2017 winners

The Youth Affairs Council of WA congratulates the nine winners in the WA Youth Awards 2017.

The ECU Community Leadership Award and WA Young Person of the Year 2017.

Matthew Bill, Swan View

Matthew Bill is a 22-year-old Aboriginal male who is passionate, driven and enthusiastic about the community that he works and lives in. Employed as the Youth Outreach Worker by the Shire of Mundaring, he works tirelessly with families in the community to encourage and assist them to be actively involved in their children’s lives.

He works across four primary schools and one high school, and mentors students to achieve the best educational outcome. His work includes re-engaging students truant from class, suspended from school or at risk of disengagement in the education system. This includes spending his personal time to mentor young people, even picking them up and getting them to school.

This year, he developed a ‘Yarning Circle’ at one of the local primary schools, which provides an opportunity for younger students to interact with older boys from the nearby high school, to help the high school transition become easier. He is described as an outstanding role model to the youth in the community, especially to the Aboriginal children who may not have positive male role models in their lives.

The Hope Community Services Positive Achievement Award

Habiba Asim, Huntingdale

Born in Pakistan, Habiba and her family moved to Perth as migrants when she was 11 years old, and faced racism and discrimination almost daily. She was constantly bullied for wearing the hijab to school – so often that she decided to stop wearing it in late in her primary school years.  This disconnect with her culture and religion made her question where she belonged in the community.

In an attempt to find her place, Habiba joined the City of Gosnells Youth Advisory Council at the age of 16, and quickly ascended to the Executive Group, having demonstrated a great passion for working with young people who were deemed to be ‘at risk’.

Habiba is considered a positive role model for migrant young people. She is a Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience mentor, a Youth Consultant with the City of Belmont, an Inspirational Speaker with the City of Stirling’s Youth Empowerment Program, a Youth Advocate with YACWA’s Youth Engaged in Policy Project, and a soccer coach with children 10 years and under.

The Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award

Vincent Pettinicchio , Kallaroo

Vincent is a year-7 student on a mission to improve the quality of life of homeless people in Western Australia. In February 2013, at just seven years of age, Vincent was bullied at school and inconsolable at home. To help him with the situation, his mum told him to think of doing something nice for someone else, and Vincent’s Project for the Homeless was born.

His idea was to provide homeless people them with packs of toiletries and comfort items, inspired by homeless people he saw on his walks with his grandparents. In 2014 he set his target at 300 packs and delivered 364 packs to the Vinnies.

In 2015, targeting 500 packs, he delivered 642, with the help of students from nine different schools on packing day.  In 2016, more than 200 people came to help him pack, including more than 150 students from 10 different schools, including some of the students that bullied him all those years ago! 1,039 packs were delivered to far as Paraburdoo, in addition to Northam, Perth, Northbridge, Fremantle, Guildford, Clarkson, Midland and Mirrabooka.

It is estimated that his packs have helped around 4,000 people, and his 10-year plan is to help 14,000 people.

The Perth Theatre Trust Cultural Endeavors Award

George Foulkes-Taylor, Kalgoorlie

George is a local producer, and business manager born and raised in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, who is heavily involved in developing the local arts scene, and was the producer for Kalgoorlie Fashion Week 2017; a week of evening fashion runway events, community workshops and a Sunday morning Block Party.

George also coordinated a group of 14 local artists to participate in a pop-up gallery showcasing a huge range of artworks from the Goldfields region, developed and managed a local film project that taught local young people about film and technology, and participated in the National Young Rural Women’s Muster 2016 – a week of leadership training in Canberra.

George is truly an asset to the local community.

The Minister for Youth’s Most Outstanding Youth Worker Award

Lynn Crasto, Hamilton Hill

Lynn is described simply as a very exceptional youth worker. After graduating from Edith Cowan University’s Youth Work Studies in 2005, Lynn began his youth work career assisting highly marginalised and disengaged young people.

Since then he has developed experience in outreach, case management and intensive support and recreation as well as school-based youth work. He now works with some of the most marginalised young people in WA, delivering street-based outreach in Anglicare WA’s Street Connect program with respect, confidence and professionalism.

He is an innovative practitioner, having developed and delivered the ‘Up and Running’ project, which engaged highly marginalised and disengaged young homeless people in regular exercise appropriate to their needs. He is also professional, and demonstrates a strident commitment to the principles of the Youth Work Code of Ethics.

The RAC Innovation for a Sustainable Future Award

Lily Purser and Alyssa Wong, Shenton Park

Lily Purser and Alyssa Wong are year 10 students who participated in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics class at Shenton College. Students were challenged to use design-thinking principles to create a solution for a local or global issue. Lily and Alyssa chose to address the community issue of food waste.

Lily works at a franchise bakery store, with part of her job being throwing away unsold bread. Both girls struggled with the ethics of putting edible food in the bin. Thinking globally but acting locally, they engaged with the St Patrick’s Community Support centre, to develop a solution to provide unused food to those who need it.

The girls’ solution was to create a website to link businesses with excess food, to charities in need, who distribute the food to support people at risk in their local area. Cleverly named Conneativity, the site also addresses the issue of getting the food to the charities. Individuals with just an hour to spare can register as a volunteer to collect and deliver the goods from the business, to the charity! Conneativity has been attracting between attracting 5-10 views per day, with a peak of 25 hits. It is hoped that the profile of the WA Youth Awards will boost this even further.

The MercyCare Organisational Achievement Award Large

Curtin AHEAD, Bentley

Curtin Addressing Higher Educational Access Disadvantage, otherwise known as AHEAD, is an innovative outreach program that fosters the potential of groups and individuals that are underrepresented in higher education.

Their vision is to enable positive change by overcoming the challenges of access and embracing the opportunities of participation in higher education. The team run a range of programs, including year 12 camps with students from regional and remote schools, and AHEAD in Prison, designed to enhance participants’ transition, access, participation and retention in higher education.

Since 2014, AHEAD has supported more than 1000 high school students into university, and 41 prison residents through the Curtin UniReady (enabling) program, of whom 10 have transitioned into university.

The RUAH Organisational Achievement Award Small

Millennium Kids, Yokine

Millennium Kids is a youth led environmental organisation with young people 10 – 25 years co-designing practical action projects in their local, regional and global communities. Established in Western Australia in 1996 with four young people at the helm, 2017 marks 21 years of youth voice and action in Western Australia. A youth board now drives the direction of the organization.

The Millennium Kids team works with individuals, community groups and government entities to develop collaborative, environmental and sustainability-based education and action programs and projects that provide leadership and citizenship opportunities for young people.
Recent projects have included Wetland Warriors, a social-media based holiday program designed by young people to create awareness of the plight of waterbirds in wetland areas, and the Willy Wagtail Project, a social enterprise developed to take waste destined for landfill and create bags to reduce plastic bag use.

Charmaine Dragun Memorial Award

Letitia Busniak, Geraldton Newspapers, for Leading ladies – savvy entrepreneurs making mark

Letitia is a 22-year-old journalist from Geraldton WA.  She first began working for Geraldton Newspapers at age 16 before completing a three-year cadetship program with West Australian Regional Newspapers. Her story  was a two-page spread focussed on four young woman who had opened successful businesses in Geraldton. These young woman, all aged under 22, are smashing stereotypes surrounding the work ethic of their generation, they’re also breaking down barriers for woman in the business industry – who sadly still remain under-represented in business ownership.