2021 Winners

The Youth Affairs Council of WA congratulates the category winners in the WA Youth Awards 2021.

2021 WA Young Person of the Year and winner of the ECU Community Leadership Award 

Derek Nannup

Derek is a proud Whadjuk Noongar man who has dedicated his life to strengthening cultural connections for Aboriginal young people. With the permission of his Elders, Derek delivers Noongar workshops in language, dance and leadership. He has worked within schools running cultural programs, as Support Worker for children in care, and is currently employed at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA working in sexual health education. Derek also sits on the Mirrabooka Police District Youth Advisory Group and the Youth Educating Peers Reference group. Derek recently established the Boorloo Indigenous Youth Yarning Circles, a space where young people can meet monthly to practice traditional healing, discuss culture and community issues.

The Charmaine Dragun Memorial Award

Courtney Withers

Courtney is a theatre and journalism student and an Assistant Producer at RTRFM who was selected as a winner for a piece written as part of her studies. ‘Independent Minor’ explores the issue of youth homelessness in WA and the isolating feeling that comes with just being a number on a pile at Centrelink. It dives into some of the support mechanisms available for young people struggling to find a place to live and explores whether there is more to be done in supporting those who are forced out of home. Her piece was powerful, moving and shone a light on some of the difficult issues faced by young people.

The Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award

Fatima Merchant

Fatima is a staunch community champion, continuously dedicating her energy towards positive change for her peers. Despite a busy schedule as Head Girl at Perth Modern School, Fatima always finds time for community work. At school, Fatima committed herself to advocating for – and then developing – a digital student wellbeing program to support the mental health needs of a diverse student body. Outside of school, she is a member of UN Youth Australia, and has attended youth forums on the Trans-Pacific, Gender Equality, ASEAN and Corporate Social Responsibility. She has been a Mental Health Ambassador for WA Charity Zero2Hero for three years, is a part of the Youth Steering Committee for Prevent Support Heal and was a 2020 WA Youth Parliamentarian.

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA Positive Achievement Award

Josh Di Nucci

Josh is a mental health advocate, an athlete and a passionate peer leader dedicated to tearing down the walls of stigma. Josh was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a teenager while training at the Australia Institute of Sport. After battle with the stigma of his diagnosis, Josh chose to channel his energy into advocacy, combining his physical strength as an elite gymnast with emotional fortitude, as he became a mental health advocate. He has served as a peer ambassador for SANE Australia, took part in a national stigma reduction campaign for headspace, and was instrumental in the development of Amber Youth Service.

The Minister for Youth’s Most Outstanding Youth Worker Award

Laura Florisson

Laura’s youth work career was defined by her compassion, her selflessness and her commitment to justice. Whether it was volunteering at an orphanage in her student days, supporting young people in the Kimberley or working with young refugees on Naura, the people she worked with were inspired, challenged and better off for having known her. As she battled cancer last year, she remained committed to her work, undertaking a Masters in Advanced Trauma Perspectives and mentoring a young woman she’d previously worked with who’d moved on from foster care. She was a formative part of the lives of so many young people and her legacy is carried on within their work.

The Mission Australia Young Changemaker Award

Amy Astill

Amy Astill is described as having an extraordinary impact on those living around her, and is a young leader doing big things in her community. Being elected as Youth Mayor between 2017 and 2019 provided opportunities to significantly shape the experiences of young people in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. In 2020, Amy coordinated the Goldfields Youth Forum, giving more than 70 young people the opportunity to share their concerns directly with decision-makers including the Minister for Youth. While at high school, Amy was instrumental in establishing a Peer Mentoring program for Year 7 students beginning their high school journey and organised a leadership and empowerment workshop for young women. Amy is currently employed at the Goldfields Women’s Health Care Centre, a not-for-profit organisation with a focus on providing vital women’s health services in the Goldfields region.

The Propel Youth Arts WA Creative Contribution Award

Maddie Godfrey

Maddie is a writer, performance poet, educator and community facilitator whose prodigious creative output continues to create ripples throughout the Perth community. In their own writing practice, Maddie’s work explores healing, trauma and triumph. As a facilitator and educator at Curtin University and through myriad workshops and arts festivals, Maddie spotlights the power of words to connect, heal and make quiet loud, empowering other young artists, elevating their creative output and championing unsung voices. And at just 25, Maddie has performed on some of the world’s most famous stages, including The Sydney Opera House, The Royal Albert Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The Youth Futures Innovation for a Sustainable Future Award 

Joel Pearson

Joel Pearson is an artist with a knack for problem solving. After 18 months working in the regional WA arts industry, Joel noticed the volunteers that lead most of the regional
arts organisations were using outdated tools and processes, causing duplication and consuming valuable resources. It was through his work as a System Analyst at creative arts producer Euphorium that Joel created new onboarding systems streamlining how arts organisations train new staff members, volunteers and partners. Over time, Joel has been able to share these tools with arts organisations across WA. He is currently co-designing an easy-to-use operating system designed to address the specific needs of regional and remote arts and community organisations.

The Y WA Large Organisation Achievement Award

The HERS Project

The HERS Project is a collaboration between Sexual Health Quarters (SHQ), ASeTTS and SiREN, SHQ. These three amazing organisations have partnered to deliver the HERS Project, a peer education initiative for young women from migrant and refugee communities designed to improve knowledge and reduce stigma around issues like menstruation, sexual pain and desire, consent and fertility control. Project participants grew in confidence, independence and capacity to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing.

The Life Without Barriers Small Organisational Achievement Award

ALIVE & Kicking Goals!

Founded in 2008 by the Broome Saints Football Club, ALIVE & Kicking Goals has transcended its roots and grown into a powerful force for change in the Kimberly. Staffed and managed entirely by young Aboriginal people, the organisation runs workshops to communities and towns across our state’s most northern region, offering suicide prevention tools, grief counselling, peer education and one-on-one counselling to hundreds of people every year.