MEET THE PIONEERS
Congratulations to our 2012-2013 Young Social Pioneers! Read about them below or watch their videos here.
Adam Everill, 25, VIC: Rugby League Against Violence
Adam Everill has found a way to combine his love of rugby with his passion for human rights. Adam is the founder of Rugby League Against Violence (RLAV), which promotes positive conceptions of masculinity in Papua New Guinea using rugby league, the national sport. RLAV enlists rugby players as champions against violence in their communities, exposing communities and families, especially young men, to a more positive idea of masculinity and manhood, and fostering mutual respect between men and women.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer means looking at what is not being done and suiting up to take the plunge. It means not stopping at the first or one hundredth barrier. It means setting your goals high and relentlessly pursuing them.”
Chris Campbell, 27, SA: Our World Today
“Until we can imagine a better world, we can’t create one,” says Chris Campbell, co-founder of non-profit news organisation, Our World Today. “Our World Today gives people the opportunity to imagine and believe in a better world and, hopefully, inspires and empowers them to create one.” With over 62,000 readers in 175 countries, Our World Today is redefining the ‘newsworthy’, veering away from the sensationalised and negative to give positive, inspiring stories the chance to be heard.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer is being part of a community of people who are brave enough and inspired enough to create and lead change, rather than just following the crowd.”
Giancarlo de Vera, 24, NSW: Welcome to Australia
Giancarlo de Vera believes that Australia is known for its diversity, compassion, generosity and commitment to community; Welcome to Australia finds different ways for individuals, families, businesses and other organisations to work together to foster these values in our communities, workplaces, schools and institutions. Ultimately, it’s about cultivating a culture of welcome. Examples of Welcome to Australia initiatives include ‘Walk Together’, where thousands of Australians walked together in recognition that, although we’ve arrived via different pathways, we share a common Australian journey and ‘Welcome to My Place’, where Australian communities open their hearts and homes to asylum seekers.
“At times, the well-trodden path seems alluring. Being part of Young Social Pioneers reinvigorates the reasons why I am committed to affecting the positive social change I want to see.”
Hayward Matthews, 25, TAS: One Cent Movement
Reflecting on the banker who notoriously made millions by scamming every transaction by just one cent led Hayward Matthews and his mates to imagine how many lives could be changed if just one cent of every transaction went to charity. One Cent Movement is a non-profit organisation that turns everyday transactions into opportunities for donation. Purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar, with 100% of the difference going directly to charity. One Cent Movement aims to make charitable giving simpler, more sustainable, and more integrated into everyday life; its vision is to put giving into every transaction in the world.
Huy Nguyen, 27, ACT: Enable Development
Proudly supported by the ACT Government
As a young man with a disability, Huy Nguyen understands the barriers that can make it difficult to access many education and work experiences. Huy is the founder and CEO of Enable Development, a social enterprise that aims to improve the products and services available to people with disabilities, and to develop the capacity of leaders with disabilities, particularly in developing countries. He is also the founder of Greatvenue, a social web service where people with access needs can find venue access information, allowing them to plan ahead and therefore go out more often.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer makes me feel empowered, excited and confident that my voice, opinions and actions have the ability to improve the wellbeing of people in our global community.”
Ilona Quahe, 21, WA: Ignite
Ilona Quahe feels that the Australian education system doesn’t always adequately provide for the students who need it most. So she founded Ignite to tackle educational inequality and empower young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds to reach their potential. Ignite believes that university students and other young people have a unique ability to connect with high school students, and aims to harness that power by engaging them as mentors and tutors for high school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
“A Young Social Pioneer is someone who will transform a vision into action.”
Jessica Sparks, 20, NSW: Sparking Life
Three years ago, Jessica Sparks was dying, diagnosed with end-stage lung disease and told that she would not live for much longer. She could not walk, talk or breathe without help. The 20-year-old from Wollongong has cystic fibrosis – a genetic condition that primarily affects the lungs. Thankfully, Jessica was saved by a double lung transplant – but she is aware that there are many who are less fortunate. Sparking Life raises awareness around organ and tissue donation; lobbies governments for reform to the system of organ donation in Australia; and supports families of organ donors and transplant recipients throughout the donation process.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer means that I have an amazing platform and the backing of the Foundation for Young Australians. It validates that what I’m doing is important and worthwhile, and means I’ll be equipped with the skills I need to turn my ideas for saving lives into a reality.”
Joanne Sharkey, 28, VIC: Prickle Community Acupuncture
Having worked in acupuncture clinics in Australia and China, Jo Sharkey feels that acupuncture is not being used to its full potential in Australia. She believes this is primarily because, in Australia, complementary medicine is expensive. So she has set out to make this holistic treatment option accessible to all, not just those on middle to high incomes. Prickle Community Acupuncture is a non-profit organisation that provides affordable acupuncture services. Its services are available to everyone, but are specifically targeted at people with low incomes or from backgrounds of disadvantage.
“A Young Social Pioneer thinks of creative ideas to shape society… and then puts them into action.”
Jordan O’Reilly, 23, NSW: Fighting Chance
Fighting Chance was set up in memory of Jordan O’Reilly’s father, whose dedication, attitude and commitment to creating a better life for Jordan’s severely disabled late younger brother inspired everyone who met them. A youth-led, non-profit organisation, Fighting Chance creates opportunities for people who face poverty, unemployment and social isolation, simply because they have a disability, by pioneering innovative employment opportunities and fulfilling life experiences.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer means pushing myself beyond my comfort zone to learn and grow, and gaining the skills, knowledge and attitude I need to have greater impact on a social issue that I care so deeply about.”
Julian O’Shea, 28, VIC: Engineers Without Borders Institute
Julian O’Shea believes that the engineering sector can lead lasting, sustainable change. He is the Founding Director of the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Institute, which addresses issues relating to poverty – most notably access to clean water and sustainable energy – through quality education programs and the implementation of sustainable engineering projects. With an intake of more than 8,000 students each year from 20 different universities, EWB guides students to consider the social implications and environmental impact of community living around the world.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer will allow me to demonstrate a real commitment to positive social change and work collaboratively with a diverse group to achieve great results.”
Lawrence McIntosh, 26, ACT: Canberra Clean Energy Connection
Proudly supported by the ACT Government
Lawrence McIntosh and his team believe that when local energy is community-owned, it’s easier to understand the impact. They started Canberra Clean Energy Connection to join communities and renewable energy together so that people can invest in their own energy generation. The goals are to support the development and installation of renewable energy generators throughout Canberra and to improve local energy literacy. By taking a community ownership approach, Canberra Clean Energy Connection keeps jobs and engagement local and allows people to make a real contribution to tackling climate change.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer means looking at things and asking ‘Does it have to be this way?’ And the trick is to not stop there – to put one foot in front of the other and figure out how to do things differently.”
Linh Do, 21, VIC: Speak Your Mind
Linh Do believes that advocacy alone won’t solve the world’s problems if the majority of the general public are unaware of them. So she founded Speak Your Mind to create an intersection between the media and the work of civil society organisations. Speak Your Mind aims to produce communications that further advocacy and to train young people in specialised, caused-based writing. Participants are equipped with the ability communicate with a purpose, whilst remaining objective from a journalistic perspective. Through highlighting the work of civil society organisations, Speak Your Mind elevates their role within society whilst also providing the general public with greater knowledge to form their own opinions.
“Through Young Social Pioneers I aim to grow not just as an individual, but alongside my project. I believe that my project is at a point where I can take it to the next level and that my participation in this program will allow that.”
Nicole Gibson, 19, QLD: The Rogue & Rouge Foundation
Nicole Gibson has a dream: that one day every teenager looks in the mirror and smiles. Having lost much of her childhood to Anorexia Nervosa, Nicole knows that mental illness can stigmatise sufferers to the point where they feel they no longer have a voice. A creative at heart, Nicole wanted an outlet for her ideas and thoughts on society, so she founded the Rogue & Rouge Foundation, through which she is determined to use her experience to help others. Rogue & Rouge is now a charitable organisation that financially supports individuals through recovery from mental illness and aims to redefine how beauty is perceived.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer gives me the credibility I need to have my voice heard and see my visions unfold in front of my eyes.”
Nkandu Beltz, 29, WA: Kununurra Youth Development Programme
Proudly supported by LotteryWest
After noticing a lack of facilities that catered to both indigenous and non-indigenous youth in Kununurra, a remote town in far north Western Australia, Nkandu Beltz set out to change things. She founded the Kununurra Youth Development Programme, a skills-based mentoring project that empowers and engages young people with positive activities that foster a sense of ownership and belonging. Programs cover an array of sectors from media to creative arts, with a view to breaking the social and cultural barriers that separate the town’s young people.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer means I can reach my potential and inspire others. It means I’ll have the skills to help me move forward as a person and alongside my program.”
Rosie O’Halloran, 25, NSW: foundations.(au)
After a life-changing visit to Uganda, Rosie O’Halloran was inspired to set up foundations.(au), a non-profit organisation that creates brighter futures for orphaned and vulnerable children. Rosie’s vision is for a world where all children are safe, healthy, loved and educated. foundations.(au) works towards this by empowering local communities to care for and protect their children and developing sustainable health and education programs in rural primary schools. Over the past 12 months, foundations.(au) has provided more than 580 school uniforms to primary school children in rural south west Uganda and established a children’s home for nine children who were orphaned or severely at risk.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer means creating positive change and encouraging other young people to take action on social issues.”
Sarah Rowbottam, 28, WA: Proximity
Proudly supported by LotteryWest
When Sarah Rowbottam and her collaborators dreamed up Proximity festival, they were met with over 40 WA artists wanting to know more. The urgency and passion of these artists told them they were onto something that could make a real difference in the current cultural landscape. Proximity is an artist-led initiative that incubates the development of small-scale works by independent WA artists. Twelve selected works are presented in a small and rigorously curated season of intimate one-on-one performances. With critical peer support from the Proximity team, the 12 artists are mentored during the creative development process. Proximity provides a unique platform for WA-based artists to explore the possibilities of the audience/performer relationship whilst providing space for creative risk taking in one-on-one art making.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer means finding creative ways to inspire change in a community.”
Sophie Weldon, 23, New South Wales: Creative Ventures
Sophie Weldon understands the power of storytelling in inspiring audiences to take action. Creative Ventures produces videos, innovative new media experiences and social enterprise projects that raise awareness about important social and environmental issues; inspires people to take action in support of a more sustainable, equitable world; and connects people through positive storytelling. Creative Ventures has worked with the private, public and social sector to develop content and create platforms that invite the audience to be part of a better future.
“Young Social Pioneers feel a strong sense of purpose, one we couldn’t ignore if we tried. The calling is to look at the world with eyes of possibility and purpose, and to inject new ideas and creativity into new and old problems.”
Vanessa Picker, 21, South Australia: Play Forward
Vanessa Picker won’t accept the idea of any children being denied the joy that sport can bring to a childhood. After volunteering with numerous organisations that aim to enhance the lives of young people, Vanessa was inspired to launch Play Forward, running community programs that use sport as an avenue to build confidence and self-esteem in young Australians. Play Forward aims to be a catalyst in the lives of disadvantaged children, providing positive mentoring and coaching and helping them see their lives with a healthier perspective.
“Being a Young Social Pioneer will enable me to further develop this unique platform and affect change.”
Anania heads up the Darwin Youth Organisations Network (DYON), an initiative of Multicultural Youth Northern Territory, which unites organisations across the city with the common goal of affecting change in the issues that matter most to Darwin’s youth. Recognising that youth organisations were competing with one another for exposure, Anania moved to forge an allied landscape where resources, skills and ideas could be shared.
Brodie is the founder of Social innovation in Western Australia (SiiWA), a non-profit organisation that supports entrepreneurs, communities and businesses to deliver social good through innovative means. SiiWA coordinates and facilitates support, resources and mentoring for anyone with socially positive ideas. “I’m hoping our relationships with government, corporations and non-profits will allow us to connect social entrepreneurs who are doing good with organisations that have the resources,” Brodie says.
Carl is the co-founder of the Wemakeus Collective, an Australian organisation aimed at raising the profile and importance of creative thinking in the public mind. Wemakeus is committed to engaging Australians to think creatively and believes a creative thought process gives people the ability to see a world of possibilities instead of a world of constraints.
Dom is the founder of Major Raiser, a not-for-profit project that raises awareness and funds for charities and organisations through live music. Major Raiser unites and celebrates young bands and artists to cut through the clutter of what Dom calls “conventional fundraising initiatives”, preferring to connect with young people through live music. Major Raiser builds a network of wellbeing by harnessing relationships with young members of the community and providing them with the opportunity to engage with various charities and organisations.
Lachy is the founder of Dismantle, a project that uses the process of recycling bicycles as a medium for generating positive social change. The most powerful part of the project is demonstrating what happens in the journey from junk to bicycle; it is through this experience that Dismantle changes people’s perspectives of the world around them. Dismantle gives people the skills to turn waste into opportunity, and useless into useful, with the hope that it will have a flow-on effect to all aspects their lives.
Laura is the founder of Enterprise Learning Projects (ELP), which creates enterprise opportunities for people living in remote Aboriginal communities. ELP provides a first point of contact for individuals and communities who have ideas that they want to explore and develop into sustainable businesses. “ELP’s model allows people to come together, select an idea they want to pursue, learn how to develop it into an income-generating enterprise, link it to networks for specialist support and maintain the work for the long-term,” Laura says.
Nerida is a model who is working to educate and inspire the fashion industry to operate in a more sustainable way. She is the founder of The Whispering Threads, which aims to drive consumer awareness and demand for sustainable fashion, while supporting the industry to meet that demand by educating it about the opportunities and challenges to move to sustainability.
Rowan is the founder of Uni Australia and is passionate about education and the role that design and technology play in making learning student-centric, relevant, engaging and interesting. He is now the Chief Learning Architect at myEd Online, which transforms traditional curriculum and classroom content into engaging, interactive digital courses delivered via a gamified e-learning platform. He also is CEO of Art of Smart Education, which provides academic coaching and mentoring for high school students; runs Study TV, an online video library and TV show featuring interviews with Australia’s top students; and is the author of Secrets of HSC Success Revealed.
Seven Women is a fair trade wholesale and retail business that sells handmade felt and knitted items as part of a grassroots development project that empowers women through income generation. During a trip to Nepal, Steph met seven women with disabilities who were operating out of a tin shed and experiencing harsh discrimination. Together with these women Steph created a women’s skills training centre, where women learn skills that empower them economically.
Tessa is the founder and director of Tia International Aid, a youth-led non-profit organisation that aims to improve the futures of disadvantaged children in Bolivia by working directly with local organisations and community groups to create sustainable and lasting change. Working from a model of empowerment and participation, Tia International Aid focuses on collaborating with the community, working alongside centres and organisations that assist disadvantaged children and youth.
Warren Roberts: The Youth Awareness Resource Network (YARN)
Warren is the founder of the Youth Awareness Resource Network (YARN), a proactive group of people who want to discuss and take action on Indigenous Australian issues relating to social justice. YARN provides a forum that aims to build relationships with the leaders of tomorrow, operating in multiple university campuses across Australia. Its goal is to build stronger links between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the country through storytelling.
Carla Talbot is passionate about human rights and social justice andin particular gender equality, so much so that in 2008 she started Two Degrees of Separation to support and mentor young women.
Chris Boyd was diagnosed with cancer at just 19 years old. Following six harrowing months of chemo and radiotherapy, he lives to tell the tale about the difficulties faced by young cancer patients, and the support network he hopes to make available to them. Australian Youth Against Cancer is an online support network that gathers people who have been diagnosed with cancer to share their experiences and help one another through it.
In 2008, off the back of an atrocious hangover, Chris Raine decided to do something that would change his life forever – he committed to a 12‐month break from alcohol and shared his story through a blog he called Hello Sunday Morning.
After spending several years volunteering, Elliot began discussing his passion for social justice and realised that many of his friends felt the same ‘unshakeable belief’ that every human being has the right to their own freedom. In 2008, Elliot initiated an international volunteer organisation: YGAP (Y-Generation Against Poverty). YGAP launches creative and innovative projects to help aid global efforts of ending poverty.
Since starting InterAction in 2008, Freeman has been laying the foundation for an Australian interfaith youth movement. InterAction is a network of inspired young people from diverse cultural, spiritual and religious backgrounds working collaboratively to replace cultures of conflict with one of cooperation and peace.
Genevieve was inspired to start Bus Stop Films after making a documentary for Down Syndrome NSW. While creating the film Genevieve met Gerard Odwyer, a young man with Down Syndrome who had a passion for acting. Genevieve saw an opportunity to help him realise his dreams and started her first inclusive film project called Be My Brother, aimed at showcasing his acting abilities and communicating many of the issues faced by young people living with a disability.
Jakob is one of the co-founders of OUTthere, a youth council with a mission to ‘raise awareness, advocate and provide resources to communities, youth services, schools and government departments about the issues facing same sex attracted and gender diverse young people’.
Disillusioned with the existing selection of magazines targeted at young women and tired of seeing unrealistic images of beauty, a lack of meaningful and intelligent content and poor role models, Jo started C.O.P. Magazine. C.O.P. now has followers across Australia as well as in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Jonathan Brown: CBloggers
After spending five years as a young community broadcaster, Jonathan experienced the empowerment of being given a voice in the media. During this time he realised and was inspired by the ability of young people to make a real difference in their communities. This inspiration led him to create the CBloggers Project designed to engage Australia’s emerging young media makers. His project gives a voice to people who are not served by mainstream media.
Katherine Wills is determined to make a difference to the lives of those affected by harsh military rule and extreme poverty. Art to Burma and Back is a program designed to use art as a medium of foreign aid. The program provides children at rural orphanages with an outlet to express themselves creatively and later to learn about art history.
Kumari is the co-founder and CEO of Mayibuye, an international NGO which uses performing arts to facilitate educational opportunities for young people who are vulnerable to negative peer pressures and at risk behaviour.
Lee Crockford is a composer, facilitator and design thinker who is passionate about instigating change through the arts and education. With a background in project development, he has worked with various organisations around the world exploring new ways of delivering content in order to foster ownership and generate change.
Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody’s iconic lyric ‘From little things big things grow’ encapsulates Melissa Cutting’s work beautifully. Melissa has created a working group of volunteers to make a difference in the lives of many Australians, through small steps that have a big impact.
Zahra believes that promoting the artistic talents of young people empowers them to overcome issues and create social change. She is the co-founder and CEO of the non-profit, youth-driven Creative Peoples Collective Inc, which creates and promotes pathways for young people to participate and have a voice through the creative and performing arts.
Cat Sweeney is the founder of Jungle City Massive, which was created in 2005 to connect and build strong relationships between culturally diverse young people in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. The aim of Jungle City Massive is to promote respect, equality, knowledge and understanding and counter ignorance and racism through hip hop culture and performing arts.
Darren Lomman is the founder of the Dreamfit Foundation. The Dreamfit Foundation aims to help people with disabilities fulfil their dreams and toraise disability awareness in the community so that everyone has a greater understanding of the issues facing people with a disability.Dreamfit engineers solutions to the struggles faced by people with disabilities every day. Innovations created by Dreamfit have included a hand-controlled motorcycle suitable for paraplegics, wheelchair-accessible hovercraft, modified ski boat and seated surfboard.
Edwin Kemp Attrill is a theatre director and producer with a passion for social justice. He is the current Artistic Director of the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild and the founder and former Artistic Director of ActNow Theatre, a youth-led theatre company that works in collaboration with professional artists and young people to create contemporary theatre projects that encourage positive social change.
Jack Hegarty has been involved with the Whatever Youth Diversity Project and the OUTthere Rural Victorian Youth Council for Sexual Diversity since 2005. Both groups seek to tackle issues of homophobia and homophobic related abuse in the rural community.
Kat has been volunteering at OUTthere Rural Victorian Youth Council for Sexual Diversity since it began in early 2008. The council is made up of youth representatives from all over Victoria and aims to raise awareness, advocate and provide information and resources to communities, youth services, schools and government departments about issues facing same sex attracted young people in rural Victoria.
Trained as a landscape architect, Lucinda spent two years working in slum communities in Vietnam and Cambodia before launching Community Oriented Design ([co]design studio). [co]design works with disadvantaged communities to plan and design sustainable built environments, through design and design education. Using design-thinking as a tool to mobilise communities, [co]design innovates for diverse community projects, from schools to housing to masterplanning.
As a teen, Mark Robertson grew up in a world different from most. Experiencing teenage life in care and on the streets, Mark was inspired to create change for disengaged youth.Mark is the founder of One Vision Productions, an initiative that educates young people in isolated and marginalised communities through arts-based multi-literacy programs. Through these programs Mark seeks to have a deep impact on young people’s lives.
Roxanne is one of the founders of the ARTillery Festival, a human rights arts festival run by young volunteers for Amnesty International Australia. ARTillery challenges local artists to push the boundaries of their work by exploring human rights issues through their music, spoken word, theatre, dance or visual art.
Sarah Williams is Co-founder of Footprints Enterprises Inc. Footprints was established in 2008 as a non-profit organisation to create multiple spaces to bring about social change through the creative arts.”My passion is to see people’s eyes light up. One of the biggest privileges I have had is to experience this journey with young people from culturally diverse backgrounds,” says Sarah.
Shona Cools: Linkz Incorporated
Shona Cools is the founder of Linkz Incorporated, an organisation that aims to establish connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in order to build a sense of pride in the value of Indigenous culture for all Australians.
Tim Kenworthy is the founder of Youth Tree, an initiative to encourage and involve more young people to volunteer for a cause they care about. Youth Tree seeks to bring young people and charities together by promoting volunteer work as a vital part of everyday life, and something that all young people can get involved in to make a difference.