Youth Work Awards 2022 Winners

The Awards were held on Thursday 17 November at the ATYP Rebel Theatre.


1. Outstanding Use of Data and Evaluation

Sponsored by: NSW Family Services (Fams)

Awarded to: Camden Council Youth Strategy

The recently endorsed Camden Youth Strategy (2022-2026) aims to pave the pathway to achieving the Camden community's long-term vision and goals for young people aged between 12 and 24 years. The Camden Youth Consultation conducted in 2020/21, saw almost 1500 young people inform Council of how they want to be supported and what matters most to them. This data has been invaluable in assisting Council to inform, develop and moving forward, implement the Camden Youth Strategy. Camden Council feels privileged to have had such a large number of young people take part in supporting the development of the Strategy. Their voices have resulted in a meaningful Strategy, that feels tangible and will have lasting positive impacts for them across the delivery of the Strategy.

2. Outstanding Partnership

Awarded to: Aunty Time “Youth Can't Say That!”, Mosman Council

Council Mosman Youth Services aims to engage and empower young people in Mosman by providing young people aged 12-25 who live, work, and spend time in Mosman with support, ways to foster social connections and opportunities for community participation.

The Aunty Time program is a collaborative program developed in partnership with a local First Nations organisation The Gaimaragal Group. Aunty Time was piloted in June 2022 as part of the Gai-mariagal Festival and was held in the lead up to NAIDOC week. The program was facilitated by Gai-maragal festival co-chairs Susan Moylan-Coombs, and Caroline Glass-Pattinson in collaboration with Mosman Youth Services and brought together a group of 20 young people attending multiple workshops in the Mosman Youth Services which challenged notions of stigma, and provide a space for healthy discussion of society’s taboo topics.

The program was a rare opportunity to share and collaboratively work to provide healthy tools for building resilience, social & emotional wellbeing while being challenged. Due to the success of the program it will return in Term 4 2022.

Highly Commended: KYUP!: Violence prevention education partnership

3. Outstanding Youth Participation

Sponsored by: Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP)

Awarded to: Youth Ambassador Program Re-Imagining, MYAN NSW

MYAN NSW are specialists in youth participation regarding young people from migrant, refugee, and cultural community backgrounds. MYAN NSW underwent an evaluation of their flagship participatory program The Youth Ambassadors Program (YAP) to take this work onto its next phase and cement its industry leading knowledge into a replicable model.

Acknowledging the dynamic and ever-changing needs of young people, particularly humanitarian entrants, translating the complexities of emerging barriers to participation, and the shifting needs of young people into a workable youth governance model which has increased cultural safety parameters, embedded reflexive practices, and ensured smooth pathways for young people to participate and advocate for their own interests.

Guided by the National Youth Settlement Framework, and co-designed with young people, the project looked keenly at how the nature of youth participation has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of technology, and new barriers that have emerged for young people in their experience of the last 5 years of our work.

This new way of working is ground-breaking in its ability to foster youth participation and respond to young people’s needs on their terms.

Highly Commended: Streetgym, The Y NSW

4. NSW Youth Sector Volunteer of the Year

Sponsored by: The Centre for Volunteering

Awarded to: Sarah Williams, What Were You Wearing

Sarah Williams is a 21 year old Law student at the University of Newcastle and the founder of What Were You Wearing Australia (WWYW). Sarah founded WWYW in 2021 after experiencing extreme hardship and having been a child sexual abuse survivor.

She established Australia’s first ever exhibition on sexual assault awareness and collected 9976 stories of sexual violence in 2021. At the start of 2022, she created a diverse team of 40 volunteers with the core focus being ending sexual violence, particularly for First Nations people, people living with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ identifying people.

She has run and co hosted 7 community protests, where she marshalled over 2000 patrons. Sarah in 2022, was a finalist for the NSW Young Achiever of the Year Awards, won a local volunteer award from MP Sharon Claydon and recently won Newcastle’s Youth of the Year Award 2022. In August 2022, Sarah established and founded The University of Newcastle’s first ever Survivor Advocates Advisory Group in response to the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS).

Sarah’s work with WWYW is all undertaken in a volunteer capacity.

Highly Commended: Ashley Foskett

5. Outstanding Work With Aboriginal Young People

Jointly awarded to: Miyay Birray Youth Service and Start-Up Deadly, Challenge Community Services 

Miyay Birray Youth Service

Miyay Birray Youth Service provides case management for young people and families with children 18 years and under in Moree and surrounding area.
Our case workers support clients in a number of ways depending on what is happening for them at the time. Often a young person will be allocated their own case worker and work with them to develop achievable goals.

Case management aims to help provide young people and their families with the skills necessary to build resilience in order to overcome the barriers in their lives. Our caseworkers can work with clients who may be experiencing a range of issues including disengagement from education, employment issues, financial hardships and Centrelink issues, drug and alcohol use, physical and mental health issues, family and domestic violence, court and legal issues and family and domestic violence issues.

Deadly Futures Program, Deadly Connections

The Deadly Connections “Deadly Futures School Disengagement program” provides culturally-safe and responsive community-based support for secondary students who have been suspended from school, or those not engaging with school, specifically aimed at First Nations people.

Our program helps to facilitate young people’s engagement with their school journey whilst still supporting their healing and wellness. Furthermore, the project will foster student’s re-engagement with their education following a suspension while increasing protective factors such as cultural connections. Moreover, we aim to ease the reintegration of Indigenous students back into the school community following suspension through a range of targeted, innovative activities. Ultimately, we believe this project is a vital initiative as it has the power to disrupt the all-too-common school to prison pipeline.

By engaging students in a mentoring and role-modelling program, reimagining how we can teach and engage with these children and young people, we are able to break down the factors that are leading to continued suspension.

Highly Commended: Indigenous Justice Program, Regional Youth Support Service

6. Outstanding Work With Regional Young People

Sponsored by: Office for Regional Youth, Department of Regional NSW

Awarded to: Tocal College

Tocal College is situated near Paterson in the Hunter Valley. It provides a unique blend of agricultural training and practical experience for school leavers who may be interested in careers in agriculture. Year 10, 11 or 12 school leavers gain a practical pathway to careers in agriculture or gain credit in a variety of university degrees.

As well as extensive training facilities, Tocal provides a supportive welfare environment for students who are for the most part living away from home for the first time and navigating independence. The College was originally set up in the 1960s as an Agriculture Education setting for “wayward boys”. Much has changed over the years, but the College stays true to giving opportunities to young people who have not found mainstream education to be a good fit and to students who have struggled in other ways.

Highly Commended: Youth Council Program, Illawarra Centre for Enablement and Life Read Program, Coast Shelter

7. NSW Emerging Youth Worker of the Year

Sponsored by: Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA)

Awarded to: Heath Harris, Community First Step

Heath began his time at CFS as a student on placement. He impressed us so much that we offered him casual work. His time as a casual saw him excel and build some really important and strong relationships with young people in our local community. When the opportunity arose to offer him full time, we did not hesitate. In the time Heath has been working as a full-time Youth Worker, he has developed and delivered multiple workshops, has supported a large number of clients in Case Management, become a master at data collection and entry, built strong relationships with local schools and stakeholders, and taken more responsibility in supporting young people at our Youth Drop-In Service.

The Physical Health Workshop is an example of Heath’s work which was a series of 8 workshops he developed and delivered via our Youth Centre. He found that our young people were concerned about their physical health, especially after multiple lockdowns, and sought to develop a workshop that would assist with this. Heath developed the workshop with the assistance and feedback of young people, and (due to overwhelming demand) delivered the workshop to 4 different groups of young people.

Highly Commended: Lily Hayman, Shopfront Arts Co-op and Nicholas Bailey, Singleton PCYC

8. Outstanding Work With Young People From Diverse Cultures, Backgrounds and Life Experiences

Sponsored by: NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS)

Awarded to: COMPACT Program, Northern Settlement Services

Mosaic Multicultural Connections’s Northern Multicultural Youth Exchange program is working with multicultural youth to build engagement, relationships, mutual understanding and respect with wider youth and young adults from regional communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and mainstream youth. The project will also build a sense of value, identity and belonging in Australia; a strong community of young people from diverse backgrounds; and champions for community harmony.

The NSW Government COMPACT funded program includes:
- One day and multiday youth exchange programs with CALD youth travelling to different regional centres where there are smaller numbers of multicultural youth
- Community building and leadership development embedded in engagement with young people as they travel and engage with the wider community
- Facilitating group engagement in volunteering in the wider community
- Ongoing engagement through face to face and online “communities” to share experiences and reflections, support one another and work towards the wider project goals

Highly Commended: Street Industries

9. NSW Youth Worker of the Year

Jointly awarded to: Sarah Callaghan, Canterbury Bankstown Council and Stacy Jacobs, Cessnock High 

Sarah Callaghan, Canterbury Bankstown Council

Sarah is a passionate and selfless youth and community development specialist, and she is the Youth Development Officer for Canterbury Bankstown Council (CB City). Sarah’s role is dedicated to supporting and empowering over 65,000 young people and youth services across CB City, the largest and one of the most culturally diverse local government area in NSW.

Sarah has a proven track record of supporting the most disadvantaged young people in all her roles within Local Government & NGO space. She uses a culmination of her professional and lived experience to advocate for young people, workers and the Youth Work profession.

Stacy Jacobs, Cessnock High

Stacy has just completed her tenth year as the Student Support Officer at Cessnock High School. Although this is her paid role, Stacy goes above and beyond expectations at all times including volunteering on a range of committees and supporting young people.

Stacy assists local young people gain independence, personal growth and increased capacity through a variety of paid and voluntary roles within the community. Stacy’s capacity, persistence and determination seems limitless along with her pursuit for excellence in the field of Youth Work. Through her time with the Department of Education, Stacy has refined the programs supports and services within the school to more holistically support the needs of young people. Stacy established a youth hub within the school which sees over 600 occasions of service in a week, connecting with young people to support their ongoing development and wellbeing.

Stacy shows great leadership mentoring social workers, youth workers and SSO's across the state. Stacy continues to work within the school and the community increasing mental health literacy through courses of youth mental health first aid.,

Highly Commended: Will Doran, The Centre Kurri Kurri

10. NSW Youth Service of the Year

Sponsored by: Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ)

Awarded to: Julia Reserve Youth and Community Centre, Camden Council

Julia Reserve Youth and Community Centre, Camden Council

The Julia Reserve Youth and Community Centre is a youth centre located in the heart of Oran Park that is owned and managed by Camden Council. The centre operates under a co-located model of service delivery, where multiple youth services work together to provide holistic support for local young people.

This service is therefore a collaboration between multiple youth services who work together to ensure young people are supported through cross-sector collaboration and partnership. The centre currently has 7 youth services who operate out of the facility in addition to this, there are multiple other services who deliver specialised programs from the centre on an ad hoc basis to ensure young people have a variety of support services available to them whilst at the centre.

Since re-opening the centre to its full capacity in April of this year there has been an average of 784 young people who have attended the site per month, with over 1000 occasions of service in the month of July alone.

To view a video of this centre and operating model please go to the following link -

Highly Commended: Maya Cottage, Coast Shelter and The Linking Together Centre, Best Employment Ltd 

Hall of Fame

Awarded to: Darrel Smith and Keira Taggart

Darrel Smith

Darrel has been employed for the past 10 years with Miyay Birray Youth Service an Aboriginal community controlled organisation based in Moree. He has a passion for seeing youth achieve their goals. Darrel has been instrumental in seeing the service grow with forming many partnerships.

Prior to working with Miyay Birray Darrel was the regional manager for the Commonwealth Department of Education Darrel assisted in coordinating youth career expos and trips to help young people think about the future. Darrel has been involved in mentoring and coaching many young people in soccer.

Keira Taggart

Keira Taggart has been an active and passionate youth worker in the Lake Macquarie region for 22 years, working in community youth support and within Hunter Sports High School. Keira was a youth worker within a school before such a thing as student support officer (SSO) existed. She has pioneered the SSO role, advocating for students and their wellbeing, as well as the school staff.

In 2022, Keira completed a Bachelor of Youth Work degree through Victoria University, a huge personal achievement. Balancing study, work and home commitments over a two-year period highlight Keira’s dedication to her practice and the profession of Youth Work. Kiera is trusted and respected by the young people she works with, her colleagues, her community, and the local youth sector. Keira’s contribution to young people and the profession of youth work deserves to be recognised in the NSW Youth Work Hall of Fame.

There were so many amazing nominations this year and we want to thank everyone who was involved.

Click here for details about all the nominees.

The Awards were held alongside the Conference. Click here to access the Conference program.


Thank you to our Awards Partners and Sponsors

Thank you to all of the sponsors for the Youth Work Awards 2022.


Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), Department of Regional NSW, Office of Regional Youth, Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP).


Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA), Family Services (Fams), NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS), The Centre for Volunteering


Sign up to join our eNewsletter YapRap: