All the amazing shortlisted nominees for this year’s awards are described below. A big thank you to all of you who took the time to nominate yourselves, your colleagues, your friends, and some of the great programs and services for young people across NSW.
- Outstanding Therapeutic Residential Care Team (a therapeutic residential care organisation, program, or service team)
- Outstanding Partnership (an organisation, program, or service)
- Outstanding Youth Participation (an organisation, program, or service)
- NSW Youth Sector Volunteer of the Year (an individual)
- Outstanding Work with First Nations Young People (an organisation, program, or service)
- Outstanding Work with Regional Young People (an organisation, program, or service)
- NSW Emerging Youth Worker of the Year (an individual who has worked in the youth sector for under 3 years)
- Outstanding Work with Young People from Diverse Cultures, Backgrounds, and Experiences (an organisation, program, or service)
- NSW Youth Worker of the Year (an individual)
- NSW Youth Service of the Year (an organisation, program, or service)
- NSW Youth Work Hall of Fame (an individual who has worked in the youth sector for over 15 years)
Outstanding Therapeutic Residential Care Team
Moonyah House ITTC, CatholicCare Broken Bay Diocese
Moonyah is an intensive 13-week therapeutic run program that has space for up to 4 young people. It is staffed by two Youth Workers 24/7, this is to ensure that the young people’s needs are met anytime of the day and that they are provided with a safe, comfortable environment to feel supported. The goal of Moonyah is for young people to learn as much about themselves and then for the team to make recommendations of how they can best be supported when they transition to their permanent placement. Moonyah is CatholicCare’s ITTC program (Intensive Therapeutic Transitional Care). Moonyah provides additional support to meet a young person’s need in several ways: therapeutic groups are facilitated three times per week to support positive role modelling of social interactions, discuss healthy relationships, identify body sensations and uncomfortable feelings, and learn strategies to manage uncomfortable feelings, access to a therapeutic specialist and/or multi-disciplinary specialist to discuss challenging experiences, beliefs, strategies, and goals and 24/7 availability of youth work staff. Youth workers support needs, such as transport, food, but also to provide consistent positive regard and connection security, trauma informed responses to challenging behaviours, problem solving, and advocacy.
Blue Gum Team, St Saviours/Anglicare Intensive Therapeutic Care
The Blue Gum Intensive Therapeutic Care Youth Work Team at St Saviours in Sydney have exemplified a compassionate, dedicated, child-focused, empathic and trauma-informed approach to the very demanding, highly complex and incredibly dynamic work with one individual young person in residential care. Their unswerving commitment and genuine care for the young person has allowed her to move from acute, lethal and impulsive risks to a place of stability and trust from which she is on her journey of healing and growth.
Anglicare NSW tackles disadvantage, helping children and families break free from the cycle of poverty. Their work focuses on helping children, young people and families who are homeless or in crisis. They do this through their Survive and Thrive approach. Anglicare also support parents to make sure their children are school ready, and stay engaged with school and post-school training break inter-generational disadvantage and poverty by supporting young people and their families. Through their Youth and Family Services, Anglicare encourage’s young people to remain engaged in school and post-school training to support them to achieve their potential.
CareSouth is a community-services organisation, based in seven regional locations across NSW. They offer services in foster care, NDIS, early intervention, youth support and therapeutic residential accommodation services. CareSouth’s Therapeutic Residential Care Team (Protea House) is a pilot program that supports a family of five siblings and their mum as they work towards family restoration.
Smith’s Lane/Chilcott Care Team, CASPA Services
Smith’s Lane/Chilcott Care Team is a part of the CASPA Residential Care Program. Their care home is located on the plateau of the Bundjalung Nation in Northern NSW. The team has been established since June 2022; we have supported four young people during this time. Currently we care for and support a young boy who is 12 years old.
Career Seekers and John Holland Group
Since 2018, JHG and CareerSeekers have worked together to provide life-changing employment opportunities to refugees and asylum seekers throughout Australia. In NSW alone, 31 opportunities have been offered, including 10 young individuals, across various sectors and functions of JHG. All of these young people have faced educational disruption due to war, violence, and persecution in their home countries, for many placing them approximately three years behind their peers. Recognising this, JHG has invested over $400,000 in CareerSeekers to support their expansion to provide further pathways to professional employment through their program of work-readiness training, internships, and year-round professional development. The partnership between JHG and CareerSeekers goes beyond employment opportunities. They have also collaborated with other organisations to provide a comprehensive support system for these new employees. This includes access to legal advice, housing support, cultural awareness assistance, visa support, and industry mentors. This partnership between a for-profit organisation like JHG and a non-profit organisation like CareerSeekers showcases the value of collaboration in supporting humanitarian entrants in their pursuit of professional careers. JHG remains committed to supporting and engaging with young people more broadly, including First Nations youth, through various pre-employment programs and school engagement activities, extending beyond the CareerSeekers partnership.
Australian Red Cross and Miyay Birray
The Moree community’s ability to meet the challenges of the global pandemic and a changing climate has been strengthened this week with a new partnership between Miyay Birray Youth Services and Australian Red Cross. Red Cross acting State Emergency Services Manager Mark McMullen said Red Cross was funding the community engagement position and working closely with Miyay Birray. “We now have a partnership that will help build the capacity and capability of Red Cross to deliver community-led recovery programs with Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities affected by a changing climate and global pandemic,” he said.
“The beauty of the partnership is that it will build on relationships and trust while developing and delivering culturally appropriate preparedness, resilience and recovery programs that support the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the entire community.”
Mr McMullen said Red Cross would work with Miyay Birray to: develop strategies and processes to help Red Cross staff and volunteers support the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, help develop a Recovery Needs Assessment, build on volunteer recruitment and development pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and deliver preparedness and recovery workshops and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and other stakeholders.
Auburn Youth Centre, Cumberland City Council, Skills Road, ASURIA and Workforce Australia
“Trade Up to a Better Future” is a supported youth employment program run by the Auburn Youth Centre and Cumberland City Council, in partnership with Skills Road, ASURIA and Workforce Australia. The program is characterised by providing a safe and judgement free environment where young people are able to discuss issues and concerns on obtaining employment or embarking on a career path. Guidance is provided by experienced instructors with most of the suggestions provided by fellow peers and through open discussions. The Program commences with realistic pre-employment and career assessments as well as an aspirational session where applicants are encouraged to reach for the stars and openly state their dream job. Weekly meetings of the “Job Club” are held where attendees are given tutorials on life skills and opportunities available but more important allowed to discuss their past week endeavours and vent or analyse their mistakes. With the support and encouragement of their peers, participants regain their enthusiasm and prepare themselves for the coming week’s job hunting or learning efforts. Mid-way through the Program, the Cumberland Jobs and Youth Expo is held to provide resources, services, and opportunities for young people to trade up to a better future.
Mission Australia, Yarruwala Youth and Family Services and Pound for Pound Boxing & Mentoring
Mission Australia have partnered with Yarruwala Youth and Family Services and Pound for Pound Boxing & Mentoring here in Dubbo, to deliver a series of 10x week health, wellbeing and behavioural programs to small groups of young people, who have recently disengaged or are on the fringes of the education system. Typically, these are also young people that are under a police caution, who have also shown signs of experimenting with drugs and alcohol. The program schedule entails boxing, fitness and nutrition along with an intensive behavioral program (RAGE) that the participants undertake with a trained facilitator – for those that respond well; they then add a (paid) work experience component. The idea is to provide these young people with an environment that is different from that of the classroom. They have done this by delivering all of these programs out of a unique shared space; this gives the boys consistency around not only the people but also the environment itself – this is imperative to the success of the program, as most of these young people lack stability in their day-to-day lives and this routine brings reassurance. They have found that this has been the key to these young people engaging and participating. Whilst this program is for all young people between the ages of 12-19, they have found that most are young Aboriginal boys/men.
Inner West Councils’ Youth Week Working Group and local youth agencies
Committed to putting the voices of young people at the heart of the community, Inner West Council founded a youth led ‘Youth Week Working Group’ to co-design and deliver the Inner West Council’s 2023 Youth Week program.
The Youth Week Working Group collaborated across Council and with external partners. The partnerships provided opportunities for career experience such as, lighting, and sound technician, photography, facilitating workshops, MCing and working at key events in various capacities.
The program won Most Inclusive Youth Week Program at the Local Government Week Awards 2023 for the second year running.
UNICEF Australia and The Young and Resilient Research Centre (Y&R) at Western Sydney University
As the climate crisis intensifies, children and young people face an uncertain and challenging future, with many already feeling its impacts. Children and young people’s unique needs, interests and entitlements are largely missing from climate plans and processes and their concerns rarely enter strategic policy and practice decisions led by governments, NGOs and UN agencies. UNICEF Australia and the Young and Resilient Research Centre (Y&R) at Western Sydney University worked together to deliver a project titled ‘Children, young people and climate change: developing child-centred indicators for climate justice’. Working with children and young people aged 10-18 years from three regions across NSW, this project: 1. Documents and co-analyses children’s experiences of climate change and climate action so that their insights can be channelled into Australian policy, advocacy and programming; and 2. Develops practical child-centred indicators to measure the impacts of climate strategies on children’s own experiences. The project draws on Y&R’s unique co-research methods and innovative child-centred indicator processes which have been tested and applied in 79 countries, to amplify Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure that children and young people’s voices are at the centre of policy decision-making.
Outstanding Youth Participation
The Man Cave
The Man Cave is a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence charity that empowers communities to raise generations of healthy young men, by providing them with impactful programs, role models and resources. Its vision is a world in which every man has healthy relationships, contributes to his community and reaches his full potential. The Man Cave has now worked with more than 55,000 young men across Australia, providing them with the critical social and emotional skills needed to thrive in the modern world.
Camden Joblink Program, Camden Council
The Camden Job-Link Program, funded by the NSW Department of Community and Justice’s Youth Opportunities program engaged young people in both its delivery and its design. The program involved young people being upskilled and then linked with local employment. The project involved youth led events or training sessions including, myDesign career workshop, barista and food handling courses, pool lifeguard course, building confidence and resume writing workshops and more.
What Were You Wearing? Australia
What Were You Wearing? is a not-for-profit community organisation fighting to end sexual violence. WWYW was founded in 2021 by Sarah Williams. WWYW provides advocacy, education and awareness regarding sexual violence.
NSW Youth Sector Volunteer of the Year
Darcie Cliff, What Were You Wearing? Australia
Darcie is a Wonnarua woman and a staunch advocate for Indigenous survivors in Australia. As the Vice President of Indigenous Affairs at What Were You Wearing? Australia, she has volunteered her time to addressing sexual violence and promoting healing within Indigenous communities.
One of Darcie’s most significant achievements is the development of NSW’S first culturally appropriate 12-week sexual violence program tailored specifically for Indigenous peoples. This program seamlessly combines cultural experiences with group therapy led by Indigenous service providers and professionals. It not only facilitates healing but also ensures that survivors receive the ongoing care they deserve.
Darcie has also created Newcastle’s first accessible healing groups for Indigenous survivors of sexual violence. These groups provide a safe and culturally sensitive space for Indigenous individuals to rebuild kinship relationships, find support, and empowerment on their journey to healing.
Notably, Darcie played a key role in a successful petition to the New South Wales government, resulting in the integration of sexual violence and drink spiking training into the New South Wales Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) program. Darcie has also coordinated the introduction of drink spiking workshops in local high schools, effectively raising awareness and empowering the younger generation.
Darcie’s dedication, and unwavering commitment to the well-being of Indigenous survivors make her a staunch advocate and leader. Her tireless efforts have not only transformed lives but also reshaped the way that WWYWA approaches sexual violence prevention and healing within Indigenous communities.
Jenny Smith, Raise Foundation
Jenny has been a Raise Mentor for the past 6 years at Burwood Girls High School. Raise offers early intervention, evidence-based mentoring for young people in high schools with trained and trusted independent adults. After being part of the Raise village, young people are empowered to be resilient, capable and connected and the adults in their lives are skilled to support them. Raise delivers consistent statistically significant improvements in mental health support, social and emotional wellbeing, and school engagement with impact in outcomes such as: – Help Seeking – Resilience – Hope for the future – School belonging. Raise mentees also cite improvement in their: – Coping strategies – Confidence – Ability to set and achieve goals – Communication skills – Relationships with teachers, parents, friends – Attendance – Grades – Ability to complete Year 12 – Ability to get a job at Raise. They place young people at the centre of what they do. Capturing and listening to their voices and the voices of their communities is integral in informing their program design and delivery. Each year they conduct a rigorous evaluation to prove and improve the impact of the program, for the young people who participate, the mentees, as well as the schools that host the programs, and the mentors who volunteer with us.
Joanna Kolevris, Camden Council
Joanna aged 21, is the current chair of the Camden Youth Reference Group, a group of 15 young people (aged between 12-24 years) who work on behalf of Camden Council to support and represent local young people. The Camden Youth Reference Group, support Council in the delivery and implementation of the Camden Youth Strategy along with numerous actions of the Camden Community Strategic Plan. Joanna has been a voluntary member of the Camden Youth Reference Group for the past 6 years. Joanna has led this group in delivering multiple projects, including supporting the delivery and implementation of the co-located model of service delivery at Julia Reserve Youth and Community Centre in Oran Park, the consultation and delivery of the Camden Youth Strategy and the recent 2023 Youth Week program. Joanna is passionate about ensuring young people’s voices are heard, taking the role of chair as an opportunity not to amplify her own voice but that of her peers, by continuously consulting young people on a variety of issues that impact them. Joanna is an avid supporter of ensuring Camden’s growing diversity is represented and feels include within their community. This can be seen through the delivery of the Camden Youth Multicultural Festival, an extremely successful event delivered by the Camden Youth Reference Group as a part of the 2023 Camden Youth Week Program.
Joshua Akwasi Abrokwah
Joshua Akwasi Abrokwah hails from the regional town of Cooma. He actively volunteers with various organisations and community groups in his town. As a volunteer he has been a local Youth Councillor for 5 years, worked with Headspace as a Youth Representative and worked with the local multicultural centre. Josh has recently been a part of the Volunteer Voices project run by Settlement Services International, been elected as a 2023 Youth Parliamentarian and worked under Youth Action’s NSW Health Literacy Advisory Council.
Marcie Cheers, What Were You Wearing? Australia
Marcie is WWYW’s Vice President of Marketing and Media, that contributes more than 20 hours a week volunteer to help fight to end sexual violence. Marcie was a lead in the recent RSA campaign that saw the first ever amendments that will forever help young people. She helped gain over 20,000 signatures on a government petition which led to cross party support in NSW Parliament. In addition to this, Marcie is a lead on Australia’s first ever survivor fashion show that will be established in October 2023. This has involved weekly rehearsals, media content, planning the show itself and ensuring it will achieve its goals. Marcie has liased with media all over Australia, which has enabled sexual violence to continue to be spoken about. Marcie’s commitment to ending sexual violence has helped thousands of young victim-survivors across NSW. Due to her efforts, so many people’s lives are now improved.
Martina Ferrara, What Were You Wearing? Australia
Martina is an exceptional volunteer, renowned for her unwavering passion and wholehearted dedication. Since joining WWYW in 2021, she has played a pivotal role in propelling the organisation from ground zero to an impressive following of over 160,000 dedicated supporters.
As the social media manager, it is Martina’s role to ensure that the content posted is not only a source of support for survivors, but also a push for positive influence. She creates awareness of a so-clearly broken justice system, with modern and accessible tools. Most recently, Martina helped positively push for significant milestones such as successfully bringing forward their petition to amend the RSA in NSW. By doing so, mandatory spiking training and safeguards will be implemented. This milestone was reached by her powerful social media campaign that reached more than 20,000 signatures.
Finally, Martina’s work as a volunteer motivates future generations. The cultural shift promoted by her social media efforts at WWYW have a lasting impact on future generations, contributing to a society that is more informed, empathetic, and proactive in preventing sexual violence.
Thomas Ryan, Little Dreamers
Tom Ryan is a Little Dreamers volunteer, and most recently volunteered as a Team Leader in the Big Dreamers Teens Retreat Program. He has also volunteered as a Little Dreamers tutor for the School Holiday Programs, and on a previous Big Dreamers program. Tom is the epitome of a quiet achiever. He is humble, kind, and extremely generous with his time and energy. Tom’s gentle and supportive nature has meant he has been an excellent role model for some of the male Young Carers. Little Dreamers is Australia’s leading Young Carer organisation, supporting young people aged 4 to 25 who provide care for a family member affected by disability, chronic or mental illness, substance dependency, or frail age. Across a range of direct support programs, both in-person and online, the organisation is improving the quality of life of Young Carers across five key areas: education, employment, mental and physical health, social opportunities, and financial wellbeing. Built from personal experience and qualitative research, the Big Dreamers Personal Development Program runs for six months with a small group of Young Carers aged 13 to 17. The program is designed to empower, develop resilience and provide Young Carers with the opportunity to build new skills and find hidden talents.
Outstanding Work with First Nations Young People
Moree Family Support
Moree Family Support has delivered a vital Youth Homelessness program to the youth of Moree since 2007. The positive impact that this service has had on First Nations people aged between 16-24 on their journey to adulthood is reflective in the success stories and positive outcomes that has been achieved. Moree Family Support staff take great pride in providing a culturally inclusive and holistic approach to supporting individuals to identify their own goals and to empower them to achieve those goals. They assist in completing rental applications, referral pathways to employment providers, tenancy education, living skills, birth certificates, Centrelink support, co-facilitate the Rent Choice Youth Program and provide home starter packs consisting of essential items for their new home and food if it is needed. This program has played a vital role in many young First Nations people being able to live independently, achieve their goals and maintain a budget. This partnership is what makes their service delivery unique and ensures that they are providing the young people they work with the best head start for their future. Here is a special quote they received, “I just wanna say thanks so much. You guys have helped me out heaps and you made it all so easy for me to set up my own little home.”
Culture Strong Program, Youth Express
The Culture Strong program is designed to empower young First Nations Australians within an education environment. The program not only focuses on the cultural teachings of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal culture, but it also supports young people on a physical, social and psychological level. The program has an emphasis of teaching and imparting traditional culture and linking this in a modern context. It imparts the concept of thriving in a contemporary setting whilst maintaining traditional culture knowledge, connection and awareness. Culture Strong consists of six key elements: Pride and Identity, Health and Wellbeing, Walking in Both Traditional and the Modern World, Historical Leaders and Current Influential People, Facing Racism and Diversity and Traditional Indigenous Games. The facilitators deliver this program in a way that enables the more senior or mature students to become leaders, have a voice and support the younger First Nations students between visits. Culture Strong, while focusing on young people, also provides the opportunity for the upskilling of education employees and professionals. It centres on upskilling to gain confidence and sustain authentic culture programs in schools, alongside the infusion of cultural practice within mainstream education.
Marrambidya Dance Group
Marrambidya Dance Group is made up of Aboriginal youth from Griffith and surrounding areas. Through their traditional dances, Marrambidya Dance Group tell the stories of ancestors, land and culture. They believe that lore and traditions should be instilled from a young age.
Mac River Rehabilitation Centre, Mission Australia
Mac River Rehabilitation Centre is a comprehensive residential rehabilitation program for young people aged 13-18 years who are involved with youth justice and whose use of alcohol and other drugs places them at significant risk of harm. The service provides trauma-informed and culturally safe support for three months in residence, followed by six months of aftercare in the community. The team provides 24-hour support, offering a stable and safe environment where young people can get back on track so they can reach their full potential, set goals, learn, and grow. Through their stay, young people are provided support around strengthening life skills and interpersonal skills, increasing personal resilience and confidence, building social networks, and accessing counselling, cultural programs and mentors and activities. Mac River is funded by Youth Justice and delivered by Mission Australia.
Anaiwan Cultural Revival, Women’s Shelter Armidale
When the Women’s Shelter Armidale needed to organise a smoking ceremony for their refuge, it became apparent that although Smoking Ceremonies are not culturally confined to ‘men’s business’ there were no culturally trained Anaiwan women able to conduct the ceremony. This is reportedly due to the loss of Lore suffered by the Anaiwan people during colonialisation of the region. This loss of cultural connection to Lore significantly weakens the local Indigenous women, particularly the young Indigenous women who can’t see the culturally connected women they hope they can be. First Nations women receive a great deal of benefit from the application of culturally significant interventions when they are at their most vulnerable. This validation of cultural ceremonial positioning in the lives of a large proportion of their clients can strengthen not only the women that they serve but by extension their families, extended families and communities. The Women’s Shelter wanted to support the many young women who expressed a deep desire to explore their cultural at this deeper level, and who wanted to be part of the ongoing growth and healing of their community. The Women’s Shelter Armidale reached out to Newara Aboriginal Corporation and together they were able to work with the community to curate a unique and creative solution that enabled a whole new generation of Anaiwan women to learn to perform this important cultural ceremony.
Midjuburi Youth Resource Centre
Midjuburi Youth Resource Centre has markedly developed in its program’s participation, engagement with young people, particularly the more marginalised, ‘hard to reach’ young people annually. The participation and engagement of First Nations young people and their immediate communities has also increased, where over 25-30% are currently attending. The personal support, social and cultural development as well as cultural respect and knowledge shared with the young people are a result of the dedicated and respectful engagement by the CEO and her staff and volunteers.
Mob Pod Regional Radio Program, The Skill Engineer
The Mob Pod Regional Radio Program – engages First Nations young people aged 12 – 18 in podcast development and online broadcasting. The outreach Digi Van (a mobile youth podcasting and media van) travelled to events, communities and schools where participants meet with First Nations community leaders, local members of parliament, communities and learn the issues, challenges, and opportunities for First Nations people share, having a wide coverage of diversity and topics. The participants work together to produce outstanding youth voices recordings that are broadcast as the Mob Pod podcast; having a voice on an international media profile. Young First Nations people interview and discuss the issues facing young First Nations people, they believe that the First Nations youth perspective has not been addressed and as the nation heads towards a referendum on a Voice to Parliament, there is much to learn, to understand and to be shared. Participants learn the art of research, storyboarding, interviewing, fact check, recording, producing and editing for broadcast. The skills development and empowerment project is centred around First Nations young peoples voice, cultural identity and inclusiveness. This project is promoted widely through social media.
Through their values of connection, culture, respect, empowerment and integrity, Kurranulla is dedicated to providing individually tailored and culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the Sutherland Shire and Georges River areas, the lands of the Dharawal and Biddegal people. For over 29 years, Kurranulla has striven to develop closer ties between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups and promote Aboriginal culture. They have a dedicated youth team providing a range of services and programs to support young people to be connected to culture and overcome challenges they are facing. Their vision at Kurranulla is to provide high-quality culturally appropriate services to achieve meaningful and long-lasting outcomes for the local Aboriginal community living within South East Sydney. They listen to what matters so that together, as a community, we can improve social and emotional wellbeing, connection and resilience for all.
Outstanding Work with Regional Young People
Queer Family is a peer-led, registered Health Promotion Charity in Mullumbimby. They reduce social isolation and improve mental wellbeing through the creation of safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people and allies to connect, build, and strengthen community in the Northern Rivers. Queer Family was formed in 2019 in direct response to research identifying a gap in services and opportunities for local LGBTQIA+ people, and an urgent need. Since that time, the Queer Family have directly supported and engaged with more than 3000 people, hosted more than 150 events, and manage an annual pool of 200 volunteers.
Tillbuster Station, Pathfinders
Pathfinders’ Tilbuster Station, a working farm located on the outskirts of Armidale, has been a lifeline for vulnerable and at-risk young people in the district for more than 10 years. Young people have the opportunity to learn horticulture, connect with Country and culture, participate in community activities, and work with experienced youth workers who help them to reach their full potential. Tilbuster was gifted to Pathfinders on the condition it would provide support to disadvantaged young people and their families to help them to become thriving members in their communities. Pathfinders is delivering on its commitment, by providing a range of agricultural activities tailored to build confidence, communication, and positive self-esteem for young people and their families. It was at the suggestion of the young people in their care who came up with the idea to create the Pumpkin Run – wher a surplus in pumpkins and produce grown on the farm are transported to soup kitchens from Armidale to Sydney, including Soul Café in Newcastle and OzHarvest in Sydney, feeding communities in need along the way. The young people of Pathfinder’s Tilbuster STlearn the importance of giving without expecting anything in return.
Moree Family Support
Moree Family Support has delivered a vital Youth Homelessness program to the youth of Moree since 2007. Young people aged 16-24 years who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness and reside in the Moree Plains Shire are supported. Being situated in regional rural NSW, the young people they work with face extensive barriers when it comes to accessing affordable accommodation, suitable employment, transport and specialist support services. Through early intervention, crisis and transitional support, Moree Family support will empower young people with a sense of purpose, hope and fulfilment, support them to maintain connection to education and learning, assist them to identify their own goals and empower them to achieve those goals and to support them to access mainstream and specialist services, and to connect with community and family. The future is bright for the young regional leaders of tomorrow!
Regional NSW Youth Mentors, Brave Foundation
Founded, designed, and led by women with diverse lived experience, Brave is Australia’s first national not-for-profit dedicated to assisting expecting and parenting young people. Their priority cohorts are parents aged under 25 who began parenting at 19 years or under and this can be extended to parents who started parenting aged 21 or under living in rural, regional, and remote locations. They also advocate for the young parents and champion them and their children to achieve their goals, navigate challenges, develop skills and knowledge to flourish in their parenting journey.
Jarjum Program – Holiday Programs, Kyogle Family Support Services
The Jarjum program that has been running for the past 10 months in the remote Aboriginal community of Muli Muli and has been financially supported by DCJ Flood Support Program. This has been a great success, with 30 participants in daily sessions. The program originated from the strengths and needs of the community, prior to the facilitation of the program, Kyogle Family Support Services conducted consultations with elders and community members, through conversations and completion of surveys. The program focuses on strength, resilience, identity, connection to culture and the land. They focus on creating more opportunities for the children and young people of the community. To compliment the program offered in the term, KFSS have had the opportunity to offer a school holiday program funded by the Office of Regional Youth to extend on relationships, and to give children on community the opportunity to experience recreational activities.
Youth Justice Community Support Program, Mission Australia – Dubbo
Mission Australia delivers the Youth Justice Community Support Service across Central and Far West NSW. This area covers from Bathurst through to Orange, Dubbo, Cowra and Mudgee, out to Walgett and Lightening Ridge, through to Bourke and all the way out to Broken Hill and really anywhere they may reside in between. The service supports young people 12 – 18 who are on a supervised order with Youth Justice or completing a Youth Justice Outcome Plan. The program helps young people meet practical needs and goals, such as finding work, enrolling in education, getting ID, applying for Centrelink payments, delivering intervention programs and assisting with other essential activities.
Youth Insearch is Australia’s leading peer-led youth trauma recovery organisation, dedicated to supporting at-risk youth. Their youth suicide prevention program provides clinical based support delivered by a lived experience workforce. The program is known to effectively improve mental health long-term especially when combined with case management. Peer-led support repeatedly demonstrates increasing young people’s service participation, quality-of-life, and self-confidence while reducing re-admission to crisis care. Youth Insearch’s principle target group is at-risk young people aged 14 to 20. The Youth Insearch program takes a holistic approach dealing with a wide range of issues, with a focus on strengths and well-being. By drawing on the resources of other young people that have experienced similar issues, and addressing the real problem or underlying issue, these young people have the opportunity to seek positive alternatives within themselves, turning away from a life of despair and destructive behaviour. The program intervenes early allowing young people to address their barriers as they start to appear. Youth Insearch has an extensive Leadership Program allowing young people to make the transition from participant to leader, becoming the one to help other young people transform their lives.
The purpose of Vocal Muster is to find, support and encourage emerging vocal talent from local high schools in the Wingecarribee and surrounding areas, and give the young singers the opportunity to share their passion by performing. Vocal Muster also equips the young participants with knowledge of sound and music equipment, and business fundamentals through learning about having an ABN, bank account and how to value their time, paving the way for a career in music. Vocal Muster is run by volunteers with expertise in music and singing, and sources independent funding to allow students to attend workshops free of charge. Vocal Muster connects students with the opportunity to perform in their local community and beyond, with participants going on to have their original music played on radio stations, to perform at local festivals and community events, and to further their studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. By catering to the unique needs of each participant, Vocal Muster helps them find their voice and feel a profound sense of belonging within their peer group and their community. The Vocal Muster encourages young talents to explore their potential, develop their skills, and gain confidence in their abilities.
ShoreTrack works with marginalised young people and disengaged young people in school through links to community, industry and not for profits. They provide the opportunity for these young people to survive and thrive in entry level employment. ShoreTrack’s model includes both: i. Diversionary activities designed to re-engage with education and training. ii. Pathways to employment through the ST-OP social enterprise. The vision of their emerging social enterprise ‘ST Operations’ (ST-OP) is to provide opportunities and ongoing support for disadvantaged young people in the community to develop their self-confidence, resilience, and courage by developing their trades and employability skills and understanding of workplace expectations in an environment where positive role models, wrap around support, and strength-based feedback is the norm. This support aims to be the impetus for young people to try new learnings, take positive risks, actively seek employment pathways, and build the personal and community foundations to enable them to face the multiple complex challenges they may experience when looking for full time employment. Between 2022-2023, ShoreTrack supported 22 of their young people to find apprenticeships, traineeships and entry level employment. These young people have been successful in retaining these positions as proof of their realistic preparation for the world of work.
NSW Emerging Youth Worker of the Year
Aaliyah Filipe, Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency
Aaliyah is a young 21-year-old who drives her inspiration from her community and tries to use her voice as a tool to change the image of the community. Working as a Youth Worker, Community Development Officer and as the Leader of the Youth Team at the Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency Meca, Aaliyah works with different young people from different ethnic backgrounds. Aaliyah doubles as a Coordinator for the Youth Mentoring Program; it is program that inspires and brings hope to hundreds of young people who are struggling with various individual needs in surrounding schools in the community. Even though she has worked for less than a year in the workforce, Aaliyah demonstrates great resilience and potential to her organisation and the community she serves.
Aimee Pitt, headspace Tweed Heads
Aimee Pitt (they/she) is the Community Engagement Officer for headspace Tweed Heads in Northern NSW. They work with young people to provide youth-led, localised initiatives to improve the mental health and social and emotional well-being of young people in the community. Having worked delivering counselling, group work and on-on-one support, Aimee is a qualified Social Worker with a passion for social change. They have a particular interest in building greater community consciousness around the issues, barriers and needs of young people, particularly LGBTIQSB+ and First Nations young people. Through program development, event coordination and group facilitation they promote innovative, action-based change that centres the voices and strengths of young people in regional Australia.
Aisha Mahdi, Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW
Aisha Mahdi joined the MYAN NSW team in her first role working with young people. Aisha’s remarkable story begins in Sudan, where she experienced displacement as a young child. She grew up in South West Sydney and the Inner West and supported her family to navigate a new life in Australia as migrants. Following her studies, Aisha completed a master’s degree and applied to work with other young people navigating life in Australia. She currently leads the MYAN NSW Peer Facilitator program where she engages, recruits and trains peers to support other young people as they arrive. Aisha also supports individual young people achieve their goals and has worked supporting new arrivals and asylum seekers with emergency and crisis support. Aisha makes everyone feel valued, supported and celebrated – often young people who have never heard the words “I am proud of you” before. Aisha is a superstar!
Carla Milgate, Moree Family Support
Carla is a Specialist Youth Homelessness Caseworker and has been with Moree Family Support for less than a year. Carla delivers casework to homeless youth between the ages of 16-24; she is committed, diligent and passionate about her work. She is great at delivering services to youth through a trauma informed lens and can reflect on how people’s experiences may impact on their circumstances, attitudes and needs and is able to adapt her responses and practice as needed. Local knowledge and youthfulness are an asset when working with local youth.
Charlotte Williams, headspace Armidale
Charlotte started within the headspace team only last year in June as their Community Engagement Officer, a new role for the Armidale Centre. Charlotte brings a unique approach to work ensuring the youth of the Armidale region including the New England area to access and gain services that are specifically suited to youth to promote equality and early intervention services. Over her time within the role, Charlotte has built and grown at a formidable rate; bringing her uplifting, vibrant and unique personality to the team. Her individual flair for media and community engagement is shown in what she has achieved with the recent “Rural Resilience Event”, which shined a light on the resilience of the youth that she works with and ensured that services of the area promote the strengths and knowledge that they can gain from young people.
Domenic Cameron, Midjuburi Youth Resource Centre
Domenic has been a recent acquisition to the Youth Work role at the Midjuburi Youth Resource Centre (formerly the Marrickville Youth Resource Centre) and has been in the role for about 2 years. Dom has been a breath of fresh air and is a proud Youth Worker from an Aboriginal background. Domenic has also been a recent graduate of the Youth Work Course at Ultimo TAFE and was also recognised as the Student of the Year at their graduation awards. Domenic has established himself as a fantastic youth worker at the Centre and has successfully engaged with numerous young First Nations people from his sensitive and compassionate nature. The number of young people, especially of Aboriginal backgrounds has increased and participation rate at the Centre’s programs throughout the week and school holidays has also markedly increased. After 12 -18 months, under the leadership of his manager, Louise Hammond, Dom has led an Aboriginal boys’ program which has been a valuable learning and appreciation strategy for both the young people and other attendees. The program has also engaged with very marginalised group of young people who have now learnt more about leadership, Smoking Ceremony Welcome and cultural respect.
Dylan Di Sciascio, Regional Youth Support Services
Dylan Di Sciascio is the Case Manager at Regional Youth Support Services. Dylan works with vulnerable and at-risk children and young people aged 12-24 years on the Central Coast, NSW. Dylan has dedicated himself to improving the lives of others and is truly emerging as a confident, competent and professional young man who is making a difference.
Jacob Sturt, 54 Reasons
Young people also have the right to be heard and taken seriously in all decisions affecting them. Youth Specialist, Jacob Sturt, as part of the 54 reasons Mobile Youth Outreach program for Bushfire Recovery, is committed to working with families and local stakeholders to ensure that young people have the support they need to stay connected with the community and to advocate for their unique needs. The program, which is group based, uses a strengths-based and community-led approach and is implemented via the Mobile Youth Van – which has many tools to engage young people in meaningful activities. As part of the Bushfire Recovery Program, Jacob has been able to support young people to process what they have experienced and assist them to develop strategies to cope by building their sense of belonging and connection to family, culture and community in the Snowy Valley towns of Batlow, Tumut and Tumbarumba. He has supported young people in understanding their rights and assisted them to voice issues that are important to them. He has also built on their innate strengths and on their individual skills to encourage positive life choices and set goals for the future.
Latoya Corbett, MTC Australia
Latoya is dedicated to supporting the young people she works with regardless of challenges and hurdles that arise.
Markko Cauton, 3Bridges Community
Markko is a Youth Worker in Youth Zone, and a Child and Family Worker in the Student Wellbeing and Engagement Program (SWEEP) based at Mortdale Public School. Markko supports young people from ages 5-21 across his two roles and has been within the youth sector for just over a year. In his work within Youth Zone, Markko has coordinated youth-centred initiatives and workshops based on the identified needs of local young people such as Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Education and Money Management. He also engages in one-to-one support and Targeted Early Intervention (TEI) programs across several LGAs including the Georges River, Sutherland Shire, and Bayside.
Markko has directly supported 20 young people and their families at Mortdale Public School through 1:1 support this year, and 50 more young people in programs and wellbeing checks, resulting in over 140 instances of support at the school since Term 1 2023. Markko has also facilitated weekly wellbeing workshops and inclusion initiatives for all of Stage 3 on topics such as identity, emotional awareness, healthy communication, managing change, and self-care in preparation for their transition to high school. In addition to this, Markko’s scope of work also extends into Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) where he supports a targeted group of young people using mindfulness-based practice and positive modelling. Young people love engaging with Markko, and gets overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents, young people, and external stakeholders alike.
Mijica Rose Lus, The Aurosokwo Project
Through her project, the Aurosokwo and other collaborative efforts, she has impacted so many lives around her through the creation of care packs, book drives, medical outreach, media support, clothing drives and in person assistance to local charities and organizations to cater to the growing diverse population in the ACT/NSW Region. She has also encouraged young people who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, culturally diverse backgrounds, LGBTQAI+, living with a disability or English as a second language to overcome adversity and challenge social norms to bring a positive impact to the lives around them.
Mijica Rose Lus has served not only in the ACT and NSW but in other states VIC and QLD, inviting others to be part of the discussion for community engagement and learn more about the Pacific Islander values and culture. Mijica is a young woman, migrant, person of color and speaks more than one language. She has empowered other young people who are of similar standing to also live and be more than the negative stigma and that using their ‘uniqueness’ to make a positive in the ACT /NSW Region they all have come to call home.
Rachael Shallow, Regional Youth Support Services
Rachael started her career with RYSS in May 2022 after completing her Honours in Social Science as the Resource Worker, managing intake, assessment and referral for young people to access high quality services. Rachael embraced the position working with some of the most vulnerable young people and their families on the Central Coast with face to face, phone and email enquiries from other services, families, and the young people themselves. She quickly developed skills in navigating and identifying where young people sat across the many programs RYSS offer, such as TEI, Indigenous Justice Program (IJP), Abilities (NDIS) and the One3One HUB space offering Intake, assessment, referrals and ongoing case work support and programs. Rachel was offered the position of Targeted Early Intervention (TEI) Case Worker. Rachael is a LGBTQIA + ally and is achieving incredible outcomes for her clients which include supports with access to NDIS, financial, housing, health, education, training, and employment opportunities. She is passionate in advocating for young people who have experienced DFV and support and navigating with police. Rachael recently implemented an outreach program offering supports in local high schools supporting their wellbeing hubs with students needing further support.
Shane Matini, Mission Australia
Shane, an Aftercare Caseworker brings a wealth of life experience to the team at Mac River. Mac River is a comprehensive residential rehabilitation program for young people with alcohol and other drug problems. The aim of the program is to provide a 3-month residential drug and alcohol treatment program to young people aged 13 to 18 years whose use of alcohol and other drugs places them at risk of significant harm and offending. After their stay, young people are supported by the Aftercare Caseworker, Shane, for up to a further 6 months. Shane supports young people transitioning from Mac River in various communities across Western and Far West NSW. Shane is able to draw on his own lived experience to support young people on their journey to recovery and walk beside them to achieve their goals.
Stephanie Jackson, Women’s Shelter Armidale
Over the past 9 months of Stephanie’s employment with the Armidale Women’s Shelter, she has predominately engaged and supported young women aged from 17 to 25. Stephanie’s ability to engage young women facfacfacfacing adversity has been an enormous asset to supporting local youth address housing insecurity, which was previously a gap within service engagement. Through Stephanie’s complete transparency and respect she gives young women other paths which never have been shown or accessible for the individual. When working within Aboriginal community, Stephanie demonstrates her cultural awareness and respect of the land she works on and ensures all case management support provided is suited to the individual. Stephanie walks with mob and also is their strongest advocate, always vocal never silent. Stephanie is always prepared to stand beside her young Aboriginal women and families. Stephanie continues to identify gaps within the Armidale community, specifically issues surrounding addiction and barriers faced within local community for women and young people being released from incarceration.
Stevie White, CASPA Services
Stevie White is proud, beautiful and kind Wangkumarra woman who joined my team in June 2022. Stevie is a natural leader who centers heart and her culture at the forefront when caring for young people she works with.
Tahnee Goodlet, Little Dreamers
Tahnee Goodlet is a Little Dreamers Intake and Support Coordinator. Tahnee takes pride in being an encouraging, listening ear for Young Carers and their families who often don’t have someone who they can talk to about the complexities of their situations. Tahnee has outstanding skills working with children and young people, and in the two short years she has been working in the youth sector has already made such a big difference.
Outstanding Work with Young People from Diverse Cultures, Backgrounds, and Experiences
Young Queerios, Queer Family
Young Queerios is a program run by Queer Family in the Northern Rivers area of regional NSW. Young Queerios caters to LGBTQIA+ youth aged 12-24, and exists to give young queer kids a safe space to connect, increase confidence and build community, in order to improve mental health outcomes. For many of the young people they work with, their hangs, workshops and events are the only safe space that they young people have to be themselves, and have their identity affirmed by like-minded peers. The Queer Family work collaboratively with their young people, engaging in brainstorms and feedback so that they are empowered to co-create programs that directly meet their needs. Their program has included after school hangs, comic workshops, zine making, a queer youth Xmas party, building herb planters, a Pride walk, a cinema takeover and bushwalks. One of their most exciting projects in the works is a youth skill share – a series of workshops where each young person runs a workshop or talk about a topic of their choice.
New Beginnings, Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW
The New Beginnings program is designed and delivered by MYAN NSW to newly arrived young people in NSW schools. MYAN NSW youth engagement specialists facilitate the workshops in schools alongside trained young people called Peer Facilitators. MYAN NSW respects the lived experience of young people who have settled in Australia. The New Beginnings program inspires and equips youth with lived experience of forcible displacement to support and encourage their peers.
Moree Family Support
Moree Family Support has delivered a vital youth homelessness program to the youth of Moree since 2007. Young people aged 16-24 years who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness and reside in the Moree Plains Shire are supported. Being situated in regional rural NSW, our young people face extensive barriers when it comes to accessing affordable accommodation, suitable employment, transport and specialist support services. Through early intervention, crisis and transitional support Moree Family support will empower young people with a sense of purpose, hope and fulfilment, support them to maintain connection to education and learning, assist them to identify their own goals and to empower them to achieve those goals and to support them to access mainstream and specialist services, and to connect them with community and family. The future is bright for our young regional leaders of tomorrow.
Boost Program, Australian Community Support Organisation
Boost is a mentoring program run by the Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO) for young people living in the Illawarra and Sutherland regions of NSW who have an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) or are considered “at risk” of breaching an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO). Each young person is matched to a mentor for the duration of the program. The program was developed by ACSO is conjunction with University of Wollongong, Youth Justice and Police. The research for the need and formulation of the program was used to successfully gain a grant of 1.4 million dollars from the Federal Government’s Safe Communities initiative. The Steering Committee for the program includes the Magistrate from Children’s Court of New South Wales, Police, Youth Justice and ACSO representatives. The program is supported by Legal Aid, the Department of Education in New South Wales, Youth Liaison Officers from the New South Wales Police, Youth Justice, Aboriginal Legal Service and other services working in unison to bring the community together to help significantly disadvantaged young people.
Amplifying M Voices, Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra
Amplifying M Voices is a five-part podcast series, showcasing the lives and experiences of Illawarra’s multicultural youth community. With honesty, humour and courage, young people explore themes of trust, friendship, culture, body image and confidence. They discuss their refugee and migration journeys and the intricacies of finding home in a new place. Amplifying M Voices is funded by the NSW Government. This project was run by Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI) and produced by Beyond Empathy.
Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency
Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency’s (HARDA) various youth programs have assisted young African Australians for over 10 years. There are three programs: 1. ‘Swim, Survive & Socialise’ 2. ‘Connecting Communities’ and 3. Jobs for African Youth Program. The ‘Swim, Survive and Socialise’ program has been running every year since 2012. Since 2012 over 800 young people have taken part in the program. It is held in Aquatic Safety Training Academy (ASTA) centre in Seven Hills. The ’Connecting Communities’ program was an offshoot of the ‘Swim, Survive and Socialise’ program. Many African Australians spoke about not being able to interact with wider Australian community. HARDA was able to partner with an organisation based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney called Kids Giving Back. The ‘Connecting Communities’ program enabled African Australians young people to meet and develop friendship with other young people from the Eastern Suburbs through fun activities like ten pin bowling, laser tag, rock climbing and a day at the beach. During Covid and years after it, young African Australians approached HARDA and sought assistance to finding employment. HARDA already had a Jobs for African Migrant Program and it started to assist young African Australians as well.
The Sticking Together Project
The Sticking Together Project (STP) is a research-driven, youth employment solution. It pairs young job seekers with a dedicated coach for a 60 week period, to help them overcome barriers to employment, support their overall wellbeing and to give them the maximum chance of success when entering into and sticking with employment. The STP has been operating in NSW since 2019 and has supported over 300 young people into sustainable employment.
NSW Youth Worker of the Year
Anthony (Toni) Simmons, Pathfinders
Toni Simmons works with more than 200 young people a year in his capacity as Resource Co-ordinator and Farm Manager of Tilbuster Station with Pathfinders, a not-for-profit located in Armidale. His patient manner and giant heart have changed the lives of many young people who have found themselves in challenging situations at home, at school, at work or with the legal system. Tilbuster Station is a place of peace and calm in what can sometimes be a chaotic world for teenagers and young adults.
Bianca Blundell, Allambi Care
Bianca always goes above and beyond in supporting the young people they serve. Bianca is highly motivated, empathetic, energetic, and is able to connect with vulnerable young people extremely well. Bianca strives to ensure that young people become motivated participants in their own lives and have the best opportunity to achieve their goals both in and out of home care and when graduating into adulthood.
Damien Corbridge, Community Restorative Centre
Damien Corbridge is the Senior Youth Transition Worker in the Pathways Home program, a long-term, intensive youth work and care coordination project supporting at-risk young people to build sustainable pathways away from the criminal justice system. In his practice he seeks to amplify the voices of his clients and empower them to develop a sense of agency in relation to the decisions that affect their lives. His dedication extends beyond direct client work and includes ongoing contributions to community practice and raising awareness of broader social injustice.
Danielle McLaughlin, Brave Foundation
Danny Phoneyiem, St Saviours
Danny has been making a big impact with the kids he mentor, including getting them involved in participating in the gym in order to live a healthy lifestyle.
Deborah Black, Allambi Care
For over 12 years Deborah has shown an unwavering commitment to supporting young people in both residential care settings and in their transition to independence. Inclusivity and empowerment lie at the heart of Deborah’s approach. She actively seeks out the perspectives of young people, making sure their voices are heard and respected in all aspects of their care and support. Through open and honest communication, Deborah fosters an environment where young people feel valued and empowered to contribute to the decisions that affect their lives. In addition to her exceptional work in supporting young people within residential care settings, Deborah has gone above and beyond to provide crucial assistance during the transition from being a child in care to being an adult living independently. Through her unwavering commitment and personalised approach, Deborah has witnessed numerous success stories as young people transition out of care. Many young people have gone on to pursue further education, secure stable employment, and are more connected to their communities and families. By genuinely valuing and incorporating the young person’s views and choices, she has empowered them to envision and pursue fulfilling lives as self-sufficient young adults.
Dzenet Trevisi, Wollongong City Council
Dzenet works at Wollongong City Council as a Youth Development Worker. She works with young people across the LGA that are aged 12-24. Dzenet has always been a big dreamer and has always wanted to develop amazing opportunities for young people. Since her role began at Wollongong City Council, she has worked tremendously hard to provide young people a safe place to be in, a platform to use their voices and opportunities to enrich their skills and knowledge, and she has been able to do just that. Dzenet cares for young people profusely and loves to be a mentor for young people, as she says “someone I never had when growing up”. When she’s not planning and developing her program ideas, she’s advocating for young people. Dzenet takes a lot of pride in her work and is proud of her achievements, as they are a result of who she gets to work with. Dzenet is particularly passionate about young women and those of CALD/Migrant/Refugee background, as she resonates to these communities personally. She has been dedicated in increasing CALD participation and young women at her youth centre and her programs reflect that dedication.
Elena Truhin, Cumberland City Council
Elena initiated and leads the Employment Hubs Program, collaborating with partners to provide vital employment services. The Employment Youth Hubs provide support to disadvantaged youth aged 15 to 25, helping them enhance their employability through tailored resumes, cover letters, and interview guidance.
Ellie Tree, Neighbourhood Centres of Bellingen Shire
Ellie is a passionate advocate and driving force behind the game-changing YOUth Speak Project. Ellie’s profound impact on young lives in the Bellingen Shire is nothing short of remarkable. Ellie works primarily with young people aged 12 to 17 and has ignited a movement that empowers youth to shape their community’s future. Through innovative approaches, Ellie ensures that the voices of young people are not just heard but valued and integrated into the program. Responding to young people’s views and ideas is at the heart of the approach. From an inclusive survey capturing input, to a large percentage of local youth to the inaugural Bellingen Shire YOUth Speak forum, Ellie champions authentic youth engagement. She fosters connections between community leaders and young individuals. Her leadership provides a testament to the potential for collaboration and understanding across generations. The outstanding outcomes of the YOUth Speak Project are evident in the nine projects led by 48 young people across the Shire. From advocacy to infrastructure, Ellie’s guidance is continuing to lead to tangible change, with several projects applying for grants and one already receiving full funding for community-wide implementation. Ellie’s exceptional work stands as a beacon of youth empowerment.
Fatina Elabd, Youth Off The Streets
Fatina Elabd has led the Youth Off The Streets Sydney Youth Justice Services for 5 years, always championing best practice and ensuring children/young people’s voices are at the centre of all interventions. Fatina’s commitment to trauma informed and culturally responsive program delivery has informed system improvements across YOTS, and more broadly in community. Fatina is highly respected by her peers, but more importantly by the children and young people in the service Fatina works with daily.
Gokhan Singec, Auburn Youth Centre
Gokhan Singec outlines every quality that one could hope to expect from a youth worker. He is helpful, approachable, and driven by positive outcomes for young people. Legally blind, Gokhan does not let his disability get the better of him, happy to participate in activities, he is an excellent football player, coach, administrator, and referee. He helps young people with a wide range of services including employment, help with fines, training opportunities and more. He works with many multicultural youths including a large proportion from refugee and migrant sectors. He has been working in the sector for over 10 years and still approaches his work with a great deal of enthusiasm. In my experience in this sector, Gokhan is by far the most suited and talented youth worker that I have met. A born and raised Auburn local, the young people in the area are lucky to have him.
Kathryn Allen, Life without Barriers
Kathryn Allen Is the Area Manager for Life Without Barriers. Kathryn has over 20 years’ experience in improving outcomes for young people who have faced adversity and dare to dream. Kathryn’s focus is client and family inclusive with a holistic and collaborative approach. Kathryn developed and manages the Supported Independent Living program: a program for young people 18-20 with a care experience needing a launching pad into adulthood.
Katy Quinn, Down The Track
Katy’s determination to ensure a better tomorrow for young people shines through her dedication and work ethic in her role as Senior Youth Worker at Down The Track. Katy has grown up in Lake Cargelligo and knows the struggles the youth face every day. Katy facilitates all of Down The Track’s programs on the ground, she has also taken part in the Youth Advisory Council and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards to ensure that young people’s voices are being heard. She is perfectly positioned to advocate their needs and gaps in services on their behalf.
Natasha Schuyt, Mission Australia
Natasha Schuyt is the Aftercare Case Manager at Mission Australia. She is energised, committed, highly skilled with wonderful community links and relationships form her previous roles in Centrelink, education and as a Housing Advocate. Natasha has formed a relationship with the Department of Communities and Justice that has helped young people eligible for accommodation be set up for funding. She has been instrumental in supporting young people with Centrelink and also Service NSW attends Walawaanni on a regular basis to assist young people with ID’s and ensure they are getting all payments they are entitled to. Natasha forms strong therapeutic relationships with the young people by meeting where they are at and helping them identify and achieve their goals.
Paige Thurlow-Want, Mountains Youth Services Team
Paige is more than just a Youth Worker – she is a highly dedicated and passionate professional who really cares about the youth of the Blue Mountains. She is advocate for all youth and committed to creating opportunities for all young people to ensure they can develop life skills to help overcome any challenges so they can reach their full potential. In response to community need, she recently arranged 2 large scale family fun days and 2 skateboarding competitions to help re engage and bring the local community together to support the youth. She works tirelessly to provide programs in schools that educate youth on Aboriginal and LGBTQI+ acceptance to enable inclusion and equity. Her efforts and those of the MYST Team were recently recognised in Parliament and in a Community Recognition Statement by Local MP Trish Doyle. Another school-based program she has been instrumental creating is a weekly Breakfast Club at local high schools to help ensure that the disadvantaged youth in the community get a healthy breakfast and a good start to the day. She has also facilitated the Teen Mental Health First Aid training in local high schools to enable young people to help each other in times of crisis. The work Paige does with local young people is inspirational to all and helps change lives!
Robin Allport, Challenge Community Services
Robin Allport is a Caseworker in out-of-home care with Challenge Community Services. Robin is also a strong Aboriginal woman who is connected with her community and ensures the work she does daily represents her desire to ensure better outcomes for her family and community. Robin ensures she upholds the views of children and young people in her work, and ensures they are at the forefront of decision making on matters that affect them. In the last 12 months, Robin has also worked with Aboriginal children and young people through the Start Up Deadly Program where she quickly adapted the program based on their feedback and ensured the program delivered the outcomes suitable for each of the young people’s own goals, rather than trying to make them fit the program. Robin ensures that children and young people are involved in all decisions affecting them, from case planning to cultural planning and family connections. Robin goes above and beyond in her work to elevate children’s voices and their rights.
Shalina Biglia, 54 Reasons
The 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires devastated the Eurobodalla Shire. Young people have the right to health, to education and to develop to their fullest potential, this includes a right to access all supports needed to achieve these things. Youth Specialist, Shalina Biglia is part of the 54 reasons Mobile Youth Outreach program for Bushfire Recovery. She is committed to working with families and local stakeholders to ensure that young people have the support they need to stay connected with the community and to advocate for their unique needs. The program, which is group based, uses a strengths-based and community-led approach and is implemented via the Mobile Youth Van which has many tools to engage young people in meaningful activities. Shalina has been able to support young people to process what they have experienced and assist them to develop strategies to cope by building their sense of belonging and connection to family, culture and community in the Eurobodalla towns of Bateman’s Bay, Moruya and Narooma. She has supported young people in understanding their rights and assisted them to voice issues that are important to them. She has also built on their innate strengths and on their individual skills to encourage positive life choices and set goals for the future.
Stephanie Robert, Big Yellow Umbrella
Stephanie Roberts is a hardworking and dedicated Youth Case Worker for Big Yellow Umbrella, a non-government organisation in which their mission is to build and support inclusive, cohesive and emerging communities across the South Western Sydney region. Stephanie works with a wide variety of young people across different locations. Her practice embeds the voices of young people as she goes above and beyond to address key issues and implement different interventions in order to promote their autonomy, individuality and overall wellbeing. At Big Yellow Umbrella, Stephanie has devoted her time and efforts to support young people, ultimately, she has achieved outstanding outcomes leaving a substantial amount of young people with improved wellbeing and better resources. Empathy, professionalism and adaptability lay at the foundation of Stephanie’s practice as she continues to make a difference in young people’s lives.
Tamie Cooper, Mission Australia
Tamie is a dedicated and passionate youth worker who has made a significant impact in the lives of young people through her work in the Casework Support Program (CSP). CSP is a 12-week program funded by Youth Justice and delivered by Mission Australia within Illawarra/Shoalhaven NSW.
Tamie builds strong relationships based on trust and respect, creating a safe and supportive environment where young people feel comfortable sharing their struggles and aspirations. Through active listening and effective communication, Tamie ensures that each young person’s voice is heard and valued. Tamie’s Casework Support Program focuses on providing individual support to young people facing various challenges to address needs such as: financial support, engagement in education and training, stable accommodation, social and personal development, and cultural support.
Tamie actively collaborates with other services and community. She recognized the importance of a holistic approach to youth work and actively sought the opportunity to partner with Kiama Community College to co facilitate a life skills and cultural program officially known as “Gather and Connect”.
Tamie’s impact as a youth worker extends beyond individual cases. This is demonstrated through her weekly community engagement in: Fit for Life- PCYC, Interagency Community Garden and Wednesday afternoon’s engaging youth from local high schools to minimize risk taking and criminal behaviours.
NSW Youth Service of the Year
Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW
MYAN NSW is a state-wide specialist youth organisation with a focus on supporting young people who arrive to NSW as refugees and humanitarian entrants. MYAN NSW has worked closely with young people from refugee, migrant, and cultural communities since 2014. They provide support and expertise to ensure young people are able to build the skills, knowledge and networks they need to be active participants in Australian society.
Mac River Residential Rehabilitation, Mission Australia
Mac River Rehabilitation Centre is a comprehensive residential rehabilitation program for young people aged 13-18 years who are involved with Youth Justice and whose use of alcohol and other drugs places them at significant risk of harm. The service provides trauma-informed and culturally safe support for three months in residence, followed by six months of aftercare in the community. The team provides 24-hour support offering a stable, safe environment where young people can get back on track so they can reach their full potential, set goals, learn, and grow. Through their stay, young people are provided support around strengthening life skills and interpersonal skills, increasing personal resilience and confidence, building social networks, and accessing counselling, cultural programs and mentors and activities. Mac River is funded by Youth Justice and Delivered by Mission Australia.
Reconnect and On Track, Anglicare
Anglicare’s Reconnect and On Track teams have been helping young people in Western Sydney. The Reconnect program helps young people who are at risk of homelessness. Reconnect attempts to mend family conflicts, serving those aged 12 to 18 (or up to 21 for recent Australia arrivals). Reconnect’s tailored services include counselling, mediation, and support for family, education, employment, housing, legal, and health issues. Reconnect works in these LGAs: Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown, Parramatta, Bankstown. On Track is designed to help students disengaged from school or young people thinking of leaving school early. The On Track initiative caters to those in Years 9, 10, and 11. Operating in Liverpool, Campbelltown, Fairfield, and Wingecarribee regions, this program delivers direct assistance by identifying their current and future needs. The goal is to equip them for a successful move into employment, in a part-time or casual capacity.
Youth Solutions is a youth drug and alcohol prevention and health promotion service working with young people 12 – 25 years of age and the broader community. Youth Solutions works across the Macarthur and Wingecarribee regions of NSW, delivering evidence informed health education programs, campaigns and activities aimed at reducing and preventing the community’s young people from experiencing the harms of drugs and alcohol. Youth Solutions’ programs focus on knowledge and skill development to increase health, wellbeing and connectedness and reduce drug and alcohol harm. In addition to its health education programs, Youth Solutions has a robust Research Program, which focuses on engaging with young people through qualitative research to ensure their voices and perspectives are heard and that their programs are tailored to meet their needs. Youth Solutions also helps connect people with support services through their information and support program.
Mountains Youth Services Team
Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) is a small dynamic Youth Service supporting young people aged 12-24 in the Blue Mountains. MYST staff work tirelessly to find ways to overcome this issue. The area currently has a great need for youth and other support services due to economic and other social issues as well as trauma from recent bushfires, floods and COVID that is still greatly impacting all within the community. Established in 1992, MYST is deeply connected within the communities across the Blue Mountains and with a small, dedicated staff develops and delivers a supportive range of services, programs, activities and events for local young people. They are fully committed to accessibility, inclusiveness and sustained engagement with young people to ensure that they can make life-long changes so they can thrive. The heart of MYST’s approach is fostering connection – connecting young people with their strengths, with their peers, with diverse sources of support, and with wider communities and networks. The team at MYST have seen some outstanding results from across the board as a result of the programs and events that are helping to improve the wellbeing of young people across the Blue Mountains.
Midjuburi Youth Resource Centre
Midjuburi Youth Resource Centre, formerly the Marrickville Youth Resource Centre provides direct support, counselling, after school recreational programs, school holiday activities, school programs and young women’s programs, Aboriginal support and cultural programs for young people 12 – 24 years from across the Inner West.
What Were You Wearing? Australia
WWYW is an Indigenous, queer and disabled owned and led not for-profit organisation focusing on providing education, awareness and advocacy on sexual violence. They predominantly work with young people, to ensure that younger generations are safe and have safer places to work, explore. WWYW since the beginning has helped many people. They have established a social media following on TikTok of over 143,000 followers in which they educate the young people every day. A platform predominantly for young people, in which they can now get the education and awareness that they might not get at school or home. Their services include safe spaces at music festivals, venues and nightclubs, survivor packs (essential items for victims of crime), advocacy services such as ensuring patrons are treated fairly, know their rights and helping survivors get justice and support groups (run by professionals with expertise). In 2023, WWYW campaigned and successfully got over 20,000 signatures on a NSW Government petition, which saw the amendment of the RSA. Overall, WWYW is made up of over 50 volunteers who passionately want to see more change to the justice system and an end to sexual violence.
Youth Action is the peak body for young people and youth services in NSW.
Youth Action acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We understand that sovereignty was never ceded and recognise their continuing connection to lands, languages, waters, and cultures.
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