7NEWS Young Achiever Awards - SA

2022 Finalists

 First National Real Estate Innovation Award
Nicholas Sanderson, 25 of Adelaide graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2018 and founded Splose, practice management software that automates admin for NDIS providers, allowing them to spend more time supporting people with a disability. Splose employs seven people, operating out of Lot Fourteen and is on track to have 10,000 users by mid-2023 with 16 employees

• Mary Kelly, 25 of Fitzroy An innovation ecosystem leader and founder passionate about sustainability, Mary Kelly, 25 of Fitzroy is addressing single use plastic waste through her tech-based circular economy startup, recently launched on Kangaroo Island. Reusably uses NFC technology and virtual tokens to create networks of reusable takeaway packaging, such as coffee cups, for an exchange system that is convenient, hyenic and cost effective

Jade Foeng, 27 of Adelaide is a researcher who is developing a first-of-its-kind universal cancer treatment. As part of her team at Carina Biotech, Jade has been working to develop a new CAR-T therapy to treat different cancers across different patients. In 2019, Jade travelled to the United States, trained at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and learned pioneering techniques in the generation of CAR-T cells


University Senior College Create Change Award
• Callum MacPherson, 28 of Bowden launched his video podcast “Young Blood – Men’s Mental Health” after losing a close mate to suicide in 2019. Young Blood serves as a public platform for young men from all walks of life to share their stories of lived experience, break the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, encourage help-seeking behaviour and call on men to take responsibility for their health

Aaliyah Sirengo, 20 of Cowandilla founded Maisha Flow an impact-based social enterprise. An initiative that empowers girls in Kenya by giving them sustainable sanitary products. Aaliyah was adopted from Kenya and now works to empower girls who she acknowledges 'could have been her' She has empowered 1000 girls to date with uninterrupted education. She provides jobs to ladies in Kenya who sew the pads

Hashem Bahmanzadah, 29 of Salisbury Downs of Salisbury Downs is a mentor, advocate, Justice of Peace and Registered Mental Health Nurse. Hashem mentors youth and asylum seekers who are on bridging visas and promotes the importance of mental health. He has helped raise funds for disadvantaged girls and youth in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help them get educated. He previously worked as Afghan Youth Project Officer at Uniting Care Wesley


Worldwide Small Business Achiever Award
David Fogarty, 27 of Black Forest started Calming Blankets and The Oodie in 2018. Both brands were self-funded until 2021 and have become successful. David then launched further products and brands under The Davie Group umbrella, which employed nearly 90 full-time employees within Australia in 2021 and has contractors all over the world. During the Black Friday sale, they saw record sales of over $1.5 million

• Taylah Suridge, 24 of Andrews Farm started La Strand Hair and Body in 2017. They provide an affordable salon experience and support the local economy by using South Australian products. Taylah employs 10 staff, including three apprentices. During Covid-19, she supported her staff and put new measures in place, such as online booking, reviews and feedback. Taylah has grown her business from $0 to $900,000 turnover

Shaona Alphonce Imaru, 21 of Smithfield launched Simaru True Care (STC) in 2021 while on the final year of completing her Bachelor of Nursing. STC is a NDIS service provider that offers services to people living with a disability between 7 and 65 years old and those requiring mental health support. Born in a refugee camp, Shaona spoke no English when she moved to Australia in 2011


Websters Lawyers Service to the Community Award
• Lily Biggs, 24 of Fitzroy and Nikita Trewartha, 26 of Morphetville are co-founders of Salty Sips, a community initiative. They encourage the people of Adelaide to step out of their comfort zone and connect with others. They organise the event every Wednesday morning, which involves a 30-minute yoga flow, followed by jumping in the ocean and ending with a sip of coffee. Roughly 700 individuals gather at the beach every week

• Wathnak Vy, 25 of Para Hills West has served as a case manager and counsellor with Relationships Australia SA. In 2019, Wathnak completed his counselling degree with high distinction. During the pandemic lockdown, he offered free phone counselling services to over 230 people across three universities. He extends his work as counsellor for ASKPEACE, a virtual mental health service for people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

• Lachlan Plummer, 17 of Evanston Park has been part of the Surf Life Saving since 2016. Starting off with a bronze award, he recently received his silver medallion aquatic rescue. In 2020, he was chosen for a position for the first-ever lifesaving development camp. Lachlan has also joined the country fire service. He has been training to be a volunteer firefighter and is qualified in fighting fires.


Rural Doctors Workforce Agency Rural Health Award
• Jose Estevez, 29 of Lightview has performed countless eye examinations throughout his research and volunteer work. He spends several months a year in remote Aboriginal communities providing essential eye care services. During COVID-19 restrictions, he developed a protocol for ‘tele-optometry’, sourced international eyecare equipment and implemented the tele-optometry model for ongoing service delivery. Jose is an Optometrist and Researcher

Kaleb Wilden, 23 of Macclesfield runs Wilden Exercise Services, providing clientele with a facility that can assist with helping to achieve their goals. He provides physiotherapy, strength and conditioning, orthopaedic rehabilitation, group classes and more. Kaleb has been involved in the $30,000 project aiming to provide free fitness resources to Macclesfield and surrounding region residents. He has serviced 258 clients, including 100 regular or fortnightly clients

• Tyrene Gardiner, 18 of Port Lincoln has helped fundraise $3,000 for a public access defibrillator that is now placed at Drakes Foodland. It came about after Tyrene tended to a young girl who was pulled from the water unconscious and unresponsive. Tyrene is an active youth member of St John Ambulance SA within the Port Lincoln Cadet Division. He assists with providing first aid at local events


Scouts SA Leadership Award
• Oscar Zi Shao Ong, 24 of Adelaide is the National President of the Council of International Students Australia and President of Adelaide University Union. Oscar had been the Adelaide University’s Student Representative Council President. In the Council for International Education, he supports the implementation of the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030. During the initial Covid-19 outbreak, he partnered with multicultural organisations to initiate a food voucher program.

• James Beaumont, 19 of Oaklands Park has been utilising his lived experience to help other young people struggling with mental health issues and disabilities in SA. James has acted as Peer Mentor for youth with a disability at Julia Farr/Purple Orange, motivating others to challenge their thinking and create clear goals. James was awarded Young Citizen of the Year for the City of Marion Australia Day Awards

Emma Murray, 29 of Happy Valley has spent 24 years of her life involved in gymnastics with the Hub Gymnastics Club. First as an athlete and then actively coaching for the last 16. Emma is passionate about not only about teaching gymnastics but also mentoring the athletes to become resilient, motivated, and determined “good humans” as well as providing employment opportunities to young South Australian’s


Department for Innovation and Skills Outstanding Apprentice Award
• Matthew Flint, 21 of Queenstown, a recently qualified fitter and has started his second apprenticeship as an electrician during 2021. He works at Coopers Brewery, where he is learning all aspects of machinery and equipment maintenance in a fast-paced production facility. Outside of his trade training, Matthew has earned a high-risk forklift licence, EWP ticket, working at heights and working in a confined space ticket

• Karmin Poulish, 19 of Gawler South is a second-year apprentice who works at Hentley Farm. Karmin has completed SACE and a Certificate II in Cookery. In 2019, she attended Le Cordon Blue’s Career Residential Course and volunteered her time at Tasting Australia. Karmin won a place in the Proud to Be a Chef competition in 2021. She was awarded St. Patrick Technical College’s Apprentice of the Year

• Dylan Occhiuto, 21 of Para Vista commenced his apprenticeship in Carpentry with Master Builders SA straight from school. He has completed the Doorways2Construction program whilst at school. Dylan was signed off earlier than planned. He then secured the role of Junior Site Manager with Mossops Construction & Interiors, where he manages teams of 100 people. In 2021, Dylan was named Master Builders SA Apprentice of the Year

Pearl Dessart, 18 of Port Lincoln completed her SACE and a Certificate III in Agriculture whilst undertaking full-time employment as a farm and livestock hand with MacDonald Operations. She has established herself as a valued member of this family farming enterprise and is keen to pursue a career path in an area associated with stock management


Department of Human Services Aboriginal Achievement Award
Tiahni Adamson, 26 of Seaford Meadows is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with a passion for environmental protection. Tiahni is the state coordinator of Seed, environmental public speaker, Uluru Statement from the Heart Youth Leader, and works in marine conservation and compliance with Primary Industries and Regions SA. She was trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader and uplifts Indigenous communities to fight for Climate Justice

Shaquille Likouresis, is a proud Arrabunna man who loves giving back to his community through his involvement in sports and as a Community Constable with SA Police. As a Community Constable, Shaquille attends events and participates in programs to work with the community and create a positive image for all cultures around. Shaquille recently joined the Australian Defence Force Reserves


Department of Human Services Pride Award
Jacinta Clark, 28 of West Croydon is a proud bisexual woman. She is the Scholar Liaison Officer for Pinnacle Foundation, a national charity that provides scholarships and mentoring for LGBTIQ+ students. In this role, Jacinta mentors young students to help them reach their full potential. Jacinta is a founding member of the QueersInScience SA Committee, a national network for LGBTIQ+ people working and studying in STEM

• Thomas Fonua, 29 of West Beach is an artist, dancer, choreographer and emerging leader of Samoan and Tongan descent. In 2017, he created the collective ‘Haus of Kong’ to establish a safe space for emerging youth in the queer community. He has worked for companies like Black Grace (NZ) and the Australian Dance Theatre. Known for his alter-ego ‘Kween Kong’, Thomas is the reigning Dragnation Australia winner

• John/ Alex Kelly, 21 of Ridleyton is an autistic, queer and gender fluid youth who has served as the regional secretary for Amnesty International Australia SA/NT. A proud sex worker peer, John/Alex advocates for the decriminalisation of sex work in SA. They currently work as the men’s project worker at South Australian Sex Advocacy Network, where they address a critical intersection of queer and sex worker communities


The University of Adelaide STEM Award
Cheng Tang, 29 of Adelaide helped establish the concept of electrocatalytic refinery (e-refinery) to defossilise, decarbonise and decentralise the present chemical industry. To achieve these goals, Cheng makes his best effort on material engineering, mechanism study and system innovation. Cheng is a graduate of Tsinghua University. He is a lecturer at the University of Adelaide and an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow

Rebecca Marrone, 28 of Evanston is a Research Fellow at UniSA. She researches the intersection between educational psychology and human and artificial cognition. She runs the Epic Challenges Program, presenting un-answered space-based questions for students to solve. Rebecca mentors young females in STEM programs across the university. She has a PhD in STEM and an Honours Degree in Psychology.

• Nicole Foster, 26 of Greenwith completed her PhD in 2021 where she developed a molecular approach to analyse environmental DNA buried in the sediment record, uncovering historical changes that have occurred within coastal plant communities in South Australia. This work informs the adaptability and resilience of these important habitats to climate change. Nicole was also the first Scientist in Residence at St Peter’s Girls School


Carclew Creative Achievement Award
• Nathan May, 27 of Rostrevor is a proud Arabana and Yawuru man. A musician, youth mentor who has worked with other artists to perform on Facebook Live and recorded events. He has also written songs for the governments’ wellbeing campaigns to promote health and wellness to the Aboriginal community during the pandemic. Since 2020, Nathan has been helping develop racism prevention programs with Reconciliation SA.

Samuel Wannan, 26 of Whyalla Norrie is an artist, youth arts educator and a former Creative Producer of D’Faces Youth Arts. Their independent practice incorporates illustration, animation, art and graphic design. Sam’s work focuses on community connection and supporting young people through a wide range of projects. In 2021, Sam was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. In 2022, they were awarded a highly competitive Carclew Fellowship.

Katherine Sortini, 25 of MaylandsK is an emerging actor, writer and theatre-maker. She founded Deus Ex Femina, whose first original work ‘All the Things I Couldn’t Say’ will debut in the 2022 RUMPUS Season. Katherine is an Honours Degree graduate from the Flinders Drama Centre. She has received the highly competitive Carclew Fellowship for 2022, where she will undertake mentorship with award-winning playwright Emily Steel


Qoin Career Achievement Award
• Emily Cicconi, 25 of Hope Valley studies Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) after 4 years working in HR at Telstra. She won the Future Leaders of HR Scholarship and the Club Executive of the Year award. Working as an intern, then an HR Coordinator, and now a Recruitment Specialist at Accenture, her disability aspires her to role model for other young women living with disabilities.

Sachin Kulkarni, 28 of Berri graduated from Griffith University and returned to Adelaide to work as a General Dentist. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sachin empowered the general public about managing their oral health through radio, Telehealth, outreach programs and provided emergency services. He is set to finish advanced training in Orofacial Pain and complete his PhD in 2023

• Ben Rogers, 27 of Evanston Gardens undertook an apprenticeship to refine his culinary skills and channel his passion for cooking. Ben later established a desire for cooking on fire and coals. After completing his apprenticeship, Ben took a role as Chef de Partie, and competed in a number of competitions locally and internationally, winning in the 9th Edition of Trophee Mille International for Best Savoury Dish


Multicultural Youth South Australia Spirit of Resilience Award
• Yeganeh Soltanpour, 21 of Lightsview set up a non-profit organisation that dedicates all its resources towards providing free career advice, CVs and mental wellbeing tools to students from various backgrounds. Yeganeh was 17 when she moved to Adelaide to pursue a degree in Psychology. After high school, she worked for a year and made $50,000 doing odd jobs to fund her travels and living expenses.

Elsy Wameyo, 22 of Newton is a self-managed artist. During Covid-19, she applied for a grant through Carclew and purchased a home studio. With determination, Elsy had produced a six-track Extended Play. Her first track, ‘Nilotic’, journeys through the challenges she faces as a black artist. Elsy hails from the Nilotic tribes of Kenya. She won Best Hip Hop artist at the 2019 SA Music Awards.

Akon Kur, 23 of Munno Para West established Unrefined Element, an organic, cruelty-free and homemade brand that focuses on hair care. Akon came to Australia in 2004 as a first-generation migrant of South Sudanese descent. She had to learn to love herself knowing she was considered different due to her skin colour, hair and upbringing. Akon is a graduate of medical science and works in the health sector.


Spirit Super Connecting Communities Award
James Beaumont, 19 of Oaklands Park is a Peer Mentor for children and youth with disabilities for the Enabled Youth Disability Network (EYDN), and a Director on their Board. James endured years of family conflict and mental health issues as a child but still chose to assist other struggling young people. James helped petition the state government to abandon the closure of Springbank Secondary College.

Shania Richards, 23 of Port Lincoln became the first Regional Female Aboriginal Youth Governor of South Australia in 2022. In 2021, she joined the Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation Committee, where she helped create the Youth Justice Bill (Age of Criminal Capability) as assistant manager and main sponsor for debating the bill in the Legislative Council. Shania is currently organising the Youth Parliament Program of 2022 for SA.

Holly Scott, 26 of West Croydon is a leading advocate on road safety. Holly survived a horror crash in 2017 where she sustained a brain injury, shattered pelvis and more. She now uses her experience to educate others as SAPOL’s inaugural Road Safety Ambassador. Holly works closely with SAPOL’s Road Safety Section. She has spoken at the RAA Street Smart High events in Darwin and Adelaide