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Young Changemakers Reach for the Stars

20 October 2017 at 12:55 pm
Wendy Williams
A NASA astronaut has been giving advice to the next generation of ​Australian changemakers at a celebration recognising ​young​ trailblazers ​who​ ​are​ ​leading​ ​and​ ​creating​ ​social​ ​change​ ​in communities,​ ​industry​ ​and​ ​public​ ​life,​ ​across​ this ​country​ ​and​ ​beyond.

Wendy Williams | 20 October 2017 at 12:55 pm


Young Changemakers Reach for the Stars
20 October 2017 at 12:55 pm

A NASA astronaut has been giving advice to the next generation of ​Australian changemakers at a celebration recognising ​young​ trailblazers ​who​ ​are​ ​leading​ ​and​ ​creating​ ​social​ ​change​ ​in communities,​ ​industry​ ​and​ ​public​ ​life,​ ​across​ this ​country​ ​and​ ​beyond.

A total of nine​ ​initiatives​ ​led​ ​by​ ​and​ ​impacting​ ​young​ ​Australians ​were​ ​celebrated​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Foundation for​ ​Young​ ​Australians’​ ​(FYA)​ ​2017​ ​Unleashed​ ​Awards on Thursday night.

In her keynote Jessica Meir, who spoke about her previous career as a scientist and what led her to becoming a NASA astronaut, highlighted the importance of “passion, purpose, perseverance and people” in achieving dreams.

“I can only imagine the unbelievable contributions that you guys, and many more like you, will be making to the world. Seeing of these bright and creative and ambitious minds here today it is truly astounding,” Meir said.

“For all of you, you have already followed your passion, you have taken initiative, you have discovered your purpose, at least your first one for now, and luckily by seeking out foundations like the Foundation for Young Australians that have had enough foresight to realise the importance of backing you, you have acquired the means by which to take action.”

She said it was “truly an honour and an inspiration” to speak at the awards.

“[To be] learning about all of these incredible projects and programs you have taken from seedlings of an idea that you may have conjured up in a day dream, nurtured and watched grow and hopefully you have reaped the greatest reward in finding that true sense of purpose,” she said.

“Especially at a time like this on our planet when we are faced with what may seem like insurmountable challenges ranging from the fate of our environment to strained relationships among different world leaders, this optimism and this hope and this direct action that is aimed at bettering our people, all by people like you, at bettering our society, our planet, it is astoundingly moving for me to witness here.”

A mental health podcast, an​ ​app​ ​that​ ​makes​ ​it​ ​simple​ ​for​ ​people​ ​to​ ​report​ ​problems​ ​like​ ​potholes​ ​or​ ​graffiti​ ​to​ ​local​ ​governments and ​a​ ​program​ ​to​ ​break​ ​down​ ​stereotypes​ ​and​ ​reduce​ ​racism​ ​through​ ​storytelling were among the initiatives being recognised.

This year’s Gamechanger​ ​Award​, which celebrates social​ ​enterprises​ ​and​ ​ventures​ ​led​ ​by​ ​young​ ​people​ ​aged​ ​18 to 29 who are “changing​ ​the​ ​game” went to not for profit Little​ ​Dreamers, ​the​ ​only​ ​organisation​ ​in​ ​Australia​ ​that​ ​solely​ ​works​ ​with​ ​young​ ​carers​ ​who​ ​have​ a​ ​family​ ​member​ ​with​ ​a​ ​serious​ ​illness​ ​or​ ​disability.​

Little Dreamers founder Madeleine Buchner said it was “fitting” to be receiving the award in Carers Week.

“There are 2.7 million carers in Australia and 490,000 are under the age of 25 and they are growing up as carers in their family for someone with a chronic illness, mental illness, disability, addiction,” Buchner said.

“I actually grew up as one of these carers myself for my brother and my mum and I founded Little Dreamers because there was a gap in the market that really shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

“I was a 2015 Young Social Pioneer, so it is pretty cool to be back this year to see everything and since then I am a fully employed person in my organisation. We have a team of four, we are changing the lives of 600 families per year and this recognition for carers is just beyond anything we could have hoped for.”

Well-known activist Yassmin ​Abdel-Magied was named this year’s Champion ​of ​Change in recognition of becoming “​a​ ​household​ ​name​ ​for​ ​shining​ ​the​ ​spotlight​ ​on​ ​the​ ​divisive​ ​voices​ ​that​ ​can​ ​flood​ ​the​ ​mainstream​ ​media”.

Speaking on video stream from London, Abdel-Magied said she was “chuffed, honoured and really humbled” to receive the reward.

“The FYA family is like no other and I am really, really grateful to be a part of it,” Abdel-Magied said.

“Sometimes social change happens and you don’t quite try to be the person that catalyses it, it just happens all around you and this has kind of been this year.

“But if there is anything that I want you all to know, it is that you can have the full weight of the mainstream media, government, and a lot of public opinion against you and you can survive and it will be great and you can have a lifetime supply of awesome tweets afterwards.”

FYA​ ​CEO,​ ​Jan​ ​Owen​ ​said​ ​the​ ​Unleashed​ ​Awards​ ​we​re​ ​an​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​recognise​ ​initiatives​ ​that​ ​give​ ​back, enrich​ ​communities​ ​and​ ​make​ ​a​ ​positive​ ​contribution​ ​to​ ​society,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​the​ ​young​ ​people​ ​who​ ​lead them.

“These​ ​inspiring​ ​individuals​ ​and​ ​the​ ​initiatives​ ​they’re​ ​leading​ ​demonstrate​ ​the​ ​untapped​ ​potential​ ​of​ ​young people​ ​across​ ​Australia​ ​who​ ​have​ ​the​ ​talent,​ ​creativity,​ ​and​ ​ideas​ ​to​ ​create​ ​a​ ​more​ ​sustainable,​ ​equitable and​ ​prosperous​ ​society,”​ ​​Owen​ ​said.

“​The​ ​challenges​ ​they​ ​are​ ​inheriting​ ​make​ ​it​ ​not​ ​only​ ​important​ ​but​ ​absolutely​ ​vital​ ​that​ ​we​ ​provide​ ​them with​ ​opportunities,​ ​back​ ​their​ ​ideas,​ ​and​ ​encourage​ ​enterprise​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​their​ ​innovation​ ​capacity.”

The​ ​2017​ ​Unleashed​ ​Award​ ​winners​ ​were:

  • Rookie​ ​Entrepreneur​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Year​,​ ​Years​ ​7-9​ ​(Celebrating​ ​an​ ​innovative​ ​business,​ ​venture,​ ​or​ ​social enterprise​ ​that​ ​was​ ​created​ ​by​ ​students​ ​ ​from​ ​years​ ​7​ ​-​ ​9​ ​at​ ​school):​ ​BCD​ ​Services.
  • Rookie​ ​Entrepreneur​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Year,​ ​ ​Years​ ​10-12​ ​(Celebrating​ ​an​ ​innovative​ ​business,​ ​venture,​ ​or​ ​social enterprise​ ​that​ ​was​ ​created​ ​by​ ​students​ ​ ​from​ ​years​ ​10-12​ ​at​ ​school):​ ​Mental​ ​Music.
  • Jumpstart​ ​Award​ ​ ​(Celebrating​ ​a​ ​venture,​ ​social​ ​enterprise​ ​or​ ​business​ ​just​ ​starting​ ​out​ ​with​ ​a​ ​social purpose​ ​led​ ​by​ ​a​ ​young​ ​person​ ​aged​ ​12-18):​ ​Please​ ​Fix
  • Local​ ​Legend​ ​Award​ ​ ​(Celebrating​ ​a​ ​social​ ​enterprise​ ​or​ ​business​ ​led​ ​by​ ​young​ ​people​ ​aged​ ​15-25​ ​making​ ​a genuine​ ​impact​ ​in​ ​their​ ​local​ ​community​ ​and​ ​beyond):​ ​E-Raced​ ​(Prudence​ ​Melom).
  • Vanguard​ ​Award​ ​ ​(Celebrating​ ​a​ ​social​ ​enterprise​ ​or​ ​business​ ​led​ ​by​ ​young​ ​people​ ​aged​ ​18-29​ ​making​ ​a genuine​ ​impact​ ​in​ ​their​ ​local​ ​community​ ​and​ ​beyond,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​significant​ ​potential​ ​to​ ​grow):​ ​Catalysr.
  • Gamechanger​ ​Award​ ​(Celebrating​ ​social​ ​enterprises​ ​and​ ​venture​ ​led​ ​by​ ​young​ ​people​ ​aged​ ​18-29 changing​ ​the​ ​game​ ​which​ ​has​ ​a​ ​history​ ​of​ ​genuine​ ​impact​ ​and​ ​leading​ ​changemakers​ ​of​ ​their​ ​generation): Little​ ​Dreamers.
  • New​ ​Work​ ​Order​ ​Award​ ​(Celebrating​ ​Australian​ ​businesses,​ ​organisations​ ​and​ ​educational​ ​institutions such​ ​as​ ​Universities​ ​and​ ​Schools​ ​that​ ​a​ ​commitment​ ​to​ ​preparing​ ​young​ ​people​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future​ ​of​ ​work​ ​and the​ ​world):​ ​The​ ​Global​ ​Consulting​ ​Group.
  • Champion​ ​of​ ​Change​ ​Award​ ​ ​(Celebrating​ ​a​ ​public​ ​figure​ ​leading​ ​the​ ​way​ ​in​ ​social​ ​change​ ​and​ ​using​ ​their influence​ ​to​ ​make​ ​a​ ​positive​ ​difference​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community):​ ​Yassmin​ ​Abdel-Magied.
  • Inspired​ ​Citizen​ ​Award​ ​(Celebrating​ ​young​ ​people​ ​who​ ​recognise​ ​and​ ​act​ ​on​ ​their​ ​potential​ ​to​ ​lead​ ​positive change​ ​in​ ​their​ ​communities):​ ​Stomping​ ​Out​ ​Stereotypes,​ ​Frankston​ ​High​ ​School,​ ​VIC.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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