On behalf of the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia, I am pleased to announce the winners of the 20th year of the WA Youth Awards 2018.
The WA Youth Awards which have provided a platform to recognise our most amazing, inspirational and dedicated young people. These are young people committed to their community, helping others and thinking outside of the box.
The Minister for Youth’s Most Outstanding Youth Worker Award: Jessica Vati
Jessica has worked with the Street Net Youth Service in Mandurah for nine years, and has worked in the youth sector for almost two decades. For much of her time at Street Net, Jess has been the sole youth worker, and has worked tirelessly to develop and deliver programs for young people in the region.
Jess was instrumental in bringing the Nighthoops Basketball program to Mandurah and Pinjarra when no other agency could. She is also passionate about supporting Indigenous culture and has been actively involved in getting camps for indigenous young people in care reinstated.
Jess consistently delivers strong outcomes for young people, and often forfeits her own work time to assist young people who need a hand, including transporting a young person to Perth to attend Court hearings and to advocate on their behalf when they had no family members able to provide support. She is described as the most professional, hardworking youth workers in the sector in the Peel region.
The Hope Community Services Positive Achievement Award: Dale Rollason
Dale is a sister, a carer, an educator, a bus driver and an inspiration. Dale works at Broome Primary School as an Aboriginal Education Officer and the School Based Attendance Officer. She is responsible for coordinating the complex attendance strategies, and has had direct positive impacts and outcomes on improving school attendance, student wellbeing, strengthening student cultural identity.
She also displays incredible strength and commitment to her family. She has been studying Education full time at University, whilst helping to raise her sisters and guide them through high school.
A quote she gave to the ABC about her school bus efforts sums her up: “My home life and background was not one that was easy… a lot of violence, stuff everyone goes through and a lot of my students go through as well. I feel like me knowing that and empathising, that’s really what drives me. I want to give those kids the faith they can do it just like anyone else.”
The Mission Australia Cultural Endeavours Award: Kamsani Bin Salleh
Kam is an Aboriginal illustrator who reflects the natural world with his intricate designs, and he uses his artwork as a platform to share knowledge and educate others about culture. His love of art was developed in his teenage years, when he attended Scotch College as a MADALAH scholarship holder. As an Aboriginal man, Kam has had to overcome and challenge negative stereotypes that society often portrays on him. He uses his art to overcome this disadvantage, and as a way to express himself and bring stories of his people alive, telling stories of his descendants and highlighting the richness of Aboriginal culture.
Kam also contributes to his community, working with the ICEA foundation to share his art in schools, and runs numerous school art programs across Perth. He is also the 2018 Festival Director of the Kambarang Festival where he aims to provide everyone with a meaningful experience with Noongar Culture. He also recently designed and donated his artwork for use for the MADALAH Ball, the largest fundraising event for Indigenous Education in WA.
The YMCA Organisational Achievement Award – Large: Town of Bassendean
The Town of Bassendean Youth Services developed the RYDE (Regional Youth Driving Education) program in 2015 in response to legislative changes in obtaining a driver’s license. RYDE links volunteer driving mentors to young people to improve their driving ability and reach the required 50 hours of driving to obtain their licence.
The program helps to overcome disadvantage for those who do not have experienced driver mentors to support them, or for families without access to a vehicle or to the finances to complete the required hours of driving experience. Since the RYDE program commenced tow and a half years ago, Bassendean Youth Services have been able to assist over 350 young people. The progression to being safe, competent drivers affords young people with opportunities that may have been affected by lack of transport, distance and the requirement to hold a driver’s license.
The Life Without Barriers Organisational Achievement Award – Small: Youth Disability Advocacy Network
YDAN are a group of young people living positive lives and endeavoring to support others living with a disability. They also focus on building the community’s awareness of disability and inclusion. All members are volunteers who commit their time and skills so that other young people living with disabilities can have an impact on decisions that ultimately affect them. The members are often silently coping with medical, sensory or physical issues daily, that are ‘managed’ rather than used as an excuse to not pitch in.
The group deliver presentations to professional and youth groups on topics related to youth and disability. They developed a presentation on Sexuality and Disability titled “You’re doing it Wrong”- tackling often a topic that is considered taboo, but one needs to be openly discussed. They also deliver an introduction to the concepts of disability titled “Disability 101”.
YDAN are a strong reference group for accessibility issues and has also began making regional trips to educate high school groups.
The ECU Community Leadership Award: Drisana Levitzke-Gray
Drisana is a disability rights campaigner and has been actively involved with the Deaf community locally, nationally and internationally, her entire life. She was one of the founding members of Deaf Youth Australia, and at just 16, she was the youngest board member to be elected for the Western Australian Association of the Deaf. In the years that have followed, she has continued to mentor other deaf young people, and to lobby government and corporates for greater support for Auslan. This has led to the addition of Auslan to the school curriculum and changes to the NDIS to provide greater support for young deaf people and their families.
In 2015, she was named Young Australian of the Year, and she continues to use her platform to raise awareness about the human rights of Deaf children in Australia, as well as presenting on the issue internationally.
The Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award: Scott Guerini
After learning about helping others during a lesson at 4-year-old Kindy, Scott decided he needed to do something to help sick kids and babies. Despite his parents objections, he decided to walk the 25km from his farm to town, raising funds from around the community. On his walk day, he crossed the finish line in 8 hours and 40 minutes saying, “I now know I can do anything!”
From that moment on Scott has dedicated his life to helping others. He has walked almost 500km in the past nine years, at the tender age of 12, has raised over $145,000 for Telethon. He now speaks at schools, clubs and corporate events, talking about dealing with pressure and the importance talking to someone to when you’re not feeling great. He has also written and published a book called ‘Did You know, You can Change the World?’ and has sold over 1,000 copies with proceeds going to Telethon.
The RAC Innovation for a Sustainable Future Award: Bella Burgemeister
Bella is extremely passionate about sustainability and community. In January 2017, she wrote a book titled “Bella’s Challenge”, which is focussed on the United Nations 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, re-written in “kid-speak” allowing children and young people to easily access information, create challenges and take action. All primary schools in her region now have a copy of the book, and Bella has spoken to schools in the South West, South Australia, and Victoria, about sustainability.
She has sold over 500 books with all profits going to local sustainability projects like her Homeless Locker Initiative. This project – all Bella’s idea – was to fund for lockers in the Bunbury CBD so that people experiencing homelessness had somewhere to store their belongings. At just 11, she became a member of the Bunbury Youth Reference Group to understand council process. Late last year, the Bunbury City Council unanimously agreed the need for lockers and approved funding of $30,000 for 24 lockers to be installed in Bunbury.
The Charmaine Dragun Memorial Award: Lindsay Brennan
Lindsay Brennan is a Journalist and Newsreader at 6PR, and is in the process of completing a Graduate Diploma in Broadcasting, Journalism, at ECU. Lindsay was nominated for a current affairs radio package focusing on the increasing number of young people on antidepressants. Last year the World Health Organisation found Australia has the second highest antidepressant usage in the world. Young people are particularly being prescribed the medication for mental illnesses brought on by every day stress from work, uni and relationships.
… and our 2018 Young Person of the Year is Kamsani Bin Salleh
Congratulations to all entrants.
Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia