The finalists in the WA Youth Awards 2016 have been announced. Finalists will be recognised for the contribution to community at the WA Youth Awards 2016 gala presentation, at Crown Perth on Friday 25 November 2016.
ORGANISATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – LARGE
Youth Involvement Council Inc, South Hedland
The Youth Involvement Council (YIC) is recognised as being the primary and most successful organisation for the provision of holistic support for young people in Hedland. The organisation employs over 40 people, 30% of whom are Aboriginal.
95% of YIC clients are Aboriginal, with the majority considered to be “at risk”. The YIC has developed a range of programs to support and divert young people, including a drop in centre, ‘Birds and Bees’, developed for 10-15 year olds who are coping with a range of teenage issues and ‘Mingle Mob’, a street patrol operating from 6pm-10pm to reduce anti-social behaviour.
Through these programs, the Council engages with an average of 60 at risk young people every day.
Headspace Armadale, Armadale
According to the ABS, one in four young people currently experience a mental health problem, with only a quarter of these receiving help. Headspace Armadale addresses this need by providing free, youth friendly, confidential support for 12-25 year olds.
In the last 12-months, the organisation has received in excess of 1000 referrals, and has provided over 75 free education sessions in schools, TAFE’s and community groups since opening in June 2015. These education sessions help young people identify help-seeking strategies and provide practical ways to look after their mental health.
Headspace Armadale operates with a Youth Reference Group (YRG) who have lived experiences of mental health or caring for someone with a mental health concern. These young people are from a diverse range of backgrounds including LGBTI, disability and cultural diversity.
Armadale Youth Intervention Armadale
Armadale experiences a high percentage of disengaged youth and high levels of youth offending. The city has the third highest crime rate in WA and the highest domestic violence rate in the entire country. As a result, a number of youth services in Armadale recognised the need to work better together to support young people at-risk in the community.
Established in 2015 the Armadale Youth Intervention Partnership (AYIP) is a partnership between non-government and government services in the Armadale area including the City of Armadale Youth Services, Save the Children, YMCA, Hope Community Services, Mission Australia, Armadale Family Support Network and local Youth Crime Intervention Officers (YCIOs) from WA Police.
The AYIP partners programs attract approximately 130 young people weekly, who are engaged via individual programs including YMCA Y-Time, Drug Aware Ignite Basketball, Save the Children’s One Step Closer, and HOPE Community Services outreach.
Passages Resource Centre, Northbridge and Mandurah
Passages Resource Centre provides marginalised and street present young people with a “passage” to help them to transition from one life to another. Young people are helped to get off the streets, and adopt safer and healthier lifestyles.
Passages’ primary function is to act as a referral centre from two properties in Northbridge and Mandurah, and also offers street present young people practical services including phone, computer and internet access and mail collection.
Passages facilitates a transitional accommodation program with six shared houses, with a dedicated accommodation support worker. Young people can stay in the program for up to a year working through life skills programs, and are supported to gain employment or training, and transitional support to move to longer-term accommodation.
ORGANISATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – SMALL
Camp Kulin, Kulin
Camp Kulin, located in the WA Wheatbelt, was established in 2013 and has since grown into one of the leading programs for children and young people in Australia. The Camp Kulin Camp Counsellors work with young people who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, alcohol or drug addiction, experienced torture situations in refugee camps, and those with Autism or Aspergers who can’t access services elsewhere.
In the past 12 months, Camp Kulin has had young people from over 150 towns across WA, and has also worked with refugees from 18 different countries.
While at camp, the young people learn life skills, leadership, respect, self-esteem, self-confidence, perseverance, persistence, communication, anger management, emotional regulation, trust and ambition. They are mentored by volunteer camp counsellors who are aged between 16 and 74, with an average age of 23 years.
Hedland Taekwondo, Hedland
The Hedland Taekwondo Club is a small non-profit volunteer organisation that has become a strong contributor to youth development in Port Hedland. The club uses the ancient Korean martial art of taekwondo to engage, equip, and empower young people to become leaders in the club and community.
The Club has experienced significant growth in the last 12 months, increasing active membership by nearly 200% to more than 100 students. It relies heavily on a student leadership group, who volunteer up to eight hours per week to teach classes three nights a week.
The Club also has a heavy focus on inclusion, giving young people with autism, cerebral palsy or low muscle tone, or those experiencing severe anxiety, the chance to share the challenge of overcoming physical, psychological, emotional barriers through Taekwondo.
CREATE Foundation, Perth
CREATE Foundation is the peak body representing children and young people with an out-of-home care experience in Australia. In Western Australia, there are over 4,500 children and young people in care across the State, and CREATE’s team of 3.2 full time staff members, volunteers, and young people work to improve the lives of these young people, as well as the many young people who have left care and are transitioning into adulthood.
CREATE also engages young people to guide its work. The Youth Advisory Group meets monthly, and gives all young people aged 12 – 25 an opportunity to come together for a discussion about issues affecting children and young people in care.
One of CREATE’s Young Consultants summed it up the best, saying:
“The best thing about CREATE is that it is a group of young people coming together, sharing our experiences and working together can come up with a better result. In a world where things seem dark, we can be the light. We don’t have all the answers but from our experiences we can work towards a solution.”
WA Youth Cancer Advisory Committee, Nedlands
The WA Youth Cancer Advisory Committee was established in 2011 to empower young people undergoing cancer treatment. Approximately 110 adolescents and young adults are diagnosed with cancer annually in Western Australia.
Cancer care in WA is largely delivered in the metropolitan region. Cancer and treatment may require moving away from home for regional and remote young people, which can lead to isolation and distress. Young survivors of cancer also enter adulthood with a substantially higher rate of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as a markedly increased rate of lifelong chronic health conditions.
The Committee works to address these issues through the delivery of end of treatment workshops, Government consultation and advocacy for Medicare funding for fertility preservation, and the recruitment of committee members living regionally or rurally.
POSITIVE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Fatema Shalemie, Darch
Fatema was born to Afghan parents, and raised in Perth. At just 20, she is studying French, Political Science and International Relations, and hopes to work in journalism as a foreign correspondent.
Fatema has a strong interest in advocacy and highlighting injustices faced by underrepresented communities. She is the Mentoring Program Manager at Afghan Professionals Australia – a new initiative to help connect tertiary students with employed professionals, and encourage them to share their valuable experiences and advice. She also participated in YACWAs Catalyst Youth Summit – an event for refugee and migrant young people to talk about issues important to them and advocate these to politicians. This year, she also joined the Youth Educating Peers (YEP) crew as a peer educator – supporting and educating young people on sexual health, relationships and blood-borne virus issues.
Andre May-Dessmann, Leederville
Andre May-Dessmann is an energetic and inspiring young person who is dedicated to improving life for other children and young people who are experiencing hardship. He lived with his aunty and uncle from a young age, but at 14, found himself in the care of the State. Over the next four years, he moved between foster carers, residential care facilities, and experienced homelessness, before becoming a resident at Foyer Oxford.
In an effort to help others in a similar situation, Andre became a young consultant with CREATE Foundation, providing advice, insights and knowledge to improve a number of key policy areas for children and young people in care, including their right to access case files and information about their lives, and the importance of children and young people in care knowing their family history and culture. He is also involved in advocacy around youth homelessness, and recently addressed members of parliament on the issue.
Ali Raza Yusafzai, Bayswater
At just 19 years of age, Ali Raza has experienced and overcome significant adversity. Born in Quetta, Pakistan, he spent his childhood witnessing bomb blasts and terrorist attacks. As the situation worsened, his family decided he should try and find somewhere safer to live. He arrived in Australia as an unaccompanied minor and spent a significant period in immigration detention.
Since his release into the Australian community, he has used his experiences, culture and identity to help connect communities and promote unity and diversity. He is a volunteer for the Annual Perth Walk Together event, coordinated by Welcome to Australia, which aims to foster the development of a more welcoming and inclusive Australia. He has also been a volunteer at First Home Project and with Students for Refugees, which are groups aimed at providing support to people who have recently settled in Perth. He is also involved in the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network and the Shout Out leadership program, developing his public speaking skills so he can better advocate on behalf of his community.
Vanessa Vlajkovic, Dianella
Vanessa was born blind, learnt Braille by the age of four and was mainstream schooled. At seven, her hearing began to deteriorate, and by 16, hearing aids were no longer any use and her communication method changed to Auslan only. Due to her limited vision, the Auslan is ‘tactile’ meaning the signs are formed on Vanessa’s hands.
Vanessa has never let her sensory loss prevent her from being involved at school and in the community – competing in gymnastics and cheer-leading, winning City of Stirling “Tough Nut”, and being named Deaf Youth of Australia, 2015. She has become a significant advocate within the Deafblind Community, and helped establish Deafblind West Australians, an entity providing support, social interaction and advocacy for deafblind individuals.
Vanessa completed her WACE exams, and her ATAR enabled her to enter university – we understand that she is the first deafblind person in WA to achieve this. She is an aspiring young journalism student at ECU, and is described as an amazing young woman, who is using the skills acquired at ECU to advocate and speak on behalf of those living with hearing and vision deficits to reach for their goals.
COMMISSIONER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE PARTICIPATE AWARD
Anneka Bodt, Melville
At only 15 years old, Anneka is already an active participant in her community. She is an advocate for the Melville Wheelchair Basketball Program, which caters for teenagers with and without disabilities from 10 to 18 years of age. Anneka acts as a stand-in-coach for this program, organised and coached a Wheelchair Basketball Day at Melville Senior High School in 2015, and is involved in fundraising for Wheelchair Sports WA.
Anneka also represents Western Australia in the sport, playing with the WA Junior Black Ducks for two years, and recently winning gold with the WA Women’s Western Stars.
She is also a cadet, a talented musician and a school council leader.
Brianne Yarran, Bennett Springs
Brianne is a Year 12 Aboriginal student at Hampton Senior High School, and is a part of the Follow The Dream: Partnerships for Success program. She has demonstrated incredible passion, strength and influence as an outstanding role model for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and continues to smash negative stereotypes surrounding Aboriginal young people.
In this – her Year 12 year alone – Brianne has delivered the keynote speech at Perth’s National Apology Anniversary Event, presented to 2000 school students, teachers, Elders and community members at Perth’s National Sorry Day Event, received a scholarship to attend WA United Nations Youth Summit 2016 and was selected to attend Murrup Barak Experience and Leadership Camp at Melbourne University in July 2016.
She has also been invited to be involved in a documentary produced by Screenwest and NITV, focused on her family, courage and achievements. Two words can be used to sum Brianne up, the English word Fearless and the Noongar word Koort, which means ‘Heart, or two Hearts together’.
Joanna-Louise Alexandre, Butler
Joanna can best be described as an all-star. In her final year of high school, she is a dedicated poet, debater, performer, mentor and volunteer. As a member of the student council, she works with younger year groups to address issues within the school, including ensuring equality for LGBTI members of the school community.
Outside of school, Joanna plays, umpires, coaches and volunteers at her netball club, has taken part in charity events supporting children’s cancer research, and also participates in the Perth Poetry Club.
Joanna strives for a balance between achievement and giving something back, and always keeps a firm focus on improving her community.
Dodi Tuando, South Hedland
At just 13, Dodi is committed to building an inclusive Port Hedland community by supporting children and young people with a disability to participate in Taekwondo.
He volunteers up to six hours per week to support and facilitate training at the Hedland Taekwondo Club, enthusiastically teaching up to 100 members of all ages, and providing vital support for members with a disability, often providing one-on-one training on a volunteer basis.
In 2016, Dodi qualified as a black belt, and participated at the Western Australia State Championships, winning the gold medal for poomsae (technical skills) and a silver medal in sparring.
ECU COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD
Wesley Salsibury, Canning Vale
Wesley is an elite Decathlete aiming to represent Australia in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, as well as a PhD student researching Sports Performance. But he also shines off the track and away from the classroom.
He became involved in the Carey Right Track Foundation as a young athlete, a group focussed on empowering Aboriginal and remote young people to become leaders in their communities. For the last three years, he has coordinated the Remote Schools Athletics Program, and conducted coaching clinics to enable community representatives to become qualified athletics coaches. He continues to combine training and study with a firm commitment to expand the Right Track program across WA.
Courtney Fare, Seville Grove
Courtney is a 25-year-old Youth Engagement Team Leader employed by Save the Children. She is described as passionate, dedicated, and creative, and is seen as a positive role model in her community.
She leads a program called One Step Closer in Armadale, providing a safe space for Aboriginal children and young people on a Friday evening. She also coordinates ‘Back to Country’ camps, which give young people a chance to have fun, learn about Noongar culture, build confidence and independence, and spend time with Noongar elders.
Outside of work, Courtney volunteers her time to teach dance, has mentored young women in high school, created spaces for young people to learn life skills, and has fundraised extensively to support disadvantaged young people in the South east corridor.
Bronwyn Milkins, Nedlands
Bronwyn is a committed mental health and psychological science advocate. During her first year studying Psychology at University, Bronwyn developed severe anxiety and depression, which led to a life-threatening eating disorder, and was hospitalised for treatment.
After a period of recovery, she dedicated herself to giving back. Bronwyn volunteered with the School Volunteer Program tutoring school children in Rockingham, at St. Charles Gairdner Hospital interviewing people with sleep disorders, at Hollywood hospital visiting elderly patients who had experienced strokes, and with the Smith Family as a reading tutor.
A few years later, she found her true passion, volunteering as a community and youth presenter with Black Dog Institute. In this role, she uses her experience to present to school and community groups, working to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness, providing hope, and inspiring help-seeking behaviours. At last count, she had delivered more than 80 speeches across Western Australia, and has told her story widely in the media, including nationally via The Project.
She is now back to study, and is in the final months of her PhD in Psychology.
Tiana Culbong, Osborne Park
Tiana Culbong is a young Noongar woman studying a Masters of Public Health at Deakin University, in addition to working in research at the Telethon Kids Institute.
Her community contribution extends back to 2014, were she worked with Centrecare, and was responsible for the case management of eight Aboriginal young people in the care of the State. As a young person, she was able to develop an exceptional rapport with these young people, a skill that helped her communicate critical information about their care, and educating them about their Aboriginal culture.
She is described as having very strong leadership and mentoring skills, and is enthusiastic and passionate about sharing and promoting her culture. She is truly one impressive young person.
CULTURAL ENDEAVOURS AWARD
Shaquille Walker, Wellard
Shaquille is a Year 10 student Indigenous student enrolled at Gilmore College, and is described as an exceptionally talented and inspirational young man. From a young age, Shaquille has been able to express his infectious personality through his incredible love for dancing!
He is actively involved in the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, and in September, Shaquille was nominated for the AIME’S Got Game national competition. From over 6000 competitors nationwide, he placed in the top 6 of the “Showstopper” category, and has now been invited to represent Western Australia a series of dance choreography workshops with Bhangarra Dance Company, culminating in a performance at the Sydney Opera House.
He is a volunteer dance facilitator with the City of Kwinana K-Style youth dance program, developing self-confidence in participants and building up their fitness and strength. He offers himself as a mentor to these young people and encourages them to chat with him face-to-face and through social media.
Oscar Kaspi-Crutchett, Mount Lawley
Oscar is described as being a “one of a kind” advocate, activist and mentor. At just ten years old, he had his first experience in volunteering; a two-week internship with the former Member for Perth, Alannah MacTiernan.
Now just 16, Oscar has furthered his community participation through his involvement in the YMCA Youth Parliament of WA, and volunteering during the ‘Save Safe Schools’ campaign, during which he became the youth representative for the cause.
He also volunteers his time to support causes including mental health, racism in school, and debating. He also spends his spare time writing articles for LGBTI publications. He also dabbles in acting, and is a life long member of the Barking gecko Theatre Company. He is described as a motivated, dedicated, socially-aware young man.
Lauren Wroth, Bunbury
Lauren is an 18-year-old with a passion for performing arts. Described as a child who started singing before she could talk, she has always loved to perform! In 2009, at the age of 10, she successfully auditioned for Bunbury Young Voices. A year later, she was cast as one of the leads in her school play, The Rocky Monster Show.
Four years ago she began boarding in Perth, and further developed her love of theatre, and was cast as a lead munchkin in the school’s musical production of The Wizard of Oz. Most recently, she successfully auditioned for the lead role in Bunbury Musical Comedy Group’s production of Anne of Green Gables.
More than a performer, Lauren also volunteers her time to support the local theatre as a member of the backstage crew. She is determined to pursue her passion for the Arts when she finishes her high school studies at the end of the year, and hopes to be fortunate enough to have a career on the stage.
Tore Bule-Turner, Port Hedland
Tore has inspired, motivated, and been a role model for young people in his local community, bringing inspiration through dance and martial arts. His contributions were first recognised in the WA Youth Awards four years ago, when he won the CCYP Participate Award for his efforts teaching break dance as a diversionary program. In the years since, he has grown his continued commitment to sport and arts even further.
Earlier this year, Tore won the Australian National Taekwondo Poomsae Championship in the Freestyle category. Freestyle taekwondo combines martial arts and tumbling gymnastics set to music. It is extremely physical and requires the combined skills of Jacki Chan and Fred Astair. Last month, he represented Australia at the World Championships in Peru, and was the only junior representative from the team to make a final, and placed 7th in the world.
He has maintained a commitment to the arts and has continued to compete and teach breakdance over the past 12 months, working closely with the Youth Involvement Council in Port Hedland to run dance workshops and other events.
MINISTER FOR YOUTHS’ OUTSTANDING YOUTH WORKER AWARD
Mark Bird, Currumbine
Mark has been a passionate member of the Youth Sector for the last six years and continues to deliver fantastic outcomes for young people. His youth work career started as a volunteer mentor with Youth Futures WA in 2010, quickly followed by a period of practicum in the COMET alternative education program the following year.
Currently employed by Youth Futures WA, he manages an alternative education program called Anchor Point. In the last two years, he has facilitated a unique partnership between Anchor Point, Curtin University and Dismantle to create an on-campus experience that allows high school students to experience university, working on bicycles that are provided to charity. The program is designed for young people aged 15 to 19, and has enabled more than 40 young people attain their Year 9 and Year 10 equivalencies.
He is also committed to his profession, becoming a committee member with Youth Work WA in 2014, and was a finalist as Emerging Youth Worker of the Year in the inaugural Youth Work Awards.
Matthew Bill, Swan View
Matthew Bill works in outreach with the Child and Parent Centre in the Midland area. Still just 21-years-old, he is involved in several programs that are targeted at youth in the area with the aim to reduce crime and increase school attendance.
This includes Kaat Koort n Hoops – a peer led program that mentors Aboriginal students from Governor Stirling High School, teaching life skills, encouraging students to make the right choices and advising on dealing with cyber bullying. Matthew also works at KAOS a youth program run once a week by the Shire of Mundaring, working collaboratively with the Shire’s Youth team to reduce crime in the area.
He also runs a music-based social and wellbeing program twice a week, addressing issues including school attendance and building confidence. He also coordinates the only Aboriginal men’s group in the metropolitan area, and won the Youth of the Year at the Midland NAIDOC Awards in 2015.
Neryssa Brown, South Hedland
Neryssa has been a youth worker with the Youth Involvement Council in Port Hedland for the past two and a half years, working across a range of programs including the youth centre, Mingle Mob mobile outreach program and the Youth Accommodation Program (YAP).
She currently works with homeless young people, many having come from dysfunctional home environments where overcrowding, excessive drinking and other drug taking, abuse and unemployment are rife. Results have followed. In the past three months, she has worked with 13 homeless young people. Of the group, six have found accommodation or returned home, four have found work and five have improved their school attendance.
At just 23 years of age, she possesses a high level of maturity, and exhibits a passion and commitment to improving conditions for young people in her community. Not content with her current contribution, in 2017 Neryssa plans to facilitate the re-establishment of the Hedland Youth Leadership Committee.
Paul Mackie, Derby
Paul has been working with the young Aboriginal people of Derby for the past four years. He chairs the Derby Youth Interagency and has worked with the Shire Derby West Kimberley to hold agencies to account in delivering services.
He develops and delivers life skill programs for young people that focus on healthy eating, suicide prevention, bereavement support and Aboriginal culture. He is committed to encouraging disengaged young people to return to school or enrol for alternative education programs. He has established partnerships with the local sober up shelter, West Kimberley TAFE to deliver automotive training, and developed a music program with the local radio station and Music Australia.
Outside of his work role, Paul has coordinated unfunded community open days in remote communities that are focussed on suicide prevention, continues to advocates for a local safe house, and works additional hours to assist in other youth-focussed community events.