7NEWS Young Achiever Awards WA
Spirit Super Connecting Communities Award
Elyssa Giedraitis of Wongan Hills, is committed to connecting smaller communities into one thriving business community. Elyssa created a community project called Behind The Business (BTB), where Wheatbelt businesses can promote their business, events and job availabilities for free and find educational resources to help and grow their business. In 2022, BTB promoted 93 businesses, 23 events and 17 job openings and posted 32 educational resources.
Jake O'Brien of Kulin, is passionate about improving the community’s quality of life. Jake is a full-time medical student. He is Chair of Type 1 Diabetes Collective, a community organisation specialising in peer support and advocacy for people with type 1 diabetes. Jake conducts monthly meetings with executive members, local community stakeholders and healthcare professionals to plan and deliver educational events in a community-based setting.
Neeka Zand of Como, advocates for increasing well-being spaces. After speaking with people at risk, Neeka initiated and led Right By You, a youth peer-to-peer suicide prevention website to help young people develop the skills and confidence to respond and help a friend in need. Neeka developed the “Aftercare Supports Following A Suicide Attempt” booklet. She also led the Cultural Conversations Forum in November 2022.
Ruby Liddelow of Falcon, is driven by community. Ruby has been an events and youth leadership volunteer and mentor with YOH Fest, Primadonna Productions, Murray Music & Drama, the Making Waves Youth Strategy Forum and other arts festivals around WA since 2010. Ruby is also an independent artist who conceptualised, produced, and directed Bard in the Bush, three summers of empowering Mandurah young people to make Shakespearian theatre their own in a local amphitheatre.
First National Real Estate Innovation Award
Ebony Lane of East Perth, is the social media director of Perth is OK!, an independent media outlet. She leads the social strategy and team to achieve high engagement, continued growth across all channels and effective campaigns. Since Ebony joined Perk is OK! in 2021, its social media following has increased by 420,980. The @perthisok.local Instagram account managed by Ebony has also grown to 86,300 followers.
MyTab of Yallingup, Pro surfing sisters Mikaela and Eliza Greene are making waves in the tech industry with MyTab, the national award-winning hospitality application that facilitates contactless food and beverage ordering. Proudly WA owned, MyTab has excelled with 15 venues and over 10,000 customers. MyTab is positively disrupting traditional ordering methods within the hospitality industry, providing economic empowerment for venues, increasing hygienic practices, convenience and accessibility for all users.
Radiant of Atwell, is a youth-led organisation founded in 2020 to provide young people with the skills, tools, knowledge and opportunities to contribute to social change. In 2022, they developed Bright Generation, a travelling careers education program where young volunteers with a range of academic and professional backgrounds travel to regional schools and run career and personal development activities with high school students.
Swimming on the Spectrum of Oakford, is committed to enhancing the lives of people living with disabilities. Swimming on the Spectrum was launched in July 2020 by providing inclusive aquatic sessions in safe, secure and supportive environments to children and adults with autism spectrum disorder, development details and other abilities. They provide specially tailored sessions and a visual schedule designed with their unique abilities in mind.
Surge Fitness Sports Award
Annabella Thompson of Broome, has represented Broome in state and national competitions in multiple sports over the last 12 months. She Trains in athletics, Jui Jitsu, boxing, and football. She took home twenty-three medals in athletics alone and In November 2022, she broke the Discus Throw Record at the NT Athletics State Championships. She is a community Junior coach for multiple sports within the Kimberley Community.
Cruz Hogan of Osborne Park, is an elite Javelin Thrower. In 2022, Cruz represented Australia at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA. He also won gold at the Oceania Championships with a new personal best and Championship record. Cruz is currently a Western Australian Institute of Sport scholarship athlete. In 2021, he completed his PhD in Sports Science & Exercise Physiology at the University of Western Australia.
Emma O'Driscoll of Como, is an AFLW player who has been named to the 22under22 AFLW team for the third time in four seasons. Within the last four years, Emma has played 35 AFLW games and completed a 4-year physiotherapy degree at Curtin University. She works as a Support Worker with an NDIS Provider and coaches AFLW youth girls at FFC and Santa Maria College.
Kayden Minear of Carabooda, is a junior motocross rider who has won nine Australian titles in his junior career. He won the Australian Pro Mx 2022 Championship, where he competed against seniors while still a junior. Kayden has been selected to ride as a professional KTM rider in 2023. Kayden trains with an elite coach. He has assisted in helping children with their riding skills.
Riverbank Estate Restaurant Tourism and Hospitality Award
Alana Hammond of Victoria Park, is the Business Development Manager of Visit Mandurah, the tourism body for Mandurah and its surrounds. She has worked alongside stakeholders to support growth, positioning Mandurah as a great place to live, visit and do business in. One of her major projects was the Mandurah50 campaign, which offered a 50% discount on bookable tourism offerings during a quiet period in Mandurah.
James Higgs of Treeby, Head Chef at Lulu La Delizia, a pasta and wine bar specialising in premium pasta. After starting in 2017 and working his way up, James stepped into the Head Chef position in 2021. Whilst managing all aspects of the kitchen James prides himself on driving the exceptional workplace culture of Lulu’s. James led the kitchen whilst Lulu’s was awarded two “Restaurant of the Year” awards in ‘22.
Phoebe Tan of Perth, conceptualised Lume Collective Perth, a multidisciplinary art exhibition envisioned to create a space for young creatives targeting taboo topics and sharing stories through art. In January 2022, they launched Lume - Collective One, which enabled young Christian creatives to tell their mental health stories through art. Phoebe was its acting director, curator and designer. They welcomed 400 visitors during the one-week exhibition.
Tijuana Rocco of Busselton, strives for a sustainable future. Tijuana is the venue manager at TapHouse, a hospitality venue of Rocky Ridge Brewing Co. She oversees the customer-facing aspect of the business, ensuring that the venue is welcoming, warm and inviting. Tijuana organises charity events and donation drives, team meetings focused on staff well-being, and local musicians’ performances. She promotes recycled packaging and carbon neutrality.
Masonic Care WA/Freemasons WA Community Service and Volunteering Award
Ben Healy of Wembley, founded Give Write, a charity that takes donations of new and used school stationery to recycle, repackage, and re-gift to kids in need in WA. As of December 2022, they have distributed almost 10,000 Give Write Packs. Ben’s roles include delivering and collecting donations to schools, conducting presentations, and hosting the Free Teachers’ Store for teachers who visit Give Write.
Drisana Levitzke-Gray of Balga, is a lifelong advocate and activist for the Deaf community, having served on numerous boards since age 16. She spent a decade on the board of the Western Australian Association of the Deaf and volunteered as an ambassador with Our Watch, Full Stop Foundation, and Deaf Australia. Drisana consistently finds time in her busy schedule, including fostering 15 cats with Cat Haven WA during her university studies.
Lucy Stronach of West Leederville, is a Program Manager at the Minderoo Foundation working to reform the youth justice system. Previously, she was a Youth Programs Officer in Local Government where she created several initiatives for young people. Lucy volunteers with the Hello Initiative to create better outcomes for youth involved with the justice system and from 2020-21 was the Australian Youth Representative to the UN and Vice President of UN Youth WA.
Tara Lord of Yokine, uses Animal-Assisted Therapy to provide support to those in need. Tara and her adopted dog, Loki, travelled to Melbourne to be accredited as a therapy team. They have since visited mental health facilities, disability group homes, homeless housing, schools, and more. As a result, a mental health hospital saw a 29% decrease in PRN medication since the therapy was run.
Catholic Education Young Leadership Award
Drisana Levitzke-Gray of Balga, is a dedicated advocate for Deaf human rights and a strong leader for the community. Serving on the board of Western Australian Association of the Deaf for a decade, she champions accessible information and events in Auslan, always challenging the preconceived misconceptions of Deaf people’s ability to lead independent and successful lives. Her inspiring leadership inspires others to make each day better than the last.
Samuel Thomas of Gosnells, Founded Sam's Spares, a not-for-profit organisation that refurbishes and repairs discarded computer electronics and provides them free of charge to the most vulnerable members of society through its Peer-Partner network. Sam also offers one-on-one mentoring for neurodivergent individuals, teaching repair and refurbishment skills and empowering them for future employment. Sam's Spares positively impacts the environment and communities by bridging the gap between e-waste and people in need.
Tara Lord of Yokine, is a leader for Armed for Life, which aims to reduce shame and stigma around mental health, break down barriers, become a leader in the community and support others through mental health. She is also a Youth Ambassador for the Mental Health Foundation of Australia. Tara has created an initiative that uses animal-assisted therapy to provide support to those in need.
Wil Massara of Bunbury, launched Youth Leadership Academy Australia (YLAA) with a decision to start fighting for young people and our future at 15 years old. Over the past five years YLAA has positively impacted over 50,000 young people empowering them to lead themselves, their schools and our communities across Australia. In late 2022, he transformed YLAA into a social enterprise, with 100% of the profits funding youth suicide prevention.
National Indigenous Times Indigenous Community Leadership Award
Braedan Taylor of Broome, is the first Indigenous male ranger coordinator in the Kimberley region and the youngest to have the role. He has been working in the country for seven years. Braedan has led in remote field work and collaborated with scientists, state government agencies and other experts in a two-way science and knowledge exchange. He is an all-rounder in remote rescue and recovery.
Cohen Taylor, is a WA Police Force member. He has organised men’s and women’s basketball teams from Morawa. He is a facilitator of the Youth In Emergency Services Program, where he teaches about emergency services. He is also a facilitator of the Morawa Blue Light Unit, running events for local youth to ensure they remain active and feel valued by the community.
Jacob Collard of Midvale, has been an Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee member. He has implemented policies, processes and programs in the prisons and helped build the capability of Aboriginal Services. Jacob also mentors probationary constables to be good police officers. He is also a lead dancer for Djoona and has led many traditional dances for his family and children in the care of the state.
Jofrarn Hunter of Derby, has worked as a Kununnura Development Officer with Garnduwa Amboorny Wirnan. She utilized her passion for sports to become a positive role model. Together with her then-boss, JoFrarn serviced remote communities, running sports and activities for children in remote Aboriginal communities. In 2022, she moved to Derby and has stepped up into a higher role to manage other young people who are starting their career journey with Garnduwa.
Awards Australia Small Business Achiever Award
Aroha Care Group of North Perth, is driven by a passion for caring for the community. Aroha Care Group was launched in October 2020 as a staffing agency for the Aged Care Industry. Aroha Care Group connects healthcare professionals, organisations, and people to provide end-to-end recruitment healthcare solutions. They have comprehensive experience in the placement of industry personnel. In 2022, they opened a branch in Sydney, NSW.
Elyssa Giedraitis of Wongan Hills, created EJG Creative after seeing that not enough rural and regional businesses were using the Internet to its full potential. She currently offers a range of social media services including full management, curated strategies, social media audits, and content creation. Elyssa invests in education to offer the best services. Since 2019, EJG has helped over 60 regional and rural small businesses.
Fly2 Health Group of East Perth, is committed to bringing healthcare to the doorstep. Fly2 Health is a regional and remote service-only healthcare organisation. They operate their own fleet of aircraft and have four in-house health professions: physiotherapy, psychology, speech therapy and occupational therapy. They currently serve over 30 rural locations, including three remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and Queensland, and engage over 40 clinical staff.
Madelines Jewellery by Design of Bunbury, is a manufacturing jeweller, gold and silversmith, diamond setter and designer who started her business from home in March/April 2020, when Covid started. She also sells direct to the public online or through her retail store/workshop, where clients can even watch her work. Madeline now has two employees. She is environmentally conscious and committed to using only ethically sourced stones.
Inspirational Australians Podcast Regional Service Award
Grace Crogan of Maylands, advocates for the value of arts offerings in regional places. Grace is a volunteer Executive Board Director and Secretary for Regional Arts WA and Chair of its Youth Sub Committee. She gathers voices of regional young people around the challenges they experience in their unique communities, access barriers, and their needs that can be addressed through arts and cultural activities.
Jessica Bikaun of North Perth, works with beekeepers throughout WA to improve bee health. For almost a decade, she has been an ambassador for bee research and biosecurity through the Bee Industry Council of WA and UWA. As our State’s Bee Biosecurity Officer at DPIRD, Jess delivers research-informed training on managing bee pests and diseases. This year, she's set to receive her doctorate for her significant contribution to the science of bee biosecurity.
Joshua Patrick of Northam, has delivered motivational talks on pride, inner strength, resilience, and leadership to disengaged students. He has presented at TedX and Carers WA Conference. Joshua has volunteered with Telethon Kids Institute, Youth Advisory Council of WA and Australian Youth Affairs Coalition. He has also been a formal ambassador for Carers WA, Carers Australia, Perth Children’s Hospital, Kalparrin and Valuing Children Initiative.
Tom Price Emergency Service Cadet Corps of Tom Price, is passionate about making the community safer. Developed by CadetsWA, the Cadet program teaches 11-18-year-olds life skills pertaining to emergency services. Around 1,800 students have gone through the program since 2000. Over the past 10 years, this unit has completed over 30,000 community service hours in Tom Price and Paraburdoo communities. It has also raised money for nine defibrillators.