7NEWS Young Achiever Awards VIC

2022 Finalists

Spirit Super Connecting Communities Award

 Conor Pall, 18 of Mildura is a member of the 2021 Victorian Youth Parliament. His team is formulating a bill to address the issue of ‘Coercive Control’ in intimate partner relationships. Conor organised Mildura’s School Strike for Climate and created safety plans, Covid safe plans and other policies. A proud domestic violence survivor, Conor is a 2022 Young Citizen of the Year - Mildura nominee.


Rida Aleem Khan, 28 of Mulgrave is an Aged Care nurse and a social worker. At age 16, Rida started her radio show ‘Colourful Australia’ to spread the message of multiculturalism and harmony. Rida is the Youth Chair for the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia. During the pandemic, she helped Pakistani, South Asian and multicultural communities in Victoria through the Golden Wattle Advocacy Australia Pakistan Project.


The School Broadcasting Network, 8-29 of Boxhill is a Melbourne based youth charity, dedicated to giving young people a global voice. SBN has been connecting communities all over the worldthrough numerous youth media projects, such as SwitchOn Global Telethon held on World Environment Day 2021, which connected communities across 25 countries to raise awareness and funds for 25 of some of the worlds most endangered species.


The YAB (Central Highlands Youth Advisory Board), 24 of Ballarat is a group working to amplify youth voices and provide diverse perspectives on issues. YAB’s initiatives include Spring in the Park (2019) and Spring in the Park: Autumn Edition (2022). These live music and market events aimed to increase social connection, showcase the capabilities of young people, and provide an inclusive space for all without barriers standing in the way.


Saward Dawson Community Service and Social Impact Award

 Aakanksha Manjunathaswamy - It's Not A Compliment, 28 of Carlton is fighting against street harassment. Founded in 2019, INAC began as a storytelling campaign where people anonymously shared their experiences of street harassment. They have since spearheaded campaigns and led policy and research initiatives. In 2021, they launched ‘A Snapshot of Street Harassment Experiences in Victoria’. Their research and campaigns have been picked up by government and non-government organisations.


Madeleine Buchner OAM, 29 of Brighton founded Little Dreamers in 2009, delivering programs aiming to improve their quality of life. They support thousands of Young Carers through programs like Dream Experiences, The Dreamers Hub online peer support platform, and the Big Dreamers Personal Development program. In 2016, Maddy published her first book, ‘My Brother is Sick Again’, which explores the obstacles Young Carers must overcome.


Victor Lin, 26 of Hillside is a full-time doctor and researcher. He co-founded the Young Australians’ Cancer Initiative, a not-for-profit that seeks to empower young people to make a contribution to the fight against cancer. Victor also co-founded Teaching for Impact, a charity with a mission of using education to create meaningful social change. Their initiatives have helped hundreds of students realise their full potential.


Yarn Strong Sista Indigenous Achievement Award

 Bonnie Dukakis, 25 of Sunbury is a proud Gunditjmara woman woman working as Deputy Executive Officer of the Koorie Youth Council. Bonnie has worked at the Department of Justice. She has worked as a case manager with Aboriginal and Torres Islander men on community-based court orders at a Cultural Learning Place. She is the youngest and only Aboriginal mediator for the Dispute Settlement Centre Victoria Gippsland panel.


Jessica Bennett, 23 of Murrumbeena is a proud Ngunnawal woman studying Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts majoring in Human Rights and Indigenous Cultures and Histories. In 2018, she attended the United Nations University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2019, she was selected for the Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership Program. In 2020, Jessica received the Ricci Marks Award from Aboriginal Victoria.


Keeden Graham, 23 of Torquay is a proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wiradjuri man. He works as Manager and Deputy Executive Officer for Strong Brother Strong Sister, where he mentors six Aboriginal young people, creating tailored programs that focus on the young person’s passion. He is a member of the Victorian Youth Congress and was part of designing and facilitating the Victorian Youth Strategy.


Luminary Tech Visionary Award

 Grace Brown, 21 of Brighton East is leading a team of engineering students to develop Abi, a social companion humanoid robot. Abi is specifically designed as a companion for residents in aged care facilities. Abi can engage in meaningful and philosophical conversations with her users. It can also assist medical staff with their monotonous routine work such as disinfecting rooms, delivering items, collecting patient data and more.


Tess Guthrie, 27 of Fitzroy North founded WhyHive, after noticing that not-for-profits often struggle to access and leverage data science due to lack of funding or internal knowledge. WhyHive offers pro bono and low bono consulting to social impact organisations. In July 2020, Tess developed a data science product design to automate common data analytics for not-for-profits and help them quickly understand the impact of their programs/services.


Elise Sutherland, 27 of Richmond is the founder and CEO of Stelect which is the smallest high-resolution ultrasound medical imaging sensor in the world. The Stelect technology allows for imaging to occur in places in the human body where this has never been possible before. This aids clinicians in making more informed decisions in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Stelect was born out of The University of Melbourne’s BioDesign Innovation Course.


National Protective Services Safety and Wellbeing in the Workplace Award

 Mark Drodskie, 27 of Brunswick East chairs the Global Safety Committee and the APAC/US Retail Safety Committee of T2. His initiatives include reviewing their Visual Merchandising processes to reduce manual handling incidents/injuries, having mental health first aiders, and leading on customer aggression in the workplace. Mark uses a weekly TeaZette (an update to weekly tasks), to communicate any safety-related changes, reminders or updates.


Lucy Trembearth, 27 of Hawthorn is the Workplace Health and Safety Co-ordinator at Zoos Victoria. Lucy develops key policies and procedures of the OHS framework. Her initiatives include establishing a Safe Operation Procedure in the Veterinarians’ Department for ‘The Safe Transport and Use of O2 Cylinders in Animal Transport Vehicles’ and applying the principles of Safety in Design and Ergonomics to reduce risks to workers getting injured.


Stephanie Kennedy, 28 of Melbourne works for Covid Quarantining Victoria. As an Infection Prevention and Control site lead, Stephanie develops and delivers educational Covid-19 training to all stakeholders. Stephanie also performs analysis on emerging risks. She helps provide strategic guidance on safe infection control procedures to CVQ, hotel management, Victoria Police, Australian Defence Force and third-party contractors like specialist cleaners. Stephanie is also a registered paramedic.


First National Real Estate Leadership Award

 Elise Muller, 24 of Melton is an international speaker and consultant for creating inclusion, awareness and accessibility. She founded Active Support, a social enterprise that empowers at-risk people with disability by making education and sport accessible and inclusive. Elise is a dual-elite level Autistic Indigenous athlete. In 2019, she received the Victorian Disability Emerging Leader Award and the Australian National Disability Leadership Award for Social Impact.


Emily Unity, 24 of Parkville is a mental health professional whose work consists of providing consultations and running co-design workshops, and training from a lived and living experience perspective. Emily promotes the importance of inclusive mental health for diverse identities. She was named Mental Health Youth of the Year by the Mental Health Foundation Australia. Emily is a software engineer who mentors young women in programming.


Mannie Kaur Verma, 28 of Glen Waverley founded Regal Lawyers, which provides a voice to individuals belonging to marginalised communities. Regal Lawyers has intersectionality at its core, meaning they recognise that each individual has unique, layered experiences that the judicial system must address. Mannie has contributed more than 750 hours in pro bono legal services. She was a Lawyers Weekly 30 under 30 – Pro Bono Finalist 2021.


Hydration Movement Healthy Living Award

 ASHA Lectures, 24 of Glenroy is a not-for-profit education organization founded by Doctor of Medicine students, Arun Sharma and Krisha Changrani, after realizing the power healthcare students had in influencing the younger generation’s health literacy. They created two programs: Bodyworks and Reimagining Health. They partnered with schools in Metro and Rural Victoria and have facilitated workshops for hundreds of primary school students. ASHA Lectures has 33 volunteers.


Body Buddies, 21 of Essendon was founded in 2020 by medical student Aayushi Khillan, after seeing the gap in the current approach towards health education. With a strong education and philanthropic mission, Body Buddies is an initiative that sells soft toys in the shapes of body organs. They launched six initial organs – tooth, lungs, brain, eye, kidney and heart – designed by a team of graphic designers.


Stephanie Silver, 29 of Toorak created the ‘I Am Mindful Mental Health Toolkit’, curated and researched by clinicians. The toolkit includes sensory items to teach evidence-based mental health strategies. Stephanie has impacted thousands of school students, parents and teachers to learn life-changing emotion regulation and distress tolerance therapies. Stephanie has facilitated workshops for young people under 25 admitted to the Young Adult Emotion Management Program.


The Bridge Create Change Award

 Kevin Kapeke, 24 of Craigieburn is the Director of Africa’s Got Talent showcase, a program run by Africa Day Australia Inc. for African Australians aged 12 to 25. Kevin has created and nurtured a program-turned-social enterprise where young people can pursue their creative passions while building pathways to professionalism. He has spoken at the launch of the Global Poverty project’s 1.4 Billion Reasons for Youth campaign.


Matt O'Neill, 26 of Northcote is the appointed chairperson of Down Syndrome Australia’s Down Syndrome Advisory Network Victoria. Matt speaks openly and proudly of his lived experience. He has presented at the Down Syndrome Victoria’s Annual General Meeting and the World Down Syndrome Congress. Since 2020, the Network has contributed to eight major projects, created seven videos, was featured in three podcasts and co-hosted 10 events.


Jasmine Le Tisser, 22 of Maryborough has been an intern for the Children’s Tumour Foundation. She used her lived experience of Neurofibromatosis (NF) to organise and coordinate ‘Make NF Shine’, an initiative that brings NF out of the shadows and into the community. In 2021, through Jasmine’s direct efforts and in an Australian first, over 70 landmarks lit up blue and green on World NF Awareness Day.


The Victorian Government Group Achievement in the Community Award

 Oaktree, 24 of Melbourne is a youth-run organisation that has been operating for 18 years. Oaktree is run by four part-time staff and over 50 volunteers across Australia. From 2020 to 2021, they upskilled over 100 young people in Australia in advocacy, fundraising, financial management and other aspects of effective social change. During the pandemic, they fundraised over $300,000 for young people in their Asia-Pacific Programs.


Minus18, 26 of St Kilda is a charity that aims to improve the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth. Founded in 1998, Minus18 provides life-affirming youth events, free resources for LGBTQIA+ young people and their families, leadership programs and education for the whole community. In the past twelve months, 2,041 LGBTQIA+ youth have attended their private, interactive events, and 16,000 more tuned in to their digital event livestreams


UN Youth Australia, 24 of Melbourne is a youth-run not-for-profit focused on educating young Australians about key questions facing the international community. Their Youth Representative Program has helped elevate young people’s voices. They run three national activities: the National Finals of Evatt and Voice and National residential conference. During the pandemic, they successfully designed an online format for their Model United Nations competitions without support or guidance.


Generation Us Career Achievement Award

 Dr Claudine Banal, 28 of Marshall is a surgical doctor. She established the Generic General Sciences Examination study group for junior doctors interested in a career in surgery. She has volunteered as a mentor at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. She mentored through Diversitat, where she supported high school refugee students from Myanmar. Dr Banal was a recipient of the 2021 Barwon Best Care Awards in Education Leadership.


Kira Camilleri, 29 of Eltham is a registered draftsperson and building designer who runs her own drafting business. Kira’s family home burnt down in a bushfire, inspiring her later to seek a career as a building designer. She completed an Advanced Diploma of Building Design and graduated with a drafting position at ABN Group. Kira then took a position at Mont-Elham Drafting before becoming registered.


Melanie Davey, 29 of Fitzroy North has facilitated long-distance trekking and expeditions for hundreds of young people. Melanie undertook a qualification in Outdoor Recreation. She kicked off her career as a Group Leader for young teen youth with Outward Bound Australia. During the pandemic lockdown in 2020, Melanie created ‘Urban Bush Experiences’, a program that brought the fun and activities of school camp to school grounds.


Sam Humphrey, 27 is an actor and RARE advocate. In 2016, Samuel filmed a documentary about life as a RARE (Disabled) person chasing a dream to be an actor. He was cast alongside Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman. Samuel has been an ambassador for “Global Genes”, which advocates for millions of people with rare genetic diseases. During Covid, he developed “TheLittleGuy”, a self-empowerment brand.


IKON Services Environmental Sustainability Award

 Hansikaa Sharma, 13 of South Morang created two petitions for “Balloons No More”, with the end goal of banning helium balloons from both Hume and Whittlesea council events. Hansikaa received a total of 470 signatures from residents for his petition. This resulted in the Hume Council not allowing helium balloons in events they host, and the Whittlesea Council not allowing helium balloons on council grounds at all.


Manon Beauchamp-Tardieu, 28 of Richmond founded Little Green Panda, on the belief that single-use products should not be made to last. Manon decided to tackle plastic straws and start from there. They developed drinking straws that are designed to disappear in any waste bin in less than 90 days. Manon is currently working with a team to market an innovative and 100% home compostable packaging material.


Natassia Nicolao, 27 of Carlton founded Conserving Beauty, the first water-responsible brand in Australia. Natassia has created a range of beauty products that were completely free from water, inspired by her belief that waterless formula could offer more for the people and the Earth. Natassia completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in biochemistry. She has been awarded as CEO Magazine’s Start-Up Executive of the Year finalist.


Wurthington Coffield, 16 of Sebastopol has collected scrap metal since he was 8 years old. Initially, Wurth only intended to raise some pocket money, but interactions with others gave him the opportunity to grow his client base and collection. His involvement has evolved into a project where he educates younger children in his spare time through self-written and illustrated children’s books on the importance of recycling


Divine Gifts Online Achievement Award

 Ethan Donati, 27 of Aberfeldie founded Million Dollar Funnels, a digital marketing boutique firm that assists businesses to grow online. He also owns Sold Out Seminars, which helps turn people into speakers online. Ethan has helped over 1,000 students and clients and has directly impacted 100,000 people through his online events. In 2021, he won TWO 2 Comma Club Awards.


Michelle Akhidenor, 27 of Eaglemont is the Founder & CEO of The Peers Project a leading Australian Podcast Agency and 2021 Australian Podcast Awards Finalists. The Peers Project makes podcasts for visionary brands that include, Shopify, Forever New and Modibodi. Before launching The Peers Project in 2018, Michelle started Peers2Peers, a global podcast that hosted conversations with inspiring millennial entrepreneurs and Shopify signed on as the podcast’s major sponsor.


Tristian Cole - Sempo, 23 of Armadale is a start-up that uses blockchain to build more inclusive payment systems for emerging markets. Founded by Tristan Cole, Sempo helps reduce the time required to deliver cash assistance for non-profits. They work in 7 countries, facilitating one million payments a year. They empower over 120,000 people in places like Kenya, Iraqi Kurdistan and refugee camps on the Syrian Border.


Qoin Small Business Achiever Award

 Tess Guthrie – WhyHive, 27 of Fitzroy North is a social enterprise founded in 2018 for the purpose of democratising data. WhyHive supports organisations to analyse their data and make evidence-based strategic decisions. Their innovative business model allows them to offer pro bono and low bono services to not-for-profits, from program evaluation to using Artificial Intelligence. In 2020, WhyHive was part of the City of Melbourne’s Global Innovation Program.


Phillip Kuoch – Goldelucks, 28 of Croydon was established in 2018 by Phillip Kuoch and has since then become the most exciting new doughnut brand in Melbourne. A self-taught baker, Phillip decided to ride on the Nutella craze during the pandemic and took the business online which resulted in deliveries being made every 51 seconds on average. Goldelucks went on to expand and open three retail stores across Melbourne.


Rhea Gotsis - The Traxi, 24 of Balwyn is a premium same-day delivery service that operates across Victoria. They operate for personal and business-to-business use, with 90% of the clients being females who run small businesses from home. A self-taught entrepreneur, Rhea launched The Traxi to ensure Melbournians who felt isolated by lockdown could send gifts to one another.


Kangan Institute Inspirational TAFE Student Award

 Kwe Kaw 20 of East Bendigo completed a Certificate II in Electrotechnology (pre-vocational) program at Bendigo TAFE. Kwe Kaw grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand before moving to Australia in 2011. After completing secondary school, he approached the Skills and Jobs Centre and enrolled in the Preparation Study Course to build literacy and numeracy skills. He has also volunteered as an assistant in English Language classes.


Jessica Stone, 26 of Huntly completed a Foundation Class and a Certificate II in Community Services from Bendigo TAFE before moving into Certificate III in Animal Studies. Jessica lives with Autism and has a learning disability and speech impediment. She has completed a work placement at Bendigo Animal Rescue Centre, where she provided help with walking the dogs, feeding the cats and maintaining a clean environment.


Prue Dodemaide, 25 of Mildura will be completing her Diploma of Nursing at Sunraysia Institute of TAFE in March 2022. Prue became a single mother in 2015 and chose to leave school early and gain employment. She connected with Zoe Support Australia and applied for financial assistance to study. Prue has applied to continue into her Bachelor of Nursing to make her a Registered Nurse.



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.



2020 Finalists


First National Real Estate Leadership Award
Catherine Allingham, 29 of Balmain is challenging barriers to create change. Catherine is a key member of Fertility Preservation Taskforce, which develops and implements fertility care programs for children with cancer (oncofertility programs). She has developed a novel, interactive fertility decision tool for parents of children with cancer at The Royal Children’s Hospital. Catherine’s work has contributed to over 20 conference presentations and publications, and she co-chaired the 2nd National Oncofertility Summit. She was invited to contribute to the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Cancer Council Fertility Guidelines and continues to work developing The Australian and New Zealand Oncofertility Consortium – a coalition for paediatric oncofertility care. A graduate of Biomedical Science, Catherine is a final year medical student and is simultaneously completing a Masters Science at the University of Melbourne.

Elise Muller, 22 of Melton advocates for people with a disability. Elise founded Active Support, a social enterprise that empowers people with a disability and makes education and sport accessible and inclusive through public speaking, mentoring and personal training services. Seeking change in perception on autism, she co-created a Person-First Autism course to give insight into lived experienced of the Autism Spectrum and sustainable inclusion strategies. An Autistic Indigenous football and soccer athlete, Elise has competed at state, national and international level and is the first AFL Disability Ambassador Player. In 2019, Elise received the Victorian Disability Emerging Leader Award and the Australian National Disability Leadership Award, Social Impact category.

Dr Georgia Atkin-Smith, 27 of Melbourne is devoted to research and science. Georgia is a cell biologist who strives to create a supportive environment that motivates next generation scientists whilst educating the broader community. She runs her social media brand called Some Blonde Scientist, leads outreach events, and partakes in public speaking events. She was employed as Session Lecturer, Guest Lecturer and Head Demonstrator while completing her PhD in Biochemistry and Immunology. Georgia advocates for women in STEM and in 2019, was recognised as one of the Herald Suns, 25 under 25 Young People To Watch. To date, Georgia has published 15 scientific papers and received over 20 awards.

Wallace Jin, 23 of Parkville is passionate about empowering the disadvantaged. Wallace is the CEO at Community Health Advancement and Student Engagement (CHASE), a youth-led organisation dedicated to engaging, educating and empowering disadvantaged Victorians aged 16 to 18 through health education and personal mentorship. As CEO and leader of the CHASE Management Team, he is responsible for the delivery and direction of the program. He has since introduced a new organisational structure to minimise communication bottlenecks and improve opportunities for volunteer’s professional development. Besides being a full-time medical student, Wallace also volunteers with 180 Degrees Consulting, International House Graduate Student Association, Parity Education and Teach for Australia… Congratulations Wallace.



Yarn Strong Sista Indigenous Achievement Award
Bromley See Kee, 21 of Melbourne hopes to inspire Indigenous students. Bromley is the president of the National Union of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students at RMIT. Through the RMIT Student Union where he is the Indigenous Officer, Bromley has campaigned for marriage equality and is a role model for LGBTQIA+ students. Bromley has volunteered for Blak & Bright: First Nations Literary Festival through the Wheeler Centre at the State Library of Victoria. Bromley has contributed to the local Victorian Indigenous community by supporting and engaging on cultural issues such as land rights and cultural practice reclamation by participating in the Djap Wurrung trees protests.

Sianna Catullo, 25 of Northcote seeks to educate and raise awareness of the Indigenous culture. A proud Narungga woman, Sianna co-founded Clothing the Gap, a clothing label meant to provide a space for people to come together, celebrate Aboriginal culture and design, and talk about Aboriginal history and social issues. Sianna took part in the Indigenous Marathon Project and trained for six months to finish the marathon in New York. She helped start a national campaign called ‘Free the Flag’ to raise awareness on licensing agreement issues with the Aboriginal flag. Sianna has also helped establish a junior’s side for the Fitzroy Stars, an Aboriginal football club.

Merinda Dryden, 22 of Carlton North is determined to spread the beauty of Indigenous culture. Merinda works in the Learning and Development Team at VACCA and delivers Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training to non-Aboriginal organisations within the child and welfare sector. A proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri Woman, Merinda advocates for Kids in Foster Care. Speaking of her experience of growing up in multiple foster care placements, she shares the importance of keeping young people connected to their cultural identity. Merinda was named Victorian Miss NAIDOC 2016 and designed an Aboriginal mosaic and seating area for students to sit and have a moment to reflect.

Samuel Muir, 23 of Ivanhoe has a passion for inspiring Indigenous youth. Samuel started at Crown Melbourne as Food & Beverage Attendant whilst completing his degree at RMIT. He took an opportunity in Crown Melbourne’s Indigenous Program to work within the Indigenous Employment Sector, providing support and mentoring to young Indigenous Australians looking for long-lasting careers. After completing his degree, he became Marketing Assistant and Marketing Executive before being promoted to Senior Internal Communications Advisor. Samuel has a degree in Professional Communications and Certificate IV in Leadership and Management. Samuel received the Ganbina’s Youth of the Year award and was nominated for The Rikki Marks Award.



Saward Dawson Community Service and Social Impact Award
Madeline Long, 22 of Moorabbin is creating positive impact through education. Madeline is the co-founder of STEMSparX, an EdTech start-up that focuses on delivering immersive STEM learning experience to students in regional Australia through a unique technology-backed approach. STEMSparX has so far assisted more than 500 students to discover the joy of learning and with five-day workshops for high school students. Madeline has been recognised as the 2019 Young Social Pioneer in Education by the Foundation for Young Australians and was a 2018 Melbourne Accelerator Program Velocity Program Innovation Prize awardee. She has a Certificate in New Ventures Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rona Glynn-McDonald, 23 of Brunswick is passionate about providing for the disadvantaged Indigenous youth. A proud Kaytetye woman, Rona is the founder and CEO of Common Ground, a social enterprise working to share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures to audiences across Australia. Common Ground has supported over 160,000 Australians to appreciate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s culture and people and have launched the First Nations Bedtime Stories Challenge for families, schools and organisations. Rona is also a Director at YLab, a consulting social enterprise catering to First Nations youth. In 2017 and 2018, Rona facilitated the Young Social Pioneers Program run by the Foundation for Young Australians.

Timothy Lo Surdo, 25 of Richmond is deeply passionate about people-powered change. Timothy founded Democracy in Colour, Australia’s first racial and economic justice organisation led by people of colour. He has worked as the Senior Organiser at United Voice where he helped young, low-paid workers start a digital union. Timothy was Head of Campaigns at Oaktree Australia, a youth-run organisation, where he ran campaigns tackling inequality and poverty. He was the National Communications Director at UN Youth Australia. Timothy volunteers with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and is on the Boards for Plan International Australia, Environment Victoria, Climate for Change, The Wilderness Society and Be Slavery Free.

Victor Lin, 24 of Hillside has a drive to create positive and meaningful social impact. Victor is a blood cancer researcher who co-founded Australian Cancer and Health Sciences Competition and Australian Students’ Society of Haematology. He is a Board member of Eternal Possibilities, a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to inspire medical students and doctors to explore possibilities outside the conventional pathway. Victor has held leadership positions within the Melbourne University Health Initiative, advocated for his medical colleagues and provided pro bono consulting to charities with 180 Degrees Consulting. He is part of the Student Welfare Outreach Team, VCE Summer School and Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme.



IKON Services Environmental Sustainability Award
Jamie-Lee Kay, 26 of Tootgarook is committed to addressing plastic pollution in the oceans. In 2018, Jamie-Lee co-founded “theotherstraw”, a social enterprise that promotes replacing single-use plastic straws with reusable, ethically-sourced bamboo straws. They donate 50% of their profits to ocean clean-ups and support economic opportunities and sustainable jobs in Northern Vietnam. Jamie-Lee has educated over 11,500 individuals and businesses on the impacts of single-use plastic straws. She has organised 45 local beach clean-ups and regularly participates in environmentally friendly community activities and collaborates with eco-conscious social enterprises. She has been part of the ING Dreamstarter Program and a participant in the Deakin SPARK Accelerator Program.

Dr Melissa Wartman, 29 of Burwood is passionate about ensuring positive impactful environmental outcomes. Melissa is an integral member of the Victorian Coastal Wetland Restoration Program, which is designed to provide the greatest positive change for coastal biodiversity at the least cost. As full-time Program Coordinator, she leads the charge to restore 600 hectares of coastal wetlands in Victoria and manages day to day activities that include developing a wetland conservation strategy, undertaking on-ground restoration and working alongside Traditional Owners. Melissa helps collect and analyse scientific data to inform future wetland restoration policy and collaborates with reputable partners. She has helped secure two grants totalling $80,000.

Serena Lee, 24 of Alphington chases opportunities that will make a difference. Serena co-founded Farmwall, an AgTech social enterprise on a mission to transform cities into food producing ecosystems. Farmwall creates small scale indoor vertical farms that grows microgreens with zero packaging waste or food miles, allowing fresh produce to be grown in under-utilised areas. Serena led the crowdfunding campaign that raised $30,000 to kickstart Farmwall. As Company Director, Chief Operating Officer and Manager of the Sydney team, Serena leads urban planning employees and oversees all operational activities. She handles corporate relationships and works closely with Mirvac’s internal innovation team on urban planning projects.

The Last Straw of Melbourne is determined to change mindsets and behaviours around disposable plastic use. The Last Straw is a campaign to reduce the use of plastic straws in venues around Australia. Eva MacKinley started The Last Straw, funding it from her own wallet before winning a pitch competition. Since 2015, they have engaged close to 1,000 venues, along with their sister campaign, The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef. They introduce policies on giving plastic straws out on request only or changing to reusable alternatives. From 2018 to 2019, they were responsible for stopping 26 million plastic straws from entering the waste system.



The Victorian Government Group Achievement in the Community Award
CHASE of Melbourne advocates for better health and wellbeing for young people. Adopting the “youths mentoring youths” model, Community Health Advancement and Student Engagement (CHASE) is a not-for-profit run entirely by volunteers. They engage, educate and empower disadvantaged young people through health-related workshops and personal mentorship. The program reaches over 300 disadvantaged Year 11 Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning students annually. Founded in 2013, CHASE has over 110 volunteers from different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds and academic disciplines. They have collaborated with Headspace, Western Bulldogs Community Foundation and Smiling Seeds. CHASE received the 2018 Brimbank City Council’s We Are Brimbank Awards for Learning Excellence.

Blessing Bags of Skye is spreading awareness of current housing and homelessness crises. Blessing Bags is a youth-led organisation that provides bags of essentials to people experiencing homelessness. They make up to 500 bags every three months that are distributed all over Melbourne either through partner organisations such as crisis centres or directly to homeless people on the streets. Each bag contains a toothbrush, toothpaste, sanitary items, shampoo, body soap, tissues, and a hopeful note of encouragement. They have distributed over 9,000 bags since 2015. Blessing Bags also develops key policies which they present to supporters and the broader community through their website and newsletter.
Dyslexia Demystified of New Gisborne advocates for neurodiverse students. Dyslexia Demystified is a youth-run social enterprise that has supported, empowered and advocated for over 2,000 dyslexic students across Victoria and Queensland to realise and achieve their goals. The provide school-based presentations, workshops, events and conferences and produce dyslexic-friendly resources and offer student mentoring and parent consultations. They run YouTube videos that offer effective study strategies and help deal with emotional aspects of dyslexia such as feelings of isolation. In 2018, Dyslexia Demystified spoke at the Asia Pacific Dyslexia Conference in Japan. They received the Jumpstart Award at the 2018 Foundation for Young Australians Unleashed Awards.

Real Youth Music Studios of Collingwood is a music program for young people aged between 8 to 13 with diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds from the Fitzroy and Collingwood Public Housing Estates. The Studios were founded in response to the closure of a local youth centre in Fitzroy. Real Youth Music Studios aims to empower young people to write, record and perform their own songs alongside mentors with music and industry experience and connect them to community events such as the St Kilda and Brunswick Music Festivals. The studios raised over $2,000 and volunteered 100 hours to support Girl Zone and DJ Style & Grace perform at Dark Mofo.



Kangan Institute Inspirational TAFE Student Award
Jake Carter, 28 of Campbellfield strives for excellence. After switching from finance to electrical, Jake came to Holmesglen’s Futuretech campus where he enrolled in Certificate III Electrotechnology Apprenticeship to apply for his Energy Safe Victoria’s Electrician Licence. He passed on first attempt. Whilst building a family, renovating his home and training for a new career, Jake established Cardiac Electrical, where he leads an eight-person team. He holds a forklift license and Diplomas in Business and Management. He is completing his Diploma of Electrical Project Management. In 2019, Jake was named Victorian Apprentice of the Year and Australian Apprentice of the Year finalist.

Maddison Price, 24 of Swan Hill hopes to become an example for apprentices. Despite being accepted to multiple universities, Maddison was led back to her Deniliquin home where she started a job in earthmoving and operating. She is pursuing a career in the Heavy Diesel industry and is now completing her Certificate 3 in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology at the Cummins South Pacific branch. Maddison attended Sunraysia Institute of TAFE and has undergone Engine Fundamental, Basic Electrical, Heavy Duty Electrical and E5 Engine Identification Training. She volunteers at Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen workshops and has achieved a Merit Award for Excellence in Diversity for Women in Trades.
Mitch Harper, 28 of Wodonga demonstrates hard work, grit and determination. Mitch joined Cummins South Pacific as a Heavy Diesel Technician apprentice. He completed his TAFE course in just under two years, taking more units and significant amount of homework than needed. A former professional motorcycle rider who has represented Australia in international competitions, Mitch overcame a chronic back injury to become a qualified Heavy Diesel Technician (Certificate III). Mitch was awarded Apprentice of the Year by GoTAFE and Regional Apprentice of the Year and National Apprentice of the Year by the Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia. He hopes to develop his skills in Power Generation.

Heidi Rasmussen, 18 of Point Cook has a passion to improve the lives of animals. After completing a Year 10 work experience at a local veterinary clinic, it became clear for Heidi that she wanted to be a veterinarian. After overcoming declining mental health, she completed a Certificate III in Companion Animal Services through G-Force and The Gordon whilst undertaking Year 11 VCE Studies. She completed practical placement at Direct Vet Services where she now works as a veterinary nurse. Heidi has been named Victorian School-Based Trainee of the Year and runner-up Australian School-Based Trainee of the Year. She is currently studying Veterinary Nursing at La Trobe University.



Luminary Tech Visionary Award
Catherine Allingham, 29 of Balmain is utilising technology to create change. Catherine designed a Fertility Preservation Decision Aid website to support parents with cancer, together with their clinicians, in making decisions about fertility care immediately after a childhood cancer diagnosis. A first of its kind, the website was developed and assessed according to the international criteria for patient decision aids. Partitioned into both male and female sections, it houses quality health information on the effects of cancer treatment on fertility and links to written resources that contain a QR code. A cancer researcher and current final year medical student, Catherine is an Australian Veteran’s Children’s Assistance Trust Long Tan bursary recipient and carer of a young person with serious mental illness.

Morgan Coleman 29 of Mornington is CEO of Vets on Call, a custom built mobile App that makes it possible for pet owners to acquire premium care for their pets, in the comfort of their own home for the same price as going to a clinic. The app has created a gig economy within the veterinary services providing a convenient and stress-free service for pet owners and their pets. From a self-funded start-up, Vets on Call now has over 3,000 users, 65 veterinarians and treated over 1,000 pets. They’ve also partnered with Australia’s largest retirement living company to provide services to their pet owning residents.

Alexandra Irwin Liu, 25 of Macleod advocates for social inclusion. Alexandra is the founder of, an online social network for people with a disability, helping them find and share accessible bars, restaurants and cafes tailored to their individual needs. Users of the platform can discover, filter, rate and review local places and take part in community life through social engagement and connection. After finding out that the Federal Government had similar initiatives, Alexandra pivoted Accessibly into a location discovery app to help users discover new social spaces. She hopes to transform the hospitality sector so that people with a disability can have thriving social lives.

Zoe Condliffe, 29 of Brunswick advocates for gender equality. Zoe founded She’s A Crowd, a tech start-up that uses technology, artificial intelligence and data analytics to provide safer cities for women. The safe and anonymous crowdsourcing platform allows anyone to share their stories which are geotagged, timestamped and aggregated for important insights that feed into decision-making processes in government, universities and NGO’s. Zoe previously worked for Plan International, where she pioneered Free To Be to help address gender-based violence in public spaces. She is an alumna of Google for Start-ups Blackbox Connect Scholarship, SheStarts Program and the Foundation for Young Australians Young Social Pioneers Program.



Generation Us Small Business Achiever Award
Chalerm Tuantab, 26 of Kew demonstrates hard work, passion and commitment. Chalerm started his first podiatry business at age 22. He now has nine staff members, two physiotherapy and podiatry clinics and a specialist footwear store. He just started his fourth business, selling an Allied Health-endorsed massage gun. He is the president of Footscape, a not-for-profit that provides services for the disadvantaged communities across the greater Melbourne region. Chalerm is Head of Medical for numerous National Premier League teams. In 2019, he was a finalist for leadership in management in Allied Health, Allied Health Podiatrist of the Year finalist and an Australasian Most Outstanding Podiatry Services winner.

Jackson Meyer, 23 of Cheltenham strives to reinvent and revolutionise. Jackson established Verus Global to bridge the gap between global giants and local small enterprises in Australian logistics. As Group CEO and Director of Verus, Jackson is tasked to manage the teams from its 14 offices in Australia, China, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. He has worked tirelessly to train their 45 and growing global staff. Verus Global recorded 2020 first quarter sales totalling A$8M and forecasts annual revenues of A$34M. Jackson is a Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Melbourne Finalist. He received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award for Business from the Old Haileyburians Association.

Kai Seymon, 13 of Tarneit advocates for people with special needs. Kai is the founder of KAIKO Fidgets. Having both dyslexia and high-functioning autism, Kai grew tired of being teased at school for liking fidgets, which he needs for concentration and calming. He then started making fidgets out of keyring and bike chain parts. Kai sells his products directly, online, at markets and expos and in Melbourne stores and has sold over 1,000 tactile fidgets. Kai is an ambassador for My Special Child Organisation. In 2018, he received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award as part of a 12-month National Kids in Business Mentoring program.

Morgan Hipworth, 18 of Windsor is committed to making a positive impact on young Victorians. At age 13, Morgan established Bistro Morgan, an artisan bakehouse specialising in doughnuts. With the right equipment and support of his parents, Morgan baked doughnuts from their home, supplying to more than 15 cafés every weekend. In 2016, he opened a pop-up store and sold 10,000 doughnuts in eight days. This inspired Morgan to open his flagship store. Bistro Morgan now employs 15 staff and offers coffee, meals and other treats. Morgan has been featured in media outlets such as Shark Tank, Today Show, ABC Radio Melbourne and The Project.



Budget Car and Truck Rentals Online Achievement Award
Alexander Horton, 25 of Fitzroy North is dedicated to creating lifelong learning mindset within learners. Alexander is the founder of ‘econome’, a for-profit, for-purpose online education platform that creates innovative curriculum through aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with short-form, project based courses. He has integrated different educational technologies and utilises data analytics to track progress of learners moving through the courses. Alexander is also the Director of Business Development for an Australian and Indonesian NGO, Via Sport, where he leads the development of their online presence. Alexander previously worked for EduGrowth, where he created an online learning module designed to upskill education technology experts.

Ana Gavia, 27 of Hillside hopes to inspire and engage young people. A self-taught e-commerce entrepreneur, Ana launched Pinkcolada after struggling to find swimwear that was stylish, high quality and affordable. Starting from a small-scale hobby she ran from home, she now sells bikinis worldwide. With flexibility, creativity and self-awareness, she utilised free tools to learn, improve and grow her business from $200 to $1M in one year. Ana has received 12 months of mentoring with Inspiring Rare Birds as part of American Express’s Idea Exchange Program and private mentoring from Shark Tank’s Andrew Banks. She was awarded the Business News Melbourne Young Entrepreneur Award.

Angelo Giuffrida, 28 of Narre Warren is committed to enhancing efficiency. Angelo runs three web hosting and online services, namely, VentraIP Australia, Zuver and Synergy Wholesale. Angelo helped build VentraIP in 2008 and became its CEO in 2013. The company has grown from four to 60 staff in ten years and in 2019, they won Employer of Choice in the Australian Business Awards. Angelo has been elected as a Director on the .au Domain Administrator Ltd. board, giving him hands-on involvement with the policies and guidelines that govern the domain name industry whilst utilising his over 10 years of experience in the online services industry.

Jack Ward, 16 of Ararat is passionate about journalism. In 2017, Jack founded Ararat College’s student-run news service, AC News, after gathering a group of students who were interested in media and producing content. From producing video segments and posting them on Instagram, they have created and launched a website, They reach thousands every month and cover local tragedies, accomplishments and breaking stories to ensure the local community stays informed. They created a Facebook page to increase the rise of viewership and presence. Jack is a committed young journalist who displays creativity, innovation and agility. He has completed internships at 9News, ABC and Tennis Australia.



The Bridge Create Change Award
Afra Cader, 25 of Hawthorn is dedicated to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces. She is a management consultant in performance improvement at PricewaterhouseCoopers and was recognised as one of their top 10 Australian leaders in Diversity and Inclusion. Afra founded the first international Graduate Mental Health seminar, is an international published author and advocate of gender equality, having articles published in the Financial Times and Daily Mirror in Sri Lanka and LinkedIn. She runs, organises and speaks at PwC events on gender equality, cultural awareness and authentic leadership. A social entrepreneur and Commerce graduate, Afra was named 2019 Young Social Pioneer – Foundation for Young Australians.

Harriet O'Shea Carré, 15 of Castlemaine is a fervent human rights advocate. Seeing as her moral duty, Harriet co-initiated the #schoolsstrike4climate movement in Australia to demand real climate action from political, corporate and social leaders. Harriet, with co-founders Milou and Callum, led students at Castlemaine in September 2018 to strike outside the local politician’s offices and demand fast and big systematic policy change to create a better future. Harriet is a co-winner of the Bob Brown Foundation 2019 Young Environment of the Year Award and the Mount Alexander Shire Youth Leadership Award in Environment. She represented Australia at the United Nations Youth Climate Summit in New York.

Hayden's Helping Hands of Eltham North are enabling youth to make a difference. Hayden and Stephanie Rujak founded Hayden’s Helping Hands, a not-for-profit organisation to enable young people under the age of 16 to volunteer and provide for the relief and alleviation of poverty, distress, misfortune and disadvantage suffered by people experiencing homelessness. From 2014, Hayden and Stephanie now lead a Board of five Directors and over 40 volunteers. Hayden’s Helping Hands has helped hundreds of homeless people, with over $45,000 worth of clothes, toiletries and food items, in the last 12 months alone. Hayden’s Helping Hands raises awareness by speaking at kindergartens and schools.

Mia Rovere, 23 of Swan Hill advocates for sexual and reproductive health education. Mia started the Sexy and Safe: Let’s Talk About It, a youth consultation initiative that has given young people in the Mallee Region a real voice on the critical issue of youth sexual health through key actions and recommendations. Mia was a panellist and presenter at the 2019 Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health Conference and 2020 Buloke Youth Health Expo. She is a member of the Mallee Region Sexual Health Network, SHOUT Out & About Network and SAGA Network and a research member at the Swan Hill Rural City Council Youth Strategy.



2019 Finalists


Melbourne Studio of Art Young Artist Award

Gene Holland, 26 of Ferntree Gully is a gifted composer, performer and conductor. He focuses on community music projects like the Lake Bolac Eel Festival, where he conducted a community orchestra and choir, and the Walking the Giants Festival, where he co-directed a performance by local students as part of the Artists in Schools Program. He also tours with “In Helvetica,” a dance performance group, and has produced original shows performed at the Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide Fringe Festivals. Gene is now on the organising committee of Lake Bolac Festival 2020. He has a Bachelor of Music degree, first class honours, from Monash University.

Tanisha Lovett, 20 of Horsham is a talented painter and Aboriginal youth leader. A proud Wotjobaluk-Gunditjmara woman, she works full-time at Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative where she is also the Project Facilitator for Celebrating Sistas, a program that empowers women to embrace their culture using painting to express their creativity. Tanisha uses her own time to create art inspired by her life experiences. She coordinates an Arts and Language day every Thursday to bring local Indigenous community together and explore cultural significance and history through a variety of art mediums and storytelling. Tanisha was also nominated by her siblings to the 2018 National NAIDOC awards.

Rose Duong, 27 of Richmond has a passion for sustainability and fashion. Rose supports fashion products with integrity, whether it is sustainable, ethical or local. She owns Clothes Loop, the first fashion platform where customers can shop products and swap them afterwards. Creating true sustainability and raising awareness, Clothes Loop has a retail store and an upcoming online app. Rose lectures about Sustainability and Design at RMIT. She has been working as a User Experience Designer and design consultant for five years. She does pro bono work as design consultant in YBF. In 2014, Rose was a runner up for the Green Innovators award.


Academy Graphics Regional Achiever Award

Claudia Cox, 17 of Berriwillock is dedicated to rural development. She was selected as Rural Youth Ambassador in 2017 where she discussed major issues with the Minister for Education. She was able to secure an $83,000 grant to fund the ‘Rural Inspire’ project, a website that provides information and support to struggling rural students. Claudia was appointed as 2018 Tyrrell College school captain. As secretary and active member of the Sea Lake Youth Group, she organised a community Colour Run to raise funds for the restoration of Green Lake. In 2018, she was awarded a VCE leader finalist for her contribution to her community.

Dr Zara La Roche, 26 of Wangaratta is passionate about social justice and creating equal healthcare opportunities for all. She is a doctor who specialises in rural health with focus on the Indigenous. She was awarded a John Flynn Placement Program Bursary, and has worked with doctors in remote Western Australia and travelled to Northern Territory to promote health and health careers amongst secondary school students. She also led the development of Ormond College Reconciliation Action Plan for 2018-2020. Zara earned her Bachelor in Biomedicine, Doctor of Medicine and Masters of Public Health from Melbourne University. Just recently, Zara completed the Alpine Walking track’s 670-kilometre hike.

Georgia Leutner, 17 of Mildura is determined to create support for young people with disability and help shape an inclusive and youth-literate community. As member of Hands Up Mallee’s Youth Leadership Table, she pitched for creating a Young Carer and Sibling Support Group which is designed to provide social and peer support. As member of Mildura Rural City Council’s Youth Committee, Georgia demonstrated a passion for organising events and activities for young disabled persons. She is also a member of the Irymple Secondary College’s Student Representative Council, Mildura’s Young Leo’s and Irymple Football Netball Club. She helps care for her sister who has an intellectual disability.


First National Real Estate Leadership Award

Arun Thomas, 29 of Horsham has a passion for leadership, governance and aged care. He is an experienced Registered Nurse who provides strategic leadership and clinical governance expertise as a board member at Stawell Regional Health. For championing resident care and safety, he was awarded Victorian state-wide Celebrating Aged Care Leadership Award and became a finalist in Excellence in Leadership by Victorian Healthcare Association. He was appointed Associate Nurse Unit Manager at Edenhope District Memorial Hospital. In 2018, Arun established a leadership scholarship as part of his giving-back to his Alma Mater to help unlock the potential of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Yasmin Poole, 20 of Williamstown seeks to empower young women to enter politics. She is the Director of Global Business Development for 180 Degrees Consulting, a youth consultancy organisation. As 2018 Chair of the Victorian Government’s Youth Congress, she led the Congress in advising the government about improving youth policy and focus on mental health. Yasmin represented Australia at the 2018 APEC conference and ASEAN-Australia Special Summit. She was also named Plan International and the World Bank Ambassador. A survivor of severe scoliosis, Yasmin won the Zonta International Women in Business Award and was recognised as Victorian Government Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Woman Leader.

Rheannon Theologous-Owen, 24 of Delacombe is dedicated to youth development. As health promotion officer at Hepburn Health Service, she coordinated and delivered a youth mental wellbeing program called to The Cook, The Chef and Us to students at Daylesford Secondary College deemed at risk of disengaging from education. She designed the weekly program which involves removing the students from traditional classroom once a week during school hours to learn skills in the hospitality industry. As a result, 82% of students showed greater participation in learning inside the classroom and over 50% of students involved also found employment as a direct result of the program.


The Bridge Create Change Award

Andrew Millhouse, 27 of Melbourne is committed to designing innovative solutions to youth problems. He is the founder of Pivot, a non-profit organisation that delivers Victoria’s first and only by-youth-for-youth legal education. Pivot also offers discount and pro-bono consulting services to charities and non-profits, and has so far offered $200,000 worth of discounts and $50,000 worth of pro-bono consultations. Andrew is also founder and Managing Partner of Pivot Consulting, a firm that helps the public sector and NGOs modernise their work to make it more impactful and contemporary. Andrew is also a co-founder and president of COMET, which helps homeless young people understand criminal law.

James Maskey, 29 of Fitzroy North is passionate about raising mental health awareness. He is the National Engagement Manager for the Police and Emergency Services Program at Beyond Blue, a not-for-profit organisation that provides information and support to help Australians achieve their best mental health. James served as Queensland Police Officer from 2010-2015 where he responded to critical incidents. He was then diagnosed with PTSD in 2013 which led him to retire. Upon moving to Melbourne, he found strength in fitness. In 2018, he represented Australia in the ‘Fire and Ice’ 250KM ultra marathon in Iceland, raising mental health awareness and funds for Phoenix Australia.

Georgie Stone, 18 of Bentleigh is an advocate for trans and gender diverse youth. She achieved significant legal reforms since her initial hearing in the Family Court of Australia, resulting in timely access to treatments for trans adolescents. She was also involved in the Victorian Government’s media campaign to support Safe Schools Program. She was featured in numerous media stories and interviews with over a million viewers. Georgie was awarded the 2017 Young People’s Human Rights Medal and was recognised as 2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year. She was also named Wear It Purple Ambassador and Human Rights Arts and Film Festival Ambassador.


The Victorian Government Group Achievement in the Community Award

Entrepreneurs Movement Club of Pakenham is a youth led organisation, established by seven South Sudanese Australian. EMC aims to connect South Sudanese young people to the community and link them to opportunities to support their further education and employment pathways. Some of their initiatives include the Multicultural Youth Employment Forum, Inaugural African Diaspora Summit, entrepreneurship workshops, soccer tournaments and a homework club. They have engaged over 2,000 young people since 2015. EMC seeks to provide a positive narrative of South Sudanese/African Australian young people amidst negative media portrayal. They encourage participation in education and employment by linking opportunities such as apprenticeships and personal development workshops.

Flourish Programs of Sandringham helps young people reach their full potential through empowerment and nurturing. Flourish is a community organisation run by a team of committed volunteer young adults, offering three mentoring programs for pre-teen and teenagers; resilience, high school preparation and anti-bullying. “Flourish” is a program designed for Year 7 girls while “RAP,” meaning resilience and preparation, is for Year 6 boys. Also offered is a Junior Leadership Development program for graduates of the program to teach and mentor younger students. The organisation provides a safe space to educate young people on topics like bullying, social media, self-esteem and peer pressure.

Mitchell Shire Youth Council want to make a positive impact in their community. The seven Youth Councillors are regularly engaged with their peers to gain broader insights into their issues such as LGBTQI+, performing arts, and transport solutions. The council meet with the Mayor each fortnight and use this time as a platform to raise issues, Outside of meetings, Youth Councillors are involved with media releases, events, and site visits. Their biggest achievement was securing nearly $1,000,000 of State Government funding for their community to address access to youth mental health services by developing a Wallan Youth Mental Health Hub and constructing outdoor fitness facilities.


IKON Services Environmental Sustainability Award

Daniel Wilson, 24 of Maldon is passionate about sustainable development. He played an integral part in designing the EcoPrinting Project, a self-sufficient technology that uses zero to near zero carbon footprint and allows for the conversion of waste plastics found in the environment into usable products using 3D printing technology. They applied this as a transformative tool for humanitarian aid delivery and improving access to water for remote communities in developing nations such as the Solomon Islands. Daniel worked with a team from Deakin University in conjunction with a team from Plan International. This system also promises to yield unique commercial opportunities for regional Victoria.

Kris Wozniak, 29 of Kensington has a passion for sustainable solutions and innovative ideas. As Head of Procurement at Moonee Valley City Council, he provided leadership and led a small team to review Council’s practices involving bee extermination. By leading his team to explore different practices, resulted in a policy change that involved re-homing bees sustainably by an apiarist onto council rooftops. This evolved into a business and community program named MVBees and members of the community now enjoy the tastes of Moonee Valley through the rooftop honey program. This initiative is an Australian and Victorian Local Government first, tackling the global bee decline.

Rhianna Knight, 27 of Thornbury is dedicated to creating innovative and sustainable products. She founded Mister Timbuktu, an outdoor apparel brand that saves plastics from oceans and landfill, recycling them into more sustainably made apparel. The brand, which believes there is no need for a compromise between style and sustainability, was launched after Rhianna successfully raised over $19.5K via crowdfunding. The first collection consists of tech jackets, leggings and tops made from recycled plastic bottles and discarded fishing nets. It aims to recycle approximately 15,000 single-use plastic bottles in its first year. In 2018, Rhianna was part of the Foundation for Young Australian’s program.

Josh Murray, 18 of Kerrie is enthusiastic about sustainable farming. He started his own free range egg business, Josh’s Rainbow Eggs, at the age of 9 with just 40 hens. Ten years later, Josh has 10,000 hens and has developed the most environmentally sustainable model of egg farming in Australia. He uses state-of-the-art wind and solar-powered mobile sheds and pasture rotation. He regularly gives talks to school children about his egg business and plans to launch a farm education centre. Josh is currently working with researchers and educators to design curriculum materials on sustainable agriculture. He is also writing a children’s book about his story.


Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria Regional and Rural Health Achievers Award

Dr Skye Kinder, 27 of Bendigo is dedicated to improving the health of rural and marginalised patients. Currently a doctor at St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Skye started her career at Bendigo Health, and was recognised as Bendigo’s Young Citizen of the Year. She went on to represent Australia’s medical students nationally as Rural Health Officer of Australian Medical Students’ Association. She later co-founded a national Rural Health Committee of the Medical Students Association and was Committee Chair for two years. One of her initiatives was the establishment of the AMSA Rural Health Summit. She sits as Director of Board of Rural Doctors Association of Victoria. In 2017, Skye was named Victoria’s Junior Doctor of the Year.

Arun Thomas, 29 of Horsham is an experienced Registered nurse who has a strong focus and passion for leadership, governance and aged care. In 2018, Arun was awarded Victorian state-wide Celebrating Aged Care Leadership Award and became a finalist - Excellence in Leadership by Victorian Healthcare Association for championing resident care and safety. He has established a leadership scholarship as a part of 'giving back' to his Alma Mater to unlock the potential of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Arun is a Board Director at Stawell Regional Health and an Associate Nurse Unit Manager at Edenhope District Memorial Hospital.

Dr Zara La Roche, 26 of Wangaratta advocates for equal healthcare opportunities for all Australians. She aspires to serve the most in need of healthcare and specialises in rural health with focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Zara has worked with doctors in remote Western Australia, travelled to Northern Territory to promote health careers to high school students, and completed medical placements in remote communities and homeless shelters. Her 2018 research, The First 1,000 Days Australia Project, aims to provide a comprehensive strategy to strengthen Aboriginal families so they can address children’s needs. Zara also coordinated panels and discussions about Aboriginal health in Shepparton and Melbourne.


Budget Car and Truck Rentals Online Achievement Award

Sam Brown, 29 of Richmond has a fervour for travelling and for helping people. Sam put his university business studies on hold and delved into the banking industry to fix a real world problem faced by millions of young Australians. He founded Pelikin, a mobile-only multi-currency payments App and prepaid card. He aims to empower young Australians to travel and help manage, send and spend their money while abroad. He secured support from globally recognised institutions Visa, Heritage Bank and Omnio Group to raise capital of $250,000 from over 200 investors. Sam heads a team of eight passionate individuals working towards a common goal.

Seb Poole, 27 of Collingwood is dedicated to devising digital innovation solutions for the consumer and the marketplace. He is a co-founder and CTO of Olasso, an omni-commerce technology company that focuses on global logistics and post purchase experiences. He heads the product, innovation, and vision side of the business. Olasso was established in Hong Kong but Sebastian decided to move the office to Melbourne to take advantage of the local Victorian IT talent. He is regularly invited to speak at events regarding innovation, futurism and ecommerce, and enjoys contributing to various publications focused on technology and start-ups across Australasia.

Uppma Virdi, 29 of Templestowe has a passion for promoting Indian culture. She founded Chai Walli, meaning ‘a female tea maker,’ on a mission to educate people about the Indian culture through the art of chai. Chai Walli imports organic teas directly from small batch farmers in India, and offers handcrafted blends online. They also offer boutique chai workshops and provide catering for public or private events. A lawyer turned tea lady, Uppma was awarded Business Woman of the Year by the Indian Australian Business Community Awards in 2016. She was included in CNN’s 40 under 40 and Forbes’ 30 under 30 lists in 2017.

William Strange, 29 of Abbotsford has a passion for technology. He is the founder and CEO of SPT, a start-up that builds multiple websites such as, a cloud-based software solution for team sports, currently used by over 25,000 users and 1,000 teams across 100 countries. A GameTraka app is also available for iOS and Android users. SPT was awarded the Top 50 Most Innovative Start up's in the world by the Hype Foundation and was shortlisted by the World of Sport as best Tech product for High Performance. They have successfully closed three capital rounds for Australia's most influential business people and sporting icons.


CFA Volunteer Excellence Award

Teghan Henderson, 22 of Warrenheip is a strong advocate for positive change and inclusion. Teghan plays a pivotal role in the community by supporting families of children with a disability. She is a volunteer at Pinarc Disability Support in Ballarat and encourages other volunteers to join her. The “Interchange Program” at Pinarc, matches a child or young person who has a disability with a host volunteer. The volunteer provides care for the child on a regular basis plus opportunities for friendship and positive experiences. Teghan was the 2018 winner of the City of Ballarat Youth Volunteer Award and the overall City of Ballarat Youth Award.

Cameron Sibeijn, 27 of Diamond Creek aims to ensure that all young people receive equality, respect and opportunity. He joined the CFA’s Junior Volunteer Development Program when he was 16 and is now Captain of the Yarrambat Fire Brigade. In 2010, he received a scholarship from Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria to complete a Volunteer Leadership Program. He is District President of the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria Multi-Agency Youth Network Cameron is a board member of the Volunteer Leadership Network and is committed to improving the leadership qualities of all volunteer members across the Emergency Services Sector. He volunteers at local churches and fundraises for various charities.

Tom Dunn, 23 of Horsham is a young Australian adventurer and advocate. He is a record setting ultra-endurance athlete who has raised over $100,000 for charities. As a teenager in 2014, he kayaked 2,200km down the Murray River to raise $15,000 for the Aurora School. In 2017, he went on a 113-day 3,800km stand-up paddle board journey down Australia’s longest continuous waterway and raised $80,000 for Deaf Children Australia. In 2018, he trekked to the basecamp of Mount Everest to raise money and awareness of human trafficking. His most recent adventure was Australia’s Longest Triathlon, raising $3,500 for Melbourne Indigenous Transition School.


Kangan Institute Inspirational TAFE Student Award

Dellareece Matson, 21 of Kilmore is dedicated to helping others. Family illness saw Dellareece repeat her final high school year twice whilst juggling work to assist with the household bills. She is now currently completing both her Certificate IV in Community Services and Certificate IV in Disability. A volunteer for her community in Mitchell Shire since she was 8, she has a never give up attitude. She has volunteered with the Mitchell Shire Youth Council and the Volume/FreeZa committee. Dellareece volunteered at the National Day of People with Disability, the Colour Dash for the Homeless and the Melbourne Period Project.

Roland Touzel, 22 of Wodonga is determined to overcome challenges. He has a learning disability, speech dyspraxia, and continuous auditory processing disorder. He is a supported employee for Albury Wodonga Community College Aware Programs, which provides employment for people with a disability. Roland works in the woodwork area manufacturing pallet furniture and assisting with the general operations of the Recycle Shop. Since completing the TAFE course Introduction to Cabinet Making Roland can draw up and successfully create samples based on new customer requests and has completed a number of prototypes which will be used this year. He is undertaking an additional TAFE course in DIY Carpentry.

Lwe Pree, 25 of Long Gully is determined to forge a better life for herself. After fleeing Myanmar and spending most of her life in a refugee camp in Thailand, she arrived in Australia with no English or work skills. With determination, Lwe set out clear study and employment goals and successfully achieved qualifications in English language, health support services, IT, general education for adult, community services and interpretation and translation. She volunteers at the Karen Cultural Social Support Foundation and Bendigo Community Health Service. Lwe is looking forward to earning her Diploma of Community Service and become a qualified community service worker.

Sinead McKenna-Reid, 21 of Greensborough has overcome the hardship of drug addiction. She is currently completing her VCAL at the Hester Hornbook Academy. Sinead completed the Hospitality, Employment & Training Program and obtained a Certificate II in Hospitality including a Barista, Food Handlers and R.S.A. course. Last year, Sinead spoke at the Academy’s end of year celebration to over 100 people on how education assisted with changing her life. Sinead is career focused and would like to be an inspiration to young people going through hardship. She is exploring enrolling in a Certificate III in Animal Studies, Specialising in Veterinary Nurse Skills.


Saward Dawson Community Service and Social Impact Award

Madeleine Buchner, 26 of South Melbourne dedicates her life to helping young carers. She is the CEO of Little Dreamers Australia, an organisation that supports young people caring for a parent or sibling with chronic illness, mental or physical disability, or drug or alcohol addiction. Madeleine saw the gap in the family support system when she was caring for her younger brother with learning disabilities and her mother with a range of health conditions. She started writing a business plan for her charity at age 15 and founded Little Dreamers a year after. Madeleine was keynote speaker at the 2017 International Young Carers Conference in Sweden.

Noah Yang, 23 of Melbourne has a passion for helping the homeless. He founded Mobilise, an organisation that united the youth of Victoria, and now NSW, to develop solutions for those experiencing homelessness whilst providing a platform for those who want to be involved with change. Mobilise runs monthly outreach programs in Melbourne and NSW. Volunteers spend time with those on the streets and provide love and functional care through tailored care packages. Aiming to be the voice for the voiceless, Noah and Mobilise utilise the power of videos and social media marketing to raise awareness and work with a diverse range of organisations.

Yong Deng, 27 of Dandenong has genuine passion for making a difference in the lives of young people. He was a refugee in Kenya before settling in Australia with his mother and siblings and he lost his father in a civil war. Yong co-founded South Sudanese Australia Youth United, a not-for-profit organisation offering support, tuition and pro-social activities to Sudanese-Australian youth. He also initiated the Bounce Back program in partnership with Victoria Police. He is completing his Masters of Clinical Pharmacy at Monash University and works full-time for Monash Health. Yong received the 2017 City of Greater Dandenong – Young Leader of the Year Award.

Lorraine Ngwenya, 29 of Burnside Heights is committed to addressing youth unemployment. She is the founder of Useful Link, an organisation that seeks to empower young people in areas of employment, personal development and leadership. Having experienced the issue herself after finishing university, Lorraine dedicates her time by running employment workshops in schools, universities and youth organisations. She also speaks to government and businesses to educate and bring about change. She worked with the Minister of Multiculturalism on the Recruit Smarter Initiative, which seeks to fight unconscious bias in hiring processes. Lorraine has worked with over 2,000 young people in the last 2 and a half years.



2018 Finalists

First National Real Estate Leadership Award 

Andrew Millhouse, 26 of Windsor founded Pivot, to provide young people with skills and knowledge to navigate complex legal situations. Previously, he led COMET, addressing homelessness and the law, and was founder of Slingshot Training, a youth mental health program. Andrew was also part of a major review of the Victorian Parole System, focusing on efficiency and reducing reoffending. He has also volunteered with several national and Victorian legal non-profits.

Dr Joanna Newton, 28 of Northcote is fostering change in the Australian dairy industry’s adoption of genetic tools and technologies. An advocate for careers in STEM and agriculture, Joanna mentors students and junior scientists, inspiring their pursuit of agricultural journeys. She won the 2017 Dairy Research Foundation Symposium’s Emerging Scientists Award, and an Endeavour Research Fellowship from the Australian Government. She has spoken at international conferences and has helped move an international agricultural climate change motion. 

Jamin Heppell, 27 of Leongatha co-founded and manages the youth empowerment company HeadQuarters Australia. He is also a founding Director and head trainer of Healthy Communities Australia. Jamin has impacted the lives of over 5,500 people in the fitness industry and acquired $230,000 of start-up capital to help drive his initiatives. He delivered workshops to 1,500 students in 2016. His fitness program raised $10,000 for the four schools it is delivered in.


WFI Insurance Small Business Achiever Award

Josh Murray, 17 of Kerrie started his free-range egg business, Josh’s Rainbow Eggs at age nine. Eight years later 4,000 dozen eggs a week are stocked in Coles, Woolworths and independent supermarkets. He has spoken to thousands of customers and at schools about his eggs. Josh is publishing a book for children about his journey. He is an incredibly engaging story teller with the unique ability to inspire a generation of young entrepreneurs.

Lisa Tran, 27 of Forest Hill founded Lisa’s Study Guides, a leading senior school resource for students and teachers. Lisa and her team offer an all-encompassing approach to student studies. They create study guides, online courses and offer private tutoring. Lisa’s weekly YouTube videos have over 16,000 subscribers tuning in for study advice. Schools invite Lisa to hold workshops with their students. Lisa was named an Anthill Australia’s Young Entrepreneur 30under30.

Sam Lindsay, 29 of Cremone runs Urban Studios, delivering landscape design and construction-management services. He specialises in high-end residential, multi-unit developments and childcare. His company has developed a quoting method faster than any Australian competitor, and provides professional services to clients. Urban studios has domestic and international clients, with projects valuing up to $300,000. Sam recently opened another office in Sydney. He has been named a Young Small Business Champion Entrepreneur.

Maxwell Hertan, 28 of Armadale is founder and director of Megaphone Marketing. He is a Deloitte fast 50 winner, Telstra award finalist and runs one of Anthill’s top 100 coolest companies. The business has doubled year on year and grown to a team of fourteen. Investing in innovative marketing strategies such as giveaways, software building, e-books and digital marketing, they maintain a steady flow of leads for the business.


Saward Dawson Community Service and Social Impact Award

Eliza Li, 20 of Doncaster East founded Reach-In, an entrepreneurship experience program for girls in Melbourne’s high schools. Eliza mentors students weekly on launching start-up businesses. Reach-In also funds rural health initiatives for women in the Philippines. Eliza has volunteered extensively in social change initiatives, spanning global gender equality to rural health. Eliza volunteers over 30 hours per week while balancing delivery of Reach-In with her Biomedicine and Commerce studies.

Nikolina Mabic, 23 of Williamstown created Spare Capacity. The website and workshops aim to equip young women with holistic self-care tools to combat mental illness. Nikolina is also a graduate filmmaker who advocates for enhanced mental health awareness, prevention and treatment. She was selected into the Foundation for Young Australians Young Social Pioneers 2016 Cohort in the Youth Mental Health stream and awarded Hobsons Bay Young Citizen of the Year 2017.

Jennifer Pham, 29 of Yarraville has created an educational development program for disadvantaged students. Her program consists of memory training, study techniques, personal and development skills. Her program aims to break the cycle of poverty and inequality. She has served as an Amnesty International Ambassador and is a Vietnamese Community Association member. Jennifer is a volunteer tutor and student mentor. She is a multi-award winner and runs her own private tutoring service.

Yong Deng, 26 of Dandenong co-founded the South Sudanese Australian Youth United. The organisation provides positive guidance and pro-social engagement activities for South Sudanese-Australian young people. Yong has sought to respond to their needs through multiple initiatives. He established the Weekend Academy offering homework support, tuition and social activities. Yong was named City of Greater Dandenong, 2017 Young Leader of the Year and balances his extensive volunteering with full-time work at Monash Health.


The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award

Frances Cannon, 25 of Coburg is a multi-disciplinary artist whose works examines themes of contemporary women. Frances’ work has been displayed in many solo and group exhibitions. She has been featured in influential publications including Vogue, HuffPost, Daily Mail, and Frankie Magazine. Frances is a passionate advocate for LGBTQI+ rights, marriage equality and mental health awareness. She has a strong social media following and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Jessica Moody, 26 of Dingley Village co-founded Deafferent Theatre, an independent self-funded company supporting artists and audiences who are deaf or hearing impaired. Deafferent Theatre has staged two award-winning productions. Jessica was awarded the 2017 Access and Inclusion Award at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. As a Young Social Pioneer participant she received seed funding from the Lord Mayor's Charitable Fund. Deafferent Theatre has earned a prestigious in-house artist residency with the Malthouse Theatre.

Kate Nixon, 26 of Brighton has rapidly established her fashion label, Kat the Label, in the lingerie market. Her unique pieces are stocked online and in 30 other stores across Australia and New Zealand. Kate’s Instagram has grown to 26,000 followers. She has been featured in iconic publications including British Vogue, The Daily Mail and Grazia. Kate was honoured as a RMIT entrepreneur alumni in the fashion space.

Matthias Schack-Arnott, 29 of Preston is a percussive artist working in contemporary classical and experimental music. Matthias’ work has earned critical acclaim in iconic arts publications like The Guardian, The Wire and Artshub. He contributes to the percussive arts community by mentoring high school students and working with disadvantaged children. Matthias is the Artistic Associate of Speak Percussion and guest artist with leading groups like Melbourne Symphony and Malaysia Philharmonic Orchestras.


Bartercard Online Achievement Award

John Collins, 29 of Cremorne is the Co-Founder and VP of Product at Paddl Co. Paddl's web platform helps students gather and showcase experience and companies discover emerging talent. In 3 years Paddl has supported over 7000 young professionals, worked with over 600 companies in 12 countries, and now has 15 staff from 9 countries. Overseeing strategy, design, development John has grown Paddl and successfully raised $3.2M in grants and investments.

Lucy Yueting Liu, 27 of Toorak is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Airwallex. Airwallex is an online payment company which makes international business payments simpler, faster and cheaper. Lucy has spearheaded customer-centric product development, recruitment and talent retention, investment approach and workplace culture at Airwallex. She was named in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia for Finance. She is a board member of Fintech Australia, which supports the Australian Fintech Startup Community.

Yuma Soerianto, 11 of St Kilda West is one of the world’s youngest and most accomplished app and game developer. He has published six apps and games on the iOS App Store. His latest game, Let's Stack AR! was featured as Game of the Day. Yuma has been coding since he was six and his skills are self-taught. Yuma teaches coding on his YouTube channel and has worked with Apple in teaching programming to children.

William Strange, 28 of Abbotsford is CEO of SPT, an award-winning sports performance technology start-up. Buyers from over 90 countries have purchased SPT technologies and the business has over 20,000 social media followers. In three years, William has grown SPT from a home-based enterprise to 13 Australian staff members and a small US team. SPT has on-boarded over $7 million funding and was named in the top 50 sports start-ups globally.


Berry Street Create Change Award

Dan Poole, 24 of Melbourne founded Crepes for Change, a non-profit youth-led social enterprise aimed at eliminating youth homelessness. They provide underprivileged young people with tangible skills and professional development opportunities. Crepes for Change has donated $37,000 to Launch Housing and recently commenced a paid employment program enabling five vulnerable young people to complete 150 hours of paid employment and training. Other initiatives include monthly outreach sessions with 300 Blanket.

Joshua Berry, 12 of Mount Eliza founded '2 Pairs Each’, a charity to tackle the greatest needs of homeless people in Victoria. Joshua’s goal is to collect 50,000 pairs of brand new socks so that each of the 23,000 homeless people in Victoria can have two pairs of socks. So far 2 Pairs Each has collected over 17,000 pairs of socks, together with 2,300 items of warm clothing and blankets.

Whitney Yip, 28 of Brunswick West co-founded Body Safety Australia, providing violence and sexual abuse prevention education to families, early education centres, and schools. They deliver evidence-based, inclusive strategies including parent and carer workshops and professional development for education staff and those working with children. Whitney spoke at the 13th Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect and is a Board member of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.


The Victorian Government Group Achievement in the Community Award

Entrepreneurs Movement Club, Pakenham is a youth-led associated incorporation. The club was started by seven South Sudanese Australian young people to connect local Sudanese youth to the community and link them with further education and employment pathways. Entrepreneurs Movement Club delivers sporting events, workshops and mentoring programs and advocates for youth leadership. The incorporation is involved in several community consultations and engagement activities with the City of Greater Dandenong.

Geelong Edge Ensemble, Footscray is an emerging artists ensemble comprising eight culturally diverse young people, many of whom are refugees. The ensemble builds social and cultural inclusion through thought-provoking productions based on personal experience, including being subjected to prejudice or racial comments. Each member balances complex family, study and work commitments to dedicate many hours to writing, rehearsals and performances. Their original works build diversity in the Geelong arts scene.

Happy Brain Education, Rowville is a registered charity providing educational, social and mentoring support to disadvantaged young people. They provide heavily discounted academic tutoring and free one-on-one tutoring to refugee students. Happy Brain Education has raised $147,000 for a six-year-old boy’s heart surgery and $60,000 for a CD4 machine and health clinic in Uganda. They are currently working with UNICEF to create innovation labs in Al-Azraq refugee camp in Jordan.

MSRF Young Rural Leaders, Gooroc aims to develop leadership skills in rural Victoria’s young people. They run a six-day residential program to educate, support and connect. Participants are invited to complete coach training and become part of the leadership group. In 2017, the MSRF camp was run entirely by coaches who were past participants. MSRF has developed a network of over 300 young people committed to a thriving rural Victoria.


Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria Regional and Rural Health Award

Amy Whitten, 24 of Echuca established BEAM, a not-for-profit organisation aiming to change the perception of people living with a disability. BEAM incorporates occupational therapy and functional movement into a movement-to-music program for vulnerable children and families from rural communities, many of whom have additional needs. Amy was invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society, elected president of the Bendigo Occupational Therapy Student Association and actively advocates for inclusion.

Chelsea Sofra, 23 of Shepparton spearheaded development of two important mental health literacy resources aimed at school-goers. One is a ‘Stress Less’ booklet to support young people who are struggling while undergoing exams. The second is a ‘While You Wait’ resource for youth awaiting mental health services. Chelsea is a passionate volunteer at Headspace Shepparton, a program to enable young people to easily access help for problems affecting their wellbeing.

Kate Chalmers, 23 of Kinglake advocates for music, drama and the arts as drivers of enhanced wellbeing for young people. She co-founded the Steer Leadership program for youth mental health and recovery. Kate has conducted extensive outreach initiatives with secondary school students and youth councils with community events aimed at young people. She drove a collaborative project to deliver youth mental health first aid to all Kinglake teens.

Steffi Patience, 24 of Stawell has volunteered for Survivors of Suicide, a not-for-profit organisation supporting those affected by suicide and Wellbeing Wendouree, assisting disadvantaged students and their families. She organised a fundraiser to start a clothing and blanket drive; and provides extensive mentoring of disadvantaged youth. Steffi continued to volunteer even during a two-year period over which she was homeless. She is an accredited Youth Mental Health First Aider.


Academy Graphics Regional Achiever Award

Darcy McGlade, 20 of Scotts Creek actively improves the quality of life and wellbeing for his local community through his business, Diamer Signs. He was central to a Corangamite ICE Taskforce campaign, volunteering his time and business resources to make awareness-building trailers and billboards. Darcy recently undertook a yearlong collaborative project mapping the local coastline to enable enhanced emergency services response. He sponsors local events, mentors students and has received numerous citizenship awards.

Cody Chatfield, 22 of Warrnambool delivers significant support to vulnerable families in local and aboriginal communities. Through her work at Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative, Cody strives to reduce the numbers of Aboriginal children in child protection and out-of-home care. Her mother experienced mental health issues, which saw Cody become a carer to her siblings. Cody is a team leader at Gunditjmara and will soon complete her postgraduate certificate in family therapy.

Xavier Huxtable, 15 of Jan Juc is the youngest recipient of the Duke Kahanamoku Award, recognising outstanding performance and sportsmanship at the Australian Junior Surfing Titles. He is the first athlete to win the U/14 and U/16 divisions in consecutive years. Xavier is a role model to surfers to elevate their sport to elite levels. He is the youngest committee member and volunteers at fundraisers, administration and event management for the Torquay Boardriders Club.


Kangan Institute Inspirational TAFE Student Award

Christopher Klepacz, 18 of Hampton Park was born with Cerebral Palsy. He has overcome significant challenges to achieve strong IT capabilities and qualifications. Christopher earned his Cert II Information, Digital Media and Technology in 2017. He is currently working towards his Cert III Information, Digital Media and Technology while also completing his Year 12 education. Christopher uses modified equipment to work independently and offers proactive IT support to fellow students and teachers.

Tom Lobbe, 26 of Emerald advocates for increased awareness and eliminating stigma around mental health issues. Tom has schizophrenia and despite hearing voices almost constantly, learning difficulties and demeanour changes, he has achieved an overall grade of high distinction in his Diploma of Horticulture. Tom runs his own gardening business and volunteers as a mental health ambassador and openly shares his mental health story with others to increase understanding.

Dellareece Matson, 20 of Kilmore has been volunteering since she was eight. She volunteered at the National Day of People with Disability and is on the Mitchell Shires Youth Council. Dellareece is currently studying a Certificate IV in Disability. Dellareece juggles her studies with extensive volunteering including involvement in the Cyber Tattoo campaign on online safety, Rage Event, raising awareness of the LGBTQI+ community, and the Victorian Government’s ICE Action campaign.


2017 Finalists

Saward Dawson Community Service and Social Impact Award

Hiba Abd El Hamed, 21 of ALTONA MEADOWS is a former refugee. She is a human rights advocate and co-founder and President of AfroCare, a youth led not-for profit organisation. AfroCare addresses mental health issues and education within the African community, in a culturally and religiously sensitive manner. As one of 10 UNICEF Australian Young Ambassadors, Hiba authored the “Things that Matter” report, consulting 1,500 children about things that mattered to them.

Laura Pintur, 24 of MOUNT ELIZA co-founded “What’s Normal”, a program to engage and educate young people about the issues related to pornography and how it impacts our society. Workshops, 'Living in a Pornified Culture', equip young people to be creators of culture, not just consumers. Laura spear-headed a campaign to remove Zoo Magazine from supermarket shelves, gathering 40,000 signatures and ultimately causing the magazine’s closure. She has numerous written media articles and has appeared on Radio and TV.

Nick Pearce, 23 of BOX HILL is CEO and co-founder of 'Homeless of Melbourne Incorporated' and has raised $100,000 for the homeless community of Melbourne. In 2015 the first HoMie Street Store opened. The store raises money through apparel sales and donations. It also provides a retail training and employment program for young people currently experiencing homelessness. The Homeless of Melbourne Facebook page has more than 30,000 followers. Nick was also the spokesperson for Headspace’s national ‘Tear Down the Stigma’ campaign.

Bartercard Online Achievement Award

Morgan Ranieri, 27 of BRUNSWICK EAST is the creator of YourGrocer, an online marketplace. It connects busy grocery shoppers with their local independent shops. YourGrocer delivers hundreds of orders across Melbourne every week and has also started deliveries in Sydney. 150 local businesses are involved to date, providing fresh, quality groceries delivered to the customer’s door. YourGrocer supports small businesses and is helping to revolutionise the way we buy groceries. Morgan was also involved with building Thankyou Water's online presence.

Josh Caratelli, 20 of SOUTH MELBOURNE is an award winning game developer. He has created Xbox, iPhone and PlayStation games including Don Bradman Cricket 17 and the eco-themed Smog Game, educating children about reducing their carbon footprint. Josh won the 2014 STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Challenge and with his prize money, created a scholarship to assist women and disadvantaged youth get into game development. He lecturers and speaks on topics of coding, STEM diversity and education.

Richard Li & David Wei -, 28 of KEW co-created Brosa, an online retailer to revolutionise how people buy furniture. They use in-house built technology to power its entire supply chain including the design of furniture, manufacturing, storage, sales and delivery. Brosa is able to launch 50 new furniture designs each week, and sells its products online to consumers across Australia. Now with a team of 60, Brosa is planning international expansion for its Melbourne-designed products.

Victoria University Research Impact Award

Dr Amgad Rezk, 29 of MELBOURNE received the prestigious RMIT Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellowship and is a Winston Churchill Fellow. He co-leads the Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory. They develop and commercialise handheld mega-Hertz nebulisers, for needle-free medicine administration and lung disease treatment. This technology delivers sensitive bio-particles such as DNA, peptides, proteins and cells without detrimental effects to their structural and functional viability. Amgad has co-authored 20 leading journal papers and his research work has been featured nationally and internationally. 

Dr Katrina Witt, 29 of FITZROY is an international leader in suicide prevention research, mapping the trajectory from self-harm to suicide. She pioneered a unique analysis method to illuminate associated and cumulative suicide risk factors. Her research will provide world-first evidence for new risk assessments and management, showing a significant reduction in suicide risk by timely intervention and treatments. Katrina has published 21 papers and presented at ten international conferences. She was awarded the prestigious 2016 Rod Rickards Fellowship. 

Dr Lucie Bland, 25 of FITZROY NORTH is a Research Fellow. She develops process-based models to assess risk, focusing on functional declines in marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. Her work will improve understanding of the risks to Victorian ecosystems, creating a path forward to sustainable management. Lucie’s work has been published in leading international journals and she has several papers in review and preparation. Lucie volunteers for the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, coordinating global ecosystem conservation research. 

Dr Sumeet Walia, 28 of MELBOURNE is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Engineering. He specialises in the use of metal oxides for the next-generation of nano-electronics. His research includes wearable electronics, artificial electronic memories and high-speed transistors. Sumeet has 34 peer-reviewed publicataions, presented his findings at prestigious international conferences and holds three patents. Sumeet was named in the top 10 innovators under 35 in Asia and one of his discoveries featured in the Top 100 innovations list.

The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award

Claire Goldsworthy, 27 of BRIGHTON is founder and editor of The Fashion Advocate, a digital magazine dedicated to Australian fashion and beauty. She also created The Dress Collective, Australia’s largest online store for Australian made fashion, featuring ethical and sustainable fashion. Claire was awarded a Fashion Scholarship and has worked with international labels in New York and Berlin. She planned and executed the Tenerife Festival Fashion Precinct and hosted the Fashion Advocate Runway in the 2017 Melbourne Fashion Festival. 

Isaiah Firebrace, 17 of ECHUCA won X Factor Australia in 2016 and secured a contract with Sony Music. He released his debut studio album “Isaiah” which peaked at number 12 on the Australian Albums Chart. Isaiah has been honoured with representing Australia in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest with his song "Don't Come Easy". Isaiah gives his singing competition prize money to the family as the sole income earner. He would like one day, to buy them a house. 

Lisa Cheney, 29 of FITZROY NORTH composes contemporary-classical music. She has worked with The Australian Ballet and both the Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. Lisa is completing her PhD in Music and has received numerous scholarships and fellowships. She is also the Faculty Academic Assistant and tutor in music composition and theory. Lisa is the founder of a Women in Composition group and co-curator of ‘Making Waves’, an online listening space dedicated to Australian composers and composition. 

Penelope Min Ferguson, 29 of UPPER FERNTREE GULLY is the creator of Min Pin, an illustration based design label, specialising in fine jewellery, ceramics and textiles. Penelope was a finalist in Yen Magazine’s Young Female Art Award and won the Art, Illustration and Paper Design category of the 2015 Etsy Design Awards. She was invited by The National Gallery of Victoria to create Min Pin based activities for their 2017 Kids Summer Festival. Min Pin is now stocked internationally.


The Victorian Government Group Achievement in the Community Award

I CAN South West, 24 of WARRNAMBOOL is a subsidiary of Australia’s first social enterprise founded by people with Autism. They offer mentoring, social activities, advocacy and support to young people on the Autism Spectrum. Mentees have spoken to Members of parliament to promote Autism advocacy. The participants of I CAN South West work together in fortnightly mentoring sessions. They challenge traditional perceptions of Autism and drive a rethink of Autism from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’. 

Y-House Foundation Junior Committee, 25 of ELSTERNWICK assists ‘The Y-House Foundation’ to support young people who have suffered traumatic brain and spinal injuries and are living in aged care. The volunteer Junior Committee assists with the Y-House Foundation’s goal to build a transitional rehab facility for young people. They manage donations, fundraising events, awareness campaigns, marketing and social media. The committee created a successful partnership with burger franchise, Grill’d, holding ‘Grill’d Weekends’, raising $30,000. 

Happy Brain Education, 23 of ROWVILLE is a social enterprise for young people experiencing social disadvantage. They provide access to educational resources, mentoring, support, volunteering opportunities and life experiences. Tutoring is provided at a very affordable $10 an hour. After covering running costs such as rent and insurance, the profits go to causes that the students are passionate about. They raised $147,000 for a six year old to have heart surgery and $9,500 was raised for a CD4 machine.


CFA Volunteer Excellence Award

Alphonse Mulashe, 18 of NORLANE arrived as a refugee in 2010. He has completed Year 11 and as the eldest son cares for and supports his family. Alphonse voluntarily coordinates the Congolese Independence Day and Pako Festa, Victoria’s largest Multicultural Festival. He is a Lions Licola Camp youth leader, a member of his church choir and the Congolese Community Choir where he shares his culture through music. As a Youth Ambassador he mentors young people from refugee and CALD backgrounds.

Jake Nankervis, 17 of GROVEDALE has a strong commitment to community and social justice and volunteers for multiple groups. He is a leader in VIBE, a group of young people enhancing social connection and mental health whilst raising funds for various charities. Jake is also a leader in the Green Effect Movement and is passionate about the environment and sustainability. He recently travelled to New York and was involved in the Global Centre for the Responsibility Project. 

Nahkita Wolfe, 25 of ABBOTSFORD voluntarily organises and leads Camp Quality camps and is an advocate for people on the Autism Spectrum, at the ‘I CAN’ Network. She has spent between 20 and 70 hours each week over the past two years volunteering with many organisations, including Global Ideas, festival21, Torque, YEAH, AMSA, and the World Food Programme. She has undertaken these volunteer commitments whilst simultaneously completing full-time honours research, a medical degree, and working part-time. 

Wyatt Kilgower, 20 of PORT ALBERT is 4th Lieutenant and Education officer at Port Albert CFA. He has also volunteered for six years at Woodside Beach Surf Life Saving Club as club captain, patrol captain, first aid officer and is now second in charge. He will facilitate Bronze Surf Life Saving camp this year as Chief Instructor. Wyatt has volunteered in Cusco Peru to build greenhouses and has received community achievement Awards. He is also currently studying to become a paramedic. 

WFI Insurance Small Business Achiever Award

Anna Ross, 29 of COLLINGWOOD founded Kester Black, a nail polish line and an ethical cosmetics company with a positive social impact. Her product has Australian Made, Vegan Society, and Cruelty Free accreditations and is the first cosmetics company in the world to become B Corp certified. Kester Black has grown from and $18,000 to $470,000 annual turnover in just three years. Anna has donated $76,000 to charities and was named 2016 Telstra Australian Young Business Woman of the Year. 

Dale Barnett, 29 of DANDENONG SOUTH is the founder and Director of Biofuel Innovations, where he has created a sustainable biotechnology process to turn waste cooking oil into biodiesel. A chemical engineer by trade, Dale learnt basic welding and electrical work to assist with the plant construction. Biofuel Innovations generates $2.4 million revenue annually. Dale provides a course-accredited internship program for university students. Biofuel Innovations was selected as the Face of Small Business in the 2016 Small Business Festival. 

Mark McDonald, 24 of MELBOURNE co-founded Appster, a multi award winning mobile app development company. Appster is a market leader in Australia and is fast expanding in the USA. They have 350 staff and are on track to achieve $100m a year in revenue by 2018. The Appster University in India puts graduates through an intensive six month course, upskilling them for roles in Appster’s development centre. Appster has developed apps for more than 200 companies and brands.


Bart 'N' Print Health and Wellbeing Award

Amy Whitten, 23 of ECHUCA volunteers as the co-director, program designer, dance teacher and coordinator at BEAM All Abilities Dance and Fitness. Amy also teaches and supports people with disabilities in public shows, activities, and concerts. She is a strong advocate for creating an inclusive community where all feel empowered and valued. Amy volunteers at University events, is President of the Occupational Therapy Student Association and is in the final year of her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy. 

Jessie-Anne Kenworthy, 23 of GEELONG is in her final year of Medicine. She volunteered for several months in a Ugandan health centre, with no electricity or running water. She assisted with delivering babies, vaccinations and helped set up a HIV clinic. Jessie-Anne and her sister created the ‘Light up Mannya campaign’, raising $40,000, and sending 4,000 solar lights to a Ugandan Village. These lights help improve education through home study, reduced costs and stopped fires and burns from kerosene lamps. 

Nikolina Mabic, 22 of WILLIAMSTOWN is a graduate filmmaker. Her film “Unspoken”, about parental abuse won Best Film at the Hobsons Bays Project Film Festival. Her documentary, "The First Giant Hurdle" about mental health will premier soon. She has also created ‘Spare Capacity’, a website and workshops to give young women holistic tools to combat mental illness. Nikolina was selected into the Foundation for Young Australians YSP program and won the 2017 Hobsons Bay Young Citizen of the Year. 

Vi Tran, 27 of FOOTSCRAY is a psychologist who volunteers for many organisations. She volunteered at SHINE for Kids, facilitating programs in prisons, and assisting vulnerable young people with a relative in the criminal justice system. Vi is currently psychologist for Jennings Street School, Doncare Community Services and The Oaks Psychology. She has co-developed two creative group programs for children and adults, developing innovative ways to educate about stress management strategies, anxiety management, strengths and mental health resilience. 

First National Real Estate Leadership Award

Chris Varney, 29 of KEW is the founder and CEO of the ‘I CAN’ Network. The Network is a mentoring and training social enterprise run predominantly by people on the Autism Spectrum with 50% of its Board and team required to be on the spectrum. He created ‘AWEgust for AWEtism’, raising $80,000 to support the mission of the ‘I CAN’ Network. Chris speaks at forums and created the TEDx talk, ‘Autism – How My Unstoppable Mother Proved the Experts Wrong’. 

Hunter Johnson, 25 of MELBOURNE is the CEO of ‘The Man Cave’, a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence program for young men. He has designed and delivered youth and leadership programs and social entrepreneurship incubator programs. As a keynote speaker, Hunter speaks about philanthropy, social enterprise, and what it takes to raise healthy contributing young men. Hunter co-founded Kids in Philanthropy, a not‐for‐profit organisation, focusing on building children’s social awareness, social conscience and the practice of giving. 

Nick Pearce, 23 of BOX HILL has raised $100,000 for the Melbourne homeless community. As CEO and founder of the HoMie (Homeless of Melbourne Incorporated Enterprise) Street Store, $600,000 income has been generated under his leadership. HoMie is a social enterprise creating pathways out of homelessness. The Homeless of Melbourne Facebook page has been heralded as the “most influential social movement in Melbourne”. Nick won the 2015 Big Gun Media Award and the 2016 Australian anti-poverty Award. 

Thomas Banks, 26 of GEELONG WEST wrote and published “Through the eyes of a person with a disability” when he was 16. He will be touring nationally with his one man show, “Someone like Thomas Banks”, and is working on an autobiographic film “The Power of Love”. Thomas is the creator and director of the Centre for Access, a specialised training service to businesses who employ people with a disability. Centre for Access also facilitates disability awareness workshops.


2016 Finalists

CFA Young Volunteer Excellence Award

• Khurram Khan, 21 of WERRIBEE
• Sarah Kenworthy, 18 of GEELONG
• Ryan Wheeler, 24 of MAFFRA

Bart 'N' Print Health and Wellbeing Award
• Jeremy Samson, 28 of VERMONT
• Michelle Connell, 27 of SUNBURY
• Jamin Heppell, 25 of BRUNSWICK EAST

The Victorian Government Small Business Achievement Award
• Shannan Gove - Event Workforce, 26 of RICHMOND
• Aimee Marks - TOM Organic, 29 of ST KILDA
• Kristy Sellars - PhysiPole Studios, 29 of BALLARAT

Victoria University Research Impact Award
• Georgia Atkin-Smith, 23 of QUANTONG
• April Philpott, 28 of ARMADALE
• Briony Murphy, 27 of SOUTHBANK
• Dr Francois Petitjean, 28 of CARNEGIE

The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award
• Joshua Muir, 24 of NAPOLEONS
• Lilikoi Kaos, 27 of COLLINGWOOD
• Fablice Manirakiza, 26 of NOBLE PARK
• Tristan Lucas, 26 of BELMONT

The Victorian Government Group Achievement in the Community Award
• Unite Alliance Program - City of Greater Dandenong Youth Services, of Dandenong
• Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC), of Melbourne
• Indigenous Group, of Whittlesea

Saward Dawson Community Service and Social Impact Award
• Dean Cohen, 24 of ELSTERNWICK
• Thomas Banks, 25 of GEELONG WEST
• Robert Gilies, 25 of CANTERBURY

The University of Melbourne Science and Technology Award
• Dr Vi Khanh Truong, 29, SUNSHINE
• Dr Julia Marchingo, 27 of SURREY HILLS
• Christopher Baker, 26 of NORTH MELBOURNE
• Kyra Schwarz, 28 of BRUNSWICK

AustralianSuper Career Kick Start Award
• Julia Truong, 22 of ST ALBANS
• Sarah Leung, 28 of BRIGHTON
• Kristy Sellars, 29 of BALLARAT


2015 Finalists

The Coffee Club Arts and Fashion Award

• Rebecca Clark, 28 of Collingwood
• Bek Berger, 26 of Brunswick
• Gemma Topliss, 19 of East Kew

BASF Science and Technology Award
• Timothy Crouch, 28 of Hawthorn
• Adam Kessler, 26 of Malvern East
• David Riglar, 28 of Melbourne
• Jacqui Delaney, 27 of Greensborough

Victorian Government Innovation Award
• Elsje Jordan, 25 of Fitzroy
• Alastair Pryor, 25 of North Fitzroy
• Meera Fernandes, 21 of Ashburton
• Northern Grampians Shire Youth Action Council of Stawell

Academy Graphics Regional Achiever Award
• Htoo Kolo, 18 of Corio
• Chelsea McGhee, 24 of Sorrento
• Jacinta Masters, 24 of Ballan
• Jessi McEwan, 21 of Morwell

Bartercard Online Achievement Award
• Tzvi Balbin, 27 – DataSauce of Caulfield North
• Andrew Armstrong & Long Zheng, 27 of Melbourne
• Lewis Romano, 28 – of Melbourne

First National Real Estate Leadership Award
• Jacqueline Teh, 19 of Glen Waverley
• Georgia Retallick, 23 of Elsternwick
• Ngaree Blow, 25 of Parkville

Victorian Government Small Business Achievement Award
• Lisa Du, 27 – ReadyTechGo of Forest Hill
• Michael Bird, Andrew Archibald and George Glover 26 - Social Garden of Richmond
• Caitlyn Calder, 25 - Coco Red Hair & Beauty of Maryborough
• Paul O’Shea, 28 - CS Town Planning Services of Glen Iris

AustralianSuper Career Kick Start Award
• Julia Doeven, 27 of Wantirna South
• Kate McLean, 25 of Reservoir
• Lara Mayze, 24 of Geelong

Saward Dawson Community Service and Volunteering Award
• Mark Green, 24 of Wodonga
• Jessica Barlow, 23 of Knox
• Daniel Kuzeff, 25 of South Melbourne
• Morgan Cataldo, 27 of Footscray