The Australian Government recognises the achievements of young Australians every year at the presentation of National Youth Awards. This year’s awards were presented recently at a presentation dinner at the Brisbane City Hall.
“Young people are making positive contributions to Australia every day. The National Youth Awards are an excellent opportunity to highlight just some of the good things young Australians are doing in their communities,” said Senator Scott Ryan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training, announcing the winners of the 2015 National Youth Awards.
Twenty-eight finalists from seven categories from across the country vied for the Awards. They had all contributed to their communities and represented the passion young Australians bring to tackling the challenges and priorities that they identify.
Six categories recognise individuals, while the seventh – the Youth in Media Award – recognises the contribution made by Australian journalists and media organisations in positively portraying young people in the media.
The Youth Employment Award is presented to a person who has developed, or contributed to progressing, employment opportunities for youth. The female winner co-founded the youth-led advocacy organisation ‘Interns Australia’, which aims to tackle issues some young people face when undertaking unpaid internships.
A young person who has advocated or developed a successful safety initiative, online or in the community, covering an important safety topic is selected as the winner of the Youth Safety Award. A girl of 13 years of age who became a passionate advocate for raising awareness and providing a voice for sexual assault victims was the winner.
The Youth Culture and Diversity Award goes to a young person who promotes the understanding of different cultures and engages the community. This year’s winner helped create prominent Indigenous, youth-based Performing Arts Group, which has performed at major events across Australia.
One who has demonstrated resilience in the face of difficult obstacles gets selected for the Youth Courage Award. He or she may also be a role model or mentor to others who have faced similar life obstacles.
A legally blind female undergraduate who had volunteered as a peer mentor to assist new students to transition to university life and tutored many Indigenous students in criminology and law, was the winner of the Award. (Being legally blind makes a person’s everyday life very challenging hampering day-to-day activities like reading signs, moving around in public and catching public transport.)
Advocating and promoting positive, healthy life is the criteria to be selected for the Youth Health Award. A 17-year old youth who is an ambassador for ‘R U OK?’ and is committed to reducing the suicide rates for young people won the Award. (R U OK? is a not-for-profit suicide prevention organisation founded by Australian ad man in 2009).
A young person who demonstrated leadership through participation and contribution to the community gets the Youth Leadership Award. The winner, a 14-year old female was recognised for her work in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). She recently conducted a project using robotics that could further the progress of remote surgery.
To qualify for the Youth Media Award, a media outlet/journalist should present a story which had positively portrayed youth in the news media. A news story by a female journalist on the work done by two persons to establish a weekly basketball competition for potentially-at-risk local young people was picked for the Award.
The qualifying age for the National Youth Awards is up to 25 years. The ages of this year’s winners ranged from 13-24 years.