hill featuring photographs, landscape painting, textiles and jewellery. She helped the students establish a car wash day to raise funds for a trip to Sydney and taught practical skills such as sewing so they could make their own pajamas for the trip. 

Tamika Worrell, 23 of Marayong is undertaking a Master of Research. Her thesis focusses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives being embedded in the English classroom. She is a published author, having contributed to Anita Heiss' 'Growing up Aboriginal in Australia' anthology, as well as various educational resources. She delivers Indigenous programs at the Australian Museum and as a Program officer at Reconciliation Australia, promotes the Narragunnawalli reconciliation program to schools. She is currently the Chairperson of Youth Action NSW's Board of Governors. Tamika is the Aboriginal Academic Engagement Coordinator at Macquarie University, engaging and assisting students on their tertiary journeys.


Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award 

Mikaela Sutherland, 22 of Sans Souci volunteers for more than 300 hours a year. She is a regular blood donor and has organised fundraising initiatives for cerebral palsy and cancer research. She volunteers for the Mirabelle Foundation who assist children who have been orphaned or abandoned due to parental substance abuse. Mikaela also volunteers at ‘Plates 4 Mates’, providing food for the homeless. She is Director of Lifesaving for Wanda Surf Life Saving Club and the Youth Development Officer for Surf Life Saving Sydney. Mikaela has been an active member of Toastmasters International for two years and sits on the executive committee of the “Professional Women Sydney” club. 

Annabelle Smith, 16 of Broulee volunteers with Moruya Special Nippers and Broulee Dolphins Access Rugby, both programs supporting children and adults with disabilities. She is the chairperson of the Moruya High School Student Representative Council and a member of the Eurobodalla Shire Youth committee. She also participates in Peer Tutoring, supporting struggling students to remain engaged in education. Annabelle participated in the NSW Youth Parliament, where she voiced her passion for youth with disabilities. As part of the Youth Frontiers Mentor Scheme, Annabelle created ‘The Inclusive Sports Day’, an opportunity for students with disabilities and mental illnesses to have fun, be involved and get active. 

Brooke Murray, 21 of Narellan Vale supports multiple charities relating to women, children and mental health. Following recovery from mental illness, Brooke has dedicated herself to supporting others and raising awareness. She has raised over $2,500 for mental health charities to date. She started a social media campaign #whatkeepsmewellcampaign, aiming to flood social media with the various sources of support for positive mental health and wellbeing. Brooke speaks to students about mental illness and uses newspaper, social media and radio to expand on her advocacy. She is also an ambassador for The Crowned Journey Foundation, a nonprofit that helps raise awareness to stop sexual violence. 

Meg Cummins, 21 of Avondale advocates for youth involvement and works towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The youngest State Commissioner for Scouts NSW, Meg is a strong leader and effective communicator, and quickly gains the respect of her peers and other youth members. She was instrumental in creating change in Rwanda as Assistant Project Manager to a Humanitarian Engineering project and lived in Borneo for a month to assist with maintenance in an Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Meg volunteers with local Wildlife Rescue Organisations, hand-raising and rehabilitating orphaned Kangaroo Joeys. Meg is the youth representative on the University of Wollongong’s Global Challenge grant ‘Sustainable Development Goal’. 


2018 Finalists

First National Real Estate Leadership Award
Dane Moores, 29 of Wright
Emma Byrne, 27 of Canberra 
Dr Nicole Seebacher, 28 of Sydney
Lily Wu, 23 of Sydney

The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award
Grace Partridge, 25 of Northbridge 
Leonard Weiss, 25 of Forrest 
Vanessa Marian Varghese, 29 of Byron Bay 
Will Hazzard, 16 of Meadow Flat 

Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award
Amy Sarandopoulos, 28 of Redfern 
Emma Chapman, 25 of St Clair 
Shaarn Hayward, 26 of Bonny Hills 
Hailee Provest, 21 of Windradyne 

Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award
Ana Musson, 23 of Sydney
Hannah Diviney, 18 of Penshurst 
Michael Bonnici, 20 of Alfords Point
Sacha Thomas, 17 of Balmain

Worldwide Sports Award
Deborah Greenbaum, 20 of Blakehurst 
Jemma Smith, 18 of Daleys Point 
Finnian Alexander, 19 of Gladesville 
Simon Chandra, 14 of Brookvale 

WFI Insurance Small Business Achiever Award
Brandon Charles Evertz – Big Review TV, 24 of The Rocks
Joshua Ross – Humanitix, 29 of Sydney 
Alix O'Hara – Mashblox Pty Ltd, 29 of Deakin 
Luke Piccolo – Limone Dining, 28 of Griffith 

Soroptimist International Women Creating Change Award
Anastasia Volkova, 26 of Eveleigh 
Emily Milton Smith, 26 of Glenorie  
Macinley Butson, 17 of Mangerton 
Stephanie Reed, 25 of Callaghan 


2017 Finalists

First National Real Estate Leadership Award
• Nat Ware, 28 of WAITARA
• Maddison O'Gradey-Lee, 19 of BATEAU BAY 
• Rachael Stevens, 25 of HOLDER  

Awards Australia Small Business Achiever Award
• Evelyn Vallejo - Viewspotter, 28 of SYDNEY 
• Cindy Huynh - HSC Hero, 21 of SMITHFIELD 
• Isobel Crumblin - Fly By Fun, 27 of REDFERN 
• Nipuni Wijewickrema - GG's Flowers, 23 of YARRALUMLA  

Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award
• Carlie Gemmell, 27 of GLENFIELD PARK 
• Renee April Wootton, 23 of RANDWICK 
• Maeve Thomson, 24 of LILYFIELD 

The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award
• Holley Somerville-Knott, 13 of LENNOX HEAD 
• Kaylene Milner, 29 of LEICHHARDT 
• Jessica Van, 28 of WATERLOO 
• Louisa Magrics, 26 of MAYFIELD  

WHO Printing Environment & Sustainability Award
 Joe Duggan, 28 of HACKETT
• Anika Molesworth, 29 of BROKEN HILL
• Joshua Gilbert, 25 of GRIFFITH  

Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award
 Ella Reed, 25 of COOKS HILL
• Nat Ware, 28 of WAITARA 
• Nipuni Wijewickrema, 23 of YARRALUMLA 
• Ruth Lewis-Jones, 28 of BUNDEENA 


2016 Finalists

The Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award
• Joshua Celi, 23 of ESTELLA
• Carlie Gemmell, 26 of GLENFIELD PARK
• Jo-Anne Hurwitz, 29 of WAVERTON
• Brendon Burns, 25 of CLAREMONT MEADOWS

WHO Printing Environment and Sustainability Award
• Holley Somerville-Knott, 12 of LENNOX HEAD
• Megan Hounslow, 19 of INGLEBURN
• Grace Liley, 23 of BLAKEHURST

AustralianSuper Career Kick Start Award
• Matthew Hill, 27 of NORTH PARRAMATTA
• Ashleigh Pengelly, 26 of WAGGA WAGGA
• Jane Jinying Lin, 22 of LYNEHAM

First National Real Estate Leadership Award
• Hourieh Marouche, 22 of BASS HILL
• Rachael Stevens, 24 of HOLDER
• Tom Perfrement, 22 of HAWKER
• Bregje van der Heijden, 27 of NARRABRI

Santos Indigenous Achievement Award
• Kyah Simon, 24 of NORTH PARRAMATTA
• Dolie Ufi, 23 of LEUMEAH
• Danielle Hobday, 22 of MANGROVE MOUNTAIN

The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award
• James Farley, 25 of WAGGA WAGGA
• Meghan Alys Bailes, 21 of WOMBAT
• Genevieve Clay-Smith, 27 of ALEXANDRIA

Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award
• Ruth Lewis-Jones, 27 of BUNDEENA
• Kimberly La, 17 of BEECROFT
• Rose Cox, 16 of STRATHFIELD


2015 Finalists

Freemasons NSW & ACT Community Service Award
• Maddison O’Gradey-Lee - Bateau Bay
• Melissa Tierney - Kiama Heights
• Rose Cox - Strathfield
• Thamir Shamaon - Bossley Park

Australian National University Science Leadership Award
• Adrian Dudek - Canberra
• Ethan Butson - Mangerton
• Dr Michael Bowen - Sydney
• Sarah Verdon - The Rock

Santos Indigenous Achievement Award
• Danielle Hobday - Mangrove Mountain
• Noleen Hoskins - Cranbrook
• Rhett Burraston - Airds

The Coffee Club Arts & Fashion Award
• Alexandra Malpass - Cabarita
• Daniel Monks - Newtown
• Cassidy-Rae Wilson - Glenhaven

WHO Printing Environment and Sustainability Award
• Alex Allchin - Sydney
• Jaden Harris - North Curl Curl
• Parrys Raines - Mount Ousley

Bartercard Leadership and Innovation Award
• Cheryl-Leigh Smith, 21 of Elermore Vale
• Ethan Butson, 19 of Mangerton
• Jamie Barwick, 25 of Armidale

AustralianSuper Career Kick Start Award
• Kate Loudon - Dubbo
• Leonnee Pinchen-Martin - Tamworth
• Troy Tungai - Barrack Heights