Youth Action founded the NSW Youth Work Awards in 2013 to create an annual celebration of the exceptional work of youth services and youth workers across NSW.
Due to the success of last year’s online event with many youth workers and young people from around the state being able to join us for the event, this year's edition will also be online and streamed live to you.
Join us for the NSW Youth Work Awards 2021, register for a ticket to attend: November 18, 2021, 3 - 4.30pm.
Thank you to our official Event Partner the NSW Government and our Awards Partners, AbSEC, ACWA, ACYP, The Centre for Volunteering, Create Foundation, Fams, Local Government NSW, NCOSS and Spark Strategy.
NSW Youth Work Awards 2021 Winners
Outstanding Use of Data and Evaluation
Award Partner: Fams
Winner: Weave Youth & Community Services - Creating Futures Evaluation
Outstanding Youth Participation
Award Partner: ACYP
Winner: MCCI & Headspace Wollongong - 7 Tips for a healthy headspace, Swahili & Arabic
Highly Commended: Mosman Council Youth Services - Raise the Youth, Blacktown Youth Services Association – Ignite & Little Dreams Australia - The Young Carer Advocacy Project
Award Partner: Spark Strategy
Winner: Re-rooting Program - We Are the Mainstream, Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN NSW) & Doonside Technology High School
Outstanding Work with Young People from Diverse Backgrounds and Experiences
Award Partner: Create
Winner: Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN NSW) - Multicultural Youth Ambassadors Program
Highly Commended: 2Connect Youth & Community - Transition to Work, Youth Employment
Outstanding Work with Aboriginal Young People
Award Partner: AbSec
Winner: Deadly Connections Community & Justice Services - Street Smart & Deadly Young Warriors
Outstanding Work with Regional Young People
Award Partner: Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women
Winner: Down the Track
NSW Youth Sector Volunteer of the Year
Award Partner: Centre for Volunteering
Winner: Nasima Esmaeli
NSW Emerging Youth Worker of the Year
Award Partner: ACWA
Winner: Lui Savea
Highly Commended: Dzenet Tinjak
NSW Youth Worker of the Year
Award Partner: NCOSS
Winner: Tony Ellitt
Highly Commended: Jazzie Quinn & Stacy Jacobs
NSW Youth Service of the Year
Award Partner: LGNSW
Winner: Blacktown Youth Service Association (BYSA)
Highly Commended: Kiama Municipal Council SENTRAL Youth Services & Leaderlife
NSW Youth Work Awards 2021 Nominees
Nominating an individual, program or service for a NSW Youth Work Award is an opportunity to demonstrate the evidence-based practice which takes place and supports young people each year.
Outstanding Use of Data and Evaluation
Weave Youth & Community Services - Creating Futures
Weave’sCreating Futures is an intensive support service for young people aged 10-30 leaving custody or otherwise involved in the criminal justice system. The evaluation process put the voices and priorities of young people at the centre and included culturally safe yarning circles with clients, in-depth case studies and interviews with staff and stakeholders. The input of young people guided the direction and concerns of the evaluation and informed the collection of data. You can read the report here.
The Tenants' Union of NSW - The Young Renter Project
The Tenants' Union of NSW provides high quality legal advice, assistance, and information to tenants, Tenant Advocates, and community workers, and advocates for reform to improve the housing conditions and tenancies of tenants. The Tenants’ Union is committed to improving rental conditions for all renters. The Young Renters Report digs into issues facing renters under 30. You can read the report here.
Outstanding Work with Aboriginal Young People
Weave Youth & Community Services - Young Men's Healing Group
The Young Men's Healing Group is a program which originated from the voices of young Aboriginal men. Staff at Weave Youth & Community Services provided a safe space for young men to open up and share their concerns and hopes for the future. The young men were heard and the young men's healing group was formed. The focus of the group responds to the current needs at the time and ranges from check ins, linking young Aboriginal men with their culture and healing and AOD sessions or interventions as they come up. The young men have been on 3 cultural camps since the initial one that Weave organised. This was done by linking the young men in with people in their community that are practicing their culture regularly. They recently attended a men's camp with 70 plus other men and a coolamon that they worked on is now on display in the unsettled exhibition at the Australian Museum. They also all performed in the opening ceremony of the South East Block Party.
Deadly Connections Community and Justice Services - Street Smart and Deadly Young Warriors
Since May 2018 Deadly Connections has delivered their Street Smart program which operates during times of high risk and is a street based, early intervention, prevention and diversion program targeting children and young people aged 10-24 in the Inner West LGA. The primary aim is to reduce the harmful consequences of anti-social/risky behaviours to improve rates of poor mental health and suicide, community safety and reduce the disproportionate rate of Aboriginal young people encountering the justice system. DC provides culturally responsive interventions through the provision of information, referral, advocacy, mentoring, positive role modelling, supervision and pro-social/cultural activities. Deadly Connections has successfully created meaningful community connections by allowing young people with similar lived experience to engage in pro-social and culturally driven activities. This has seen a reduction in incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour while providing a soft entry point for young people to access ongoing support services.
Aboriginal Youth Team Dubbo, NSW Police - Project Walwaay
The Aboriginal Youth Team (AYT) was established by the Orana Mid WesternPolice District in 2019 to address the over representation of Dubbo Aboriginal youth in the criminal justice system. The first of its kind, this team consisting of 3 Police Officers and an Aboriginal Community LiasionOfficer (ACLO), initiated Project Walwaay. Project Walwaay has provided many opportunities for at risk young people to succeed through diversionary programs, education and employment. Walwaay was given the blessing by the local Aboriginal Elders group whom also bestowed the name ‘Walwaay’ which is Wiradjuri for ‘young man’.The Walwaay Project supports young people to attend fitness programs, education, cultural teachings and Friday fun nights. Balancing the role of a police officer or ACLO and becoming role models to whom these youth could reach out in times of crisis was an integral component of this program. Unsurprisingly, the outcome was a significant reduction in offending, in anti-social behaviour and an increase in respectful and pro social behaviour.
Outstanding Work with Regional Young People
Down The Track
Down The Track works with some of the country's most vulnerable youth in the remote community of Lake Cargelligo. Down The Track currently works with 40 young people, both male and female and with around 98% Indigenous intake. Surrounded by red dust, they use the wide-open space as a classroom to educate, up-skill and support the youth of the community. Down The Track has united Elders, community organisations, schools and police to provide their youth with the best possible chance of success. This is a grassroots program that resulted from community outrage of high crime rates and anti-social behaviour of young people. Since the conception of Down the Track, youth incarceration in the community has seen a significant decrease by turning intervention into prevention from 5-7 lock ups a week to only 2 in two years. Down The Track is all about young people, they mentor their young people back into education after being completely disengaged from school. They break the cycle of generations of unemployment to rise these young people up to take control of their own future.
Regional Youth Support Services Inc - Youth Collective
Youth Collective is a project delivered by Regional Youth Support Services in schools across the entire Central Coast region, supported and guided by the invaluable input of the Youth Collective Working Group – comprised of key services on the Coast. The Working Group includes representatives from Headspace, Central Coast Community Council, The NSW Education Department, NSW Health, and Lifeline, and assist with the method, design, and ongoing innovative approach that the project takes. Youth Collective offers a 3-tiered, multi-agency approach to support good mental health and reduce the risk of suicide within our younger community by directly addressing elements which impact it. In the last year, the RYSS youth collective program has engaged with 2476 young people and attended over 12 Central Coast schools with the most disengaged young people.
The Australian Childhood Foundation – OurSPACE
OurSPACE is now an integral program of The Australian Childhood Foundation that meets a gap in the service delivery framework to children and young people in out of home care in NSW. The needs of young people at OurSPACE are viewed through the primary lens of trauma impacts. Outreach counselling is provided to support young people no matter where they are living in NSW. Counsellors fly/drive to remote and rural locations to meet with their clients who are experiencing the devastating effects of childhood trauma. OurSPACE has supported over 360 Children and YP in NSW in the previous 2.5 years. Supported them to reengage in school, access vocational supports and strengthen their relationships in the placements they are in. This has resulted in increased stability in placements and more insightful and connected relationships for them and their carers, teachers and caseworkers.
Outstanding Work with Young People from Diverse Backgrounds and Experiences
2Connect Youth & Community - Transition to Work, Youth Employment
2Connect Youth & Community (2Connect) is a leading youth specialist NGO in the South East Sydney District of NSW & has provided a range of diverse & innovative services and programs for over 30years. 2Connect has delivering the Transition to Work service for young people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. 23% of participants in the program are Aboriginal, in a local area where less than 1% are Aboriginal. The project met employment and education KPI targets by 120% during the past year. 2Connect has been delivering the Transition to Work service for over 5years, and is one of only a handful of youth specialist organisations funded by the Australian government to deliver this service across Australia.
Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN NSW) - Multicultural Youth Ambassadors Program
The MYA Program by Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN NSW) mentors and supports multicultural young people to build knowledge, skills and confidence around the change-making process, providing tools and techniques to influence and create social change. Online there are over 150 active members. Through participation, Multicultural Youth Ambassadors (MYAs) gain civic, social, professional networks and access opportunities for long-term friendships and connections with diverse young people in local communities. The MYA program emerged as a response to young people wishing to stay connected after attending peer-led consultations with the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees). Over the last 5 years, it has provided opportunities for multicultural young people to come together and foster a sense of belonging and community, particularly for young people of refugee and migrant backgrounds who are most recently arrived.
CORE Youth Services - Stronger Families for Safer Communities Therapeutic Music Program
Core Youth Service's Music Program has been running for the past four years, with more than 80 young people aged 12-25 years accessing free music lessons with a qualified teacher within a safe, supportive environment. Young People can choose to play guitar, keyboard, play their own instrument or sing whilst receiving theoretical and practical music instruction. Attendees can choose to play any genre of music, with some attendees receiving assistance to master a piece for their HSC and others learning to play for fun. The program is free and currently runs across the Campbelltown, Liverpool and Fairfield regions. Many young people also access musical instruments that their families could not afford without the program. The program allows young people to feel encouraged to explore, empowered and further develop a passion for music.
Master Management - Talanoa
Young people from a Pacific background have experienced and felt a lack of support from mainstream support services. In addition, many young people felt hopeless and isolated from being subjected to assumptions that are culturally inappropriate.So much so, that in the year 2018-2019, there were 19 “deaths by suicide” cases reported, which shook the Pacific community. In 2019, Western Sydney University established a partnership with Master Management that encompassed culturally responsive therapeutic support, preventative measures, and spaces and places that provide young people (including students) with the empowerment to own and lead meaningful dialogues with others. As a result, Talanoa arose as a potential solution from within the community that had theoretical underpinning based on Social Work values and practices, last year during the lockdown 173 participants engaged with Talanoa, 2021 496 participants engaged - Talanoa not only has saved lives, but has provided a safe space for educators, and professionals to access further support where needed.
Weave Youth & Community Services - What Is Your Utopia
What Is Your Utopia? was a youth-led podcast/video series in partnership with Weave Youth and Community Services and the City of Sydney for Youth Week in the City, 2021. After a difficult and isolating 2020, Weave’s Youth Advocates wanted to inspire hope and connection by embracing this year’s Youth Week theme – Together More Than Ever. To celebrate the theme the project involved a podcast and video series, entirely youth-led, developed and facilitated by the Weave Youth Advocates. The Youth Advocates invited a diverse group of young people from across the City of Sydney to share their vision for the change they want to see in the world and in their communities. Participants were encouraged to reflect and discuss how they can use their strengths to bring about that change, as well as using this platform to appeal to those with the power to influence these changes. Young people spoke passionately about progressive action on climate policy, inequality and racial injustice as areas of concern and which required action. The project aimed to not only give participants a voice and a platform, but to assist our young leaders to develop the skills and confidence to use that voice effectively and collaboratively.
Collective Leisure - Special Olympics Australia Sports Coach Program
Collective Leisure uses sports programs to engage and improve the lives of people from disadvantaged backgrounds including refugees and people with disabilities. One such program is an inclusive sports programs in local schools that engages children with Autism and disabilities through sport. In addition to this they run self-care workshops for grieving families, health workshops in local schools including smoking cessation workshops, meditation and well-being seminars for vulnerable groups, various sports inclusion programs throughout Sydney and have just started a Sports Mentoring Program for at-risk Pacific Islander youth at AYC including providing employment and training opportunities. The collective leisure program has employed 7 young people and provided training, free coaching, employment advice for a further 20 young people.
Up and Over - Waves, Weekend and Camp activities
Up and Over program, provides activities for the youth aged between 14-18 years of age. This has given parents and carers a much needed break from the fabulous caring role they do. The activities provided have been packed with excitement, fun and energy, creating friendships and getting those with disabilities active in their local community. After the initial school holiday program, the activities have continued each weekend taking a group into the community visiting local attractions. The Up and Over program has expanded the services available on the Northern Beaches for those people with special needs, with the aim to support lasting relationships in our community through facilitating opportunities for young people to achieve goals in a positive and empowering environment. The program has led the way by providing a 'youth for youth' benefit for the community. Young people taking out the young with disabilities for adventures and activities. They can develop friendship groups and peer connections in similar aged groups.
Illawarra Multicultural Services – SETS
Illawarra Multicultural Services: SETS works with young people works with young people aged 12-25 from refugee/migrant/humanitarian backgrounds who have been in Australia for less than 5 years. Illawarra Multicultural Services supports clients through low to medium-intensity casework, providing advocacy and support, and runs programs that cater to young people's needs. A range of programs have been developed implementing interactive, educational, fun aspects at no charge to young people with the aim to achieve English, Education, and Employment outcomes. Programs range from dancing, art, homework support, English lessons, barista courses and school holiday activities. Engagement has increased by 85% in the last financial year.
Outstanding Youth Participation
Save The Children - Our Voice
Save the Children Australia’s program Our Voice supports children and young people to engage with local decision makers, enabling them to become agents of change and have their voices and needs reflected in emergency management planning. The program gives children and young people the opportunity to provide feedback about emergency management in their community and space to share ideas about what would benefit them and their peers in the community. Our facilitators also train adults in decision-making roles on authentic and impactful participation for children and young people. At the end of the process, children and young people design events to communicate their recommendations to their local decision makers, to amplify their voices and help them to feel safe and heard.
Canterbury Bankstown Council - Meetings of the Minds
Meeting of the Minds was held in April 2021. Youth reference groups from; Canterbury Bankstown Council, headspace Bankstown, South Western Sydney Health District, Youth Off The Streets and Mission Australia from the Canterbury Bankstown area, came together to celebrate their contribution to the community; present key issues that they see young people face; and to share their hopes for the future. There were 38 young people in attendance, aged between 14-25. Canterbury Bankstown Council have committed to fund a mental health youth summit as mental health was raised as an issue by most groups and stated as a hope by several participants. Meeting of the Minds participants have formed a working group and have designed the summit that they will host in Youth Week 2022.
Mosman Council Youth Services - Raise the Youth
Raise the Youth was a youth driven event held during National Youth Week in April to respond to the priority areas identified in the youth consultation with over 300 young people. The event included live music, art, and dance, and aimed to elevate youth participation and create opportunities for connection, showcasing of youth talent, and provide a platform for youth voices to be heard. The event also focused on inclusion through an interactive and collaborative art installation which allowed young people to place a leaf on an artist commissioned tree with a message of their hope or wish for an inclusive community. The artwork now acts as an ongoing reminder to celebrate and promote inclusion in Mosman as it moves from different Council facilities and buildings – continuing to elevate young people’s profile and voices in Mosman.
MCCI & headspace Wollongong - 7 Tips for a healthy headspace, Swahili and Arabic
The Translation Project - 7 tips for a healthy headspace in Swahili and Arabic is a collaboration between youth from Swahili and Arabic speaking backgrounds, headspace Wollongong and the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI). The project aimed to respond to the increasing concerns around the emotional well-being of young people which was deeply affected by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Through participation in health literacy workshops, young people developed mental health tip sheets to help improve youth accessibility to resources, increase mental health literacy, encourage help seeking and remove barriers to access including stigma and cultural barriers.
Blacktown Youth Services Association - Ignite
Ignite Youth Leadership Team is a group of young people who develop and deliver ideas, projects and strategy to drive BYSA’s vision. The team was established in 2018 to transform BYSA into Western Sydney’s first ever youth led organisation. The purpose of Ignite is to create an opportunity for young people with lived experience to be encouraged and supported to make meaningful decisions about their lives and communities. Ignite provides resources, opportunities and training that enables young people to successfully engage with a range of systems and institutions within the community. Ignite is also the framework that underpins BYSA Youth-Led Practice.
Regional Youth Support Services Inc - Youth Collective
Youth Collective is a project delivered by Regional Youth Support Services in schools across the entire Central Coast region, supported and guided by the invaluable input of the Youth Collective Working Group – comprised of key services on the Coast. The Working Group includes representatives from Headspace, Central Coast Community Council, The NSW Education Department, NSW Health, and Lifeline and assist with the method, design and ongoing innovative approach that the project takes. Youth Collective offers a 3-tiered, multi-agency approach to support good mental health and reduce the risk of suicide within our younger community by directly addressing elements which impact it. In the last year, the RYSS youth collective program has engaged with 2476 young people and attended over 12 Central Coast schools with the most disengaged young people.
Little Dreamers Australia - The Young Carer Advocacy Project
The Young Carer Advocacy Project provides Young Carers with a platform to influence their community and create policy change, embedding support within the fabric of the Australian society. Over an eight-month period, Young Carers aged 15-18 and 19-24 are participating in a series of events, workshops and activities enabling them to understand and articulate their perspectives on various care related issues. These recommendations are being developed into a report that will be presented to the Australian Government by Young Carer Ambassadors in Carers Week (October 2021). Little Dreamers will continue to work with a small group of 16 Young Carer Ambassadors to ensure that any recommendations for change are reviewed and implemented where possible.
Mountains Youth Services Team - Youth Week Event 2021
In 2018, 2000 young people were surveyed in the mountains by Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) in partnership with Blue Mountains City Council and one of the 2 top issues was wanting places to gather that are youth friendly. This has become even more evident since the 2019/2020 Bushfires followed immediately by COVID. The project engaged young people to plan a Youth Week event and employed 4 local young bands to play at the event and a young person designed the event poster. As the first large community event since COVID it was highly successful with 168 attendees participating in a skate competition, music festival, art workshops and a group mural.
Creatingxchange - Blacktown Youth Services Association, Master Management, Finesse Entertainment
Creatingxchange is a partnership established in 2018 between BYSA, Master Management and Finesse Entertainment that fuses together youth development, creative engagement and cultural support to create opportunities for young people to lead a range of community projects in Western Sydney. Each partner brings a range of extensive skills and expertise to deliver a unique model of youth service delivery. Creatingxchange has delivered over 30 different projects that focus on youth leadership, culture and creative arts. Each project is co-designed and co-led with young people. These projects include Cultures Collide (Youth-led cultural space in Blacktown), Cultured the podcast (navigating cultural identity in Australia), Room 48 (Cultural learning program), Ignite (Youth Leadership Group), Beneath Our Skin (Documentary breaking down racism) and Co:Lab (creative media outlet lab).
Roller Derby Disco - Northern Beaches Council, Northern Beaches Roller Girls, Northern Beaches Business Education Network, PCYC, headspace
Recognising the rapid rise of roller derby the Northern Beaches Council and their Youth Advisory Group formed the idea of holding a Roller Derby and Disco. Partnering with local organisations, including Northern Beaches Roller Girls (NBRG), The Business Education Network (BEN), Skater HQ and PCYC, the idea was developed into an event that was inclusive and accessible to as many priority groups possible. The first event was held during Youth Week and saw over 400 people in attendance. The event was also used as a space to raise awareness around mental health amongst youth through collaboration with Headspace.
We Are Us - Wollongong City Council (Cultural Development and Community Development Teams), The Disability Trust, School Leaver Employment Supports North Wollongong
Cultural Development and Community Development Teams from Wollongong City Council worked collaboratively with young participants of The Disability Trust’s School Leavers Employment Supports (SLES), aged between 18 and 23, to design a mural, We Are Us, featured on the back of Pioneer Hall in McCabe Park. The nominee identified the need for increased inclusion and advocacy for the disability sector as there is a significantly lower employment rate for individuals with disabilities. The young participants were assisted in creating artworks about how they see themselves; how they imagine their futures, and the things that spark their lives. Signage was installed at the mural with a QR code linking back to Wollongong City Council’s Illawarra Stories platform where the public can listen to each person tell their story and experience in creating the mural.
Cessnock Driving Success - Kurri Kurri Community Service, Cessnock PCYC, Cessnock High School, Kurri High School, Mount View High School
Cessnock Driving Success is a partnership between Kurri Kurri Community Service, Cessnock PCYC, Cessnock, Kurri and Mount View High Schools. The program looks to assist young people aged 16-21 to gain free access to the safe driving course and to increase their hours towards gaining their required 120 hours required for their provisional licence. Each part of the partnership provides a critical role in this partnership working. Kurri Kurri Community Service works hard to ensure that the program is running through good governance, the PCYC continues to meet the demand of young people as they reach 50 hours. The schools are advocating for currently over 75 young people to enter the program who may not have other access to getting a licence and the volunteers themselves who continue to give hour after hour for young people in the Cessnock community.
Youth Industry Essentials Foundation Course - Castle Personnel, Central Coast Community College/Hunter-V-Tec, The Salvation Army (Oasis Youth Services and Moneycare Services), Kurri Kurri Community Services, Northern Coalfields Community Care Association
The Partnership was formed after a need to try and find ways to connect with the disengaged cohort of youth 17 - 24 years of age registered with Castle living with disability in the Cessnock and Maitland areas. This partnership enabled to develop a 9-week program to provide the participants with vocational and non-vocational skills and qualifications that would make them more employable, reengage them with their local community and provide them with a skill set that would benefit them personally by building on their self-esteem and confidence and giving them hope for a brighter future by having more opportunities available to them.
Re-rooting Program - We Are the Mainstream,Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN NSW) and Doonside Technology High School
The Re-Rooting Program was a weekly workshop for young women delivered at Doonside Technology High School (DTHS) in collaboration with We are the Mainstream & Youth Ambassadors from MYAN NSW. The students in these workshops identified as First Nations, gender diverse, non-binary, trans and girl students of colour. Re-rooting workshops were delivered as a result of young women and non-binary folk expressing a need to have space for them, by them. The workshops aligned with the English curriculum and outcomes. Poetry, creative non-fiction, sensory descriptions and creative writing were shared. Students were introduced to concepts such as cultural intelligence, cultural awareness, race, ethnicity and the construct of language through reflection on their experiences. Particularly, as students identified as young First Nations, gender diverse, non-binary and students of colour. Final pieces of writing and poetry will be published in a book for each student to take home.
Step Up! High School Transitions - 2Connect Youth & Community, Arncliffe Public School, Athelstane Public School, Bexley Public School, Rockdale Public School, Carlton Public School, Brighton Public School, Beverly Hills Girls High School, NSW Department of Education
2Connect Youth & Community partnered with NSW Department of Education and multiple primary and high schools in South East Sydney. The partnership project allowed for -Co-designing a life skills group work program together with students aged 12 in 6 partner primary schools and year 7s in a high school, for students who were at risk of leaving school early and were disengaged from school. Through consulting with young people about their needs on life skills topics, aspirations (goals) and interests, a range of life skills training & interactive workshops and activities were planned. The program run within each school was therefore tailor-made for that student group. This resulted in workshops such as building self-esteem, managing anger & emotions, handling racism & bullying, anxiety & stress management, drumming, clay and other arts, song/music production & various sports. During Covid, responsive activities included creating new discussion topics about well-being during the pandemic & learning from home.
CALD Academy: Refugee Learn to Swim and Employment Program - Accessible Diversity Services Initiative, Belgravia Leisure, Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre, Whitlam Leisure Centre, Austswim, Royal Surf Life Saving, Bankstown Senior College, MYAN, Sydney Water, Westfield Parramatta, Ahiida Swimwear, SSI, STARTTS, Reclink
The CALD Academy started in 2018 and provides weekly swimming lessons in school term and an intensive January learn to swim program in 2 session per week, one for men/boys and one for women/girls. In addition to this, young people are offered the chance to complete free training as swim teachers or lifeguards (approx $400 per student), complete work experience with Belgravia Leisure and then obtain employment as receptionists, swim teachers and lifeguards within the aquatic centres. In 2021 the program expanded to Whitlam Leisure Centre in Liverpool offering a men's class. ADSI co-ordinates the program. Bankstown Senior College, MYAN and SSI refer students for the program.
Kool Kids - La Perouse Public School, Weave Youth & Community Services
La Perouse Public School has been actively partnered with Kool Kids, since the program was established 20 years ago. Throughout that time La Perouse Public School has shown unwavering support of Kool Kids and the families connected to the program. They have done this through their dedication to working conductively with the families within their school and Kool Kids as a support network to foster the most favourable outcomes for the families both work with. La Perouse Public School has consistently volunteered their spaces for the facilitation of Kool Kids programs and mentoring along with engaging Kool Kids workers to ensure the most positive outcomes for their students in need of support. They have exhibited ongoing dedication to their student's wellbeing and have utilised cross contact support to help enable their students to thrive.
BackTrack Everywhere - BackTrack Youth Works, RuffTrack, Down the Track, Leaderlife, Making Tracks, Shore Track, Flat Track
The Tracker Network is a collective of like-minded organisations who want to deliver holistic, flexible and long-term support for vulnerable young people in their region. The Tracker Network offers early-stage organisations the tools they need to design, deliver and evaluate youth-focused initiatives. This is achieved through the provision of mentoring, group coaching and a suite of training resources that support organisations to implement The BackTrack Way. Importantly, BackTrack recognises that each community faces unique challenges when it comes to youth engagement that require equally unique, community-led solutions. That’s why its mentorship is focused around giving leaders and organisations tools to ‘do it for themselves’, rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach. BackTrack looks to work with leaders on the ground in each community, identifying those individuals with the passion, capacity and connections to get a new initiative up and running.
Teen Mental Health First Aid Program - Mountains Youth Services Team, Department of Education
Since the double community trauma of the 2019/2020 bushfires followed immediately by COVID, MYST and DoE has identified an increase in complex mental health issues with young people. Through connection and interagency, MYST was able to ascertain a shared interest and observation with Rose Glassock (Psychology and Wellbeing Services Coordinator) from DoE that young people need additional support to be able to manage their mental health and that young people typically go to their peers when needing support. This partnership achieved all young people in year 10 at the 4 local high schools in the Blue Mountains in Teen Mental Health First Aid.
NSW Youth Sector Volunteer of the Year
Jenny has been Raise Mentor at Burwood Girls High School since 2018. Raise Foundation Mentors give up 2 hours a week for 22 weeks to assist young people by empowering them to become resilient, capable and connected by ensuring that they feel heard, valued and supported. Jenny's mentees have achieved significant improvement in developing coping strategies, communication skills, confidence, identifying and achieving goals, help seeking behaviour, finishing Year 12 and finding employment.
Nasima is a young person from a refugee background who assists other young refugees settle into life in Australia. She refers them to services and actively helps them participate in the community. Nasima volunteers with ADSI running a weekly swim class for refugee women where she acts as an interpreter, manages the class and promotes the swim program throughout her community. Nasima also interprets for a refugee women's digital literacy class and financial literacy classes for Dari speakers, while also running Driver Knowledge Test classes to help migrants and refugees obtain a license.
Benazir is young person from a refugee background who has recently completed training to become a swim teacher so that she can make swim classes more accessible to dari-speakers, migrants and refugees. Benazir supervises the refugee learn to swim class, manages participants, provide interpreting services and provides a safe and supported environment for young women to swim, while also volunteering at various other organisations such as ADSI.
Ahmed is a young man from a refugee background who recently learnt to swim and completed training to become a swim teacher. Ahmed helps promote the swim program to young men in the community and assists them in accessing services and resources. He volunteers his time to be the point of contact for the men's swimming classes at ADSI, attends the classes as a volunteer to help interpret and supports the young men from refugee backgrounds who attend.
Moera has dedicated the past 20 years to working with young people and the wider community. Moera is a proud Indigenous Rotuman/Australian woman and is passionate about working with Pasifika communities, and other culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Her passion for the work she does led her to establish Master Management, where Moera volunteers to provide a range of counselling, leadership and consultancy services to the youth sector.
Every Sunday between October and April, Jo spends half her Sunday volunteering to take kids from South East Sydney to Tamarama SLSC to participate in their Nippers program. She is the bus driver, age manager and all-round 'child wrangler'. This will be her fifth season making the program possible, in partnership with Weave’s Kool Kids. Participants in the program can gain important skills including water safety, surf rescue, first aid, resuscitation and CPR, that gives them the knowledge and confidence to save lives.
Jahin Tanvir is a 20-year-old policy adviser, speaker, author, and youth advocate. Jahin has a background in youth leadership and advocacy in leading youth-led organisations such as Oaktree, World Vision, Red Cross, and the United Nations. Over the past three years, Jahin has been involved with several youth-led organisations, not-for-profits and charities in his local community and wider communities in Sydney and Canberra.
Jared volunteered at Community First Step where his passion for Youth Work grew exponentially, and he quickly developed a great rapport with the young people at the Youth Drop-In Centre. Jared's innovative and practical suggestions assisted the organisation in offering services to young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NSW Emerging Youth Worker of the Year
Assala Sayara (pronouns she/her) is a 24-year-old social justice advocate, activist and influencer of Palestinian descent who is currently a school counsellor. Despite being in her early career, Assala’s experiences are unique and varied. She has worked with youth and families in the refugee sector, child protection and community development in roles ranging from outreach worker, projects officer, coordinator and workshop facilitator. Assala is immensely passionate about her cultural connection to Palestine and uses this passion to assist her in working closely with diverse communities and closely with refugees from different backgrounds locally and globally; including Jordan, Palestine, Indonesia and Australia. Assala’s work is founded in humanitarianism and community. She is the co-founder of 'A Peace of Palestine' an event that began with celebrating Palestinian culture (particularly, the traditional 'thoub' or Palestinian dress) and expanded to become a registered organisation. Assala also launched an online platform named Haweyate هَوِيَتي to connect Palestinians in the diaspora.
Lui started out as a youth worker 2 years ago. Lui is a passionate, driven and highly respected Young Leader in the Blacktown community. His commitment to assisting the most at-risk and vulnerable young people in the Blacktown and greater Western Sydney community has had a positive, life-changing impact on their lives. In his capacity at BYSA, Lui combines his lived experience growing up on the streets, and passion for creative engagement to assist young people to find belonging and connection. Lui is the lead Youth Engagement Specialist at BYSA. Lui Savea is an advocate, friend, mentor and cultural role model for thousands of vulnerable young people in Blacktown. In his role at BYSA, Lui supports over 80 young people per week through post-release transition support for young people exiting custody, cultural mentoring, crisis support and intervention. Lui developed and led one of the first Youth-Led campaigns in Western Sydney. #IAMSYDNEYSWEST is a movement that exists for young people to claim their voices and identities and to provide an accurate narrative of Western Sydney.
Trei officially became a youth worker last year but has always shown real empathy and the ability to connect with young people. Having been supported through youth services himself he has quickly adapted to being the one supporting others. Trei has shown extraordinary dedication to improving young people's lives by being an advocate and being active on campaigns to raise the age of criminal responsibility and suicide prevention. Not content on just doing that he has worked to train himself up in both formal qualifications and through the learnings he has received from his cultural mentors. He is incorporating some of these cultural learnings to the young people currently living in Stepping Stone. He is working hard on developing the practices for their new house for mostly first nations young people. Trei is an incredible MC and also shares his insights through public speaking. He delivered a public speaking address the South East Block Party and MC’d the Sydney Local Health District’s Youth Mental Health forum and Weave’s ‘Mad Pride’ mental health awareness event.
Alison became a youth worker in 2018 and works tirelessly to support newly arrived refugee youth adjust to life in Australia and achieve their full potential. Alison runs programs to help improve the health and well-being of refugee youth aged 15-25 who have been in Australia for less than 5 years. This includes running training to up-skill them, helping them find jobs, helping with scholarship applications, running art classes, meditation workshops and other classes as needed. Alison also works as an Emergency Relief Worker and was on the frontline providing financial support and assistance to people suffering hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Alison also volunteers and provides pro bono support to clients who are ineligible for ADSI services. One of Alison's stand out achievements is the 'CALD Academy' a refugee learn to swim and employment program. The swim program provides young people with a safe space to exercise, develop a lifesaving skill, make friends, practice English and improve their physical and mental health.
Phil Pickford was part of the foundation crew for RuffTRACK back in 2019, bringing a wealth of knowledge as a graduate from BackTrack YouthWorks where he attended from 13-18 years of age, ensuring we were able to capture the transformational product created by Bernie Shakeshaft. After a year away obtaining valuable skills in Arbory, Fencing, Metal fabrication, Agriculture and Stockmanship he has rejoined the Team as Assistant Programmes Manager and Youth Worker within the RuffTRACK programme. With an insight into the lived experience of our young people Phil is a bridge between our Teachers, Tradesman, Leaders and community members to our young people. Phil has been working almost 7 days a week on the programme. He attended to each youth's needs, leading them in every activity involved. Since last quarter of 2019, he and Rufftrack had completed 3 'Round Yard' programmes with a consistent over 83% success rate in turning young participants' lives around, reduced criminal activity, illicit drug use, and anti-social behaviour, and overall increased the mental wellbeing of the participants.
Saira is an intelligent and outgoing Youth Worker from a migrant background who has provided exceptional services to young people since 2018. She uses her language skills to advocate for and support refugee youth in achieving their goals. Saira works with refugee youth aged 15-25 who have been in Australia for less than 5 years. She contributes to health and wellbeing by hosting events such as My Health Information run by doctors to inform Youth of how to keep their health safe and confidential. She has recently started a women's/girls period workshop series to help destigmatise menstruation and to create in-language resources for dari-speaking women, Saira provides one on one counselling through casework to a variety of clients from the community and discusses the benefits of being healthy by creating different sport programs which help youth become more active which helps with them being fit both physically and emotionally. Saira has a wide range of skills which she shares through numerous workshops such as employment & training, make up skills, cooking and dance classes.
For the last 2 years Dzenet has worked with young people aged 12-25 from refugee/migrant/humanitarian backgrounds who have been in Australia for less than 5 years. She herself comes from a refugee background, her parents and she; migrated to Australia in the late '90s from Bosnia. Her passion and dedication to CALD young people are inspiring and deserve to be acknowledged. She supports her clients through low to medium-intensity casework, providing advocacy and support, and runs programs that cater to young people's needs. Dzenet dedicates her time to creating and implementing interactive, educational, fun, and most importantly FREE programs. Her programs aim to achieve outcomes regarding English, Education, and Employment. Dzenet is a highly dedicated professional that works above her duties to support Illawarra’s youth CALD communities in their settlement and integration journey in Australia. Dzenet has increased engagement of youth clients with Illawarra Multicultural Services in the Settlement Engagement and Transition Services program by 85% in one financial year. Dzenet works tirelessly and very very hard in supporting her clients. To someone, it might be just KPI's but to Dzenet it's about her clients. She loves what she does and she strongly cares about young people; especially those of CALD/ vulnerable background.
NSW Youth Service of the Year
LeaderLife is a Dubbo-based organisation which supports young people doing it tough through their program aimed at re-engaging people in education and employment and diverting them from the youth justice system. They provide hands on skills training to develop work readiness and assist young people in gaining paid employment through partnership training organisations. Over the past 12 months LeaderLife have supported 400 children and young people aged 5-25 with 97% identifying as Aboriginal. These young people have successfully remained out of youth detention while engaging with LeaderLife.
Kiama Municipal Council - SENTRAL Youth Services
SENTRAL is the Youth Services Team of Kiama Municipal Council. All of SENTRAL’s programs and services are Youth-Led and respond to needs identified by Young People. This has included the facilitation of weekly fire pit gatherings, support for suicide postvention in response to community needs, the installation of a recording studio and band practice space in their drop-in centre and the coordination of the local Youth Advisory Committee.
Consent Labs is a collective of young people who are passionate about educating and promoting an informed conversation around sexual health and consent. Consent Labs’ long-term goal is to increase education and awareness around respectful relationships with the aim of decreasing the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault. In 2021, Consent Labs will empower 10,000 students and parents with consent education across 6 different States and Territories. Programs have received overwhelmingly positive response - when students self-assessed their understanding of consent, 58% stated it was ‘good’ prior to the program, compared to 90% after.
Blacktown Youth Services Association (BYSA)
BYSA is a social impact organisation dedicated to nurturing young people and positively transforming their lives. They give a second chance to the young people society has given up on. They use creativity and culture to build a net of safety and support to address the problems young people face individually or within their communities. BYSA is dedicated to building a community where no young person gets left behind, no matter what.
Northern Beaches Council
The Northern Beaches Council team take a community development approach involving young people in the development and delivery of programs, working collaboratively with young people and local services to build capacity in the community, with the goal of empowering young people to be leaders in their lives and their community. The Team is committed to delivering the highest quality service, valued and trusted by their community.
Little Dreamers Australia
Little Dreamers is working towards an equal world for Young Carers, delivering programs aiming to improve quality of life. With an estimated 1 in 10 children in Australia giving up their childhood to provide unpaid care to a family member, Little Dreamers delivers fun, empowering and proactive support programs to reduce the risk factors that they face and increase life opportunities. They believe in a world where every Young Carer is supported by someone or something by 2030. All Little Dreamers programs have been developed by Young Carers, for Young Carers.
Up and Over
In early 2020, Up and Over was created by young people Christian Barwell and Ally Munro in the Northern Beaches of Sydney. They established a new respite service on the beaches for individuals with special needs. Prior to this, there was an inadequate number of NDIS suppliers to cater for the needs of carers to access respite services and young adults with disability to gain social time with peers on the Northern Beaches. Up and Over was setup through a strong push from local families that hold Christian and Ally in high regard and have confidence in their abilities. Up and Over provides exceptional services to the community with disabilities on the Northern Beaches. Up & Over provides social opportunities that allow participants to stretch their boundaries, build confidence, achieve their goals and develop long lasting relationships with their peers.
NSW Youth Worker of the Year
Tony Ellitt has been a youth worker for nearly 30 years. In 2011 Tony commenced employment at Lake Macquarie City Council and in 2013 was appointed to the position of Community Planner Youth and Safer Communities with particular responsibilities for developing and implementing the Council’s youth strategy and facilitating the Lake Macquarie Youth Council. Tony has seen Lake Macquarie Youth Council grow and prosper under his facilitation and leadership which has seen members serve on NSW Youth Advisory Council, NSW Youth Regional Task Force and other regional representative groups. In this role Tony has mentored and supported forty-three (43) young people to be the voice of young people and be actively involved in the public life of their city. Tony has over many years maintained a passion for supporting young people to be meaningfully engaged in their communities and to have their voices heard and promote the wonderful contribution they make to their communities.
Thelma (MC Trey) has been working with young people from diverse backgrounds in Western Sydney and across Australia for more than 20 years. She is an established hip-hop artist and music program facilitator, and partners with facilitators to present youth engagement projects for marginalised young people combining music, digital story-telling and creative culture. For the last three years Thelma has been part of the Mental Health Talanoa Research team for Pacific young people and their communities. She is currently employed as a cultural arts youth worker at The Street University in Liverpool and runs her own business 'Tapastry' which activates at the intersections of culture, creative and social justice.
Hannah began her youth worker career in 2013 when she began supporting unaccompanied young people seeking asylum at Marist Youth Care, and for the past four years, Hannah volunteered as the NSW State Manager for Refugees Welcome, an initiative that connects people seeking asylum to welcoming homes with spare rooms. Hannah is the Youth Programs Coordinator at MYAN NSW where she has helped the Multicultural Youth Ambassador program grow to 150 young people who are passionate about supporting one another, leadership, advocacy and social change. Through Hannah’s leadership, MYAN NSW have also grown their youth settlement program, supporting newly arrived young people to connect to their local community.
Deegan is an Aboriginal Outreach Health worker who has worked in the Aboriginal Health sector for five years. Deegan has ten years of Aboriginal cultural experience from youth program facilitation to protocol implementation for all of community to help equip and empower people with knowledge of Aboriginal history, song-lines, dance, music and LORE.
Trent has been a youth worker for many years now, working both in community as a youth officer in a juvenile detention centre. Due to his lived experience, Trent now dedicates his life and time to helping young people within Campbelltown area. With a large population of Aboriginal young people, he commits to every need every individual may share with him, and constantly provides social support to youth on his days off and weekends.
Stacy works as the Student Support Officer at Cessnock High School where she has worked for the past nine years. Throughout her time in the role, Stacy has shown flexibility within the role, adjusting and changing to the needs of the students, the school and the general community. Stacy has also been leading the Cessnock PCYC board, is a member of Cessnock Family Support Service Board and the chamber of commerce, is a member of the Hunter Lovebites Committee, youth interagencies, is co-chair of the alternate education working group, a member of the IACD, and is a mentor for the harding miller foundation and public education foundation. Stacy has also been a Rotary member of Cessnock and Interact coordinator, plus a volunteer with Cessnock Driving Success.
Lisa has been employed by CORE Community Services for almost three years and has recently been appointed to the role of Team Leader for the Intensive Support Program. Lisa is an inspiration to her colleagues, and a champion for clients - ensuring that each interaction she has with young people is geared to meet the needs of the young person, supporting them to exceed their potential.
Virginia, the Y NSW Central Coast Youth Program Coordinator, lives and breathes inspiring, supporting and empowering young people. From a young age, Virginia has been determined to provide young people with an opportunity to have their voices heard. Since joining the Y NSW, Gin has worked with more than 250 young people weekly through Breakfast Programs; Call A Youth Worker, a support line for young people to access information about local services and support during the COVID-19 pandemic; the Employment NOW project equipping young people with skills for their future job prospects, with a focus on Indigenous and all abilities participants, who gained accredited qualifications; plus the newly launched Y Space Online, a digital directory for all things youth on the Central Coast; and the Youth Careers Expo where 400 young attendees visited. All of this was made possible with 15 young Streetgym volunteers.
Isikeli was born in Suva Fiji and moved to Western Sydney in 1995. Like many other migrants, life was not particularly easy for JT who experienced ongoing hardships throughout his life. During those difficult times, he found solace in music and developed a passion to become a music artist. After attending a local music program for young people, he was taken under the wing of some of the sector’s most reputable youth workers who inspired him to transform his life and focus on building a career in the Youth Sector. JT combined his passion for music with helping young people by coordinating and delivering various youth and community engagement programs, music video film projects and community events. In JT's 10 year career, he has worked at various roles and it currently the CEO and Founder of Finesse Entertainment.
Derek has worked in the youth sector for almost 20 years. His experience includes case management in the youth accommodation space and more recently community development with a focus on key issues relating to young people. Derek’s current role at Liverpool City Council as Community Development Worker (Youth) sees him manage youth programs and advocacy on youth issues to increase social inclusion and encourage participation for young people in the Liverpool LGA. One of Derek’s key roles at LCC is the management of the Liverpool Youth Council. Some current areas of focus include mental health awareness, education and employment opportunities. Under Derek’s management, this group has become a powerful force for advocacy and change in the Liverpool community, one which is well known, respected and acknowledged by the community, Council and the services sector.
Farmer Dave is youngest of 11 kids and grew up on a beef cattle, cropping and sheep station. After working with the incredible team at BackTrack he has taken on their amazing philosophy of empowerment to young people in the city and founded RuffTrack, an organisation that supports young people who have disengaged with school and the community to give them skills, education, a sense of self-worth and reconnect them with their community. What underpins Dave’s youth worker approach is a circle of courage, young people having a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.
Amy Smith is the only student support officer/youth worker in a Lake Macquarie High School, which caters to approximately 1,400 students. Amy provides social, emotional, and wellbeing support to a wide range of students from years 7-12, five days a week. Amy makes anyone who approaches her feel welcome, and this comes down to her genuine kindness and understanding, and passion to support young people.
Ruth has been working as a youth worker with 3 Bridges for a few years but has also been employed by primary and high schools over the past 3 years where she has provided a high level of support and expertise to the young people she works with. Every young person that works with Ruth expresses how much they appreciate her support, guidance and commitment to them. Ruth has supported the schools she has worked at by working with young people that are homeless, at risk of harm, suicidal and partaking in at risk behaviours and has worked tirelessly to ensure the young people are safe.
Jazzie is a qualified Social Worker who loves helping young people navigate through their lives and help advocate for their well-being. Jazzie has been able to build rapport and encouragement for young people, creating warm, inclusive and engaging environments for the organisations she works for. Jazzie is a strong advocate for positive education and youth participation and always encourages young people to take the lead in programs and what activities they want to do as well as pushing young people to try new experiences 'at least once.' Jazzie has been through rough times as a young person herself and since she discovered the power of youth work, she uses her lived experience, passion, creativity and community development skills to make a difference in her work with young people.
Debbie is an outstanding youth worker and case worker. For the past 7 years Debbie has advocated and supported young people at Stepping Stone House. Over these 7 years Debbie has worked diligently to support them to find private rental accommodation, complete independent living skills, gain and maintain employment, achieve their licence, as well as develop positive daily habits, structure and routine and build meaningful support networks and relationships. A young person quoted, ‘Debbie is a caring soul who truly wants to see us young people succeed. Debbie sparks joy in everyone around and her kindness never goes unnoticed’ this quote sings very true to her. Debbie is incredibly passionate in working with young people to improve their quality of life and reach their full potential and is relentless in this pursuit.
Congratulations to this year's nominees.
Winners will be announced at the Awards on November 18, 2021.