Seven News Young Achiever Awards QLD

2019 Finalists 

LGIAsuper Community Volunteer Award
Michael Morgan, 25 of Sippy Downs has been a dedicated volunteer since he was a teen. Despite having a rare and debilitating auto immune disease that makes it physically challenging for him, Michael remains committed as an ambassador for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. He is a passionate motivational speaker, fundraiser and performer who believes in the impact that a wish can have on the life of a child. He travels nationally to perform in remote hospitals to spread his message of hope and love to children with chronic illness. He also helps raise funds for the charity’s wish-granting program by donating artworks he personally makes.

Alexandra Wells, 19 of Ormeau established the Gold Coast Inclusive Sports Program for children with disabilities and additional needs when she was just 15 years old. Despite her young age, she met with leaders and spread the word about the club. She was involved in creating the program, promoting and running it, and training the volunteers. What started with 30 athletes and 30 volunteers, now has 90 athletes and 100 volunteers. The program focuses on coaching fine motor skills, teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership whilst having fun in a safe and inclusive environment. Alexandra currently juggles her university studies with her commitment to the club.

Jessica Taylor, 25 of Alexandra Hills is passionate about improving women’s health. She is the president of Endometriosis Association (QENDO), a not-for-profit organisation that provides education and support to women affected by endometriosis. Jessica continued the 30-year-old support line, renewing and rebranding it to connect with a younger generation. She grew the team of volunteers from 3 to 59, secured sustainable income, launched an online store and increased social media reach. Jessica is delivering a schools pilot program this year and collaborated with local celebrities to create awareness. She dedicates at least 4 hours each day in volunteer work for QENDO while working full time.

Aiden Meldrum, 22 of North Isis dedicates his life to inspiring people with disabilities, like himself. Aiden has a brain tumour, which impacts the use of one of his hands. He is also walking-impaired and clinically blind. Despite these challenges, he actively volunteers 5 days a week in a soup kitchen, serving for and engaging with homeless people. He also helps bring sports to the disadvantaged in the community and contributed directly to the success of Reclink Street Games in Bundaberg. Aiden has a YouTube channel where he teaches kids how to play games with one hand. His incredible will, empowers the disabled community.


Soroptimist International Women Empowering Others Award
Samara Welbourne, 18 of Minyama overcame her poor reading and writing skills to become one of Australia’s youngest social entrepreneurs. At 13, her children’s book “How to Build Fairy Houses” was first published. A year later, she established a small business called Enchanted Fairy Houses, the earnings of which were used to build a library in a remote village in Bali. The library currently provides services to 20 villages and is changing the lives of many girls and women. Recognising the importance of English skills to gain employment in Bali, Samara also taught English to young girls during her stay in the island.

Emily Smith, 18 of Millbank is passionate about the education and empowerment of marginalised social groups on sustainable development. She represented QLD and CQUniversity in Vietnam before the United Nations where she and her teammates developed several prototypes of a prospective drain and rubbish system. This environmentally sustainable project is concerned with responsible production and consumption, life on land and life below water. Emily is an academic achiever and was elected as student representative of the Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce. She was also actively involved in discussions surrounding the #loveBundy campaign which reaffirms the message that the community needs to support local businesses.

Madina Mohmood, 22 of Redland Bay is dedicated to promoting and raising awareness of cultural diversity and empowering young women. She helped establish the Afghan Student Association and the Muslimah Student Society at the University of Queensland. Madina was directly involved in creating the Queensland Afghan Community Association youth committee. As a result, many young Afghans and Muslim women gained confidence to contribute in public discussions. In 2017, Madina was chosen as university delegate to visit New York for the National Model United Nations. She secured a state leadership position as part of the QLD Vision Generation and was a keynote speaker at the International Women’s Day Breakfast.

Angel Dixon, 28 of Miami is a passionate activist for disability inclusion and human rights and is dedicated to challenging society’s perception of disability. She is the first agency signed model with a physical impairment to be featured in a national television campaign. Angel is the advocacy manager for Starting with Julius and the CEO of Attitude Foundation. Both organisations seek to accelerate the inclusion of people with disability through media and education. She is a member of the steering committee for NOW Australia, which deals with workplace sexual harassment issues. Angel is also a public speaker, a blogger and designs fashionable walking canes.


Kennelly Constructions Aboriginal Achievement Award
Emily Wells, 28 of Yandina Creek is a proud Kamilaroi woman. She is a fervent performer and producer, helping to design and facilitate programs which explore and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Her work with Digi Youth Arts allows her to empower young aboriginal people to connect with their culture and explore their identity. At Queensland University of Technology, she represented the Oodgeroo Unit at the 2018 Indigenous Peoples Conference in Canada and delivered a presentation showcasing the importance of indigenous role models in higher education. She was assistant producer of the Indigenous Engagement and Programming initiative, which was a Queensland Reconciliation Awards Finalist.

Zane Ratcliff, 18 of Everton Park is a mentor for young Indigenous students. He volunteers for not-for-profit organisations to teach traditional dance, help with homework and teach sporting skills and acting on stage. He has participated in swimming and rugby league. Zane was the first Indigenous School Captain at Burnett State College in 54 years. He performed as Indigenous dancer at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and taught traditional dance to students during NAIDOC Day Celebrations. In 2018, he was recognised as Young Citizen of the Year at the Gayndah Australia Day Awards. He will also be dancing at the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation celebration.

Mikayla-Haze Adams-Queary, 17 of Dunwich is dedicated to spreading awareness about cultural sensitivities. She is a proud Quandamooka woman from Minjerribah who showcases the rich culture through poetry, productions and plays, and comedy nights. She conducts traditional tours as an Indigenous Educator who takes part in Kunjiel, Jandai and traditional painting. She taught traditional Indigenous dance to local Primary and High Schools. Mikayla-Haze was among the top three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year and was chosen as candidate for the National Schools Constitutional Convention. She was also a 2018 Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation’s, Young Indigenous Leader awardee.

Lisa Rapley, 29 of Upper Mount Gravatt is from Gumbaynggirr country in Northern NSW and is committed to empowering Indigenous communities. She co-founded Yuludaria Karulbo, bringing together Indigenous and Non- Indigenous community members through the development and deliverance of cultural capability workshops for schools and workplaces delivered by local Indigenous youth and communities. They have reached over 1,200 young people and have enabled them to create pathways and connections for reconciliation. Lisa won the 2017 Young Social Pioneers Indigenous Focus Stream and received a $10,000 business grant. Lisa has a certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership and her aim for 2019 is to commence a law degree.


iFly Online Achievement Award
Tara Baker, 29 of Currumbin Waters is an inspiring LGBTQ+ advocate and influencer. Her website, Dancing With Her, celebrates LGBTQ+ women in love and has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram. This helps her engage with people who are often underrepresented. With little online experience, Tara learned to build and adapt a website, run social media and social media campaigns and work with influencers. She recently worked with Facebook on their Annual Gift Guide where Dancing With Her made an appearance, along with 29 other Australian businesses. Tara was awarded the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 award for her achievements in marketing and advertising online.

Nathaniel Anthony, 28 of Coorparoo is an online entrepreneur and fitness advocate. He founded three online businesses, all of which have earned more than a million dollars in revenue. Muscle Box is a subscription box service for fitness enthusiasts. FitAdvertising provides advertising services to large companies and has over 10 million followers. Muscle Nation Gym Apparel is an active wear company that ships worldwide and was a finalist at the Optus My Business awards. Nathaniel has been featured on Forbes and on the Shopify blog for his outstanding marketing. He has recently been invited to be a speaker at a Gold Coast Shopify event.

Dr Alayna Cole, 25 of Maroochydore is a champion for queer representation in the online games industry. She founded and is currently Managing Director of Queerly Represent Me. The charity is dedicated to research around representation of queer people and other marginalised communities in the videogame industry. Alayna is a game developer whose games make social comment about women, the queer community, mental health and self-care. She has a doctorate in Creative Arts (Creative Writing) and teaches budding game designers at the University of Sunshine Coast. Alayna was featured in the 2016 and 2017 MCV Pacific 30 under 30 and the 2017 Women in Games list.

Michelle Barnes, 24 of Carrara is dedicated to inspiring the youth to live a fulfilling and successful life through video blogging. Her YouTube channel has a community of more than 150,000 young women and is dedicated to helping people figure out how to live an intentional life. She also founded Channel Notes, a video blog that helps aspiring video content creators to create content that provides value to the world. Her videos have been viewed over 8 million times. She works fulltime for the City of Gold Coast, creating innovative and interactive online learning solutions for over 3,000 employees within the organisation.

BB Print Regional Achiever Award
Nicholas Thompson, 11 of Gracemere is committed to promoting sustainable fishing. He began by facilitating games to teach children to admire and learn to respect fish. His initiative, NickFish Vacation Care Experience, brought the joy of fishing to kids in Rockhampton who weren’t able to go fishing. Nick is the youngest recipient of the Viv McCristal Sports Fishing Journalism Scholarship and was commissioned to write Fishing the Fitzroy for Kids. After his interview with ABC Radio Capricornia, he was given a segment called Nick’s Fishing Adventures where he promotes the Central Queensland waterways. He also volunteered at the first Fishing for Therapy Program for the disabled.

Ethan Laval & Flynn Bushell, 14 of Slade Point advocate for community connection through facility improvement. They founded ProjectSk8Park in 2016 to help enhance the existing facilities in their suburb. They proactively petitioned and raised $4 million dollars to be used for constructing a multi-functional recreational park with two separate youth facilities. They also re-introduced regular learn-to-skateboard classes and workshops to develop skater’s skills. The ProjectSk8Park project helped introduce qualifying competitions for existing local skate board riders to participate in qualifications towards the 2018 State championships. Ethan and Flynn have provided a safe environment for participation, reconnection and networking between organisations and youth.

Imaan Ashraf, 17 of Mackay is a powerful speaker and ambassador of Islam. Imaan wants to create awareness that wearing a hijab should not hold her back from contributing to her community. She organised "Let's Talk About," a forum attended by prominent Muslim speakers which raised $2,800. Imaan was the emcee at the Mackay Mosque Open Day. She organised the medical chapter of the Mackay Homeless Expo where GPs provided free healthcare. Imaan was nominated for Outstanding Young Achiever at Queensland Government Multicultural Awards. She received the Australian Defence Force Youth Leadership Award, Rats of Tobruk Roll of Honour Award and CQU Change Maker Award.

Robert McLellan, 21 of Bundaberg East utilises performing arts to share Indigenous Arts and culture. He has produced shows that engage audiences in the Bundaberg region and gave local performers and students an opportunity to develop their skills. He is a proud Gooreng Gooreng and Taribelang man who has taken an active and lead role in reclaiming the Taribelang Language, the First Nation's language which was once made illegal. Robert also initiated the Yuwarr Dance Project, establishing the Yuwarr Dancers. He created their own Welcome song and dance for the Traditional Custodians to perform, and an Acknowledgment song and dance for everyone in the community.

First National Real Estate Leadership Award
Evie Marshall, 13 of Palmwoods successfully campaigned for Australians with cystic fibrosis, to have access to a life-extending medication called Orkambi. Costing $250,000 per patient per year, the medication was rejected by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. Evie became a key driver in gathering national support while managing her own CF. She talked to politicians and wrote letters to the Minister of Health and the manufacturers of Orkambi. After three years of campaigning, the medication was finally recommended and is now sold at $39 per patient per month. As a result, over 1,300 Australians with CF can now live up to 20 years longer.

Madison Birtchnell, 18 of Willow Vale advocates for equality, social justice, women empowerment and youth engagement. A volunteer since the age of 6, Madison devised an International Women's Week Conference with help from a Queensland State Government Grant. As guest speaker at the International Women's Day Early Riser's Breakfast, she used the platform to discuss the #pressforchange movement. She was awarded the 2018 Gold Coast Young Citizen of the Year, shortlisted as 2019 Queensland Young Australian of the Year and was a finalist in the Australian Human Rights Awards. Madison will represent Australia in this year’s Class of Women Deliver Young Leaders Global Program in Canada.

Candice Jones, 25 of Toowong is passionate about developing leaders. Despite being born vision-impaired and battling anxiety, she has shown great leadership. She led groups at Pacific Lutheran College, was a GirlGuides patrol leader and a youth leader at CityEdge Church. As residential assistant at Cromwell College, she mentored young women transitioning into adulthood. Partnering with RedFrogs and UniImpact she promoted inclusive alcohol-free events. She has developed leaders in Cambodia and Thailand. She continues to mentor women at Christ Community Church. As a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland she engages future scientists through tutoring and Wonder of Science.

Kaitlin Barwick, 17 of Robina inspires others to 'be the best they can be.' She is the founder and president of Squad Eleven, a youth community group created to allow local youth to express their ideas as a way to help them grow and succeed. She regularly attends community meetings held by the local council. Kaitlin is a member of the Police Citizens Youth Club, Youth Leadership Team and represented them at the State Youth Leadership Summit. She also represented Australia in the ITU World Triathlon Championships and coaches and inspires young athletes. Kaitlin has received both the Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards.


The University of Queensland Create Change Award
Nina Sackprasith, 27 of Ipswich founded Vivre Co., a social enterprise that aims to empower and educate young girls from impoverished communities. Vivre Co. is an eyelash beauty business where every service provided, helps fund her campaign. Nina is currently sponsoring 37 African girls and has provided an equivalent of over 2442 days’ worth of education. Nina partnered with Malawi's Bikema Academic Centre to resolve systematic issues around education, poverty and gender inequality. Nina advocated for multicultural youth and refugees and was selected as a youth representative for Queensland. She also began a charity project in Cambodia to help young orphans with disabilities.

Mathew Townsend, 27 of South Brisbane is providing opportunities for persons with disabilities. He founded Nature Freedom, a not-for-profit social enterprise that promotes inclusive and accessible employment and social opportunities with environmental and outdoor adventure organisations. With support from Landcare and local communities, he has provided paid employment for young people with disabilities. He participated in Foundation for Young Australians' Young Social Pioneers program and secured a $10,000 tax free grant for Nature Freedom. Mathew also won the Healthy Land & Water's 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award for his work in partnering with young people with disabilities at the Clean Up Australia Day event.

Tamara Richardson, 25 of Rockhampton is passionate about cultural education. She is the founder and director of Promoting Access to Cultural Education 48. PACE 48 is a global education organisation delivering cultural education to young people and their communities across 43 countries in Africa and Asia-Pacific to promote understanding and mutual respect. PACE 48 has partnered with UNESCO, Oxford University Press and several governments. It has offices in Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, Pakistan, Cameroon and Australia and has reached over two million youth across the world. Tamara is an appointed associate of UNESCO, representing Australia in multilateral meetings such as G20, Commonwealth and the UN Summit.

Navdeep Pasricha, 22 of Carrara is seeking to improve child education in rural and regional Australia. He is the CEO of iYouth Global which offers iYouth on Demand, the Netflix for Teacher’s professional development. The online platform Teachflix, allows teachers even in remote areas to get the best training any time, any day. The content is provided by professional development providers and existing teachers. The organisation has trained almost 20,000 people in 10 countries. Navdeep sits on board Queensland's second largest school, serving in an advisory team for the Department of Education. He also has a Bachelor's degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Awards Australia Small Business Achiever Award

Sheridan Vigers, 28 of West End advocates for environmentally friendly makeup products. Her brand, ‘MakeUp Weapons’, offers 100% handcrafted makeup brushes made from synthetic hair and sustainable bamboo. The brand was accepted into PETA's Beauty without Bunnies program, which means the range is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. The products also received the approval of Four Paws Australia. In 2018, Sheridan was named Best Independent Business Thinker of the Year and MakeUp Weapons was awarded Best Independent Beauty Brand. As a beauty expert, she attends Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane beauty expos as guest speaker. BuzzFeed also named Sheridan as among "The Coolest Make-Up Artists to Follow" on Instagram.

Daniel Proctor, 24 of Sippy Downs is a young and innovative entrepreneur. He studied aircraft engineering but was inspired to do something else after realising airlines weren't hiring. He founded three businesses, including Student Wow Deals, which connects students to more than 300 businesses that advertise and offer cheap deals. Deals include food, gym, entertainment venues, and travel tours. With 70,000 members, it's Queensland's biggest student discount platform and is soon to be launched nationwide along with a new App. In 2016, Daniel was recognised as the Sunshine Coast’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Student Wow Deals was a finalist in the 2017 Australia's Cool Company Awards.

ROCKIT Productions was created by Shaun, George and Danielle in 2011. ROCKIT Productions is a theatre production company and educational institution that offers Youth Musical Theatre training for children from Prep to Grade 12 and beyond. They have produced over 30 musicals, cabarets, concerts and undertake at least seven shows a year! In 2017, their Year 12 students received eleven offers from full-time musical training institutions in both Australia and New York. In 2018, they were included in the list of "100 Faces of Small Business" in Queensland. ROCKIT was also shortlisted for a Redland City Australia Day Award.

Joshua Apitz, 16 of Mudgeeraba is a passionate entrepreneur and an eager problem solver. As a surfer, he wanted to find an alternative to popular sunscreens which he found to be dangerously slippery, contain harsh chemicals and impact his surfing ability. This led him to develop Seagull Milk, a sunscreen that has a non-slip formulation, is reef-safe and made in Australia. To market Seagull Milk, he designed his own website, Indiegogo campaign and product tube. To date, he has pre-sold over $10,000 worth of products. Joshua has also been invited to speak at The Youth in Business and to participate at Australian Vegan Day 2019.