7NEWS Young Achiever Awards VIC

2021 Finalists 


First National Real Estate Leadership Award
Addy Dunkley-Smith, 27 of East Geelong
 leads with compassion, courage and care. Addy has been part of the Satellite Foundation Community for four years. She has undertaken roles as a peer leader, facilitator, presenter, consultant and youth advocate, interacting with vulnerable children, young people and other stakeholders. Addy has displayed leadership by offering her own story of overcoming very significant challenges about her family and the impact mental illness she has had. Her story is about loss and love, and how it motivates her to give to the community. Addy is enrolled in a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is also an elite rower who has mentored and coached young people.

Elise Muller, 23 of Melton is a proud First Nation Australian with lived experience of Autism and part of the LGBTQIA+ community. She founded Active Support, a social enterprise organisation for people with disability who are at risk. Elise co-created the world’s first person-first Autism course with Torrens University. A dual athlete, Elise uses her platform as a player for the Western Bulldogs and Essendon FC, to become the Australian Football League’s first Disability Ambassador. She is an International Speaker and Consultant for creating inclusion, awareness and accessibility. In 2019, Elise was chosen for Foundational Young Australians’ Young Social Pioneers Program. She was the 2019 Victorian Disability Emerging Leader award recipient.

Ashley Coleman-Bock, 28 of Mont Albert North is committed to reducing disadvantage in the community. She works as a manager in the Department of Health and Human Services - designing services, operating models and leading teams in their Covid-19 response. Ashley founded Ready Reader, which helps disadvantaged children aged 5 to 7 learn to read by providing one-on-one, in-classroom support. She is a Rotary member who has supported fundraising events, receiving the “Sticky Rice” award for her energy and efforts. Ashley has been a Toastmaster for eight years. She is a member of the International Women’s Day committee, providing support to physical and virtual events and raising over $15,000.


Generation Us Career Achievement Award
Levi Fernandez, 26 of Carlton North is creating a sustainable and measurable difference in the lives of young people. Levi works with Society Melbourne, a not-for-profit that operates six sustainable social enterprises that create employment, education, housing, community and confidence opportunities for youth experiencing homelessness. As a large charity, Society Melbourne has the capacity to support over 30 young people per year. Levi also works with the Youth Team at Moreland City Council, where he has designed and implemented multiple programs for a diverse group of youth in Fawkner. Levi volunteers as a Director of Partnerships at Think Forward, lobbying for a federal enquiry into inter-generational fairness.

Anthony Barnhill, 25 of Ringwood East is an Australian pianist, composer and conductor. Anthony has conducted professionally at the Sydney Opera House, Arts Centre Melbourne, Berlin State Opera and worked for Opera Australia. He has performed with the Melbourne Youth Orchestra and accompanied leading artists as a pianist. He played the piano for Evita, starring Tina Arena, and conducted the 2019 international tour of West Side Story in eight cities. Anthony served as Chief Conductor for Creativity Australia’s With One Voice program, bringing together diverse members of the community. With a keen desire to promote music, he mentors advanced student performers at the Victorian State School Spectacular.

Julia Truong, 27 of St Albans has a passion and determination to deliver memorable live experiences. Julia founded JT Production Management (JTPM), a company delivering end-to-end campaigns for activations and live experiences in the education, government, not-for-profit, arts and culture and corporate sectors. Despite Covid-19 challenges, JTPM continued to support over 65 individual brands and produced over 50 events in 2020. They aim to ensure every event meets its purpose, maximising impact for attendees and return on investment. Julia realised her passion at the age of 14 and completed a Bachelor of Production from the University of Melbourne.

Luminary Tech Visionary Award
Joseph Sinclair, 22 of Parkdale 
promotes local sustainability through technology. A former elite national swimmer, Joseph decided to study Computer Science full-time whilst working as a swimming coach. He was tasked to develop an iOS app, as part of a university assignment. Inspired by the honesty box system, in a rural area he discovered while on holiday in New Zealand, Joseph released Sprout in March 2020. Sprout is a free iOS app that lets people buy, swap, sell or share locally-grown backyard produce. It aims to provide societal, environmental and health benefits to the user and broader community. Sprout has over 3,000 downloads to date.

Maurice Schill, 27 of Glen Iris is providing a digital space where people are appreciated. After teaching himself how to code and develop digital platforms, Maurice developed JuJu (, an app that is transforming the way a business thinks about its reward and recognitions by tapping into a fundamental truth – employees have a need to be appreciated for their contributions at work. Maurice has developed a systematic way to help organisations deliver on this and in return, reduce turnover while creating lasting and sustainable engagements. At least six companies currently use JuJu, including YMCA Australia and BenchMedia. Maurice has delivered over ten workshops on gratitude, appreciation and company culture.

Bree-Anne Pagonis, 29 of Somerville has created an accessible platform that enhances food experiences. Bree co-founded WIRL, a social enterprise that helps women create time, energy and brain space by re-teaching them how to eat. The aim is for users to worry less about food, health and their bodies, and spend more time doing things they love. WIRL focuses on intuitive eating that has positive physical and mental health outcomes. As a social enterprise, a portion of sales go to The Hunger Project Australia, a not-for-profit committed to ending global hunger by 2030. Bree and partner Alicia Holmquest have a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.


Saward Dawson Community Service and Social Impact Award
Timothy Lo Surdo, 26 of Richmond is passionate about people-powered change. He is the Founder and National Director of Democracy in Colour - Australia’s first racial and economic justice organisation led by people of colour. They run programs tackling structural racism and empower people of colour to shape issues affecting their lives. As a Senior Organiser at United Voice, he co-founded Hospo Voice - a new union of hospitality workers. Timothy has led campaigns at Oaktree and UN Youth Australia. In 2020, he was appointed by the United Nations as a Young Leader for Sustainable Development Goals. Timothy is on the Boards of Plan International and Environment Australia, among others.

Teddy Darling, 27 of South Yarra is advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community. Teddy is a lawyer who is open about their nonbinary identity and transmasculine expression. In 2018, Teddy published “Querelle”, a national queer magazine, whilst completing their law degree and undertaking honours. They became Events Manager for Transgender Victoria and has produced three major events. In June 2020, Teddy launched ‘Campfire Stories’. From March 2020 to February 2021, Campfire Stories facilitated monthly video-sharing livestreams; as well as online meet-ups and workshops to give over 50 queer storytellers, designers and musicians in Australia opportunities for expression and connection. In 2016, Teddy was named Monash Volunteer of the Year.

Noah Yang, 25 of Melbourne believes there are enough resources to help those in need. Noah founded Mobilise, a movement that aims to unite Australia’s youth together, to develop solutions and provide care to those experiencing homelessness. Mobilise serves four key functions: monthly community outreaches; producing Mobilise videos to provide a voice for the voiceless; holding talks at schools, community groups and workplaces; and providing a platform for the youth around Australia to contribute to those in need through Mobilise events. Noah coordinates with other organisations and organises fundraisers - including a ‘City Sleepout” for Mobilise members to experience what it was like to be homeless.


The Victorian Government Group Achievement in the Community Award
Blessing Bags of Skye is committed to helping the most vulnerable community members in times of need. Blessing Bags is a youth-led organisation that provides bags of essential items to people experiencing homelessness. They make up to 500 bags every three months, distributing them through partner organisations like crisis centres or hand-delivered on streets. Each bag contains a toothbrush, toothpaste, sanitary items, shampoo, body soap, tissues and a hopeful note of encouragement. Blessing Bags also educates its supporters on key policy issues, hoping to remove the stigma surrounding people experiencing homelessness and promote evidence-based solutions. Since its creation in 2015, it has delivered over 9,000 bags.

School Broadcasting Network Inc of Melbourne is empowering the youth to communicate their ideas, innovations and passion. Founded in 2011, SBN is a registered youth charity and youth media network based in Melbourne. They offer young people enrichment opportunities to produce a range of media – for young people, by young people. SBN is founded on valuing and encouraging inclusion, diversity, environmental and social responsibility, cultural richness and creativity in broadcast experience. They have a Committee of Management of seven members and a team of 17 volunteers. SBN has engaged over 2,000 students over the last decade and has directly mentored over 400 young people to date.

Real Youth Music Studios of Collingwood is an after-school music program for young people aged 8 to 13 from Collingwood and Fitzroy Public Housing Estates. Led by a group of young staff and volunteers, RYMS offers weekly free sessions, where young people receive peer mentoring to learn how to write, record and perform their own music. They also use their skills and networks to connect young people to performance and development opportunities. RYMS was established in February 2019 in response to the closure of a local youth centre that displaced participants. The organisation engages 46 participants who experience barriers due to age, socioeconomic status and cultural backgrounds.


Kangan Institute Inspirational TAFE Student Award
Diyana Habeeb, 24 of Craigieburn is determined to forge a better life for herself and her family. Before arriving in Australia as a refugee from Iraq and Lebanon, Diyana experienced severe hardship and challenges, living on bare essentials. She enrolled in Certificate III in Spoken and Written English to improve her limited English. As part of her learning, she attended work placements, youth camps, excursions, presentations and has been actively involved in “Youth Matters Programs” and in the creation of a class book. To achieve her dream of becoming a nurse, she is currently studying a Laboratory Technology course while working at her local supermarket.

Madison Blunden, 20 of Echuca is a passionate animal lover. As a child, Madison wanted to become a world traveller to feed animals, so they didn’t have to fend for themselves. After her father passed away, she had a difficult childhood, causing her depression in Year 12 and leading to her dropping out of school. In 2020, Madison became her mother’s primary carer after the she was diagnosed with cancer. Despite personal challenges, however, Madison remained focused and determined to achieve academic success. Madison completed her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing through Bendigo TAFE in 2020. She has secured an ongoing placement at Echuca Veterinary Clinic.

Jake Carter, 29 of Campbellfield is committed to continuous learning. After deciding to switch from a finance role to an electrical career, Jake came to Holmesglen’s Futuretech campus. He enrolled in Certificate III Electrotechnology (Apprenticeship) to gain the skills and industry insights to apply for his Energy Safe Victoria’s Electrician’s Licence. Jake passed his A-Grade Electrician’s exam on the first attempt and has since started Cardiac Electrical - which allows him to sub-contract to Design and Build Electrical. He has achieved all of this while raising a young family. In 2019, he won the Victorian Apprentice of the Year Award and was an Australian Apprentice of the Year finalist.


IKON Services Environmental Sustainability Award
Thomas Nixon, 28 of Cowes is passionate about Australia’s native wildlife. Thomas is a Threatened Species Officer in Phillip Island. He is responsible for implanting the Threatened Species Plan, as well as managing and liaising with a diverse range of people and groups. Thomas studied Bridled Nailtail Wallabies at Idalia National Park during his Honours in 2015. He recommended that the wallabies be relocated from Idalia to a breeding facility, to ensure their genetic diversity was not lost. Thomas has led survey teams with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. He was Assistant Environmental Manager at Splendour In The Grass Music Festival, liaising with stakeholders and addressing any environmental concerns.

Stephanie Hall, 28 of St Kilda is empowering Australians to better understand climate change. Stephanie co-created Climate Communicators, a flagship initiative of Monash University’s Climate Change Communication Research Hub, that equips Australian weather presenters to talk about climate change on air - focusing on nothing but facts. They are the first in Australia to operationalise a factual, data-driven climate trend program of information on national television. Stephanie has helped bring together specialists spanning from climate science, communications, visual design, sociology and broadcast journalism. She leads the internal project team, delivers bespoke climate content to more than 18 presenters on three Australian networks and has trained graduate interns.

Manon Beauchamp-Tardieu, 27 of Richmond has re-imagined disposable plastic in a sustainable way. After graduating from Swinburne University, Manon founded Little Green Panda (LGP) on the belief that single-use products shouldn’t be made to last. LGP manufactures a range of sustainable straws made from agricultural waste that normally gets thrown away, buried or dumped into the ocean. Their straws are 100% compostable, biodegradable, non-toxic, plastic, gluten-free and 12-hour water-resistant. They are handmade by female artisans in developing communities across Mongolia, Vietnam and Taiwan, giving them a second source of income to support their families. Amid Covid-19 challenges, they managed to reinforce their brand awareness through social media.


Budget Car and Truck Rentals Philanthropic Award
Ashley Coleman-Bock, 29 of Mont Albert North is committed to reducing disadvantage in the community. She works as a manager in the Department of Health and Human Services - designing services, operating models and leading teams in their Covid-19 response. Ashley founded Ready Reader, which helps disadvantaged children aged 5 to 7 learn to read by providing one-on-one, in-classroom support. She is a Rotary member who has supported fundraising events, receiving the “Sticky Rice” award for her energy and efforts. Ashley has been a Toastmaster for eight years. She is a member of the International Women’s Day committee, providing support to physical and virtual events and raising over $15,000.

Krisha Changrani, 24 of Wantirna South is committed to promoting wellbeing and providing academic support. Krisha co-founded ASHA Lectures, a not-for-profit offering Bodyworks – Health & Wellbeing Workshops and VCE Lectures for Victorian students. The funds raised through these initiatives, totalling over $35,000 to date, are utilised by ASHA Charity, which operates a number of healthcare and education programs predominantly in disadvantaged communities in India. Krisha has worked to organise revision lectures, tutoring sessions, webinars for Victorian students in Years 11 and 12. Currently a University of Melbourne Medical student, she created Bodyworks to teach primary school students about the human body in a fun and interactive way.

Grace King, 19 of Baranduda has been a dedicated volunteer for eight years, positively impacting the lives of countless local residents. She has helped plan and execute events within the community as part of many committees in Wodonga, such as the Children’s Fair Committee, Street Jam Committee, and Council Youth Committee. Grace was a homework helper for young refugee students and is now a mentor for youth at risk of experiencing homelessness. She has also volunteered at op-shops like the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul’s. Grace has trained for the Lake Hume Coast Guards and is on-call for emergencies where she has made an enormous impact on the local community and small volunteer groups.


Yarn Strong Sista Indigenous Achievement Award
Ruby Norman, 18 of Bendigo is grateful for the awakening of her cultural awareness and learning. She was lost, confused and unaware of her culture, family background and personal identity before becoming one of the first students to trial Indigenous school-based apprenticeships and traineeships. This led to her reconnection and involvement in her culture whilst discovering career pathways. Ruby underwent a personal cultural identity journey of discovery and is building relationships with community Aunts, Uncles, Elders and experts caring for the environment. Ruby has completed a Certificate II in Horticulture. She was awarded the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Balaki Wuka Award and the CVGT Australia School-Based Apprenticeship Award.

Hollie Johnson, 27 of Churchill is supporting students and educating others. Hollie is a proud Gunnai Kurnai and Monero Ngarigo woman who works for the AIME Mentoring Program in Gippsland. She was the first student to study the VCE Indigenous Languages of Victoria and continued studying Language with a Certificate III. Hollie has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Photography. She runs her own photography business, where she aims to showcase the truth in her work, sharing the rich culture and many aspects of Australia’s First Nations People. She is working towards a degree in Linguistics to teach language within schools and endeavours to support artists.

Ebony Lawson, 29 of Mildura has displayed resilience and determination. Coming from a poor, dysfunctional and broken family, she developed a substance habit that led to a domestically violent relationship. At 20, Ebony started studying at TAFE to improve her literacy and employment seeking skills. At 21, she referred herself to rehab, where she assisted other participants to be more confident and share their stories. Ebony has previously worked with a Cultural Heritage trust, running tours informing of Aboriginal History and has attempted to run a business selling Traditional art. She currently works as Cultural Ranger (Custodian of Country), helping protect and preserve her Ancestors’ remains.


The Bridge Create Change Award
Victor Lin, 25 of Hillside co-founded the Australian Cancer and Health Sciences Competition, seeking to empower young people to make a contribution to the fight against cancer. He was Vice President of the Melbourne University Health Initiative, a charity dedicated to tackling health inequity both locally and abroad by addressing the social determinants of health. Victor co-founded Teaching for Impact, with a mission to use education to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He was a consultant for 180 Degrees Consulting, providing pro bono consulting services to social enterprises. He is a Board Member of Eternal Possibilities, helping convey the untold stories of remarkable medical graduates.

Jerusha Mather, 26 of Epping has actively campaigned for the rights of people with disabilities to pursue courses and careers despite barriers. A young woman with cerebral palsy, Jerusha co-founded Doctors with Disabilities Australia and wrote an abstract for the Australian Doctors Health Conference. Jerusha challenged the Australian Council for Educational Research, when she filed a complaint with The Australian Human Rights Commission for discrimination on the basis of her disability. This paved the way for others with barriers to challenge a system, whose practices make it impossible for them to succeed. She has also completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Honours). 

Fiona McDonald, 29 of Fyansford is creating an inclusive culture and supporting workforce diversity. She is a motor mechanic who wants all women to be aware of the opportunities and access careers in the automotive industry - without barriers. She created the Tradeswoman Australia Community Foundation to spread career advice and stop sexism, bullying, harassment and active discouragement, by developing training programs for trade business owners and their workers and providing career advice across Australia. She is delivering a community program in Wyndham, Victoria. Fiona won 2020 Woman of the Year in Geelong for her online community programs for men and women delivered during Covid-19 lockdowns.


oacdigital Online Achievement Award
Adam Stone, 26 of Caulfield is a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Speedlancer, the world’s first platform that helps teams of freelancers collaborate. They have a patent-pending workflow technology, that assembles teams of curated freelancers dynamically and automatically on the fly and have serviced over 1600 clients to date. Adam started an ecommerce website when he was 14 years old, which scaled to over 140,000, paying customers across 209 different countries. When he was 18, Adam won a six-figure contract with TELUS Canada. He is a top 500 Start-ups alumni and was named on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Tommy So, 27 of Keyborough is a self-confessed data enthusiast. He helps create compelling online campaigns and digital experiences for large enterprises and start-ups. Tommy helped develop a content distribution web app and launched a website project for Fortune 500 companies. He launched Senturis to help businesses stay Covid-safe and engage their customers. Tommy started a marketing agency, PRIMAL+, which provides design, content and marketing technology to start-ups and small businesses. Tommy is currently studying an Advanced Certificate for Executives in Management, Innovation and Technology. Since graduating from Monash University, he has mentored four students in starting their careers in data science and digital marketing.

Anita Miller, 24 of Southbank is committed to providing great opportunities for women. In 2020, Anita established EverEvolving.Me, a blog and Instagram page where she shares insight on a range of topics including tech and finance. As a woman of colour in the tech industry, she noticed the severe lack of information and online resources targeted towards women in the tech, finance and money management industries. In EverEvolving.Me, Anita breaks down concepts into easy-to-digest formats and shares her experiences building a financial portfolio and starting her career in tech to help others develop their own. Her visually engaging posts include infographics, videos and slideshow-style posts.

Ana Gavia, 28 of Hillside is a self-taught e-commerce entrepreneur. After struggling to find swimwear that was stylish, high-quality and affordable, Ana launched Pinkcolada. From a small-scale hobby run from home, Pinkcolada now sells bikinis worldwide. Ana was recently chosen as one of 20 American Express cardholders to receive 12 months of mentoring with Rare Birds; as part of Amex’s Idea Exchange Program. She has received mentoring from Shark Tank’s Andrew Banks and was awarded Business News Melbourne Young Entrepreneur Start-up Award. Ana has relied on a constant routine of learning and improving business processes to grow her business from $200 to $2.5 million annually.


National Protective Services Health and Wellbeing Award
Jess Mitchell, 26 of Thornbury raises awareness and improves outcomes for people living with complex mental illnesses and psychosocial disability. Across SANE Australia, batyr and headspace Jess’ shares from lived experience in schools, businesses and sports clubs. Jess also developed resources and ran educational workshops about the NDIS for people with mental illness and psychosocial disability through VMIAC. Jess worked to co-design and launch ‘visible’, an arts-based project designed to shine a light on young people’s experiences with mental-ill health. At CYDA, Jess facilitates research and workshops; engaging in systemic advocacy for young people with disability.

Emily Fairweather, 27 of Mentone is passionate about empowering and nurturing each young person. Emily is the Founder and Director of Flourish Programs, a community organisation that runs mentoring-based programs building resilience, preparing for high school, and equipping preteen and teenage kids with life and social skills. She is the author and creator of Flourish’s material, strategic direction and management. Emily also leads and mentors the volunteer team. Some of their programs include the Year 6 and Year 7 Girls Program and the Junior Leadership Program. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Flourish Programs launched their program online, enabling them to engage with more young people across Victoria.

Daniel Missailidis, 25 of Mill Park is committed to a better understanding of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) in the community. During his PhD project, Daniel studied ME/CFS, a chronic disease that most adversely affects the quality of life. Daniel has dedicated the last five years to identifying mechanisms underpinning this disease and molecular abnormalities in cells from ME/CFS patient blood samples, which can be used as basis for a diagnostic blood test. With research funding help from charitable organisations, he has identified and proposed a highly accurate diagnostic blood test for ME/CFS in Australian patients.


Qoin Small Business Achiever Award
Half Dome of Cremorne, founded in 2018 is an agency that constructs digital strategies for their clients entering a new market or launching a new product. Their planning model allows them to blend marketing expertise with technology to build powerfully simple digital solutions. In 2020, they helped create opportunities for their clients; which created jobs, increased sales and made it easier for consumers to find the products they needed. Half Dome invested in their team members’ mental health and offered a flexibility policy during Covid-19 lockdown. A winner of the 2020 Deloitte Fast 50, Half Dome’s revenue has grown by 2390% over three years.

Jock Lawrence, 27 of Avenel is helping Australian farmers become more profitable, productive and environmentally sustainable. Jock is the co-founder and CEO of Mobble, a Livestock Farm Management Software, that enables better decisions for agriculture by improving the way farmers record, utilise and communicate data. Mobble thrives on farmer feedback, and Jock personally goes to fields to ask farmers about their biggest pain points in farm management. Their team of six is hired locally. Mobble has been accepted into the Melbourne Accelerator Program and SproutX. A finalist in the Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award, Mobble now has hundreds of users in Australia and New Zealand.

James Hayes, 29 of Echuca is always innovating to meet client needs. With no more than $1200 in the bank, James founded ALPHA Tyres with the wealth of knowledge passed on from his grandfather, father and uncles. They have a unique business model, offering a 24/7 mobile service that focuses on customers, utilises the best brands and has approachable, honest and reliable staff. James has grown to have a physical shopfront and three fully equipped service vehicles that include a truck with a crane, for agriculture, a van and a specially engineered trailer. Within 12 months of trading, ALPHA Tyres recorded over $1 million in sales.