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Wollongong City Council

Wollongong Youth Week Awards 2023

The Wollongong Youth Week Awards acknowledge and highlight the achievements and efforts of young people aged 12 - 24 in the Wollongong Local Government Area.

The Awards were announced during Youth Week in April 2023.

Pick a category below to read about our award recipients.

Carly Lavings receives her award from Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

Carly is an exceptional student representative who has been a strong advocate for students with disabilities at the University of Wollongong and has maintained a strong community volunteering background.

Carly is an outstanding ambassador for young people in the Illawarra, particularly those living with disabilities and mental ill health. As a result of her work as a student representative at University of Wollongong (UOW), she has increased the profile of students with disabilities and ensured equitable academic considerations practice, inclusive community, and physical spaces at UOW.

Carly has established UOW's first quiet space for students with sensory issues and UOW's first neuro-divergent society. She has used her spare time to volunteer as a Telephone Crisis Supporter at Lifeline South Coast and has supported survivors of the Rwandan genocide and local Rwandan community infrastructure projects and assisted in local schools.

Zeinab Azimi receiving her award from Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

Zeinab arrived in Wollongong from Iran (former refugee) as a young person that did not speak English or have any connections to the community. She worked tirelessly over the years to grow her skills and build friendships and is now such a well-loved and valued member of the Wollongong community.

Zeinab is the founder and president of Illawarra Rotaract Club, an offshoot of Rotary for young people; established by Zeinab and other young people in Illawarra.

Zeinab has been an active volunteer in running the 2022 International Women's Week Dance and Culture event in Wollongong. She is a volunteer and youth leader for SCARF and most inspiring, an advocate for human rights for Afghan and Iranian women and refugees.

Zinah Hasan receiving her award from Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

Zinah is a dedicated, active, and passionate young woman who has harnessed her lived experience of refugee settlement and love of sports, in particular football, to mobilise, engage and advocate for inclusion and participation in sport and well-being activities with migrant and refugee youth.

Zinah has paved the way for other young women to break the stereotype of young women from different cultural backgrounds who are not allowed to play sports.

Zinah is a talented sportsperson, playing competitive football for the University of Wollongong and as a participant in the Adam Casey Football clinics. Zinah works as an Ambassador for Diversity and Inclusion with NSW Football Clubs, co-designing and presenting to all Football Clubs in NSW as a part of the Multicultural NSW COMPACT projects. She brings her lived experience as a former refugee and young woman into the capacity building of clubs with aim to better work with diverse backgrounds and encourage multicultural youth to embrace football as a pathway to improved social connection, wellbeing, developing communication and English skills and connecting to services.

Beau Ritchie receiving his award from Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

Beau Ritchie is a creative, passionate, and dedicated filmmaker. In only a few years he already created some wonderful short films and has several scripts and storyboards in the making.

He writes, storyboards, films, edits, scores his films, and designs his own posters. He has created his own production logo, which is based on a silhouette of his grandfather, the man who inspired him to make his first 'serious' short film when he was 13.

Beau has represented Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts at the Shakespeare Carnival twice, as a short filmmaker. His films were written, filmed, and produced on school grounds, starring students from his class.

Beau has won many awards and been shortlisted for many film festivals. showcasing his five short films: Stringed Bullets, Now Presenting King Lear, Head in The Clouds, Power Over Palestine and The Diet. He has also made all his films with no budget.

He saves his birthday and Christmas money to pay for costumes and props.

Grace Gladwin Paffett receiving her award from Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

Grace is a singer-songwriter from Figtree who has released music that has made top 10 in the AMRAP charts, won awards with the Tamworth Songwriters Association and the prestigious International Song writing Competition.

She is a talented singer, musician and leader who uses these small personal wins to influence and benefit others.

Grace is a volunteer with children and is an ambassador for women in music; supporting children less fortunate than her to learn ukulele and delivering the 'Dream Big' aspiration workshop. Her use of her skill to support others has helped raise the self-esteem and aspiration of young women in the Wollongong area.

You can find Grace playing for The AP Country Music Association to raise funds for Peterborough School and contributes music to the T21 Foundation for children with Down Syndrome.

Cooper Palmer receiving his award from Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

Cooper organically created his Surf Brand logo, and then independently went to school and hand crafted the original design and screen printed it as part of a school project. Since then, he has committed 110% to understanding and learning about all things business so that he can get his business off the ground and start to build it up and grow it.

Cooper repeatedly demonstrates passion, dedication, discipline, and a thirst to succeed. He is an avid surfer and has turned this passion into a business into a business - Surfing Is My Coffee.

Cooper has been engulfed by community support and backing. He has been asked by community groups if he would consider being a special guest speaker for them to share his story and to help encourage other youth and community members in chasing their dreams and passions.

In the short time since Cooper launched his business, he has grown his business from market stalls to an online website. You can find Cooper at local markets, promoting surfing with a positive attitude.

Naia Webb receiving her award from Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

Naia has been a fierce advocate for climate justice for many years now and has been consistently increasing her dedication to the cause since 2019.

Her work is multi-disciplinary, spanning across roles as community organiser, protest facilitator, research assistant, artist and communicator with the public, media, and politicians.

Naia is a head facilitator of the Illawarra Climate Coalition, runs community information sessions such as the Dendrobium Mine Expansion Walk & Talk and at Independent Planning Commissions.

She works at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, where her work has taken her to Korea to present to the board at the Korean Maritime Institute about international climate change frameworks in the context of fisheries management. When not presenting in Korea, her work at ANCORS revolves around the intersection of climate change and the marine environment.

Her environmental work contributes to climate justice in the Illawarra region, wider Australia, and even internationally.

Charlotte Gibbs receiving her award from Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

Charlie's art was a hobby of hers until she fuelled her passion and turned it into an even bigger passion.

Charlie uses her skills to design and sketch images and converts them into stickers. Charlie makes her art from scratch, including printing and hand cutting her own stickers at home. She also makes packaging from little resealable plastic bags and sketchbook paper that she cuts and uses as a little header.

Selling her stickers across Wollongong and internationally, she is currently donating all her profits to the world's greatest shave and has so far has raised $500.

Congratulations also go to the following nominees, who were highly commended in our Youth Week Awards:

  • Highly Commended Young Person - Volunteer 2023: Keval Patel
  • Highly Commended Young Person - Community Ambassador 2023: Amro Zoabe
  • Highly Commended Young Person - Sportsperson 2023: Leonard Piyachai
  • Highly Commended Young Person - Artist 2023: George Williams
  • Highly Commended Young Person - Environmentalist 2023: Daniel Hu
  • Highly Commended Young Person - Performer 2023: Matilda Dickson.

More information

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