Outstanding young Western Australians were honoured at the WA Youth Awards last night, with Matthew Bill, 22, from Swan View, named WA Young Person of the Year.
Matthew, an outreach worker in the Shire of Mundaring, was recognised for his work with local families to encourage positive engagement in their children's lives.
Matthew works directly with school students in his community, particularly those at risk of disengagement. He was also named the winner in the Community Leadership category of the awards.
Other WA Youth Award winners included Habiba Asim, 19, from Huntingdale who used her experience of bullying for wearing a hijab to school as a way of engaging with and working with young people deemed at risk. Through her role as a mentor, speaker and contributor on a number of youth committees, Habiba is a wonderful role model for migrant youth.
The WA Youth Awards showcase the achievements and contributions of young Western Australians aged 12 to 25, as well as organisations that work with and support WA youth.
The awards are delivered through a partnership between the Department of Communities and Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA), and are supported by Lotterywest.
Comments attributed to Youth Minister Peter Tinley:
"The WA Youth Awards are a fantastic reminder of the positive contributions made by young people in WA and this year's remarkable group of finalists represent the diversity of WA's youth.
"These inspiring young people have contributed more in their lifetimes than many people twice their age. I hope they will inspire other Western Australians to ask themselves how they can make a difference to their own communities.
"If the calibre of young people awarded tonight are anything to go by, then I strongly believe that we are in very capable hands for the future."
Vincent Pettinicchio, 12, Kallaroo
Vincent is a Year 7 student who helps improve the quality of life of homeless people in Western Australia. In February 2013, at just seven years of age and after being bullied at school, he started Vincent's Project for the Homeless.
His idea was to provide homeless people 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 St Vincent de Paul.
In 2015, targeting 500 packs, he delivered 642, with the help of students from nine different schools on packing day. This number has increased annually since then, with an estimated 4,000 people assisted to date. Vincent's 10-year plan is to help 14,000 people.
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, with the pair choosing to address the community issue of food waste.
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 which could distribute food to support people at-risk in their local area. Named Conneativity, the site also addresses the issue of getting the food to the charities.
Matthew Bill, 22, Swan View
Matthew Bill is a 22-year-old Aboriginal, Youth Outreach Worker employed by the Shire of Mundaring, who works 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 re-engaging students who truant from class, are suspended from school or are at risk of disengagement in the education system. This includes spending his personal time to mentor young people.
This year, he developed a 'Yarning Circle' at a local primary school, 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.
George Foulkes-Taylor, 24, Kalgoorlie-Boulder
George is a local producer and business manager born and raised in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, who is heavily involved in developing the local arts scene.
George was the producer for Kalgoorlie Fashion Week 2017, co-ordinated 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.
Lynn Crasto, Hamilton Hill
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.
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.
Habiba Asim, 19, 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 used her experience of bullying for wearing a hijab to school as an opportunity to work with young people deemed at risk.
Habiba is a positive role model for migrant young people, is an 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.
Curtin AHEAD, Bentley
Curtin Addressing Higher Educational Access Disadvantage (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 1,000 high school students into university, and 41 prison residents through the Curtin UniReady (enabling) program, of who 10 have transitioned into university.
Millennium Kids, Yokine
Millennium Kids is a youth-led environmental organisation with young people aged 10-25 years, co-designing practical action projects in their local, regional and global communities. Established in Western Australia in 1996, 2017 marks 21 years of the organisation.
Millennium Kids 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.
Letitia Busniak, 22, Geraldton
Letitia is a 22-year-old journalist from Geraldton. She first began working for Geraldton Newspapers at the age of 16 before completing a three-year cadetship program with West Australian Regional Newspapers.
Her winning story was a two-page spread focused on four young women who had opened successful businesses in Geraldton. These young woman, all aged under 22, are smashing stereotypes surrounding the work ethic of their generation and are also breaking down barriers for women in the business industry - who sadly still remain under-represented in business ownership.
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