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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.

The award aims to build the profile of young people who are positively contributing to the Wyndham community and thank them for their dedication. 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 $200 GiftPay gift voucher, for materials that will help with their education, work or voluntary commitments
• A certificate, which they can reference in their CV and job applications
• A professional photo and video showcasing their accomplishments, to be published on Council’s social media accounts and in Council centres
• A profile article in the Council magazine, Wyndham News, and on the One Wyndham webpage
• A bi-monthly advert in the Star Weekly newspaper, highlighting their achievements
• Invitation and participation in the End of Year Youth Celebration in December

One Wyndham Application Form (self-nominate)

One Wyndham Nomination Form (nominate someone else)

2022

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.

2021

December winner - Aakriti Malhorta

Aakriti Malhotra

Please share your own bio/story which best describes why you should be the One Wyndham Young Person of the Month.

Aakriti, 15, is a leader in her community. She is a dedicated and passionate advocate for student voice, mental health, gender equality, inclusive education, and social justice.

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?

I am very involved with both my immediate and global community!

I am the Co-Chair of the Student Executive Advisory Committee at the Victorian Student Representative Council, the peak-body advocating for student voice and empowering students across the state.

As a member of the Executive Committee at VicSRC over the last 2 years,
- I spoke as a panellist at the Coming Out Of Covid: Mental Health Webinar, run by Prevention United.
- I posed a question to the Victorian Minister for Education at the VCOSS Education Summit.
- I met with Ian Burrage, the Department Secretary for School Education Programs & Support at Department of Education & Training.
- I met with the Hon. Minister James Merlino, the Victorian Minister for Education (once in 2020, again in 2021). We discussed a range of issues in the education sector, including mental health, after which he requested a follow-up meeting seeking advice in the implementation process of the Royal Commission into Mental Health Report Recommendations.
- I spoke at the Guiding Coalition: Health, Wellbeing and Inclusion working group
- was invited to speak at the opening panel of The Age Education Summit, along with many other educators, policymakers etc.
- Organised and facilitated a webinar for VicSRC revolving around the lack of accurate and wholesome sexual education and consent, partnering with the Department of Education & Training, Parents VIC, and Family Planning Victoria.
- Spoke at a panel at the Enhancing Student Mental Health, Wellbeing and Engagement, a National Conference that was streamed virtually Australia-wide.

I am also a:
- Maths and English tutor at EqualEd, a non-profit organisation that provides for students from disadvantaged backgrounds (2020, 2021).
- A netball player at the Hobson's Bay Netball Club - we have recently finished the first season, winning the championships with a record of being undefeated!

Throughout my schooling journey, I also:
- participated in the International Maths Modelling Competition, and was selected to be the Team Leader.
- took part in the Australian Maths Competition, and been awarded a High Distinction and the Best-In-School Award.
- participated in the Big Science Competition.
- took part in the Singapore International Science Competition, and was selected to be the Team Leader. Our research report was chosen to be published in the SISC e-Proceedings by the judging committee.

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work.

I am currently a Year 10 Student Ambassador at Suzanne Cory High School. I am engaged with all domains at school - I am part of the following ensembles:
- Symphony Orchestra
- SCHS Cantabile Choir
- SCHS Girls Choir
- Rothwell (House) Instrumental Band

I was also part of the following sports teams earlier this year:
- Interschool Netball Team
- Interschool Softball Team
- Interschool AFL Team
I also play for a local netball club. We have recently finished the first season, winning the championships with a record of being undefeated!

In my school, I have also established, facilitated and taken part in numerous clubs and initiatives:
- initiated the Daffodil Day Appeal
- leader of the Kpop Dance Club
- facilitator of the Creating Conversations program, a program where students reform the school curriculum based on student feedback
- initiated an Online Dance Competition
- member of the School Weeks Planning Faculty
- member of DAV Debating Competition Interschool Team, and I have also won Best Speaker in all my debates
- invited to take part in the DAV Victorian State Trials for the state debating team
- took part in the DAV Public Speaking Competition

My school also does "Colours Awards'' at the end of each year to reward students for their engagement, achievement and leadership in various domains of our school. I have received the following colours awards in my first year at school:
- Bronze Sport
- Bronze Music
- Silver School Engagement
- Silver Extra-Curricular
- Gold Community Engagement

I was also awarded the Academic Achievement award.

What are you most passionate about?

I am extremely passionate about, among many other things, mental health, gender equality, and inclusive education.

I am very passionate about mental health, particularly in young people. The current pandemic we are facing has not only shed light on but also exacerbated the gaps in our mental health system, and has emphasised to address the current mental health crisis.

Another passion of mine is gender equality, particularly in STEM. As a female passionate about STEM myself, it's heartbreaking that many other girls share the same passion as me, but are stopped from pursuing their dream by external barriers that have been created by society. We need to work towards bridging the gender gap, not only in STEM, but in all industries, everywhere.

Last but not least, I am passionate about inclusive education. Everyone has different styles and ways of learning and engaging, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" formula to education. The current education system is restrictive and narrow, proving suitable for only some students. But COVID has shown us that personalised learning is the key to excelling in any situation. We need to adapt our system and mould it to suit the requirements of students.

What positive community service have you contributed to?

I have been volunteering at aged-care centres for much of my life. Last year at school, I joined an initiative called “Bedside Buds”, where we go to an aged-care centre to spend some time with the elderly. I often lead activities, like quizzes, games etc., getting both the elderly and students involved!

Then during lockdown and COVID, we obviously weren’t able to continue our regular trips. So, I joined another initiative called “Letters Against Isolation” or “LAISO”, where we regularly wrote letters to an aged-care centre resident.

I really enjoyed these initiatives, because in the current climate, we all need a reminder that we are all in this together!

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?

Last year, I joined Equal Ed as a Volunteer Maths and English Tutor.

Equal Ed runs community tutoring programs for humanitarian migrants. I am also a firm believer in educational equality - students should have access to good quality education and a wide support network, regardless of their race, culture, gender, background, or socio-economic status. Volunteering at Equal Ed enables me to make change, raise awareness, support the cause, and also encourage others to do the same.

I strive to be a role model for my community. I always encourage my peers to be the best versions of themselves, and I love to help my peers excel. As well as having a civic mindset and always actively engaging and participating in community events, etc, I encourage those around me to do the same.

What are some of the skills or talents you have that could help contribute to an inclusive, thriving community?

I am skilled in public speaking, which allows me to communicate with all kinds of people on a large scale. I am also a team player, and I love contributing to my community. I house a lot of creativity and enthusiasm, which comes in handy in developing and executing community projects, and finally I have a desire to help those around me to excel in life and succeed.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?

I aspire to go into Medicine, and particularly, I’d like to work with young people. I love to help people, and it gives me joy to contribute to society. I also love young people and their raw, dynamic personalities! Working in the medical field to help young people is my passion and goal.

November winner - Ashlee Brown

November winner - Ashlee Brown

Please share the nominee’s bio/story which best describes why they should be the One Wyndham Young Person of the Month.
Ashlee is an amazing young lady. She's been through a lot and is inspiring young people to achieve great things no matter what life throws at you.

What is the nominee’s community involvement and/or achievements?
She volunteers independently to run a support group for those who are healing from trauma and awakening.
She has many groups include online (multiple worldwide Facebook groups), where she mentors and assists others.

Please tell us about the nominee’s current studies, employment or voluntary work.
Ashlee is currently studying her Masters is Reiki (energy healing ). She's also an author.

What is the nominee most passionate about?
Ashlee is passionate about her family and fellow human beings, specifically in the fields of health & nutrition, mental health and awakening & belonging. She's also into crystals.

What positive community service has the nominee contributed to?
Ash Brown has previously volunteered with office duties at the local church and day care centre.  

How does the nominee influence other young people within the community in a positive way?
Young people look up to Ashlee. She is a positive example for other people. She never gives up and has dealt with everything life has thrown at her.
It's so inspirational how she can juggle her studies, community involvement, running her small candle making business as well as looking after two children on her own.

What are some of the skills or talents the nominee has that could help contribute to an inclusive, thriving community?
Ashlee is a very open-minded person who spreads so much positive energy!
She believes that we're all connected to each other and have a place. She's an example of how someone can achieve many great things, despite their circumstances.

What are the nominee’s hopes and dreams for the future?
Ashlee wants to keep spreading positivity for a better future and achieve world peace.

 

October winner- Aanchal Sharma

Aanchal Sharma

Please share your own bio/story which best describes why you should be the One Wyndham Young Person of the Month.

When entering senior school, I had less confidence and I was pessimistic, because I had already thought before-hand that I wasn’t capable of doing tasks that everyone else could. I have also faced gender-based discrimination in primary school with people telling me that I wasn’t good enough to play my favourite sport, Table Tennis, because I was the only girl. From that day on, I knew that I was definitely capable of doing so. I took this as a challenge to prove to everyone that I can win, that I was fully capable of winning. With such supportive parents and friends, I worked towards changing my attitude into an optimistic view and building my self-esteem by signing up to several clubs and inter-school debating and public speaking competitions. By working hard and not giving up, and thinking positively, I received successful results, including many best speaker awards in assemblies for Debating and Public Speaking, and in Year 9 I was elected to represent my class as a SRC member. Having self-confidence extended my abilities, and helped me form new bonds with peers, think critically and creatively, and explore new hobbies. It brought me out of a bubble - I was trapped in.

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?

I have many achievements : I have been selected as part of the Under 17’s President State Team to represent Victoria at Nationals in Brisbane, Queensland. I am an integral part of the sports and music program at my school, and I have been selected to represent my school at Regional Cross Country.
In 2021, on the 19th of May, I organised a group of students to help out in a Bake Sale to raise money for a national charity, the Leukaemia Foundation and help the struggling individuals and families who were the most affected during the pandemic. We raised a total of $437.10. Recently, I have been featured in a local newspaper article for Wyndham, Star Weekly, for my achievements in table tennis and for promoting girls, females and gender diverse people to play sports. There is still a gender inequality that exists. I want to end gender disparity.

I also organise many events by coordinating with organisations and school staff like the Bake Sale and I am working with my school staff to organize the ‘World’s Vision Australia 40 Hour Famine’ for my school to raise money for those facing famine around the world, especially those affected by COVID-19.

Last year, I worked together with a group of two peers to reduce food waste in the wider community. My group was going to work with the Wyndham council to establish compost bins in many schools and in local parks, but unfortunately due to the COVID-19 predicament we weren’t able to. Although we endured challenges on the way because of the lockdown, despite that, we were able to work with young people in our school and the wider community, creating social media posts to raise awareness and engaging videos with simple demos to create a compost bin at home.

I involve myself regularly within the community, which has and will continue to grow me as an individual, and ever since, I have been focusing on promoting self-confidence and self-esteem, to encourage youths to believe in themselves.

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work.

I am currently in Year 10 at Suzanne Cory High School. I have been participating in a wide range of activities within my school, throughout the year to give back to my school and the wider community. Prior COVID-19, I have volunteered in the past years and been involved in the Junior Action Service Program at my school where I committed a total of 25 hours to community service. This involved picking up rubbish in local Wyndham parks and volunteering at local temples and food stalls to raise money for charity.

I volunteer on a weekly basis at Equal Ed, a social enterprise that works towards making education and academic support more accessible. I assist young people, who face financial difficulties or are from disadvantaged backgrounds and empower them, as I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to learn.

What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about gender equality and dedicated to raising awareness to break the barriers that exist in today’s society. I believe that everyone should be given an equal opportunity to participate in their hobbies, interests regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexuality. Along with this, I continue to promote self-confidence to youths within my community. Depression, anxiety and suicide rates are interrelated to one’s self-worth and self-confidence. Especially during the pandemic, there has been a strain on the mental health of youth. During the lockdown, the least I have been doing is reaching out to family and friends, to let them know that there are people here to help and open to talk with.

I am working towards creating my very own blog to raise awareness about ‘mental health’ and create motivational quotes and messages to spread. This provides me and other youths the opportunity to reach out to others. Every small contribution can add up to make a big difference. As Michelle Obama quoted, “your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.”

What positive community service have you contributed to?

I am an enthusiastic and keen individual, passionate and determined to contribute and payback to my community, in every way possible. I was selected as the ‘Peer Support Leader’ at my school and was given the opportunity to share my ambition of assisting young people through offering assistance, guidance and dedication to give younger students the power of education at my school, through the Peer Support Program. Last year, I was nominated as the ‘Year 9 SRC’ and I absolutely loved talking to my classmates and talking with staff about the prominent issues that were affecting students at our school. We worked together to create activities and challenges in lockdown for students to have a go at - to promote their health and wellbeing.

This year, I have gotten the opportunity to participate in the VicCongress to talk with other Victorian students about the biggest top issues in Victorian education, mainly focusing on student-led action in schools and mental health. Recently, I participated in the ‘Parliament Prize’ and spoke about the rights for youths and how their voice needs to be heard especially in this pandemic. As Stephen Covey quoted, “ The key to life is not accumulation, it is contribution.”

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?

I encourage other young people to build their confidence, to step out of their comfort zone and explore new opportunities - because you never know what you will find! I also lead by example, and continuously remind youths that we are all in this together! I have been reaching out to the Wyndham community through my newspaper article, empowering youths to believe in themselves and take part when the opportunities arrive. Sometimes it may be rough, but we will all together overcome this barrier - because remember you will never be alone!

What are some of the skills or talents you have that could help contribute to an inclusive, thriving community?

I am a well-spoken, approachable and friendly individual who possesses many leadership qualities including upholding integrity, having a clear vision and goal to strive for, and motivating others in my community. I am always willing to take risks, embrace challenges and empower others to do their best. I love to be part of an enriched, challenging environment where I can enhance my knowledge and skills and share my passion with like-minded peers. I am a high achiever student, and I immensely enjoy studying my school subjects, and being part of extended programs within and outside my school, as it challenges me to take on board new tasks and risks. I am going for VicSRC this year, and I believe this is the very opportunity I was waiting for to unleash my potential for creativity, develop my communication and collaboration abilities, and build upon my critical thinking skills. I am really passionate about making a change within my community, as I believe every Victorian student deserves to be heard and I want to be part of the difference. I want to make a difference.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?

I want to continue to build on my public speaking skills, so one day I can become a lawyer and fulfil the many hopes and dreams that youths have to thrive for a better future. I will continue to advocate and raise awareness in our community, and hope I can work more with the wider community when the restrictions are eased to promote gender equality and mental health in Wyndham.

September Winner - Yadani Kekadu

September Winner - Yadani Kekadu

Yadani is a year 12 student leader at Emmanuel College. This year she is performing the role of Mission Social Justice Captain. She is a friendly, hard-working student, with a strong sense of social justice and fairness.

What is the nominee’s community involvement and/or achievements?
Yadani's efforts as social justice captain this year have resulted in almost $20,000 raised by our community for international aid, local mental health services, local services for the homeless and the cancer council. She has also raised awareness for social causes; LGBTQI+ inclusion, discrimination, gender equity and highlighting the plight of refugee and asylum seekers.

Please tell us about the nominee’s current studies, employment or voluntary work.
Yadani is currently studying year 12 at Emmanuel College, in Point Cook.
She is highly engaged and spends a lot of time volunteering to promote social justice issues and raise funds for the community. Recently fundraising for the Relay for Life.

What is the nominee most passionate about?
Social Justice and inclusion.

What positive community service has the nominee contributed to?
Yadani recently promoted and took part in a refugee vigil outside The Park Hotel in Carlton where 35 refugees were being indefinitely detained.

Partnering with another student, Yadani wrote a letter and accompanying petition to Federal Minister, Karen Andrews, Minister for Home Affairs of Australia on the refugee’s plight. The petition was signed by nearly 800 staff and students – which was an impressive achievement.

Yadani is in the process of organising a local St Vinnies Winter Sleep Out to raise awareness and money for the homeless.

How does the nominee influence other young people within the community in a positive way?
Yadani raises awareness of social issues, promotes activities that encourage solidarity and raises funds for just causes.

What are some of the skills or talents the nominee has that could help contribute to an inclusive, thriving community?
Promoting inclusion in our community and raising awareness of injustices and helping to provide platforms to fundraise, engage and promote positive change.

What are the nominee’s hopes and dreams for the future?
Yadani hopes to achieve a strong ATAR and pursue tertiary education.

August - Blake Jenner

August - Blake Jenner

Please share your own bio/story which best describes why you should be the One Wyndham Young Person of the Month.

I am an artist who creates work around social issues, such as LGBTIAQ+ rights and relationships, mental health issues and issues around body dysmorphia.

I believe that one way to get publicity around issues such as these is to approach them in a unique way.
My perspective comes from growing up in the mental health system and seeing those around me suffering from similar issues, but not being able to express it.

I believe that with art, you are free, to express whatever it is and by expressing this you are then paving the path for people in similar situations to be heard and not hideaway.

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?

I have many achievements;  volunteering at Headspace for four years. I have assisted in health promotional workshops. webinars, interviews, and video-making around LGBTIA+ issues and I have been involved in many Youth Resource Centre programs including the Civic Participation program.

I have submitted artwork into a number of exhibitions and am currently displaying work at the Melton Civic Centre.

In the past, I have given speeches at many LGBTIQ+ events and raised the rainbow flag in Werribee.

I am a positive role model for the young people of Wyndham by setting myself high standards and reaching them.

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work.

I am currently studying for a bachelor of Social work. I am absolutely loving it as it gives me chance to not only give back to the community that helped me but help to create new pathways and new programs that have not been initiated yet.

I am a swimming instructor. It gives me the opportunity to connect and form relationships with all kinds of people - young and old.

I volunteer as a health promotion officer. This is a great opportunity and I thoroughly enjoy volunteering with this project, it is something new and challenging each time and it fulfills my expectations.

What are you most passionate about?

I am very passionate about young people’s mental health and LGBRIAQ+ health and wellbeing. Growing up in the mental health system has allowed me to have a unique perspective on how young people are treated differently to adults and how young people do not have as many access opportunities for services around mental health and queer health.

I believe change needs to happen and sooner than later. Some young people are coming out of these services worse than they went in. This may be a conversation people may not want to have, but it needs to be addressed and a plan put in place with the help of the young people so they can access the services they need.

What positive community service have you contributed to?

Recently I took part in an IPC Health project. We created a video for IPC Health's staff to watch and learn. The video was on how healthcare workers and health settings were able to change and grow with Trans and gender-diverse young people in mind.

This video was shown in a webinar with a Q & A session following. I loved this opportunity to be able to be heard and have questions directed at me so that I had that opportunity to answer not only honestly, but with the future young trans or gender diverse young people in mind. I felt like I was able to make a difference for the future young people who access healthcare services and need to have their rights and their identity validated.

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?

I think that people who know me, know that I have been through a lot in my short life and I think that those experiences allow me to be more positive about life.

What are some of the skills or talents you have that could help contribute to an inclusive, thriving community?

I have great communication skills which I have developed from public speaking.
I have an interesting perspective on many issues.
I am good at initiating conversations.
I have life experience, this allows me to be empathetic and to know what works and what doesn't.
I am creative and look for new ways of doing things

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?

I plan on finishing my studies; bachelor of social work and then get a job helping people.  

I plan on creating new services and programs and assisting to enhance established services.

More importantly, I want to make changes and a real difference to young people. So all young people can access the health and wellbeing services they need.

July Winner - Tanya Ajit

 July Winner - Tanya Ajit

Tanya has been an amazing and inspiring member in our newly set up ICE club, Werribee Secondary College very own Investment, Innovation and Entrepreneurship club, and we are learning from her how she had setup her own financial literacy program for youths. She is a highly confident public speaker, with maturity and sensitivity well beyond her age. She is a good team player who cheers her team mates on, and is highly committed to community contributions and an aspiring entrepreneur or corporate leader.

She ensures she spends time nurturing close family and friendship relationships, as she juggles successfully her rigorous IB academic currciulum and modelling career. I am personally investing time to nurture this youth to greater success and be a mentor/life coach for her via our Entrepreneurship club.

She is achieving and sustaining A grade performance in effort, behavior, attitude and learning assessments and that is outstanding given the heavy extra-curricular achievements. If awarded the prize, she will be an exemplary role model to all Wyndham Youth.

What is the nominee’s community involvement and/or achievements?

  • Participating in ‘Youth in Philanthropy’ which is a program for high school students in which they are able to allocate funds to charities using a criteria they make, their judgment on the charities and the charities applications
  • Volunteered at Werribee Salvation Army which allowed me to understand the hardships that people face in or community and help them out, and also to be grateful for what I have.
  • Participated in Miss Teen Galaxy Australia and placed 2nd runner up, Most Photogenic and Miss Congeniality. Australia Galaxy Pageants aims to “provide the motivation and tools for all delegates to become the best possible version of themselves” which was one of my key takeaways from the experience as well as making new friends, representing Victoria, building on my confidence and finding a new passion.
  • In 2019, I completed the ‘Modelling and Grooming’ diploma by Tanya Powell Modelling Agency which has opened many doors for me in the industry. I have worked with a local Indian brand called ‘Couture Mantra’ and recently signed with JR Management. By making my mark in the industry, I aim to promote self-love and acceptance of everyone for who they are.

Please tell us about the nominee’s current studies, employment or voluntary work.

  • In 2019, I completed the ‘Modelling and Grooming’ diploma by Tanya Powell Modelling Agency which has opened many doors for me in the industry. I have worked with a local Indian brand called ‘Couture Mantra’ and recently signed with JR Management. By making my mark in the industry, I aim to promote self-love and acceptance of everyone for who they are.
  • Assistant Dance Teacher at That Dance Place until 2021. This was an amazing opportunity which exposed me to many tricky situations in which I had to think on the spot, communicate with a variety of age ranges such as kids and parents. During 2020, it was very difficult to keep the students motivated as classes were online however by coming up with ways to engage them such as having a show and tell at the end of class worked really well.
  • Participated in X-Culture which is a project designed to offer students an opportunity to work in a Global Virtual Team (GVT) and complete a project for a real business client and, in the process, experience the challenges and learn the best-practices of global virtual collaboration and business consulting. I placed in the top 6.6% out of +5000 including university students and my team placed in the top 27% out of 1277 highly skilled and competitive teams.

What is the nominee most passionate about?

Social Media Manager for My Piggy Bank which is a online literacy platform targeting young stunts and kids to build on their financial literacy. This is an area which kids are not aware of but should be aware of as it impacts their whole lives and how they value the money that they make, thus by working with a team of brilliant minded people from across the world we came up with a platform to educate youth and provide free resources and tutoring in various areas.

What positive community service has the nominee contributed to?

  • In 2019 I was awarded the ‘Year 9 Leadership Potential Award’ which lead to become more involved in the school community. Now, I am currently the Positive Climate for Learning Vice-Captain which gives me the honour in representing our school communities’ voice regarding their learning, the environment they are learning in, what they learn and how they are taught and treated in the school. One of our main goals this year is to implement a successful merit system in which students are rewarded for a variety of things such as following the school values. This opportunity allows me to come up with new ideas, analysis data, research and then implement those ideas which is absolutely amazing!
  • Volunteering at the school library has been an absolute pleasure! The staff are incredibly nice and this experience really allows me to dig deeper into my create side whilst giving back to my school community which provides me with so many opportunities and support. Volunteering at the library has taught me many things such as the value of books, coming up with unique ‘month themes’ but most of all, how undescribable the pleasure of helping people out is even without a reward.

How does the nominee influence other young people within the community in a positive way?

  • I have fundraised for ‘Make-A-Wish Foundation’ by going house to house selling cupcakes and protein balls and also fundraised for the ‘Bushfire Foundation’ by doing a fitness boot camp. These were tremendously fun and the idea of helping someone in need with the money I raised was an amazing feeling.
  • I have started my own blog called ‘My Mind Remedy’ which provides a platform for me to motivate and support people in our community as well as provide information on study ethics, reviews, etc. My aim is to share my experiences and what I learned from them as well as express who I am as a person and my views on the world.

What are some of the skills or talents the nominee has that could help contribute to an inclusive, thriving community?

She is a wonderful team player who puts the community needs above her own needs, and is confident to use her intellectual, public speaking skills and determination to serve her community. She is highly empathetic towards the needs of our members in the Entrepreneurship club.

What are the nominee’s hopes and dreams for the future?

She aspires to be a social enterprise entrepreneur, developing her own business to better society and improve financial literacy of youth, and looks forward to furthering her studies in media and business at the university level. She would hope to rise up as a youth leader within the Wyndham council area to develop and implement transformational policies for the advocacy and betterment of youth needs and priorities.

June Winner – Joann Manoj Jacob

June Winner – Joann Manoj Jacob

When I arrived in Melbourne for the first time at five years old, I was quiet, shy and unassuming. I liked writing and reading stories, but not much else. I felt much more comfortable with my nose buried in a good book than I did talking and playing with other children. However, I was blessed to have supportive parents and teachers who pushed me every step of the way to participate and try new things, even if I thought I would fail. Somewhere along the way, I discovered an intense passion for public speaking. The first time that I spoke at a school mass, it is safe to say that I was not very good. I kept looking at my parents in the crowd, who would respond with encouraging smiles, and I rushed through the scripture that I was assigned. However, I will never forget the rush of adrenaline and happiness that ran through me while I spoke in front of an audience for the first time. After this initial spark of interest, I began to take initiative; I signed up for every opportunity that might entail public speaking, from school assemblies to class captaincy. Initially I was awkward in front of people, and I had not yet discovered my speaking style. However, as time went on and I practiced more and more, I became more confident and articulate. To this day, I know that I have many areas to improve in, and I am well aware that I am far from perfect, but I am proud of how far I have come.

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?

In 2020, I entered the Parliament Prize competition, a public speaking contest that challenged the students of Victoria to address an issue that they would discuss if they were a Member of Parliament. I spoke about racial inequality and Indigenous deaths in custody, and I placed first. Additionally, I placed first and second in the Imagination Creation Writing Competition in 2020, for my poems ‘The Final Moments of A Particular Butterfly’ and ‘Marionette.’ I also received the Julia Gillard Award for demonstrating a commitment to civics and citizenship, and was granted a general excellence award and four academic excellence awards for Humanities, Design and Technology, Religion and English within my school, MacKillop Catholic Regional College. In 2019, I was highly commended in the Insight Writing Competition, and I was published in the international magazine, Reader’s Digest, for my anecdote called ‘Chasing Shadow.’ I was a social justice and liturgy leader in 2018, and I wanted to give back to the community, so I organised a fundraiser for Vinnies within my school. It was a gargantuan effort, but I was so proud of the results and we came up with four full bags of groceries to donate. Recently, I sat the entrance examinations for selective entry schools, and was accepted into my first preference, Suzanne Cory High School. I was very sad to leave MacKillop behind, but it had been my dream to attend this school for six years, and I knew that I had to look to the future instead of clinging to the past. I hope to grow, improve and achieve great things, but I will never forget the opportunities that got me to the place where I am.

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work

I am currently in Year Nine at Suzanne Cory High School. I am exploring plenty of different subjects and I try to participate in school related activities as much as I can. Recently, I participated in the swimming carnival and qualified for the inter-school swim team, and I am involved in a number of co-curricular activities, such as Debating and Public Speaking and Environment Club. I also hope to join Book Club soon, once the meetings begin to commence. I have also been offered a job at a tutoring centre called MindMax Tutoring, where I make educational videos that teach Maths, Numerical Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension to youth. I am very grateful for this opportunity, because I truly believe in the power of education, and hope that I can pass on some of my knowledge.

What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about civil rights and equality. I believe that everyone should be given opportunities to succeed and thrive in life, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or financial status. I am humbled by the chances I have been presented with, and I am aware of my privilege to live in a first world country with parents who are able to provide and care for me. I know that not everyone is born with the same luxuries, and after visiting the Melbourne CBD on the mandatory school city week trip, I could finally visualise this for myself. It was eye-opening to see people sleeping in graffitied alleyways that reeked of urine and sitting outside restaurants with their hands cupped out in front of them, desperate for loose change. Where I had previously only been able to see statistics, now I see people. I felt an urge to inspire change, and I sincerely believe that we as a nation cannot move forward until we have righted past wrongs, whether that be with the Indigenous people, whose land and dignity we have stolen on so many occasions, or for the growing population of homeless individuals.

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?

I try to influence young people in the community in a positive way by helping them to understand the importance of education, and by teaching them as much as I know when it comes to subjects that I am confident in, such as English. I do this through the tutoring organisation that I work for part-time, and also in informal settings, such as with friends or family friends. I pride myself in encouraging others around me to participate in everything they can, even if they feel unsure. I have encountered so many people with a great deal of talent but not enough self-confidence to do things like enter an art competition, or audition for a musical. I always tell these kinds of people to just do it, because honestly, what’s the worst thing that could happen? If you are rejected, then that’s completely normal and you can just move on. If not, you have an accomplishment that you can be proud of. It takes a lot of bravery to attempt something that you are not familiar with, and every time I see someone step out of their comfort zone to strive for their best, it brings a smile to my face. I can certainly say that I might not have participated in the amount of things that I have if I had not had the support from my amazing family and teachers. I just want to pass this same support on to people who might need it.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
In the future, I hope to enter law and eventually politics. I want to help create a nation where people are not discriminated against, a nation where laws are just and enforced fairly, a nation where people can work together to save the environment and preserve our unique culture for future generations. I know that these are lofty goals, but I will do my best to achieve them. I believe in democracy and equality, and if I ever do end up in Parliament House, every action that I take will be done with the best of intentions for our country and all its inhabitants. Australia has given me so many pathways to success, and I want to give back to this country so that everyone can experience the same love, opportunities and care that I was blessed with.

May Winner - Syazwani Saifudin

May Winner - Syazwani Saifudin

Entering high school, I struggled with body dysmorphia. Negative body image degraded my confidence severely. Eventually, after finding an amazing group of friends, I started loving myself. Overcoming this huge part of my life boosted my confidence and changed my perspective completely. I take on leadership roles, volunteer, participate in competitions and am actively involved in school clubs. I’ve learnt that once you’re confident in yourself, you start focusing on what you can change rather than what you can’t. I couldn’t change my family’s difficult financial circumstances, but in 2018 I was awarded a 3-year scholarship which helped with my education. Despite my young age, I’ve involved myself in my community and my school. I would love to be awarded Young Person of the Month to further spread my journey and the importance of body positivity.

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?
I am currently a student representative council member for my year level and have consistently been voted/selected as one since 2016. This means that I contribute to fundraising initiatives, make posters for my school, chaperone at important school events and serve as a bridge between my cohort and the teachers/principals. My love for languages and writing has also encouraged me to participate and win awards in several competitions such as Imagination Creation Writing Competition, Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards, EP Global Language Championships and Swinburne University’s Junior Italian Poetry Competition. As a black belt in taekwondo, I’ve also medaled in many competitions, most notably, in The Australian National Taekwondo Championships. I have also achieved 15 honours, a junior academic excellence award, and a distinction in the 2019 Australian Mathematics Competition in addition to participating in the Victorian High-Ability Program and First Lego League Australia (a robotics program).

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work
I am a 14-year-old student in year 9 and am the current Dux of my year level. I volunteer at cleanups and am a regular volunteer at Wyndham Little Buddies Toy Library, which aims to support families by allowing parents/carers to borrow a large variety of toys, puzzles and games.

What are you most passionate about?
I am extremely passionate about body positivity and strive to help educate more people about how to sensitively approach the subject of body image. I think that social media heavily perpetuates unrealistic, harmful beauty standards and romanticizes eating disorders. I believe that everyone is entitled to confidence and self-love. From my own experience, I understand that change has to start from within and realising your self worth enables you to achieve greater.

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?
I support other young people by discouraging self-deprecating statements and always trying my best to be a positive, approachable person. I strive to inspire others to attempt things out of their comfort zone to boost their confidence, by encouraging them and actively participating in a range of activities myself. For example, although art isn’t my strength, I participated in the International Interdependence Hexagon Project, which is a global not-for-profit art project that aims to spread the meaning of interdependence, and received an honourable mention in my category.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
I hope to see more young people empowering one another and being comfortable in their own skin. I hope that more people will realise that beauty comes in so many different forms and that beauty is whatever you define it as. I would love to get a job when I’m old enough, to help out my parents and am working towards a healthcare career.

April Winner - Bradley Gauci

April Winner - Bradley Gauci

Tell us about yourself:

I am a Supported VCAL student at Manor Lakes P12 College undertaking my final year of school. Throughout my time as a VCAL student over Years 11 and 12 I have been actively involved in community-based programs and feel strongly about how important it is to contribute to my local community. I see my disability as a strength that allows me to see people for who they are and be more accepting. I also play a leadership role in the Supported VCAL program for my peers and some of the younger students enrolled in PSD programs.

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?

I’ve volunteered for two years at Salvos Stores (Hoppers Crossing store) one day per week as part of my work experience for school. My tasks at Salvos include; cleaning floors and shelving, disinfecting surfaces, sorting clothing, books and other merchandise, and assisting in the back warehouse. My work experience at school also includes volunteering one day per month at Vinnies warehouse in Altona North and one day a month at Serendip Sanctuary. In addition to this, I volunteer at a Vinnies store in Hoppers every Sunday (outside of my school commitments), sorting clothing, shoes, books, toys and keeping the store looking tidy for customers.

I am also a Parks Victoria volunteer and have volunteered at You Yangs Regional Park on a number of occasions doing labouring work such as re-planting, weeding, clearing, sanding and painting park benches and tables.

In 2020, I volunteered at a Wyndham Food Bank veggie bulk donation from ACAH Nursery in Werribee South, preparing lettuce and basil boxes and loading onto the Food Bank truck. I also participated in a Bunnings Sausage Sizzle and helped raise $700 for my school.

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work

I have just obtained my VCAL Certificate at Manor Lakes P12 College and although it has taken me an extra year to complete my studies, I'm very proud of my achievements. I am looking forward to continuing my volunteering at the places listed above, and moving on to the next chapter, hopefully some supported employment or a similar program in Wyndham.

What are you most passionate about?

I'm passionate about young people with disability feeling they can contribute to their communities and to be confident in applying for volunteer and paid jobs. One in twenty secondary students has a diagnosed disability in Victoria and I want to show my peers that everyone has strengths and talents that can be used to help other people and charities in your community. I want to continue to help break down some of the stigma around intellectual disability in our society.

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?
By showing them what can be possible when you put yourself out there and apply for volunteering and other opportunities in the community. Most people are happy to help and support young people with disability, but it is up to us to be confident enough to ask.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
Having complete a Certificate II in Food Processing during my VCAL studies, I would love to find permanent employment in cooking or baking, especially if it is involved in my local community in some way, such as a charity like Food Bank or other community kitchens.

March winner- Nicole Bagatsing

Nic

Nicole is a dedicated youth advocate and is active in her community, volunteering for both local and international organisations.

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?
I’ve been on community boards and have volunteered for both local and international organisations, including the Children's International Summer Villages Victoria Chapter, Village Camp, Connection Arts Space, Edmund Rice Camps and Give a Textbook Foundation.  I’ve also been active in the youth space, working as Youth Ambassador and contributing to the Loud Youth Magazine. I’m also part of the Wyndham Civic Youth Program.

Nicole volunteers for the Maccabi Football Club, New Hope Foundation and the Pedro and Corazon Yaneza Wellness Society.

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work
I’m currently studying Auslan at Melbourne Polytechnic and my Advanced Diploma of Legal practice at Victoria University. I am currently employed as a Homeless Support Worker for the Covid Hotels Homeless client group. As a Homeless support worker, I work with clients transitioning out of the DHHS funded short term hotel accommodation (due to Covid-19) into long term housing options. My work involves advocating for the homeless, understanding their needs and goals as well as allowing them to make their own life decisions. Day to day work varies, from scheduling Centrelink appointments, supporting with personal affairs, assisting with material aid, or referring clients to counselling or rehabilitation programs.

What are you most passionate about?
I'm passionate about working for young people with young people. I believe young people have got an exciting role to play in the community as next leaders. We need more young people in the space of leadership and decision making! I’d also love to see more diversity. Myself being an Asian Australian immigrant, I'm passionate about giving a voice to minority groups in the different settings I work in in the community.

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?
I influence young people by working with young people, listening to their voice and being their voice. Most times young people need to be heard because they have a lot of opinions and perspectives which are important. I influence them positively by listening in and taking on what issues are present in today's community from their stories. From young people I’ve learned more about homelessness in Australia and Asian Australian diaspora.

I also influence young people positively by bringing forward their views and opinions to decision maker. I do these not only in my board member/youth ambassador roles yet I also do this in my involvement with the Wyndham Civic Youth program where I get to speak to political leaders and bring forward the views of young people.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
I hope that more young people in Wyndham continue to be involved in the decision-making space! Whether this is through their local high school leadership program with their council or local not for profits. I hope for myself, that I continue to learn more about what I can do to help our community. Hopefully, there is more diversity in space of leadership, it would be amazing to have more Asian Australian voices as well as other minority groups represented as well. I dream of becoming a Lawyer and hopefully working at a Community legal centre to give access for those who are disadvantaged and cannot afford legal representation.

February winner- Libby Knights

lib

Libby is passionate about mental health awareness and dedicates her time to breaking down barriers and stigmas around mental health, specifically young men's mental health. Libby is also an advocate for gender equality.

What is your community involvement and/or achievements?
I am currently a leader for the Western Bulldogs Youth Leadership Program, a program where a group of selected students in the Inner-West area are given the support to dedicate their free time to raise awareness, fundraise, and help create changes for certain social issues in the community. With my chosen focus being Young Men’s mental health, I, along with two students from different western schools, have created and developed an organisation called ‘Mentalking’. Within two weeks, we worked with BATYRAUS and competed in the ‘Run For The Herd’ virtual festival, running a total of 20km between three of us and raising $1,019 for youth mental health. We have also created an Instagram page ‘wbylmentalking’.

Please tell us about your current studies, employment or voluntary work
I am a leader for the Western Bulldogs Youth Leadership Program, co-founder of ‘Mentalking’ and have worked at a local supermarket throughout Covid-19.

What are you most passionate about?
I am dedicated to the cause of raising awareness and breaking down the barriers and stigma regarding mental health, currently with a focus on young men's mental health. Along with this I am a passionate advocate for gender equality and recognise the need to promote the involvement and participation of females in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

How do you influence other young people within the community in a positive way?
I encourage everyone to be their own individual and unique self. I also try to lead by example and be the best version of myself I can. To help promote the involvement and participation of females in the fields of STEM, I’ve participated in the IT@Work program, where women are encouraged to take part in male-heavy jobs, such as economics, and have used this experience to create connections with fellow like-minded individuals.

I also competed in the Singapore International Science Competition, where I represented the college in an all-female team to promoting STEM to women. I am a Western Regional AFL umpire and have encouraged other girls to take up umpiring.

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
I aspire to be a teacher. It would be a privilege to have the opportunity to educate children, equipping them with knowledge and skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. I believe this would be a rewarding career.

 

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