7NEWS Young Achiever Awards - NSW/ACT

2023 Winners of the 7NEWS NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards

The 2023 winners with Hon Rose Jackson MP 


2023 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year - Courtney Brookes


Coutney Brookes with Hon Rose Jackson MP


Spirit Super - Connecting Communities Award 

Harrison James and Brooke Goff, Employer Relationship Manager at Spirit Super

Harrison James is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Harrison is an ambassador for Polished Man, a charity organisation dedicated to ending violence against women and children. He was a key collaborator for Safe Sounds, Australia’s first sexual assault awareness music festival. Harrison was NSW Police’s voice and face in the rollout of S.A.R.O., a new way victims can report their assault.


Aboriginal Education Council- Aborginal Education Award

Tanieka Riley and Beverly Baker, Executive Officer at AED.

Tanieka Riley is leading the change around Aboriginal culture in education. Tanieka was an educator assistant who founded Yaali Collective in 2020. She designs, develops, and shares her resources to change how Aboriginal culture is shared, talked about and engaged within an education setting. Starting with one resource, Yaali Collective now stocks over 13 authentic resources that educators can utilise in their classrooms.


First National Real Estate- Leadership Award

Ashna Basu Representitve Mary Jane Estrada and Ray Ellis, CEO of First National 

Dr Ashna Basu is a doctor at Prince of Wales Hospital, specialising in Psychiatry. She is the President of the Medical Women’s Society (MWS) of NSW and the Chair of the Young branch of the Medical Women’s International Association (YMWIA), representing medical women under 40. In 2022, Dr Ashna co-organised a satellite event for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  


Western Sydney University- Academic Achievement Award

Daniya Syed and Prof Simeon Simoff dean of the school of Computer, data and mathematical Siences at Western Sydney University. 

Daniya Syed is a first-year Mechatronics Engineering student who has been participating in regional, national and international Robotics championships for the past six years as a member of STEMCells. She was captain of Team Australia at the 2022 Robotics Olympics, winning a silver medal. Daniya serves as Youth Ambassador for the Shahid Afridi Foundation. She helps raise funds for underprivileged girls in Pakistan.


Off Trail Coffee- Small Business Achievement Award

Paws and Me and Anna Patthana, Owner of Off Trail Coffee

Pawz & Me provides premium pet care services to pet owners through the Macarthur and Wollondilly regions and beyond, including dog walking, dog training, in-home pet-sitting, pet transportation and wedding pet assistant services. Pawz & Me employs nine staff and has four pet transportation vehicles. It has serviced over 1,000 clients in the last five years and now makes over $600,000 annual revenue.


NSW Ministry of Health- Aboriginal Health Award

Kalinda Wills and Hon Rose Jackson MP, Minister for youth. 

Kalinda Wills is a qualified Aboriginal Primary Health Care Practitioner with six years of experience working alongside Aboriginal communities in the NSW south coast. She has worked on the Dead or Deadly Program, which works with Aboriginal women to promote and enhance their physical, emotional, and social health. Kalinda also played a key role in supporting the Diabetes Remission for Aboriginal Women Program.


The Fullerton Hotel Sydney- Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Award

Melissa Allcroft and Rob Weedon, general Manager at the Fullerton Hotel Sydney.

Melissa Allcroft is a passionate tourism management professional. Melissa is the Marketing Manager at Girls Getaways, a boutique travel company that creates ready-made getaway packages for women. She is responsible for developing new and bespoke getaway packages for Girls Getaways and its new offering, Couples Getaways. Melissa also trains new employees, leads familiarisation trips across NSW, and manages their largest corporate bookings.


Freemansons of NSW/ACT- Commuity Service Award 

Sarah Williams and Stephen Green, Grand Secrectary at Freemasons NSW/ACT.  

Sarah Williams founded What Were You Wearing (WWYW) Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that fights to end sexual violence. Since starting she has given a voice to over 26,210 survivors and established Australia’s first ever exhibition, festival and university group on sexual assault awareness. In 2023, she was named Newcastle Woman of the Year and continues to be an advocate for survivors within the First Nations, LGBTQIA+ and disability community. 


Transgrid- Indigenous Achievement Award

Georgia Drumush and Sherrie Anderson 

Dr Georgia Durmush is a Wailwan and Gomeroi academic. She works as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at the Australian Catholic University. She was awarded a “Summa Cum Laude” title for her PhD thesis on how Indigenous higher education youth conceptualises, supports, and leverages well-being. Georgia serves as a mentor to Indigenous higher-degree students at ACU.


Office For Regional Youth- Regional Achievement Award

Emma Johnston and Jonathan Wheaton, Acting Deputy Secretary for Department of Regional NSW.

Emma Johnston established a Mental Health Support Facebook page to provide information and support to people struggling with mental health. A proud Wiradjuri woman, Emma also runs art classes and face painting as part of indigenous cultural events and community celebrations. She is one of 29 NSW scouting members to attend the 2023 Kandersteg International Scout Centre centenary camp in Switzerland.


OSMEN-  Creative Design Award

Courtney Brookes and Angela Lam Li, Director at OSMEN.

Courtney Brookes is a director who uses her voice to diversify the industry through collaboration. Courtney has worked in New York, directing music videos for major label artists. In 2020, she signed with Eight and has since won awards for her work, which includes the “Girls Will Be Girls” campaign for Bumble. Courtney earned her Bachelor of Design with Honours from UTS.

2022 Winners of the 7NEWS NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards


 The 2022 winners with 2021 7NEWS Young Achiever of the Year, Tara Jane Sargent


2022 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year - Angelique Wan



 OSMEN Creative Design Award

Jordan Gogos, 27 of Elizabeth Bay is the founder and creative director of GOGOS and Iordanes Spyridon Gogos (ISG). ISG’s ‘Wearables for the imaginative’ is an experimental, non-gendered, innovative brand that approaches sustainability through practice-led design. GOGOS is the object-furniture brand that harnesses geometric and sculptural pieces crafted from aluminium. ISG is also an Australian Fashion Laureate Design Awards, Emerging Designer of the Year Awards 2022 finalist.


Transgrid Indigenous Achievement Award

Corey Tutt, 29 of Port Macquarie founded DeadlyScience, a STEM charity that works with over 100 youth organisations and schools. He has created STEM resources, including books like First Scientists and a DeadlyScience series with cultural experiences that help young people understand Australia’s true history with science. Corey often travels to communities to mentor young people doing it tough whilst helping elders and raising money for families.


First National Real Estate Leadership Award

Angelica Ojinnaka, 23 of Beaumont Hills is a Board Director for One Eight Inc. and a youth leader within the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. She is a founding member of the African Australian Youth Suicide Prevention Committee, where she coordinated mental health campaign. Angelica is a youth activist for Plan International Australia and has co-authored a report on the experiences of girls and young women globally.


NSW Ministry of Health Public Health Pandemic Response Award

Josefine Andrei, 27 of Moncreiff is responsible for delivering the Covid Safe Check-in and the Covid-19 digital certificate in the Service NSW App. Both programs focused on providing a customer-centric experience to assist businesses and customers to comply with the NSW’s public health orders to move around in a Covid-safe way. Josie worked with industries, partner agencies and internal teams and assisted in re-opening of the state.


Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award

Zoe Allan, 26 of Quirindi has been the Aboriginal Education Officer at Walhallow Public School for six years. She has taken many certificates at TAFE, including Certificates 1, 11 and 111 in Aboriginal Languages (Gamilaraay) and Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid. She is currently completing a Certificate IV in Education Support. Zoe has obtained a traineeship as an Early Childhood educator and worked as preschool coordinator.



Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award

Mariam Mohammed, 28 of Sydney co-founded MoneyGirl - a financial literacy social enterprise that delivers Australia's first, and only, evidence-based financial education course for women. MoneyGirl has educated over 250 young women across the country, reinvesting profits to create scholarships for First Nations and refugee women. Having moved to Australia as a 19-year-old escaping gendered violence, Mariam is dedicated to uplifting women and empowering other changemakers to do the same.


Quattro Coffee Roasters Online Achievement Award

Bryce Cronin, 23 of Belconnen created to promote tech events happening around Australia, with a focus on STEM education and creating social good. He has used his engineering skills to win several international hackathons by creating apps and websites to improve people's lives. In 2020 he began designing low-cost robotics for classrooms and 3D-printable accessibility tools for disabled people. In 2021, Bryce was a Young Canberra Citizen of the Year Finalist.


Qoin Small Business Achiever Award

Emma Peat - Daily Dough Co, 20 of Tumbi Umbi started her doughnuts business after losing her jobs at the start of the pandemic. She has opened a second store and pop-up stores in shopping centres. From eight staff, Emma now employs 38 people in total, all from the local community. She has invested all profits back into improving the business. Emma was an Australian Small Business Awards 2021 finalist.


Western Sydney University Academic Achievement Award

Matilda Harry, 23 of Kurrajong Heights is a high achieving doctoral research student in the Graduate Research School. Matilda is a proud Wiradjuri woman who graduated with Distinction from a Master of Teaching (Primary) in 2021. In 2020, she graduated with Distinction and a Dean’s Medal for being in the top 2% of the School of Education from a Dean’s Scholar Bachelor of Arts (Pathways to Teaching).


Spirit Super Create Change Award

Angelique Wan – Consent Labs, 24 of Surry Hills co-founded a non-profit that revolutionises the discussion around sexual consent. From 2016 to 2018, Angelique and her co-founder focused on developing an evidence-based program, consulted and built relationships with experts and conducted focus group discussions for market research. In 2021, she left her corporate job to work full-time for Consent Labs. They have since reached 10,000 students and parents across Australia.



 2021 Winners of the 7NEWS NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards



2021 7NEWS NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the year - Tara Jane Sargent



Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award


Jason Owen, 26 of Gosford is a youth empowerment advocate. Jason is an award-winning country music singer who founded Doin It For Rural Aussie Kids (DIFRAK), a charity that provides gifts, groceries and funds at Christmas to regional kids impacted by drought, bushfires and Covid-19. He set up a GoFundMe page to raise money and contributed funds from sales of his merchandise and secured sponsor donations. He embarked on a road trip, visited remote rural communities and schools and supplied hundreds of gifts to children and families. In 2020, he devised “How Ya Goin’ with Jason Owen”, an online series that raises awareness for mental health issues.


NSW Ministry of Health Public Health Pandemic Response Award


Bradley McEntee, 27 of Liechardt brings his positive attitude, dedication and kindness to work. Bradley is a Clinical Nurse Consultant in infection control for the Covid-19 Special Health Accommodation in NSW; caring for returned travellers or those unable to self-isolate at home. A critical member of the team, Bradley has helped set up and run all seven Health Hotels - dedicating his time to ensuring compliance with infection control standards and making sure all staff feel safe and reassured. He has helped keep the patient-to-nurse transmissions to zero and always has time to answer anyone’s questions. Bradley has a wealth of knowledge and understanding of infection control procedures.


NSW Department of Education Early Childhood Educator Award


Larissa Moore, 28 of Penrith advocates for children to feel a greater sense of autonomy and power within themselves. Larissa has been an Early Childhood teacher with Penrith City Council since 2015. She has been a lead educator, actively implementing services curriculum standards and supporting and mentoring those around her. The curriculum is interest-based, child-led and heavily revolves around the emotional and social development of children - which particularly supports vulnerable children. Larissa plans and designs e-learning modules for educators. For her ongoing commitment to the education and care of children aged 0-12, she received the 2020 Educator of the Year award within Penrith City Council.


First National Real Estate Leadership Award


Maddison O’Gradey-Lee, 23 of Bateau Bay is passionate about improving mental health outcomes for youth. Maddison is the CEO and founder of High Tide, a volunteer organisation that runs workshops on mental health for high school students. She utilises her lived experience and shares her story of struggle, hope and recovery. Maddison is also a lead facilitator at Jasiri, a pay-it-forward self-defence class for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. She works with Orygen and the World Economic Forum as a youth representative. Maddison has represented Australia at the Global Young Leaders Conference. She is the first to win the Australian Dalai Lama Peace Fellowship.


Transgrid Indigenous Achievement Award


Leticia Quince, 24 of Beresfield is committed to improving services for children and young people using her own experience in the child protection system. Leticia is a caseworker working as Youth Development Coach at Uniting Care. She mentors youth and provides a seamless transition to independent living. Leticia is a recipient of the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program scholarship for Dubbo Community Senior Campus 2013-2014. She was Chairperson of the Dubbo City Youth Council from January 2015 to December 2016. She has been a youth ambassador for AbSec since 2015 and was recognised as Young Person of the Year for NSW Aboriginal Child & Family Awards.


Western Sydney University Academic Achievement Award


Fatima Hussaini, 20 of South Granville is committed to improving the lives of others. Fatima is a self-taught refugee and women’s right advocate who never attended school, but gained entry into university through hard work. She is currently a Medical Science student at Western Sydney University, where she consistently achieves High Distinction scores and has a G.P.A. of 7.0 - despite studying in English, her third language. She came from Afghanistan and spent most of her life in Pakistan due to war. Unable to enrol in school in Pakistan, she read books at the local library then volunteered to teach others English and women’s and children’s rights.


Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award


Brenton Hawken, 25 of Temora is particularly passionate about public education. In 2017, Brenton participated in the National Indigenous Youth Parliament as NSW representative - meeting parliamentary members, conducting media interviews and debating social justice issues in relation to Indigenous Australians. Brenton is a food technology teacher at Temora High School. In 2019, he received a Temporary Engagement Contract at Temora HS before being awarded a permanent position with the Department of Education. He is currently a Student Representative Council co-ordinator, Aboriginal Education Co-ordinator and member of various committees. He has worked with the Deputy Principal to make Aboriginal Education a high priority area in the school.


OSMEN Creative Design Award


Zachary Hanna, 26 of Camperdown is an upcoming furniture and lighting designer. Zachary graduated with a Bachelor of Design in Integrated Product Design from the University of Technology in Sydney. While in Uni, he worked as a personal design assistant for the Head of Industrial Design and for a leading Australian furniture designer. He has established his own practice, working with Nau Design and winning awards such as the Cult Design Journey, Alessi design Award, Mercedes Benz Design Award and Good Design Awards, among others. Zachary employs a variety of self-taught skills and is committed to learning both technical and manual sides of his craft.


Qoin Small Business Achiever Award


Tara Jane Sargent, 26 of Earlwood launched TJ SWIM at the age of 21 from her parents’ laundry, using her savings and inspired by her love for minimalistic high fashion. The brand now has a global following and strong online presence - capturing the hearts of social media influencers and celebrities. In 2018 and 2019, Tara took TJ Swim to Miami Swim Week. To give back, TJ Swim has partnered with i=Change, allowing customers the opportunity to donate $1 from every sale to charity. The company also pledged to have 100% sustainability packaging by the end of 2021. In 2019, Tara was listed in the Forbes 30 under 30, Asia.


Danmark Health and Wellbeing Award


Elli Reinhard, 22 of Caringbah is passionate about educating and raising awareness on issues affecting Youth. As Peer Educator for Keep It Safe (KIS), Elli engages with people aged 12 to 24 around alcohol and other drugs minimisation strategies and raising awareness on their effects on mental health. She is also a Peer Educator at ReThink! Youth Anti Violence Project, helping address the lack of knowledge and understanding of the nature and causes of domestic and family violence. She facilitates workshops at schools and conducts outreach activities. Elli is also the Youth Ambassador for Sir David Martin Foundation, major philanthropic partner of Triple Care Farm, a rehabilitation program for alcohol and drug addiction


2020 Winners 

2020 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year - Steven Fordham, 28 of Muswellbrook

Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award


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.


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.


NSW Department of Education Early Childhood Educator Award

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.



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.


TransGrid Indigenous Achievement Award

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

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.


Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award

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.


Awards Australia Small Business Achiever Award

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.



2019 Winners of the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards

The 2019 Winners with The Hon Ray Williams MP, Minister for Multiculturalism, Minister for Disability Services and Master of Ceremonies, Michael Usher, 7 News Presenter


2019 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year - Dr Anosh Sivashanmugarajah, 28 of Greenacre

Dr Anosh Sivashanmugarajah with The Hon Ray Williams MP, Minister for Multiculturalism, Minister for Disability Services


NSW Deputy Premier's Regional Achiever Award


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.

Jessica Duncan was presented by Chris Hanger, Executive Director, Funding and Infrastructure, DPC Regional, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet


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.

Dr Anosh Sivashanmugarajah was presented by Professor Gregory Kolt, Dean of Science and Health, Western Sydney University and Professor Simeon Simoff, Dean of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Western Sydney University


NSW Department of Education Early Childhood Educator Award

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.

Niki Ficsor was presented by Tracy Mackey, Executive Director, Early Childhood Education Directorate, NSW Department of Education


First National Real Estate Leadership Award

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.

Joshua Gilbert was presented by Ray Ellis, CEO, First National Real Estate


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.

Angelina Arora was presented by Thea Knill, Director, Innovation NSW


Scouts NSW/ACT Youth Development Award

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.

Mitchell Harvey was presented by Eleanor Hewitt, Branch Rover Council Chair, Scouts ACT and Heather Porter, Scouts NSW Ambassador


Western Sydney University Science and Technology Award

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.

Macinley Butson was presented by Professor Gregory Kolt, Dean of Science and Health, Western Sydney University and Simeon Simoff, Dean of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Western Sydney University


Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award

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.

Kayla White was presented by Beverly Baker, Executive Officer, Aboriginal Education Council


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.

Mikaela Sutherland was presented by Stephen Green, Grand Secretary, Freemasons NSW & ACT



2018 Winners of the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards



The 2018 Winners with The Hon John Barilaro MP, NSW Deputy Premier and Michael Usher, 7NEWS Presenter


Overall Winner - 2018 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year

Michael Bonnici, 20 of Alfords Point contributes over 200 volunteer hours every year. He is Director of Lifesaving, educational speaker and award-winning Patrol Captain at Wanda Surf Club. He also volunteers for Meals on Wheels, Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Salvation Army. Michael raised $3,000 for Samaritans Purse Australia and volunteered time to help build schools in disadvantaged Battambang, Cambodia. He was recently named as the Sydney South Young and Overall Volunteer of the Year.


The 2018 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year, Michael Bonnici with The Hon John Barilaro MP, NSW Deputy Premier


Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award

Hailee Provest, 22 of Windradyne is employed as an Aboriginal Family Guide by Centacare Bathurst. She is a strong advocate for ongoing education for Aboriginal people. Hailee completed her Diploma of Community Services, with distinction in 2015 and leads the development and delivery of a wide range of educational activities. A trained facilitator in Sista Speak, Keeping Children Safe and Out of The Dark, she achieves outstanding outcomes for families in her community.


Hailee Provest was presented by Beverley Baker, Executive Officer, Aboriginal Education Council


First National Real Estate Leadership Award

Emma Byrne, 27 of Canberra is a change maker and regional youth ambassador. She worked closely with ACT Police coordinating the Champions ACT campaign, encouraging young people to look after each other when drinking alcohol. Emma has encouraged government agencies to embrace online technology and her NSW National Youth Week work improved information provision and community engagement. Her online engagement strategy for the NSW Corrective Services, Sober Driver Program represented a significant shift in police practice.


Emma Byrne was presented by Ray Ellis, CEO, First National Real Estate


Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award 

Michael Bonnici, 20 of Alfords Point contributes over 200 volunteer hours every year. He is Director of Lifesaving, educational speaker and award-winning Patrol Captain at Wanda Surf Club. He also volunteers for Meals on Wheels, Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Salvation Army. Michael raised $3,000 for Samaritans Purse Australia and volunteered time to help build schools in disadvantaged Battambang, Cambodia. He was recently named as the Sydney South Young and Overall Volunteer of the Year.


Michael Bonnici was presented by Kevin McGlinn, Past Grand Secretary, Freemasons NSW & ACT


Soroptimist International Women Creating Change Award 

Anastasia Volkova, 26 of Eveleigh founded FluroSat, which focuses on sustainable technological solutions to overcome food scarcity. Fifty per cent of FluroSat staff are women. In its first 12 months, FluroSat raised $1 million in venture and grant funding and achieved $230,000 in revenue. Anastasia empowers future generations of female STEM professionals with education and opportunities. She received the 2017 Zonta International Amelia Earhart Award and is currently completing her PhD in aeronautical engineering.


Anastasia Volkova, represented by Dr Xanthe Coot was presented by Nerida Murray, President, Soroptimist International Region of New South Wales Inc


The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award 

Grace Partridge, 25 of Northbridge founded Antidote, a network to champion gender equality and cultivate social change through art. Grace has grown Antidote to have an Instagram following of 12,000 people and has held four annual curated public exhibitions. She was invited to be a permanent co-facilitator of the annual Aspire Me drama program for rural NSW children. Grace also served as both vice-President and President of the Vision Generation society.


Grace Partridge was presented by Jason Travis, Regional Development Manager NSW, The Coffee Club


WFI Insurance Small Business Achiever Award 

Alix O’Hara, 29 of Deakin has overcome domestic violence and homelessness to successfully found Mashblox. Mashblox consists of hollow silicon building blocks that parents fill with food, allowing infants to learn to feed themselves, eating only until full. Alix was awarded Canberra Women in Business, Young Businesswoman of the Year in 2017, and attained a New Small Business Management Certificate. Her mission is to reduce infant obesity, whilst making nutritional food fun.


Alix O’Hara was presented by Rachael Callaghan, Distribution Manager, WFI Insurance


Worldwide Sports Award 

Jemma Smith, 18 of Daleys Point is a Surf Life Saving and Kayaking athlete. Jemma was named the Surf Life Saving Australia Young Athlete of the Year for both 2016 and 2017. She is captain of the Australian Youth Team and is the current World Youth Ironwoman, board and ski champion. At the surf club, Jemma trains, coaches and assist with the nippers when competition and travel schedule permits.


Jemma Smith, represented by Bill Cook, was presented by Steve Southwell, Account Manager NSW/VIC/SA, Worldwide



2017 Winners of the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards

The 2017 category winners onstage together at the Gala Presentation Dinner


Overall Winner - NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year


Nat Ware, 28 of WAITARA founded the successful volunteer organisation, “180 Degrees”. “180 Degrees” provides a platform to increase civic engagement and develop future leaders, and has positively impacted 100 million lives worldwide. Nat was selected to represent Australia at the World Economic Forum, and the St Gallen Symposium where he was named a ‘Leader of Tomorrow’. He was also named a ‘Global Leader’ by Goldman Sachs and was invited to New York to receive further leadership training.



The Hon Ray Williams MP, Minister for Multiculturalism, Minister for Disability Services presented Joseph Ware (representing Nat Ware) with the overall NSW/ACT Young Achiever Award


Awards Australia Small Business Achiever Award


Cindy Huynh - HSC Hero, 21 of SMITHFIELD co-founded “HSC Hero”, an online educational platform providing free video tutorials for HSC students. Since launching in July 2016, “HSC Hero” has supported over 1,600 students gain confidence in completing their Exams with success.”
Cindy was recently selected for Investible's LAB#5 Accelerator Program and is now mentored by top Global entrepreneurs in the tech industry. “HSC Hero” is currently in conversation with Australian and Asian investors who have expressed interest in working together.


Regional Manager – Sydney Metro Sydney Metro, WFI, Carley Byrnes representing Awards Australia presented Cindy Huynh - HSC Hero with the Small Business Achiever Award


Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award


Maeve Thomson, 24 of LILYFIELD is in her second year of teaching at Alexandria Park Community School. She led the reintroduction of the Higher School Certificate course ‘Aboriginal Studies’ and created engaging Aboriginal education programs. Maeve coordinated the ‘Songlines’ collaborative artwork project for NAIDOC and led the inaugural Aboriginal Studies Community Experience Trip. She is an active member of the Aboriginal Studies Association and was praised for her presentation at the 2016 Aboriginal Studies Association Annual Conference.


Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Education Council, Beverley Baker presented Maeve Thomson with the Aboriginal Education Award


The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award


Jessica Van, 28 of WATERLOO is a dedicated fashion designer, who draws inspiration from the Australian environment, flora and fauna. Jessica showcased her first collection at Australian Fashion Week in 2016, and the again at the New York Fashion Week. She spotlights the environment when creating her prints and fabrication, and believes in promoting local manufacturing and design. Currently working two jobs, whilst building her business, Jessica is determined to make it as a designer and showcase her creativity.


Director of The Coffee Club, John Lazarou presented Jessica Van with the Arts and Fashion Award


WHO Printing Environment & Sustainability Award


Anika Molesworth, 29 of BROKEN HILL is a founding member of Farmers for Climate Action and creator of Climate Wise Agriculture, a knowledge sharing platform connecting science research to farmers. Anika also founded and manages INTO Sustainable Farms, a program of the International National Trust Organisation which operates in 70 countries, promoting the conservation and preservation of natural resources, heritage breeds and heirloom species as well as the use of traditional farming practices. Anika is also a highly sought after keynote speaker and educator.


Director of WHO Printing, Helen Ogle presented Anika Molesworth with the Environment and Sustainability Award


First National Real Estate Leadership Award


Nat Ware, 28 of WAITARA created the “180 degrees” program in 2007 to help reduce homelessness, improve education and alleviate poverty, whilst also training the next generation of leaders. Nat has successfully trained 12,000 future leaders, helped 1,800 charities improve and expand their services and has provided 2.6 million hours of pro bono consulting. Nat has personally volunteered more than 14,000 hours. 180 Degrees now operates in 33 countries and is the world’s largest volunteer consultancy.


CEO of First National Real Estate, Ray Ellis presented Joseph Ware (representing Nat Ware) with the Leadership Award


Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award


Ruth Lewis-Jones, 28 of BUNDEENA is the founder and CEO of Esteem Designz, established to empower girls by building self-esteem, and improving mental health through creativity. Esteem Designz has already been implemented in 300 schools and community organisations, equipping 8,000 girls with important skills and resources. Ruth also pioneered the ChooseREAL Campaign, a global movement encouraging females to embrace and celebrate their own identity and value. Ruth volunteers on average 65 hours each week in her advocacy for females.


Grand Secretary - Stephen Green of Freemasons NSW & ACT presented Ruth Lewis-Jones with the Community Service Award



2016 Winners of the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards

The 2016 category winners onstage together at the Gala Presentation Dinner


Overall Winner - NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year

Grace Liley, 23 of BLAKEHURST is the NSW Coordinator for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, volunteering up to three days and two nights each week. During 2015, she coordinated a program called ‘Youth Decide’, facilitating large groups of volunteers to educate 5,000 school students on sustainability and climate change. Grace organised volunteer community groups to advocate against the proposed coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef, culminating in a huge campaign win for the AYCC. Grace was also manager of the youth section for Sydney’s People’s Climate March, constituting a crowd of 45,000.

Director of WHO Printing, Helen Ogle presented Grace Liley with the Environment and Sustainability Award


The Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award

Joshua Celi, 23 of ESTELLA is a proud Wiradjuri man and an enthusiastic first year teacher at Coolamon Central School. He coached the NAIDOC debating team to state champions and has developed Aboriginal education and cultural initiatives. Joshua led the implementation of the Rural and Remote Literacy Program at his School. He is a founding member of Coolamon Central School’s Multicultural Education Committee and developed a program for disengaged boys and girls with low self-esteem. Joshua is also a member of the Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.

Member for Canterbury, Linda Burney MP presented Joshua Celi with the Aboriginal Education Award


AustralianSuper Career Kick Start Award

Ashleigh Pengelly, 26 of WAGGA WAGGA has a Bachelor of Arts and Social Work and is currently an Aboriginal Youth and Community Development Officer. She sits on many committees including the Riverina Murray Regional Alliance. Ashleigh is a valued member of the Wagga NAIDOC Committee and was a driving force in creating events such as the 2015 NAIDOC Masquerade Ball and Awards. She has organised Lateral Violence training for her community and coordinated Join the Dots, a professional development program for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

Group Executive - Membership at AustralianSuper, Paul Schrioder presented Ashleigh Pengelly with the Career Kick Start Award


First National Real Estate Leadership Award

Tom Perfrement, 22 of HAWKER is the founder and executive director of MentorMe Australia, the first nationwide mentoring program for secondary students to university graduates. A chemical engineering graduate, Tom has presented internationally on climate resilience and was selected in the Top 100 Future Graduates Competition. He developed a composite disaster resilience index, assisting communities to deal with the impacts of natural hazards and climate extremes. Tom has led several fundraising initiatives, raising over $6,000 for Headspace and the establishment of a water filtration unit for a marginalized community in Costa Rica.

CEO, First National Real Estate, Ray Ellis, presented Tom Perfrement with the Leadership Award


Santos Indegenous Achievement Award

Danielle Hobday, 22 of MANGROVE MOUNTAIN is a Wiradjuri woman and young mother of two, whose passion lies with Indigenous youth and women within the Criminal Justice System. She is completing a double degree in Law and Criminology and has received several prestigious scholarships. Danielle is undertaking an Australian Federal Police Cadetship and works as a Juvenile Justice Youth Officer. She volunteers with the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy and returns each year to Yuelamu, NT to maintain her relationship with the community, school and most importantly, young people.

General Manager for Santos Energy, Peter Mitchley presented Danielle Hobday with the Indigenous Achievement Award


The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award

James Farley, 25 of WAGGA WAGGA is a passionate young photographic artist. His PhD research is exploring experimental arts practice in the environment. An exhibiting artist both nationally and internationally, James work has received accolades from Arts NSW, The Contemporary Centre of Photography and the Sony World Photography Organization. James works as a sessional academic tutor in art history, art theory and photo media practice. He was commissioned by Wagga Wagga Hospital and the Council to create an interactive all-ages installation and was also featured in the program of the Fusion Festival.

Genevieve Clay-Smith, 27 of ALEXANDRIA is an award-winning writer and director and is CEO of Bus Stop Films. Bus Stop Films is a voluntarily run, not-for-profit company. It is dedicated to building the confidence, English skills and life ready skills of people with an intellectual disability or those from marginalised communities. Bus Stop Films has won over 50 awards, screened at over 90 international film festivals and can be seen on Qantas in-flight entertainment. Genevieve won the 2015 Women's Weekly Women of the Future Awards.

Director of The Coffee Club, John Lazrou presented joint winners James Farley and Genevieve Clay-Smith with the Arts and Fashion Award


Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award

Kimberly La, 17 of BEECROFT created Cloud 9, an extracurricular group focusing on raising awareness of mental health issues. The group now has over 50 members from years 7 to 12 and the school will continue to run Cloud 9 after Kimberly graduates. Kimberly organises events and activities to tackle issues such as stress, body image, domestic violence and youth homelessness. She gained a scholarship to attend the 2015 Women Leading Change forum and is a member of the R U OK Focus Group. Kimberly also volunteers with the Salvation Army and Parkinson's NSW.

Andrew Fraser, MP presented Kimberly La with the Community Service Award


WHO Printing Environment and sustainability Award

Grace Liley, 23 of BLAKEHURST is the NSW Coordinator for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, volunteering up to three days and two nights each week. During 2015, she coordinated a program called ‘Youth Decide’, facilitating large groups of volunteers to educate 5,000 school students on sustainability and climate change. Grace organised volunteer community groups to advocate against the proposed coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef, culminating in a huge campaign win for the AYCC. Grace was also manager of the youth section for Sydney’s People’s Climate March, constituting a crowd of 45,000.

Director of WHO Printing, Helen Ogle presented Grace Liley with the Environment and Sustainability Award




2015 Winners of the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards

Overall Winner - Premier's Young Achiever of the Year Award

Rhett Burraston

The Freemasons NSW & ACT Community Service Award

Maddison O’Gradey-Lee, 17 of Bateau Bay is an extraordinary Indigenous Australian. She is juggling school, two part time jobs, various fundraising and leadership activities and has also create her own mental health awareness program for high school students called ‘It’s all about MI - mental illness'. After struggling with mental illness herself, Maddi wanted to create awareness and break the stigma surrounding mental health and also use her own story to help others. Maddie was invited to attend The Global Young Leaders Conference in New York and has won many awards including an Australian Youth Excellence and a Black Opal Award.



 The Australian National University Science Leadership Award

Sarah Verdon, 27 of The Rock is a dynamic speech pathologist and educator who is passionate about creating equality and embracing diversity. A PhD student at Charles Sturt University Sarah’s doctoral research is entitled Embracing Diversity, Creating Equality. The research supports the speech, language and communication of culturally and linguistically diverse children. Her thesis contains five different research projects (both quantitative and qualitative) resulting in nine research papers and multiple oral presentations at international conferences. Sarah also received the 2015 Endeavour Research Fellowship to undertake a project she designed to support the speech, language and literacy development of children in Fiji.  

The Santos Indigenous Achievement Award

Rhett Burraston, 23 of Airds is a dedicated father, leader and role model from the Mandandanji and Ngemba people. He works at a school located within a detention centre as an aboriginal education officer where he implements rehabilitation and leadership programs for incarcerated youth. He volunteers in many programs including Aboriginal Medical Services, and is passionate about breaking barriers of depression, racism and elitism in Aboriginals. Rhett advocates for Aboriginal youth on many committees including the NSW Youth Advisory Council, Oxfam’s Change Course program and National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Party. He has twice been recognised with the NAIDOC MacArthur Youth of the Year. 


The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award

Daniel Monks, 26 of Newtown is an Australian Filmmaker, actor and dancer who is passionate about creating art to voice the stories of those underrepresented in society. Despite his physical disability, he received a grant from Accessible Arts to be mentored in his emerging dance practice by Philip Channells & Dance Integrated Australia. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Young Filmmaker of the Year at the WA Screen Awards, and was honoured with having two short films selected for the Palm Springs International ShortFest 2011, making him one of only three filmmakers worldwide to receive that accolade. 


The Who Printing Environment and Sustainability Award

Jaden Harris, 19 of North Curl Curl is a passionate campaigner for Climate Action and at only 14, he co-founded the Sydney Youth Climate Action Network which has grown to more than 500 student members across Sydney. A volunteer with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Jaden formally met with the then former opposition leader, Tony Abbott MP and afterwards addressed a press conference, receiving coverage in the print media and on the 7:30 Report. On the board of OzGreen, a leadership and sustainability education organisation, Jaden is currently working on expanding the reach of its youth programs. 


The Bartercard Leadership and Innovation Award

Cheryl-Leigh Smith, 21 of Elermore Vale emigrated from South Africa when she was six. She has since overcome homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, family dislocation and cancer. Through persistence, Cheryl completed her Year 10 equivalent, worked as a group facilitator for the SHINE program at Warners Bay and Cessnock High Schools, mentoring young teens through the program. She is now employed in role focusing on empowering young women back into employment and education. As a mentor and role model for young girls and women, Cheryl-Leigh focuses on building their self-worth, strength and purpose and enabling them to make healthier choices.


The AustralianSuper Career Kick Start Award

Troy Tungai, 19 of Barrack Heights is an advocate for indigenous health and has implemented an innovative program called ‘Ngargin Doctors’ to help the disadvantaged. Along with Elders, community health workers and members, the project encourages healthy nutrition, health literacy, environmental health, hygiene and leadership. Troy has trained 30 ‘young doctors’ which has spread and invigorated the wider community, increasing school attendance, and health behaviours. Troy will also travel to South Australia and work in conjunction with Anglicare and the Port Power AFL Team to establish similar initiatives.