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Wyndham City Youth Services is committed to supporting and promoting the ingenuity and accomplishments of young people across the municipality.

Each month Council will select a Wyndham resident aged between 12 – 25 to be awarded the young person of the month – ‘One Wyndham’ recipient.

The award aims to build the profile of young people who are positively contributing to the Wyndham community and thank them for their contribution and dedication and acknowledge their achievements. The selected monthly candidate will be a positive role model to other young people in the community who may have similar aspirations and goals.

What the award entails

Winners of the One Wyndham Young Person of the Month will receive:

  • A $300 gift voucher
  • Profile image and article in the Council monthly newsletter; Wyndham News, 
  • Profile picture and biography on the One Wyndham webpage
  • A bi-monthly advert in the Star Weekly newspaper, highlighting their achievements
  • A certificate, which they can reference in their CV and job applications
  • Invitation to attend the monthly - One Wyndham Peer Networking Dinners.

One Wyndham Application Form (self-nominate)

One Wyndham Nomination Form (nominate someone else)

2022

December Winner - Ganika Shree

December Winner - Ganika Shree

Growing up in India, Ganika, 16, recognised the disparity in the education system, marred by gross inequalities in access, Gender and class. She realised the combination of educational inequality and socioeconomic status created a vicious cycle, where low class citizens generally received low-quality education, the large social stratification, contrasting societies and complicated blends within society itself provided social enigmas, through her encounter she was able to recognise the disparities hiding with her immediate society.

As a result she lives by the mantra of “A more just world is not just a possibility; it is also an obligation, and it is up to you to put your beliefs into action for the welfare of all”-Ganika.

To carry out her obligation she has been an advocate and committed for the betterment of society. Eager to make a positive wave in her community, she participates in many organisations and fundraisers. A go-getter and a high achiever, she approaches every opportunity with dynamism and enthusiasm, striving for academic and personal growth.

My achievements, my successes and my accomplishments are the ones that give me a sense of happiness and pride. Whereas, my mistakes, my failures and setbacks make me strong. My achievements range in extracurricular and Another set of achievements that hold immense value to me is my involvement within the community.

Extracurricular activities are the part of a healthy and well rounded individual. I always take pride in participating in various extracurricular activities within and outside my school. There are a few extracurricular achievements I am extremely proud of such as:

Within the Community I am dedicated to numerous community groups in order to create a positive ripple in my immediate community:

  • I am a One girl ambassador
  • I have Started up superstition chapter within my school
  • Conduct Free Carnatic singing classes for children
  • I am equal ed tutor
  • I am part of the VIC src committee
  • I have contributed to the starlight foundation, Active April and 40 hour famine
  • I Volunteer at Op shop
  • I am a part of Letters against isolation
  • I volunteer on behalf of dosomething.org

November winner- Laura Mallia

one wyndham november

I currently volunteer 2 days a week with Edmund Rice services.

I also volunteer annually for the RSPCA where I have raised over $4,000 for animals in need.

Every October for the past 3 years I have completed the Great Cycle Challenge where I have raised $1,000 and rode over 500km for children fighting cancer.

Back in 2015 I cut 30min off my long blonde hair and donated that to AAAF to make wigs for kids with cancer and raised around $1,000.

Over my years of volunteering I have also worked with the local RSL raising money for War veterans and with St Vinnies where we raised money for homeless people.

In 2018 I went overseas to the Philippines for 2 weeks to volunteer in orphanages, at schools and with underprivileged youth and communities

I was nominated for the Victorian young achiever awards in 2018 and was the semi finalist in 2018. I also won the Lalor young hero award from Joanne Ryan and in 2018 the Mayoral Youth Award.

I currently work as a pre-kinder teacher at Guardian in Point Cook full time and volunteer 2 days a week with Edmund Rice Services.

I am most passionate about helping out those less fortunate in any way I can. I strongly believe that you can make a difference in people’s live’s by doing something as little as giving them a smile or asking how their day is going.

I have contributed to my community through my fundraising efforts over the years and by my current voluntary work.  

During my time at high school, I was the Senior Social Justice Captain. I organised and ran my own fundraisers and supported/assisted younger children in doing the same.

I have a strong interest in animals, keeping our environment clean (sustainability) and a passion for helping people to feel safe and have a sense of belonging in their community.

In my future I hope to continue volunteering as much as I can. I would love to volunteer at the Royal Children’s Hospital helping out sick children and supporting their families.

 

October winner- Ally Owen

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I am a teenager who is all about helping the community, my friends and family in any way possible!

Each year for the past 6 years I have contributed to the Good Friday Appeal to raise money for the RCH.

For the past 3 years I have been a junior firefighter at the Werribee fire brigade. We train at Galvin park once a week to compete in competitions all around the state in summer seasons and learn all about fire theory at the Werribee CFA during the winter seasons.

Im currently in the process of started a recruitment course to become an operation volunteer fire fighter with the Wyndham Vale Fire Brigade, which means in the oncoming months I will be able to achieve my long wanted dreams of helping the community and protecting lives and properties around the area.

I’m definitely most passionate about helping the community. Whether it’s through firefighting or just being a good friend or family member. Other than helping others and being passionate about firefighting i’m also very passionate to grow my small online business I have created selling personalised gifts.

Each year for the past 6 years I have contributed to the Good Friday Appeal to raise money for the RCH.

Volunteering with the CFA is a step in the right direction to help my community and I hope other young people see it as something they might like to do one day.

I have worked since I was 15 years old and trained as a junior fire fighter since I was 12 so I have learnt many skills that I can use throughout my life like team work, good communication.

My dream is to continue helping everyone around me by becoming a Paramedic after I finish school and go to University.

I also would love to start a support group for young teenagers and young adults to help support them with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

 

September - Fiona Gade

One Wyndham

I am passionate about racial equality. I have contributed to my community and plan on changing society as a whole through education. I am hoping that by sharing my own story, it would help you see how passionate, kind-hearted, and dedicated I am.

I have recently joined VicSRC. I have volunteered in the youth group at my local church occasionally to help clean up Wyndham. I have helped my church raise money for charities to provide the homeless a better life thorough Caritas Australia.

I have worked as a tutor for primary and pre primary school kids where I was not only able to educate young students but also teach them the importance of education.

I am a current student who is passionate about making a difference in this community environmentally and spirtually.

Throughout my time in high school, I have been on the Student Representative Council. This has allowed me to start fundraisers within my class to raise money for people in need, attend weekly meeting with Year Level Coordinators and other SRC’s to discuss issues in our school community and how we can overcome these issues.

I am passionate about many things but most importantly racial equality. We should start with understanding the nature of the issue, which mostly consists of structural racism: hierarchies built up over centuries and still present today in everything from housing to education to workforce representation. The way forward is to recognize and combat racism systemically by dismantling it through design thinking methodologies.

I want to leave a positive impact on those around me and make a difference in the world. The best way I can do that is by influencing the younger people around me in a positive manner. I do that by being kind towards them. Whether they are younger or older than me, it doesn't matter because every day people are looking for ways to improve themselves and their lives.

I have skills such as communication skills that I have obtained from public speaking.

People can still help contribute to an inclusive, thriving community in their everyday lives without having specific sills or talents. For example, volunteering can be as simple and easy as spending time with people who don't get to do anything else, chatting to them about their day or finding out what they like to do. Simplistic acts like offering someone a drink of water or just having a chat with them can make all the difference. Another way everyone can contribute to an inclusive, thriving community is by going out on the streets with a smile on your face and saying hello to everyone you see, this will start positive conversations that may lead onto something more interesting or fun.

Often when we think of racism, we think of adults prejudicing against people of other races. However, throughout my 16 years in this country I have seen people of all ages being racist towards all races and cultures and one in four young children are racially prejudice and two-thirds of them will carry these attitudes into adulthood.

I think it’s important in the future for young children to be taught the effect and the hurtfulness of being racist so that they don't grow up with these awful prejudices. The average child will spend more than 1,000 hours of screen time in a year which shows that most of their information about the world comes from media. One possible approach is by designing a series of children's apps that combat racism as children play.

I hope to attend University and study a bachelor’s degree in the health field and one day open my own non-for-profit tuition for students that are eager to learn but can’t afford to pay for education.  

August - Eve Paesler

Eva

My names Eve and I have been volunteering/working in and around the Youth Resource Centre.

I am currently studying year 12 VCAL at Wyndham Central College.

I am passionate about sound production at live music events.

I have helped run and organise smoke drug and alcohol free events for young people in Wyndham.

I enjoy helping young people and being able to help out no matter what kind of problem they have.

I have great people skills and I can really connect with people

My ambition is to tour with a big band around Australia or the world.

July Winner - Urlik Iradukunda

July Winner - Urlik Iradukunda

Is a local emerging artist and is passionate about the arts. Urlik has experience in the creative arts as an actor, model and singer; and is currently starting his journey as a professional dancer.

His journey started in Uganda where he was in multiple dance crews and performed with well known artists in Uganda. He was 10yrs old when he started dancing and he hasn’t stopped since.

As an artist Urlik believes you always have expectations but sometimes it doesn’t go as you planned and the entertainment industry is very competitive so it’s hard to know exactly where you belong. Acknowledging myself as an emerging artist helps guides this journey towards success; I hope to find my place in the industry whilst building a foundation, working towards my craft and finding my voice.

Urlik completed L2R's Emerging Leaders program in 2021 - Igniting Legends and is now employed by L2R as an Emerging Artist at the Next Gen Wyndham, Next Gen Braybrook and Western English Language School (WELS) Hip Hop activities programs.

Urlik just won Brimbank's Africa's Got Talent. Africa’s Got Talent is an amazing youth talent quest unleashing the best of African Australian creative talents.

Through hip-hop/street dance, L2R offers culturally safe, creative spaces for young newly arrived, refugee and diverse artists and participants unable to access commercial dance and arts leadership opportunities due to social and/or financial barriers. L2R is led by the voices of the people it co-creates with, moves with and advocates for; Australia’s future creative protagonists. L2R’s distinction is its ability to draw from Hip-Hop culture to empower and critique social issues affecting young people in Melbourne’s West as they author their creative agency.

Urlik is passionate about the arts reflecting contemporary Australia and advocating for young people and artists from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and celebrating their contribution to our cultural lives. He is a leader in his community and is well respected by the street dance community and believes in the power of dance and music as social capital.

Urlik is a role model for new arrivals and young African males in his community/ as well as the wider street dance community.

Through his work at L2R, Urlik supports new arrivals by providing access to students at WELS to attend L2R's free dance programs.

L2R gives everyone involved the rare opportunity to step away from their everyday lives and family commitments to immerse themselves in their love for creativity, common freedom, dance and emergent professional pathways.

Urlik is a leader in his community and not only supports other new arrivals access arts programs, but also inspires them by seeing a young African male represented on stage.

June Winner - Frankleen Newah-Jarfoi

June Winner - Frankleen Newah-Jarfoi

Frankleen Newah-Jarfoi is an Athlete and had a very successful year. He is currently the Victoria Men's Under 18's Champion in 100 and 200 meters with a personal best of 10.69 and 22.00 second respectively. He is also the Long jump champion with a leap of 7.09m.

He was selected to represent Team Victoria at the just concluded National Athletics Championship were he came 4th in both the 100 and 200m sprints and second in the 4x100m relay . He has been selected to represent Australia in the Oceania Games in June 2022 in Mackay Queensland.

Frankleen is involved in the Western Athletics Club as an athlete and volunteer an he is also the group team Leader of the Vibe athletics team. As a member of the Western Athletics Club he was part of team that helped to promote the club into the Victoria Division one category after winning the Division 2 category.

Frankleen is presently in year 12 preparing for his VCE examination. He was attending the Good News Lutheran College but was given a sporting Scholarship at Caulfield Grammar where he is currently preparing for his exams.

He is the Youth leader of the Sierra Leone Friendship Association (SLAFA) where he worked with the youth of that community on different community project especially around healthy eating, exercise and above all their safety.

Frankleen is passionate about sports, social justice, community cohesion and development.

Frankleen and his colleague participate in the Clean up Australia Day where they cleaned up the surrounding of the church and its neighbourhood

Frankleen’s positive attitude has influenced many of his peers in the Sierra Leone community. He has influence a lot of young people to take up athletics and other sporting discipline as a way of diverting their energy into something positive and keep them away from trouble. As a result Team Vibe Athletics group is made of 80% of Multicultural youths through his influence which has also helped to increase the number of cohorts in the Western Athletics Club.

He hopes to complete his VCE and aspire to complete his university studies and ultimately represent Australia in the Olympics and Commonwealth games. Also hopes to Play either the American Football (NFL) or Australia national Rugby League (NRL)

May Winner - Ikram Mahammed

May Winner - Ikram

Ikram is passionate about increasing young people’s access to opportunities and to expand their horizons and break barriers. That is why she has launched The Beginning Project.

The Beginning Project is an online resource platform which started as an idea to ease the anxiety of entering young adulthood and provide resources and opportunities specific to living in the West side of Melbourne. We aim to be a one-in-all guide for young adults to help them achieve their ambitions and future life goals. Our vision is to ultimately help young people navigate the next chapter of their lives by providing easy access to volunteer and scholarship opportunities, sharing career journeys to educate and inspire new outlooks in life paths, as well as providing useful resources to overcome the stress many young people experience growing up. https://thebeginningproject.com/

In 2021, Ikram participated in the Young Innovators Program, a 6 months mentoring program run by Equal Ed in partnership with Wyndham City Council and Brimbank City Council. Ikram launched The Beginning Project in the showcasing event and her project won the third place and $1000 prize to spend on the next phase of her project. She is currently expanding her connections with young people in Wyndham and Wyndham workers with young people to pack the website with resources and opportunities.

Ikram is currently a third-year student studying a Bachelor of Public Health, specialising in health promotion and she is completing a Youth traineeship with CMY. She is currently working on planning and delivering programs catered to young multicultural women and expanding their experiences in leadership and governance.
Ikram is passionate about connecting with young people within her community to hear their aspirations and challenges and essentially support them to live fulfilling lives through creating safe and welcoming environments for them to connect to opportunities and thrive.

Ikram’s The Beginning Project is a tool that brings young people, youth workers and funding bodies together, in an all in one place to help young people connect with meaningful opportunities and expand their social capital. It is a space for youth workers to promote their programs and identify the gaps in the services in the region to support young people. The initiative also promotes good stories that will influence young people by increasing access and participation in opportunities.

Coming from a diverse background, she understands the issues experienced by refugee and migrant young people well, she has the ability to create a safe space with her peers to discuss these topics and lead the way to positive changes.

Ikram once mentioned:

As I grew up, I witnessed the microaggressions and dismissiveness that people that looked like me faced. When I discussed this with young people of colour around me, especially at school, we felt as if we were all clumped into a box - unable to fully express ourselves without fear of judgement. We would bounce off ideas of why we thought this happened. The main ideas that always arose were lack of representation and lack of understanding of intersectionality. ‘If people never interacted with Africans and only saw us on the news when something bad happens, this only reinforces negative perceptions of us. This thought my friend shared really stuck with me. As a young person myself, I feel like I have the responsibility to help change this ‘norm’ and create an inclusive society where all multicultural youth are accepted and championed in their lives.

Ikram hopes to further expand her career in the health promotion/ community development field through volunteering and developing her experience in the field. She hopes for a Wyndham with better access to opportunities for young people who need guidance and support.

April Winner - Asha Surujpal

April Winner - Asha Surujpal

Asha is a kind-hearted and accomplished community-orientated leader, who is committed to the betterment of society. Fervent about creating positive ripples within the community, she is involved in an array of organisations and fundraisers. A go-getter and high achiever, she approaches every opportunity in a vibrant and enthusiastic manner, striving for professional and personal growth.

In 2020, I pioneered and executed the inaugural Christmas Food Drive for the Werribee Heathdale community to donate to. Unfortunately, food insecurity has intensified in light of COVID-19, with 5% of Australians facing food insecurity and 40% of those facing it at a severe level. Wanting to help aid and resolve this prevalent issue, I decided to proactively organise and run a Food Drive, to support local families and individuals. Through generous donations, roughly 280 products were donated to Food Bank Victoria.

Aligned with my goal of continuing and growing the Food Drive, in 2021, I once again lead and coordinated the event. That year, we welcomed donations from both the Werribee Campus (Kinder - Year 12) and Melton Campus (Prep - Year 8), and as the fundraiser grew, so did the team, welcoming four additional people to the team. Exceeding our goal of 500, we raised more than 1,000 donations, which went towards supporting those within our community during Christmas!

In 2021, I was approached by my peers to join and co-lead a student-led team, to fundraise for childhood illnesses and diseases. The fundraiser included the sale of homemade, wellbeing-related products for the school community to purchase, under the premise of contributing to the wellbeing of others while getting some self-care items for themselves. Doubling our original target of $1,000, we raised $2,000, which went to Starlight Children’s Foundation, to help grant ‘Starlight Wishes’ and hopefully provide a well-deserved positive distraction to the children and their families.

At Heathdale Christian College and Alamanda K-9 College, I had the honour of serving as the House Captain and in the House’s respective Leadership Team, three times (2016, 2018 and 2022). Under these roles, I was responsible for organising the house and relating events, as well as ensuring that as a representative and as a role-model to my peers, I acted in a way that would positively influence and encourage people.

Being the recipient of several awards within school, including the Principal's Award and Good Fellowship Award, I have been recognised for my services to the community and as a leader. Further, I have participated in an array of extra-curricular activities, such as General Knowledge Team, Year 12 Jacket Design Team, College Choir, Science Talent Search, CSEN Inter-School Debating Competition and as a cast-member in Musical Productions (Beauty and the Beast & Sound of Music).

In 2021, I was employed to work as a Marketing and Innovations Intern for Patties Foods. Within my internship, it was my responsibility to lead a market insight research project to gather and analyse macro insights and data that helped provide future direction for new product development for the company.

Regarding voluntary work, I was a Junior Coach for a Girl's Football Team. I helped girls aged 4 to 7 years, gain confidence, and empowered and encouraged them to try their best, as they learnt, developed, and practised their AFL skills. This initiative was affectionately named the 'Sparkles' program and aimed to teach them the fundamental skills of AFL, in a smaller group, so their skills could develop, with more one-on-one guidance. In 2021, I had the privilege of one-one-one interviewing AFLW superstar Tayla Harris regarding inequality within the sporting industry. We discussed the progressive changes and reforms being made, and how they promote equality while also empowering more people to participate. Furthermore, we discussed additional measures and efforts that can be taken to further help quash inequality both internally within the industry and on a wider scope. This conversation provided insightful advocation for gender equality within sports and wider Australia, while also bringing further awareness to the issue.

I began volunteering at Messy Church in 2017. Here we welcome and connect with all people. We engage them in experiences and activities, that teach and explore good morals and values. In 2021, I was appointed as a Leader at Messy Church. This required me to fulfil similar roles and tasks, though at a more senior level. This experience has provided me with opportunities to connect with and meet people within the Wyndham community.

My passion for travel has allowed me to immerse myself in the culture of the respective country I am visiting. I love experiencing the food, the culture and learning about the history and heritage of different places. Travelling, whether it be intra-state, domestic or international, has enabled me to grow in appreciation for the world and those within it.

I also really enjoy creating. Whether it be cooking, baking, designing, writing or art, I love using my creativity and finding unique ways to problem-solve and think through these avenues.

Through my proactive community engagement, I aim to create a positive impact and help those within my community. Whether it be a small or significant impact, it nonetheless creates a positive one within the life of someone. I am proud to have spearheaded an initiative dedicated to providing food and grocery relief to those experiencing food insecurity. Likewise, I am proud to have been a part of a team involved in providing some much-deserved support to those experiencing childhood illnesses and their respective families. I hope that our efforts have at least supported them and brought some relief.

As previously mentioned, I have been involved in multiple organisations that have provided me opportunities to connect with, serve and influence members of the Wyndham community. I hope that through being involved in these activities, I lead by example and in doing so, motivate and empower others to be involved in and advocate for social issues that they consider significant.

Through my community engagement, I believe that I am dedicated to and passionate about creating ripples of kindness and compassion within our community. Through connecting with people, I have seen a growth in my communicational and social skills, which has heightened my confidence and encouraged an open mindset. I have demonstrated leadership qualities within a variety of my ventures, both within my school life and external community. I have found that through these activities my collaborative and team-relating skills have continued to develop. Additionally, I believe that I use my creativity and problem-solving skills to find unique ways to resolve issues or, minimise them with my planning and organisational skills. I hope that my skills contribute to upholding an inclusive and thriving Wyndham community.

I aspire to get an ATAR score that will satisfy the requirements to enrol into a double degree course at university, with the intent of fulfilling my goal of becoming a lawyer.

 

March Winner - Shane Nicole Villegas

March Winner - Shane Nicole Villegas

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?

  • Recognition through the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools, St Vinnies and Star Weekly
  • Helen Handbury Future Justice Award 2021
  • A Friends Igniting Reconciliation through Education (F.I.R.E.) Carrier
  • Established the Thomas Carr College St Vinnies since 2016
  • Thomas Carr College St Vinnies Co-President 2021
  • Joseph De Piro Life Spiritual Award 2021
  • Raising awareness and funds for the Catholic Aboriginal Ministry of Victoria, Missionary Society of St Paul and Catholic Social Services Australia.
  • A volunteer at the Hoppers Crossing Op Shop

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work.
I am a graduated Year 12 of 2021 and plan to study further in University studying Bachelor of Nursing.
F.I.R.E. Carrier is an initiative through the Catholic Aboriginal Ministry of Victoria, to educate students, teachers and families about Reconciliation
Caritas to supporting the Caritas Project Compassion Lenten Appeal.
Missionary Society of St Paul to provide support for its missions in the Philippines.
Catholic Social Services Australia to provide support for emergency relief.
Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Opening the Doors Foundation to provide financial aid to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families experiencing educational disadvantage

What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about supporting people.
I support people who are having it tough in our current society.
I support those who need them by not being the voice of them, rather, finding the words and courage for them to stand up for themselves in order to create a bigger community.
Having the passion of supporting people, I want to be a nurse to further extend my support.

What positive community service have you contributed to?
F.I.R.E. Carrier is an initiative through the Catholic Aboriginal Ministry of Victoria, to educate students, teachers and families about Reconciliation
Volunteer at Hoppers Crossing Op Shop (paused)

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?
I influence young people by relating with them and understanding their personal beliefs in life. By establishing what each young individual holds a significance to, I am able to demonstrate the actions could be made by them whilst putting their morals and values highly. After that, I believe it’s a domino-effect.

What are some of the skills or talents you have that could help contribute to an inclusive, thriving community?
The talents that would contribute to our community is my consistency, persistence and resilience to educate myself and the others around me. Being in an environment where it is a sensitive topic, it is important to be consistent and persistent on understanding our surroundings and support.
Personally, I believe I am the best at connecting to people and being that extra hand to raise awareness and funds to organisations and charities.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
I visualise my future to be supporting people in and out of my own occupation. I would like to be that person who’s seen as safe, comforting and trusting to be around with. My only hope os that I will see more open doors for me to enter in order to help different kinds of groups and communities, small and big.

February winner – Elise Gitau

February winner – Elise Gitau

Elise lives in Point Cook and was a Miss Pre-Teen Australia International Pageants State Finalist in Victoria in 2021.

Elise has completed several projects that have helped those less fortunate in the community:

Kids walk for wishes project: She walking 1000 steps in 2021 where she raised $2300 for the Make-A-Wish Australia.

The book project: Elise raised $1500, and after working with her Kenyan community in Victoria, received books donations, finished sorting and packing those books ready to be shipped to Mully Children's Family in Kenya. Elise hopes to continue with this project in the future by working toward sending books to vulnerable children around the world at least twice a year.

In the bag project: Through the generosity of her family and friends at Kenyan Community Victoria, Elise raised money for 15 Coles Group & Myer gift cards and one box filled with essential personal items in support of those who are experiencing domestic violence @hearts_ofpurple

Welcome table for those experiencing homelessness: Elise was privileged and honoured to spend Good Friday learning and serving the community at the Lynbrook community centre.

The Western Bulldog Goal mentorship and leadership program: Elise has completing the 2021 Leadership program with Western Bulldogs Community Foundation. Elise was featured as ‘Human of the West’ on August 2021 by the foundation.

State and National gymnastic championship 2017-2019: Elise represented her school in both state and national gymnastics championships, and her trio was ranked 1st at the 2019 state championship.

Elise enjoys Drama and has a strong affinity with the performing Arts. Elise hopes to complete further acting training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts upon finishing high school.

January Winner - Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

My name is Natasha and I am a 19-year-old, first-year University student with a passion for social justice. I have been actively involved in social justice from Year 7 where I got a taste of Volunteering with St Vincent de Paul at my High School. Ever since I have taken on many volunteering opportunities. I want to help people in my community. I use volunteering as an outlet from studies and to help people in any way I can. Volunteering has allowed me to meet so many new people, make some amazing friendships that I cherish and life experiences that could never be read in a book, but only experienced through the people in our very own community.

In between my studies, I do plenty of volunteer work around the Wyndham Area and neighbouring suburbs.I volunteer most of my time to St Vincent de Paul in multiple ways. This includes home visits, working in the call centre and a breakfast club. I am elected secretary for the Hoppers Crossing North St Vincent de Paul conference, which entails sending out calls to our home visitors daily as well as working closely with the presidents to make sure the conference is running smoothly. Every Friday, I also commit myself to visit people in our local community of Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit and Truganina, where we mainly provide food vouchers for emergency food relief and meet some of the most amazing people. I've also recently committed myself on a Thursday to help in the Werribee area, due to the Werribee St Vincent de Paul Conference needing some volunteers while we are in lockdown, going to visit people in the Werribee and Wyndham Vale area. At the start of this year, I started volunteering on a Wednesday in the St Vincent de Paul Crisis Call Centre, situated in Box Hill, where I get to speak and hear the stories of 100s of people in need of help all over metro Victoria including those of the Wyndham area. I also committed myself every Friday morning (at the early hours of 7.30) to help give breakfast to the Thomas Carr College students with the St Vincent de Paul Breakfast Club. Thomas Carr College was the high school I did go to and I was one of the founding members of the Breakfast Club at Thomas Carr College. Unfortunately, the breakfast club is not running due to COVID, but as soon as it can, we will be back open for the students.

I am an active member of the St James Catholic Church where I formed a bond with our parish priests. I am helping in many ways within the church including helping run masses, setting up for masses, cleaning after masses, being a member of the COVID-Committee which allows for our church to run during COVID, and many other roles.
I also currently volunteer as a coach for an hour every Tuesday at Werribee Hockey Club (covid permitting) where we teach and introduce our young under 10 hockey players to hockey. This helps our club greatly in getting new young members to keep our club alive.
One of my biggest achievements was being awarded the Bruce Runnals Spiritual Life Award 2020 at Thomas Carr College. It is one of the most prestige awards of the college and is awarded to a Year 12 student who actively participates in liturgies, a promotion of the Catholic Ethos of the College and active involvement in striving for social justice within the college and the wider community.

I am currently studying full time at La Trobe University, studying a Bachelor of Prosthetics and Orthotics. In between my studies, I do plenty of volunteer work around not only the Wyndham Area but also our neighbouring suburbs. They are as followed;

  • Hoppers Crossing North St Vincent de Paul Secretary
  • Hoppers Crossing North St Vincent de Paul Home Visiter member (Visit people in the areas of Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit and Truganina providing Food Relief)
  • Werribee St Vincent de Paul Home visiter (Visit people in the areas of Werribee and Wyndham Vale providing Food Relief)
  • St Vincent de Paul Crisis Call Centre (Speaking to hundreds of people in metro Victoria who are in need of emergency relief such as housing, food, clothing, financial relief and homelessness resources)
  • St Vincent de Paul Breakfast Club member (providing breakfast to Thomas Carr College Students who haven't had breakfast in the morning)
  • Werribee Hockey Club Volunteer Coach (coaching and introducing young kids to our club and allow for our hockey club to grow)
  • Active member of the St James Catholic Church in Hoppers Crossing (help the parish priests in many ways)

I am most passionate about social justice and equity in our community, where I feel I can achieve this in the many ways I volunteer with St Vincent de Paul. St Vincent de Paul is a non-profit organisation that is run completely by volunteers who helps others from the kindness of their heart. I find that this volunteering also makes me feel proud of myself and gives me one of many reasons to remember how lucky I am to have a loving and supportive family, as well as a roof over my head. It also allows me to learn new things from all the different inspirational people that I volunteer with, and the community around us.

Volunteering with St Vincent de Paul for the past 3 years has granted me the opportunity to help many walks of life, from the high school students who just need a little bit of breakfast to the oldest members of our Wyndham community who just need a chat. I help people with emergency food relief in the Wyndham community and help with resources to give to the Wyndham community and the wider metro Victoria who are in need of relief of housing, food and financial help.
Emerging myself with my local church from ever since I can remember, St James the Apostle Catholic Church, I have got help not only my parish priest but also the church community, meeting many people and help the church run smoothly.

For two years, after a school day, I would go volunteer at my local community centre in Tarneit with the Edmund Rice Foundation. This foundation gave an opportunity to refugee children that attend many of our local primary schools to attend tutoring. This included group tutoring sessions where we helped these students with their schoolwork and homework, giving them a bit of extra help where many refugee parents could not due to either not having English as a language or not having previous education, as well as giving them a place to study if there was not a place at home. This allowed these children's to keep up with other children their age and in their school journey.

I volunteer with Werribee Hockey Club, my beloved club that I have played at since I was 10. The Hookin2Hockey Program, which is a ploy to get more young children playing hockey, was where I got introduced to hockey, the sport I love. I want to do the same for young children wanting to start hockey by teaching my skills to those just starting out.

I try to be a positive role model to other young people, especially those at my old high school. I stay in touch with the Social Justice team at my college and go to many events to talk about my experiences as a young person who volunteers. I would love to get more young people really involved and interested in social justice, and that not having enough time is never a good excuse for not being able to volunteer.

I think talking and listening to people, and really getting to know their story is something of a skill or talent necessary to ensure for a thriving community. In my volunteering at St Vincent de Paul as Crisis Call Centre volunteer and home visitor, listening to a person and finding out their story without prejudgement is sometimes hard, but necessary. Peoples stories are the most important part of them, and the things you learn from these people are unimaginable. It also allows me to see how lucky I am as a person, especially in the lives of some of the people I speak to every day. During Covid, especially in 2020 where it was harder for all (including myself completing Year 12 in lockdown), volunteering was tough as we saw many people at the worst after the effect of no income and the decrease in the mental health of many. Sometimes, the only thing people needed was to have a good chat and for someone to listen to them, a lot of them were isolated from all their family and friends, us being the only people they speak to in days. That power of listening and having a good chat restored a little bit of happiness, I hope, in some.

I hope to graduate in 4 years from University with a Bachelor of Prosthetics and Orthotics. This will allow me to make and fit prosthetic limbs to amputees. I do hope that once I graduate, I will be able to use my new skills as a Prosthesis Orthosis to volunteer with the Red Cross in third-world countries (hopefully we can travel by then!) and to gain work experience in regional and Indigenous parts of Australia, where leading cases of amputation are in Australia due to the more risk of chronic conditions such as Diabetes. I hope to also continue to volunteer in many ways with St Vincent de Paul, to continue to meet many people within our community.

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