2019 Winners

The Youth Affairs Council of WA congratulates the category winners in the WA Youth Awards 2019.

2019 WA Young Person of the Year and winner of The Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award 

Brenda Amito

At just 14, Brenda achieved something that the WA Football Commission could not. She founded the Edmund Rice Centre WA Multicultural AFL Umpiring Academy – the first of its kind – in an effort to bring cultural diversity into AFL umpiring.

Brenda was born in Uganda and migrated to Australia with her family in 2007. Shortly after her arrival, she joined the Butler Falcons, a multicultural all-girls AFL team. She found her passion for the game through this program and was inspired to give back by empowering other young people through starting her own Umpiring Academy.

Now in its third year of operation, the Academy has developed more than 60 umpires from diverse backgrounds, many of whom now earn an income from umpiring and are in umpiring talent pathways. She undertook all of this work as a volunteer and recently securing funds to have a paid employee to help manage the Academy.

Charmaine Dragun Memorial Award

Madeleine Cross, 21, ECU Broadcasting, for 20Talk: Fighting for Mental Health

Madeline is currently undertaking a Graduate Diploma of Broadcasting at Edith Cowan University, where she produces and presents weekly live radio shows. Her radio piece focused on 20talk, a male-focused mental health group that provides a safe place for young men to talk about issues, without the stigma around professional help.

She interviewed founder Leighton Bradfield and renowned mental health expert Professor Patrick McGorry, Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and a Founding Director of headspace.

ECU Community Leadership Award

Zal Kanga-Parabia

“Selfless” and “creative” are two words that embody everything Zal does. He currently works at Propel Youth Arts WA and volunteers at The Perth Observatory, National Science Week committee, and several organisations that focus on reconciliation, and supporting young people at risk to find alternatives and positive ways to express themselves and make use of their time through creativity.

As a volunteer, Zal recently directed the National Science Week Moonboorli (Beyond) event which recognised Noongar science and arts. He also directed the Youth Week WA KickstART Festival in 2018, organising more than 70 free events for more than 7,000 young people.

Zal always looks to support, help and guide young people, especially those of First Nation’s, refugee or migrant backgrounds, and to be a voice for young people to advocate for policy change, funding and support.

The Hope Community Services Positive Achievement Award

Keisha Calyun

Keisha was born the eldest of five with cultural heritage mix of English, Dutch and Ballardong Noongar. Her family life has been difficult. With her father rarely present, her mother fought breast cancer twice in ten years, unfortunately losing her battle when Keisha was just 23. After stays with extended family, Keisha and her 20-year-old sister decided to become guardians for their three younger siblings.

Alongside her family responsibilities, Keisha works at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA, where she is helping to develop an online mapping platform that shows availability of health services for regional and remote communities. She is also a Youth Representative on the WA Aboriginal Health Ethics Committee.

She ensures that her family continue to embrace their Aboriginal culture through involvement in cultural groups and activities.

The Minister for Youth’s Most Outstanding Youth Worker Award

Kristin Briggs

Kristin has been a Youth Worker for 12 years and has packed a lot in to a relatively short career. She’s worked in youth centres, corrective services, Aboriginal organisations and numerous counselling organisations focusing on drug and alcohol prevention with young people.

In 2016 Kristin joined Comet CaRE School, an initiative that provides alternative education for young people who do not fit into mainstream education because of a poor home life, substance misuse, and juvenile justice involvement. She developed programs to provide a holistic education that incorporates the set curriculum and life skills, mental health education and drug and alcohol education and awareness.

This year, Kristin focused on helping young people reduce their substance use through sport. The students she worked with were involved in the creation of the programs to make sure the programs captured the needs of the young people. She also worked to make Comet more inclusive and safe for LGBTQI+ young people.

The Mission Australia Cultural Endeavours Award

Gabby Loo

Gabby is described as an incredible youth leader, community organiser, artist and curator.
An artist with migrant background, Gabby is driven to improve the marginalising circumstances that migrant and Aboriginal artists experience in the WA arts space.

Gabby is the creator facilitator of Belonging, an interactive platform for creative people from culturally diverse and Indigenous backgrounds to share their stories and explore their identities and cultures. They are also a Youth Advocate in the Diversity Working Group and the creator and admin of the CaLD and ATSI Creatives of WA Facebook group, as a space to share creativity, inspirations and art opportunities for people from culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds

Gabby is also the driving force behind a research project focused on Asian migrant history in WA titled Imagined Migrant Futures, empowering members of Asian communities shared their experiences as settler migrants in WA.

The Youth Futures Innovation for a Sustainable Future Award 

Jacob Cassey

Imagine being 11-years-old and representing your school at a Millennium Kids conference to share ideas about the environment. You join a communication workshop and present an idea to develop an innovative online tool for young people who want to change the world, but don’t have the networks or mentors to help make their ideas come to life. Pipe dream? Not for Jacob. He took the idea from concept to completion in three years and was integral in securing funding from Lotterywest. The website is now attracting global interest.

Jacob’s contributions don’t stop there. He is involved in Millennium Kids fieldtrips and has undertaken tree planting to revegetate an area for habitat for Black Swans. He also volunteers at Australia Day to help educate the public about waste and is working with Country Road, featuring on their new website to tell his story about sustainability.

The YMCA Organisational Achievement Award – Large

Youth Involvement Council

The Youth Involvement Council works with at-risk young people in the Pilbara to bring positivity to their lives. The organisation employs over 40 people, more than 30% of whom identify as Aboriginal. Working with Hedland’s most vulnerable youth, the Council runs several programs to help improve the lives of young people in the community.

Through Deadly Hearts, the Youth Involvement Council engages with 30 young people aged five-to-10-years-old, providing healthy food and activities after school. Their Youth Centre is focused on education, recreation and diversion, and is an after school drop-in centre for 11-17-year-olds. Their Youth Accommodation Program provides crisis accommodation to young people impacted by homelessness, helping 50 people annually by providing safe accommodation when they have nowhere else to go. Their Mingle Mob aims to reduce anti-social and criminal behaviour and keep kids safe. The team is on the street at night talking to kids, looking out for them and providing support where needed. The Youth Involvement Council also runs a school attendance bus, helping to remove barriers to kids attending school each day.

The Life Without Barriers Organisational Achievement Award – Small 

Wyndham Youth Aboriginal Corporation 

The Wyndham Youth Aboriginal Corporation is a not-for-profit community-based organisation consisting of one representative from each of the local Indigenous family groups. Its mission is to improve the wellbeing of local Aboriginal young people. Their vision is that young people are healthy and feel empowered and capable in their chosen endeavours.

Since first opening in April 2018, WYAC has transitioned from a 6-month pilot program with no confirmed ongoing funding to a medium-sized Indigenous Corporation with multiple income streams. It developed the Wyndham Youth Wellbeing Survey in late-2018 and has rolled it out twice, as a way of tracking current status and improvements. It has also developed and is now delivering a trauma and alcohol and othe drugs-informed case management program for young people aged 8-18.