7NEWS Young Achiever Awards - NSW/ACT

I was in the supermarket with my little sister when I found out I had been named a finalist for the Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award and the two of us squealed with delight there in the middle of the aisle.

Later, when I read the profiles of each finalist both in my category and for the other awards, I felt immensely proud and honoured to be recognised alongside such talented and passionate individuals.

The awards celebration night was a representation of the intelligent, innovative and motivated young people who are leaders today and the leaders of tomorrow. The initiatives that were shared and recognised give me hope for our future.

For me, thus award is an encouragement to continue fighting for what I care about. I hope that young people and young women in particular, look at stories told here and can see themselves in them. Because each of us has the ability to use our voice and skills for the betterment of our world.

Lily Harrison
2020 Freemasons of NSW/ACT Community Service Award Winner


"The First National Real Estate Leadership Award has provided the ability to share stories that need attention. From Indigenous issues, to climate change in agriculture, these areas require a national spotlight now to create long-lasting, multi-generational change. The Award has enabled me to tell the stories of my People, sharing the importance of history and culture to modern day decision making. I am honoured to have won this award and thank the sponsors and organisers for their continued contribution to recognising and supporting leaders."

Joshua Gilbe
2019 First National Real Estate Leadership Award Winner


"Receiving the 2017 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year was a great honour. But more than that, it was a great motivator. Social entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. I’ve spent thousands of hours over the past decade working unpaid in ways that nobody sees or knows. Receiving the Young Achiever of the Year has motivated me to work even harder, to raise the bar, and to never stop striving for the change I seek. In the past year, 180 Degrees Consulting has provided 720,000 hours of volunteer services and has expanded to 35 countries. I am also starting a new social venture that I believe can revolutionize the way services, such as vocational retraining, are financed for disadvantaged individuals, including those who will become unemployed due to automation and deindustrialisation. The Young Achiever Awards are not ends in themselves, but means to ends. It is my hope that all of those recognised in 2018 will be equally motivated to continue their great work, and that those that hear their stories are likewise motivated and inspired."

Nat Ware
2017 NSW/ACT Young Achiever of the Year


"It is very humbling to win this award, but also very exciting that award shines a spotlight on farming, the environment and climate change. I am fortunate to work with farmers and agricultural researchers around the world – who spend their days working on issues pertaining to food security, environmental conservation and climate change adaptation. These people are making a meaningful contribution to a vibrant and resilient future – and this award gives recognition to all people working on these issues of our time."

Anika Molesworth
2017 Environment & Sustainability Award Winner


"The NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards is an amazing event that highlights the achievements of young people. If you're someone or if you know someone who's running a business, opening a social enterprise, helping out in the community or pursuing your dreams, I definitely recommend that you enter. As the 2017 winner of the Small business category, I was able to open up new connections and networks and meet other young people who are equally as passionate and ambitious. Nominations are now open so I recommend you hop on it because it's such a great opportunity to celebrate your achievements and advance your career."

Cindy Huynh
2017 WFI Insurance Small Business Achiever Award Winner


"Winning the arts and fashion award was a huge encouragement for me, voluntarily running a not for profit organisation is hard work, so being told that people think I'm doing a good job for the community means a great deal to me. It puts wind in my sails to continue advocating for our creative industries to be more inclusive."

Genevieve Clay-Smith
2016 The Coffee Clubs Arts and Fashion Award Winner 


"It was a tremendous honour to be recognized with the First National Real Estate award for the leadership category of the 2016 NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards. Considering the phenomenal achievements of Australia’s youth across incredibly diverse fields, this award was an extremely humbling honour, but also more importantly a call to action.

I am currently undertaking an honours research project at the University of New South Wales on the topic of CO2 conversion via photocatalysis to a solar fuel. Outside of my studies, I have developed an internationally applied innovation focused on climate resilience and am the founder and executive director of a nationwide mentoring program, MentorMe Australia. My decision to tackle a chemical engineering degree was grounded in the notion of contributing to the grand challenges of the 21st century: food security, energy, water and health. Yet more recently, my attention has shifted to how these concerns can be addressed via social entrepreneurship and within the business community. I am particularly interested in the intersection of business strategy and sustainability.

In my eyes, leadership is most clearly defined as the capacity to translate vision into reality, whilst simultaneously growing others around you. You don’t need a title to be a leader and it seems evident that leaders emerge in all levels of a community. Douglas MacArthur states that “a true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He or she does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

At the awards night the atmosphere was electric. Sitting amongst the state’s young leaders I felt an energy and dynamism which was both captivating and inspiring. These were the leaders of the future, in government, in industry and in academia and given their talents and passions, there appears every reason to be optimistic. We have a responsibility to continue to use our opportunities to make ethical, informed and courageous decisions as Australia’s future leaders.

My vision with MentorMe Australia, the nation’s first mentoring initiative from secondary school to university graduates is to develop the leaders of tomorrow. We focus on assisting individuals within their early career stages via the power of mentoring. But not only does mentoring impact the mentor and the mentee, it strengthens ties between communities, institutions and organizations. Our next phase of expansion is a unique program aimed at supporting high school students from refugee backgrounds.

To be associated with the awards and the category sponsor First National Real Estate is an incredible opportunity and privilege. First National is a centre for excellence in the real estate community in terms of its people, work, ethos and culture and I am very proud to be associated with the sponsors who have made these awards possible.

Ultimately, I hope that through my leadership and drive in the fields of climate resilience, sustainability and mentorship I have paved the way for others to follow. Indeed, the real test of leadership is the function to engage and develop more leaders, not followers. Thus, I encourage you to nominate an individual for the 2017 NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards – it is an experience that they will not forget."

Tom Perfrement
2016 First National Real Estate Leadership Award Winner