7NEWS Young Achiever Awards QLD

2023 Finalists 

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Entrepreneurship Award

Bailey Page is passionate about inventing innovative solutions. Bailey is the Inventor, Founder and Director of Zip Zap Chargers, a unique cableless portable 3-in-1 charger that is capable of charging iPhones, Air Pods and iPads. Since September 2021, Bailey has sold over 6,500 units across Australia and New Zealand in 14 just months. The business turned over six figures in its first five weeks.

Liam Millward developed Instant Checkout in 2021 when he was 17 years old as a solution to abandoned carts for merchants and a seamless checkout experience for consumers. Within 6 months, Instant Checkout was live on online stores and Liam secured $2.2 million in pre-seed funding. Instant Checkout won the 2022 Gold Finder Award, Best Payment Innovation category. In March 2023, Liam represented Australia’s Start-Up Technology Industry at the SXSW Conference in Texas.

Luke Strochnetter is committed to learning and growing. Luke began an events and marketing business but lost all his clients when Covid-19 hit. After upskilling himself and continuing to adapt, his agency 360 Degrees Marketing, has thrived and continued to expand now managing major events and brands. In 2021, Luke started a premium pop-up picnic business called Occasions by the Bay and is also a member of multiple local committees.

Milly Bannister is delivering a strong impact in the mental health space. Milly is the founder and CEO of ALLKND, a youth-led charity delivering peer-to-peer mental health training programs around Australia. She has built content and research partnership with the University of Queensland’s Social Science Research and School of Psychology. In 2022, ALLKND has grown its digital community by 55% and its revenue by 2200%.


Awards Australia Volunteering Award

Breanna Medcalfe is a Health Consumer Representative and Disability Advocate, passionately engaging with the community to create positive change in the health system for young people. She strives to be a voice for those with disability, as she has lived with a spinal cord injury since birth. Breanna helped raise over $160,000 for Make-A-Wish through her journey as a “Wish” recipient. Breanna is in her 4th year studying Law part time.

Ehlana Kelly is passionate about disaster prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. Ehlana is a proud Wiradjuri woman who has been a Volunteer Fire Fighter with the Rural Fire Service Queensland since 2011. She has since become an operational firefighter and volunteer community educator. Ehlana has attended to 300 emergency responses. In 2019, she spent three weeks in rescue efforts for the Townsville floods.

Kobe Chun Tie held Townsville's first #RockTheChop event through his Ponytail Project campaign. It began with an endorsement from the Community Engagement officers from the Cancer Council Queensland and later a successful grant application. Local businesses also supported and sponsored the event, which saw around 500 attendees. Kobe raised around $16,373 for the Cancer Council Queensland Rotary Lodge, after donations and raffle ticket sales at the event.

Samantha Fien is a volunteer surf lifesaver. She started as a Nipper at the age of 5 and has progressed to become a patrol captain. Dr Sam is the current National Member Wellbeing Advisor for Surf Life Saving Australia and Chair of the State Research Panel for Surf Life Saving Queensland. She is a senior lecturer in Exercise and Sport Science at CQUniversity.


First National Real Estate Leadership Award

Isabel Natividad is advocating for inclusivity. Isabel is a young LGBTIA+ Aboriginal woman. She took the Inclusivity Leadership position and worked with school leadership. Introduced the celebration of NAIDOC and other Indigenous celebrations, Pride Month and more. In 2021, she was chosen to attend the University of Queensland Young Changemakers program, where she won Best Pitch. She is studying a Bachelor of Science in Physics at the University of Melbourne .

Jack Growden has an enduring passion. Jack founded and spearheaded LiteHaus International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided digital learning opportunities to over 110,000 students across Australia, Papua New Guinea and beyond. He is a Program Advisor to Humanitarian Affairs Asia, where he mentors other founders around the world. In 2020, Jack was named in Courier-Mail’s Top 10 Most Inspiring Queenslanders of the Year.

Jeremy Hunt is the Founder and CEO of The VacSeen Project, which provides preventative health solutions, mental health support and primary care to those experiencing disadvantage, particularly homelessness. He leads a team of over 70 volunteers across seven cities, and works with government bodies to improve care models. Jeremy is a non-executive director at the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition and was the 2022 Brisbane Young Citizen of the Year.

Mason Hope-Kassulke has been a Headspace national Ambassador and committee member from age 12, joining the national high energy youth engagement committee at 17. Training in suicide prevention and peer support. Mason is a Stories of Hope Ambassador Mental health author and speaker, using his platform as a songwriter to highlight mental health awareness. Mason was a delegate to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games Legacy conference.


Kennelly Constructions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Achievement Award

Atahnee Simpson is a proud Wakka Wakka and Jinibara woman. She works at the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning and has recently completed her Certificate IV in Business Operations. She plays a central role in integrating Indigenous culture into the Department, providing insights into how to approach and connect with an Indigenous community respectfully. Atahnee was the 2022 Queensland Indigenous Trainee of the Year.

Blake Jones has enriched the wider medical and Australian Indigenous community through research and analytical discourse. In August 2022, he co-authored a published article that promoted the need for continual improvement of self-assessment tests to facilitate the integral safety, care, and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Last December, Blake joined the Queensland Health ‘Patient Safety and Quality’ Informed Consent Advisory Panel.

Kaiden Ratcliff is an Aboriginal and Islander artist, swimmer, and all-around sports person. He offers his assistance to teach younger students about Aboriginal Art. He has raised over $2,000 in the ‘Laps for Life’ since 2019, which will go towards “Reach Out” to help kids with mental anguish. Kaiden hopes to teach for free less fortunate young Indigenous up-and-coming swimming stars.

Myiesha Yoelu has engaged with young people to strategically plan how the government can approach youth. Myiesha was Chair of the Gudang Yadhaykenu Aboriginal Corporation, where she advocated and transferred eight unallocated islands traditionally owned from Department of Resources back to their rightful owners. She was also part of the Negotiation Committee that fought 362,000 hectares of Traditional Owned Land from Jardine National Parks which were handed back in September 2022.


Multicultural Australia Spirit of Resilience Award

Fardowsa Yussuf is a Youth Mentor for the African Youth Support Council, to support youth and the communities. She was the Chair of the Future Leaders Advisory Group and is elected as a Women Convenor for Queensland Young Labor. She is the youngest council member to advise the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Leanne Linard. Fardowsa hopes to create social changes that positively impact her community in Logan both in political and community levels

Khin Khin Soe is passionate about empowering and supporting the community. Khin Khin fled Myanmar with her 5-year-old sister when Khin Khin was just 8. She now works as a Teacher Aide, particularly supporting migrant and refugee children with their English. She also empowers refugee women to gain driver’s licences, employment and citizenship. Khin Khin is currently completing a degree in Nursing.

Maynah and Jozef Borja Erece are organisers of The Grand Autumn Festival in Springfield, formerly the Philippines-Australia Autumn Festival. They advocate for a world where everyone is treated like family. Maynah has a double degree in Arts and Science with Distinction, and Jozef was once history’s youngest lawyer. Despite Maynah’s severe hearing disability, and Jozef’s tribulations against ageism and racism, they aim to be voices for people whose stories will never be told.

Sara Diana Faraj aspires to empower women locally and globally. Sara is a proud Lebanese Kurdish woman and holds the world record as the Youngest Zonta President. She endured racist bullying from an early age from peers, and even a teacher. Sara is also the President of the Fraser Coast Young Professionals Group, Youth Mayor of the Fraser Coast Youth Advisory Council, and was the Fraser Coast Young Citizen of the Year in 2022.


Queensland Small Business Commissioner's Small Business Achiever Award

Brothers Support Network - Max Gow is committed to helping young males with disability. Max founded Brothers Support Network to create a community built on the idea that feeling part of something and having mentors and role models are important. He took his first client in February 2022. After just 11 months, he has employed 26 people and helped 22 young males to have a better life.

Jazmyn Produces - Jazmyn Smith has directed, shot and produced over 40 music videos and 55 photography sessions since launching in 2021, with clients ranging from The Wiggles' Murray Cook, to Lee Kernaghan. Jazmyn has been flown to Hollywood, Los Angeles and Nashville, Tennessee for her music videography. Jazmyn employs six young regional locals as Production Assistants, and simultaneously runs a sister brand 'Calamity Jane Music Management' dealing in music marketing and industry mentorship."

Maddison Taylor – Little Moves was founded in 2010, offering children with varied backgrounds and abilities the opportunity to learn ballet in a nurturing, creative, and engaging environment. This unique program is led by imagination, movement, storytelling, and play. Little Moves has expanded, teaching nearly 500 children weekly, in both studio and school settings.

Yellow Card Builders Pty Ltd - Ryan Dadd Specialises in disability and aged care home modifications. Ryan, Director of Yellow Card Builders Pty Ltd is a licenced carpenter and builder with over 11 years of experience in the building and construction industry. Yellow Card Builders has nine full time employees and had a turnover of over $1.4 million last financial year. They have helped over 4,500 clients to achieve independent living.


Soroptimist International Women Empowering Others Award

Heidi Walkden is a neuroscientist and science policy fellow within the Australian Government. She has worked on “That’s RAD! Science”, a STEM engagement outreach project focused on producing engaging children’s books to promote women in science. Since 2017, they have produced four books and distributed 6,000 copies. Dr Heidi promotes science and women in STEM on radio, events and marketing campaigns.

Katura Halleday worked with the United Nations on UN75, engaging local youth in the SDGs through workshops focusing on female education. She met with Ambassadors from Russia, Australia and Mozambique in New York to discuss barriers girls face in accessing education. In 2019, she started a social enterprise 8x8 to educate (pronounced 8 by 8 to Educate) providing scholarships for girls unable to attend school due to poverty and in 2022 expanded to literacy and period poverty programs.

Nargis Mardani, a Women's Resilience Event panellist, is starting a youth organization for Afghan refugees. It will provide resources to overcome displacement, language barriers, and social isolation. Nargis previously organized protests to raise awareness about the Afghan crisis. The new initiative aids young refugees and promotes women's solidarity. It seeks to strengthen connections and overcome challenges faced by Afghan refugees.

Barbara Armstrong is an award-winning founder and passionate driver of conversations around miscarriage and pregnancy loss. After experiencing her own miscarriage in 2019 and finding gaps in support, she founded her own organisation named in honour of her baby, Sweet Peanuts. Sweet Peanuts is a social enterprise that enables meaningful conversations between friends and family, and reinvests 100% of it's profits to fund and donate miscarriage care packages to hospitals.


Special Event Presentations Sporting Achievement Whilst Overcoming Adversity Award

Karen Messmer is an equestrian. After winning gold and two silvers at the Invitational Games, Karen was selected for Team Australia to participate in the Special Olympics World Games Berlin, June 2023. Karen weighed 1lb13oz after being born at 25wks. She has Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD, severe dyslexia, 3 heart surgeries and other complications from birth. Karen’s mother has complex PTSD while her father was tragically murdered in Nov 2021.

Nai'a Coyle is a tennis player. His resilience, determination, courage and hard work helped him in overcoming his adversities to achieve his goals to represent the Gold Coast at the teams Carnival and become a finalist in 14 events including the State Teams Leagues Final. His mother was hospitalised with heart surgeries so Nai'a excelled in Distance Education schooling, cooking and tennis training. With extreme dyslexia Nai'a also completed Emerging Leaders Programme and Certificate 3 in fitness.

Natascha Tennent is a golfer who has autism and Tourette’s. At four her father passed away and recently her mother had breast cancer. In 2022 Natascha was Australia’s top Female All-Abilities Player and second in the world for under 21 females with intellectual disability. Natascha promotes disability golf by raising awareness with her story. In June 2023, she will represent Australia in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin.

Rosie Scarlett is passionate about sports. Rosie has Down Syndrome and Thalassemia, a blood disorder. She plays for the Toowoomba Bears Modified Rugby Team and is one of the first to complete the mentoring course for training newcomers to modified rugby. She is also on the All-Abilities Touch Team. Her team made it to the National Touch League Carnival and placed second.


Spirit Super Connecting Communities Award

Aurora Iler is passionate about creating change. Aurora initiated to make a film to help raise awareness among kids and adults not wearing helmets when riding their bikes and scooters, resulting in deaths. The movie created jobs and opportunities for 50+ people. While filming, Aurora brought other children to step into crew roles and be mentored by adults who work in the field.

Hoedowns for Country Towns - Claire Harris and Kate Strong embarked on a bootscooting road trip around Australia in 2022 teaching line dancing, putting events back on the calendar for rural communities, and raising money for seven rural charities. Across nine months, the duo ran 75 hoedowns in halls, pubs, schools, outback stations and everything in between, danced with nearly 3000 people from all walks of life, and raised $38,250.

Kobe Chun Tie held Townsville's first #RockTheChop event through his Ponytail Project campaign. It began with an endorsement from the Community Engagement officers from the Cancer Council Queensland and later a successful grant application. Local businesses also supported and sponsored the event, which saw around 500 attendees. Kobe raised around $16,373 for the Cancer Council Queensland Gluyas Rotary Lodge, after donations and raffle ticket sales at the event.

Rheanca Lincoln is always looking to improve her community. Rhea founded “itchY”, a support group for young people with eczema. The group aimed to support young people going through the journey and work together and tackle other equality issues within the skin disorders such as racial bias in treating skin disease. The group has had three peer-to-peer support meetings so far.


The Coffee Club Hospitality and Customer Service Award

Anthony (Antonis) Kekkou has a never-give-up attitude. Antonis started Andonis Cafe and Bar in 2018, funded by $3,500 in the trading account. By 2022, the Adonis Cafe group has grown to have seven outlets and surpassed $10m in turnover. In 2021, they broke the world record by delivering 3,000 bacon and egg brioche rolls to the community as a form of thank you.

Connor Shore is passionate about bringing people together to enjoy themselves. Connor is the Head Chef of City Winery Brisbane, which provides space for private functions, events, modern restaurant, and private dining. He leads a team of chefs in making memorable food experiences that create positive emotions. Connor earned a Bachelor of Culinary Arts from Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Gabrielle Inwood is committed to her craft. Gabby is a Demi pastry chef at Cucina Vivo, a 5-star dining venue at The Star Gold Coast, a tourism and entertainment destination. She is responsible for ensuring every dessert is of the highest standard. She has created signature dishes and will soon release Instagrammable desserts. Gabby is part of the Queensland Government’s Apprenticeship Advisory Reference Group.

Hammy's Cupcakes - Hamish Brown uses his business as a force for good. Hamish founded Hammy’s Cupcakes in 2019. Within the past 10 months, sales have increased by 300% after shifting sales online. Hamish has raised over $20,000 for charities. He won the 2022 Australian Small Business Champion Young Entrepreneur. He was named one of Toowoomba’s Top 30 under 30 Influential People and a Triple M Local Legend along with Toowoomba Chamber awards.

Luke Strochnetter boasts of entrepreneurial spirit, next-level customer service and passion. In 2021, Luke started Occasions by the Bay, a pop-up picnic business that sets up Premium Picnics on the stunning Fraser Coast. In the first year of operation, he had set up 150 picnics / events and was a part of four weddings. Occasions by the Bay has been awarded Highly Commended for Best New Business at the Fraser Coast Business and Tourism Awards.


The University of Queensland Create Change Award

Charlie Erlewein is a passionate and driven 11-year-old who is inciting change for the future of Turtles and marine life. A member of the Straw No More organisation, Charlie has lobbied three councils across Australia on their single-use plastic straw and plastics policy. Charlie is a volunteer and educator at Team Turtle CQ, Hatchlings Team Turtle CQ and Great Keppel Island Turtle Fund. Charlie was named 2023 Young Citizen of the Year, Livingston Shire Council.

Dylan Conway is committed to changing the culture of education. Dylan started a charity that has donated over 6,000 books and $140,000 to veteran charities. He has established over 23 community libraries in police stations, veteran centres, hospitals and military units. Dylan has been an Infantry Officer in the Australian Army for 11 years. He has overcome nine surgical operations.

Katura Halleday advocates worldwide for educational equality in developing nations, addressing the United Nations in 2019. Katura founded 8x8 to Educate, a social enterprise with three income streams, book sales, art exhibitions and speaking engagements. 100% of the profits are used to fund her scholarship program in Mozambique and Tanzania. In 2022, Katura expanding to include literacy programs and a micro-business in Mozambique that produces reusable pads and menstrual health education.

Milly Bannister is helping remove barriers to mental health literacy education. Milly is the founder and CEO of ALLKND, a youth-led charity delivering digital, peer-to-peer mental health first aid training programs in high schools, workplaces, universities and youth services for anyone under 30. ALLKND has raised over $500,000. They aim to educate one million and one by the end of 2025.