7NEWS Young Achiever Awards - SA


Spirit Super Connecting Communities Award

  • Abigail Henderson is spreading awareness of mental health struggles. Abigail completed the Operations Flinders Foundation to help deal with her personal struggles. After delivering an impressive speech during her graduation from the program, she was invited to speak at two events on behalf of Operations Flinders. In 2022, Abigail was a keynote speaker at the Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy national forum.
  • Blaze Pilgrim is tackling systemic and industry discrimination against young people. Blaze works at Southern Volunteering running an innovative youth pilot program which has awarded her 2022 SA Youth Worker of the Year for reimagining the landscape of youth volunteerism in Australia. She is also self-employed and maintains several volunteer roles, including being chosen by the International Association for Volunteer Effort to help plan an upcoming Global Youth Volunteer Conference.
  • Nomiki Rebecca Thomas is passionate about helping others. At the age of 12 she wrote and published a book called ‘Goodbye’. Nomiki donates the proceeds from the sales to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) and hopes to reach her $2,000 goal in donations to ILF by the end of the year. She plans to continue her fundraising efforts in the future through sales of her ebook (currently available on Amazon).
  • City of Marion’s Youth Collective Committee, or YCC, have created their own youth-led model of function. Since beginning in 2019, the YCC have held an Esports tournament, Battle of the Bands, planting of a native garden, a music event at the Capella Skate Park opening and more. Members have been upskilled in community consultation, contributing to the Safe Space Project Report.


Department of Human Services Aboriginal Achievement Award

  • Jeremy Sumner is passionate about cultural and education tourism. Jeremy is a proud Ngarrindjeri man who has worked as Park Ranger/Education & Tourism at Calperum and a groundskeeper/cultural tour guide. Jeremy was part of the Riverland Young Ambassadors Program. He was a mentor to unemployed people for the Regional Employment Trail at Calperum Station. Jeremy has a Certificate IV in leadership and management.
  • Pantju Albert Cooper Ralaping Nam is a proud Kaurna and Narrunga man. He is a Sustainability professional at GHD, where he develops and supports sustainable solutions and initiatives for projects. Pantju Albert mentors primary and high school students at the STEM Aboriginal Student Congress. He is currently an Indigenous student ambassador at the University of Adelaide and a long-time performing member of Taikurtinna.
  • Shania Richards is passionate about helping the community. In 2021, Shania joined the Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation Committee, where she created the Youth Justice Bill (Age of Criminal Capability) and debated it in the Legislative Council. In 2022, Shania became the first Female Aboriginal Youth Governor of South Australia. She received the Port Lincoln Young Citizen of the Year award for 2022, and the NAIDOC SA Caring for Country Award.
  • Temaana Sanderson-Bromley has developed into a community and entrepreneurial-minded person, creating his own business, Mardlaapa Designs in late 2021 at 18. Temaana volunteers/coaches at the Aboriginal Athletics Squad and Indigenous Basketball Australia and mentors/coaches at the Aboriginal Basketball Academy. Temaana is dedicated to his art, delivering artist talks at Parumpa and Ngutungka, also winning the Our-Mob Festival-Centre Art Competition(2022). This year he’s studying Marine and Wildlife Conservation at Adelaide University.


Department of Human Services Pride Award

  • Jessica Elsegood is providing purposeful and intersectional support to LGBTQIA+ people living with disabilities. Jessica started ColourFull Abilities, the first LGBTQIA+-specific disability service in SA. They aim to increase social and community participation for NDIS participants and provide a safe place for people to accept themselves whilst achieving their personal goals. Jess was featured in a Xero blog for International Women’s Day.
  • Lucy Solonsch is advocating for autonomy and leadership opportunities for LGBTQIA+ community members. Lucy has published her honors thesis on gender affirming care policy, which she uses to advocate to national & state bodies like the Public Health Association of Australia and SA Health, she also runs workshops and publishes articles to help clinicians provide better care to LGBTQIA+ people. Lucy works with Shine SA, Flinders University and Wiley Publishing.
  • Olympia Balopitos is an intersex advocate and legal researcher. They are the Legal Projects Officer of Intersex Human Rights Australia. Olympia has engaged with the ACT government through the department’s collaborative process to create the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023. Olympia is a South Australian LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council member, and have completed their Honours dissertation on The Rights of Intersex Children Under the Australian Legal System.
  • Shanii Sparrow is helping create safe spaces for everyone. Shanii has worked as Queer Officer at FUSA. Prior to that, he helped build an accessible Queer Space at Flinders University and created an art wall with Diverse LGBTQIA+ representation. In 2020, he created a zine for Transgender Day of Visibility which supported transgender artists from across the world. 


First National Real Estate Innovation Award

  • Jack Sinko is passionate about game development. Jack is a full-time game developer working as a programmer and partner at Golden Age Studios, a small indie game development company. They are creating their own intellectual property called Tinker & Spell, a 2D animated creature-collecting role-playing game. Jack has also created a custom game mode for Minecraft, drawing over 50,000 players per year.
  • Mary Kelly is helping accelerate the transition away from single-use plastics. Mary founded Reusably while participating in the Hacker Exchange Program in the USA in 2018. Initially starting with the idea of a coffee cup swap system, the project grew into a solution that could support the exchange of reusable containers with several applications. In late 2022, Reusably launched a Community Café.
  • Noah Pronk is focused on keeping oceans clean. Noah started Sticky Pronk in 2017 in primary school after being given a project to start a small business with $20. He sells eco-friendly and biodegradable surf wax made from Adelaide Hills beeswax, organic coconut oil, tree resin, and natural mineral clays. Noah now sells his wax and apparel through his online store and at stockists around Australia.
  • Sara Possingham is helping end financial illiteracy. Sara created Making Cents, a program for high schoolers and young people to learn financial literacy skills ‘without the boring bits’. She creates workshops and presented in small groups to allow students to share their experiences, discuss financial products and concepts, and learn from each other. All topics came from consultation with 70 high school-aged students.


Rural Doctors Workforce Agency Rural Health Award

  • Dr Li Yen Chew is putting emphasis on preventative dentistry. Dr Li is a dentist who provides dental health services and promotes oral health in the Limestone Coast Region. She gives dental health and diet advice to reduce the risk of dental diseases and help patients improve their overall health and quality of life. Dr Li improves her skills by attending professional courses and seminars.
  • Holly Scott ensures that the road safety message is delivered. Holly is the inaugural Road Safety Ambassador of the South Australia Police. She has spoken at RAA Street Smart High events, a road safety presentation targeting secondary school students. Holly featured in the ‘Driven’ campaign, a seven-part campaign promoting Holly’s story, the horror crash she survived, and its effect on those supporting her.
  • Kaleb Wilden is a neurological physiotherapist offering allied health service through his business, Wilden Exercise Services. Together with his staff, they provide home visit therapy to those with mobility and transport issues. He also provides physiotherapy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with limited accessibility to healthcare. Kaleb was involved in the $50,000 project to provide free fitness resources to Macclesfield residents.
  • Rebekah Reardon is providing ultrasound services in a compassionate and caring manner. Rebekah is a sonographer at Benson Radiology. Working within a team, she helps make ultrasound services accessible to local individuals without the extensive travel. In 2021, she received the Benson Managing Partner Award. During Covid-19, Rebekah provided ultrasound to the Mount Gambier Hospital Emergency Unit so that local individuals could access acute care under ultrasound.


Scouts SA Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Award

  • Amber Brock-Fabel was a double panellist for the SA Council of Social Service’s Liveable Futures Conference, where she discussed climate and energy justice and South Australia in 2030. Amber founded the South Australian Youth Forum in 2021 while completing her Year 12 studies. She was a speaker at the Youth Climate Summit and the Adelaide Festival’s Climate Crisis and the Arts Event.
  • Anna Woodley participated in the Engineers Without Borders’ Cambodia Summit in 2020, where she learned how ESG solutions were developed in countries with economic and resource constraints. She was also involved in implementing sustainable practices in the mining industry with OZ Minerals. Anna has been selected to attend UNITE 2030’s Camp 2030 Summit in New York during the United Nations’ Global Goals Week.
  • Jack Gill advocates for sustainability and climate action. Jack is the Chair of the Gawler Environment Centre and Community Representative on the Gawler Youth Advisory Committee, advocating on youth matters. He has completed his involvement as Youth Representative on the Gawler Climate Emergency Action Plan Working Group. Jack has undergone the Climate Leader Training ran by former United States Vice President Al Gore.
  • Rhys Abbott is a conservation scientist and campaigner. His most successful campaign, “Save Our Outback”, encouraged thousands of people to engage with their local representatives to protect SA’s incredible rangelands. Rhys has produced a short climate justice documentary, founded multiple environmental community groups, and has amassed 250,000 followers on his environmental education page, Earthly Education. Rhys has just completed a 1400-kilometer hike across New Zealand to raise money for conservation.


Scouts SA Leadership Award

  • Amber Brock-Fabel is the founder and facilitator of the South Australian Youth Forum, a platform created by young people for young people aged 15 to 18 to engage, discuss and debate issues of relevance that directly affect them. Amber is currently the Youth Representative on the South Australian Power Networks Community Advisory Board and a Board Member of the Youth Affairs Council of SA.
  • Courtney Lawrie, Founded ASD Support & Education with the mission to spread awareness around Autism, advocate for children’s rights, educate, and empower children with disabilities through social and emotional teaching, and offering training programs for Teachers/Professionals to become more educated to offer more holistic approaches. Courtney also volunteers her time to assist others in starting their own businesses as NDIS providers, so more families have access to more therapeutic services.
  • Jesse Isaac leads by example to actively encourage people to be the best they can be. Beginning as a Grey-Wolf-decorated cub scout, he has subsequently progressed through the Australian Air-Force Cadets to be the highest-ranking member, where he mentors and guides junior cadets. At just 17, Jesse holds a pilot licence, is a national field-hockey umpire, and College-Captain. He recently travelled to Fiji to challenge his leadership skills amid diversity.
  • Shahna Smith founded Amplified Beauty Australia, one of the first Indigenous owned cosmetic lines in the world. Shahna also led a First Nations Collective tourism and retail showcase, housing eight other indigenous businesses within her store. Shahna has recently returned from New York Fashion Week and London, placing Australia at the forefront. Shahna also provides female empowerment speeches at SA schools to teach young females resilience from a young age.


Skills SA Outstanding Apprentice Award

  • Charna Price works hard to achieve her goals. Charna came to M.A.D. Painters and Decorators without prior experience in the industry. She earned her work experience and was employed as a brush hand under the Federal Award for painting and decorating. She accepted an apprenticeship. Within 12 months, she was able to buy a house. 
  • Patrick Caldow is committed to growing his skills. Patrick started as a mature-aged apprentice at RD Plumbing Solutions through the Master Plumbers Association of South Australia. He is currently employed at Prodigy Plumbing and Gas to have more experience with gas and other specialised plumbing skills. Before his apprenticeship, Patrick attended two years at Flinders University, taking a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology.
  • Pearl Dessart strives to overcome challenges. Pearl undertook a Certificate III in Agriculture to gain credits towards her SACE and obtained a traineeship at MacDonald Operations, a local mixed farming operator, where she continued to work for a further two years (after her traineeship). She is keen to develop her career in the livestock industry when she returns to the workforce after taking a few months to address her rare chronic illness.
  • Samuel Ivanoff proactively takes every opportunity. While finishing his Year 12, Samuel started working full-time at Aurecon and began a Diploma in Applied Technologies. He is currently in his third year of Industry 4.0 traineeship as a Cadet Structural Drafter at Aurecon. He works with engineers to draft and model their sketches into Revit, which are then passed on to the client.


The University of Adelaide STEM Award

  • Dhani Dharmaprani is using math to find treatment for a heart rhythm disorder. Dr Dhani is a postdoctoral researcher at the Flinders Cardiac Signals Analysis Lab. She applies novel mathematical and computational concepts from chaos theory and statistical dynamics to understand how spirals causing cardiac fibrillation form in the heart and how they behave. Dr Dhani was named South Australian Fresh Scientist 2021.
  • Ishika Mahajan is tackling Glioblastoma(the deadliest brain cancer) in order to find new therapeutic avenues. Through her work in AI, ML and Bioinformatics, she has found potential therapeutic targets that she is now validating through experiments at Centre of Cancer Biology. Her Honours is fully funded through various scholarships. She is 21 and has a diploma in genomics from Harvard University and has won over 35 awards in leadership and STEM research.
  • Lauren Jones is a Postdoctoral researcher in the Gut Sensory Systems lab at Flinders University. Her research demonstrates an interoceptive pathway by which enterochromaffin (EC) cells physically sense food, allowing EC cells to release serotonin and drive healthy gut function and digestion. Dr Lauren was a short-term Research Scholar at the University of Nevada. She recently performed experimental work at the University of Copenhagen.
  • Santhni Subramaniam Santhni Subramaniam is tackling hard-to-treat bacterial infections using smart nanotechnology approaches. Her research strategy is to repurpose currently available antibiotics using nanoparticles to deliver them directly to the site of infection thus, improving current clinical outcomes. Santhni is a recipient of over 20 awards in recognition of her academic and research excellence and is a passionate science communicator.

University Senior College Create Change Award

  • Anjali Beames founded the Australian branch of Teach the Future, a UK student-led campaign advocating to reform the climate curriculum. Anjali is now working with a team of students to structure the national campaign and present a written proposal. In 2022, she worked with retired scientist Peter Havord and joined key expert stakeholders across Australia to campaign for better climate change education.
  • Felicity Graham launched the not-for-profit Fostering Change Australia to educate, advocate, and change the Child Protection system. Felicity has represented No Capes, a group of young people with care experience, in the co-design of DCP’s Child and Youth Engagement Strategy. She is writing a children’s book, “Oscar’s Layers”, to educate children about child protection and help them cope with big feelings.
  • Jamie Bucirde founded Not So Hospitable, a platform that highlights the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual abuse within the hospitality industry. After collecting 400 testimonials of Adelaide hospitality workers' personal experiences, She is currently working on using her data in a case study as well as working with government bodies to change legislation, enforcing accessible education on workplace harassment and advocate for a better culture within the industry.
  • Taylor Anderson wrote a children’s book entitled, “Why Don’t I Have That” after being diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. The book aims to be an effective early intervention tool to raise awareness about the danger of comparison culture and to open healthy conversations about mental health. Taylor has raised over $5,000 for Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation through the sales of her book.


Websters Lawyers Achievement in Law Award

  • Daniella Cutufia was a long-time volunteer at the Women’s Legal Service SA (WLSSA), assisting with their legal advice during her studies, before becoming a lawyer in 2017. She continued to volunteer weekly at WLSSA throughout 2020, even after leaving for private practice. She became the inaugural Deputy Associate of Her Honour Judge Dickson before returning to private practice at David Burrell & Co.
  • Eamon Lawson is Regulatory Lead at Southern Launch where he works with regulators at the State and Federal levels to secure authorisations that enable access to space from the company’s two launch facilities in South Australia. Eamon has served as on-range Compliance Officer during five launch campaigns and is regularly involved in law reform and advocacy efforts which support the development of an effective regulatory framework governing commercial space activities in Australia.
  • Isabella Candeloro is a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student at the University of South Australia. Isabella works as a UniSA Peer Assisted Study Session Leader, facilitating law-based study sessions for students. Isabella recently undertook a UniSA Research Scholarship surrounding emerging coercive control legislation in South Australia. She is a member of the Rights Resource Network SA and Golden Key International Honour Society and was an editor for UniSA Law Review.
  • Mihiri Sumanasekara is a Sri Lankan first-generation lawyer admitted to practice in 2020 after completing an LLB and International Relations at the University of South Australia. She also a worked as a Peer Mentor Leader at UniSA, and actively works to improve and support her community and the community at large. Mihiri is an associate at Nathan White Lawyers working predominantly in Family Law and Child Protection.


Carclew Creative Achievement Award

  • Charlie Wilkins is making diverse artists visible. Charlie is one of Restless Dance Theatre’s Company dancers with disability. He has performed in numerous works nationally and internationally. Last year he performed in 5 innovative and emotional works; Exposed, Guttered, Ecoute Pour Voir, Home, Rewards for the Tribe, presented in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and the UK to audiences of close to 40,000 people.
  • Jake Yang is challenging normative assumptions around identity. Jake is an artist whose practice is based in Floating Goose Studios in Adelaide. In 2022, he was chosen as the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Lunar New Year artist, where he created a chalk mural inside the building. He successfully applied for a solo show in 2023. Jake graduated from the Adelaide Central School of Art.
  • James Bannah the first ever to compose an African Australian musical is also the founder/CEO of SoundsOfAdelaide, a company that shines light on all things art and entertainment in SA. He is also the co-founder of Steelo Flow, a company full of creatives and business owners. James is working on a project with State theatre scheduled to show in 2024. James also runs an after school mental health program.
  • The CRAM Collective is a South Australian independent theatre company, that crams together passionate and daring artists to create, revive, augment and merge art forms. CRAM was co-founded by Flinders University Drama Centre graduates Connor Reidy, Ren Williams, Aarod Vawser and Melissa Pullinger. Over the past year, CRAM have produced sold-out seasons of two world premieres, opened the CRAM Hub on Pirie Street and won the Helpmann Creative Innovator Program.