Meet our 2019 Young Social Pioneers participants!
These incredible young changemakers are each using their initiative, resourcefulness, passion and drive to respond to some of society’s most pressing challenges. We are so pleased to welcome them into the community and support them as they go about changing the world!
In 2019, FYA’s Young Social Pioneers program offers bootcamps, ongoing mentoring, co-working spaces as well as an invitation and access to the broader FYA network of support.
This year, Young Social Pioneers is proudly supported by: Charter Hall, Citi Foundation, Third Link, MECCA M-Power, The Scanlon Foundation, Vasudhara and Youth Disability Advocacy Service.
Supported by Vasudhara and Youth Disability Advocacy Service
Timothy is a 22-year-old, neurodivergent transman, third-year Occupational Therapy (OT) student and part-time wheelchair user. He chose OT so he could help people with disabilities live the best lives possible. He uses a wheelchair to skate and is the first Australian to land a wheelchair backflip. He is working to set up a not-for-profit so he can travel Australia to host clinics and events aimed at increasing mobility skills and physical activity for people with disabilities through WCMX (Wheelchair Moto-Cross) while changing perceptions of disability.
Haley is pursuing her Master of Marketing Communications at the University of Melbourne. She is a Co-Founder of Accessible Unimelb, a student-led group dedicated to advocacy, inclusion, and awareness for students and staff with a disability at the University of Melbourne. Haley is a Co-Designer for the Emerging Young Leaders Program at YDAS. She studied social work at the University of Central Florida where she was a HEALS Scholar focusing on health settings social work.
As Co-founder of maslow.io, Andrew is striving to create a world where everybody has the tools to understand and improve their wellbeing, regardless of physical ability. To support this vision, Maslow designs inclusive health education and life management tools for young people living with paralysis – accessible through a voice interface. A product designer at heart, Andrew is passionate about providing young people with equal access to healthcare, education, and the arts.
Varsha is an 18-year-old student and social activist from Sydney. Being a stutterer has inspired the development of her initiative called StutterSpace, which seeks to change the way stuttering is perceived in society and build a community of resilience and self-acceptance in secondary school educational institutions. Eventually, she wants this to be a gateway to campaign for the casualisation of workplaces to make communication more accessible. She is currently a Youth Ambassador for Plan International Australia and is passionate about creating dialogues and spaces for all and every experience of being human.
Swathi is 25-year-old law graduate, Indian-born migrant and proud Tamil woman from Melbourne. She passionately uses her lived experience in her position as a Youth Advisor at CMY and Create Change Fellow at Democracy in Colour to craft projects where community and identity are at the heart of everything. Swathi recently founded The Vermilion Project, where she fuses her love for law, advocacy and community to promote the economic and social participation of people affected by menstrual health conditions. The Vermilion Project seeks to achieve this goal by promoting the use of targeted employment law resources, career advice, mentorship and diverse storytelling in workplaces, universities and schools.
Bridgette Scalisi, an aspiring writer and activist, currently resides in Brisbane, QLD. Studying Psychology, she also has written and filmed projects in the works. Previously, she has advocated at LGBTQIA+ events and has published written pieces to various online platforms. She hopes to achieve accessibility and equity for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals.
Alexandra is a management consultant and data scientist with a passion for social inclusion. She is committed to a world where every person is able to fully participate in society – with their family, their friends and in their communities, and to have their human needs met and their voices heard. Alexandra believes in the power of innovative digital solutions to create inclusive communities where people can access their fullest potential. She is the founder of Accessibly – an online platform for people with disabilities to discover, filter, rate and review public places that are accessible to their individual needs.
Winner of the 2019 Victorian Disability Emerging Leader award, Elise is an autistic athlete who has reached success at an elite level in mainstream sport and is the first-ever AFL Disability Ambassador Player. Elise is the founder of Active Support, an Autism consultancy, mentoring and Public Speaking social enterprise. Elise gives insight into the lived experience on the Autism Spectrum and sustainable inclusion strategies, changing the way educators, coaches, parents, and individuals perceive and approach disability.
When Shalomy was (finally) diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) after years of confusion, things started to make more sense. The journey didn’t stop with the diagnosis, however, the journey of managing PCOS had just begun. Though a difficult period, which included losing 26kgs, redefining her relationship with food and embracing the reality of her body, Shalomy is now effectively managing her PCOS and now wants to help other women do the same. PCOS affects 1 in 3 women, but it is an isolating and lonely experience. A staunch advocate of women’s health rights, the aim of her health literacy initiative is to provide a network to support women with PCOS.
Supported by MECCA M-Power
Renee is a Melbourne based artist originally from Aotearoa/New Zealand of Irish, Māori (Ngāti Tūwharetoa iwi) and Scottish descent. Her practice is concerned with abstract painting exploring colour, repetition and her identity. Recent exhibitions include: Ahi Mahana with Sean Miles at Sutton Projects, Melbourne (2019); Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize, Bayside Gallery, Melbourne (2019); 5 th /6 th Final Artist Facilitated Biennale, Private apartment of Virginia Overell & Christopher LG Hill, Russell St, Melbourne (2018-2020) and Mood, Sister Gallery, Adelaide (2017). Her work is held in private collections in Aotearoa and Australia and in public collections at Artbank and Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.
Growing up in the Torres Straits, Erin was surrounded by water and saw first-hand the impact engineering could have on local communities when trying to manage water challenges. As a result, surface water engineering became the focus of her career. Erin has worked predominantly within the private sector including supporting local councils after the 2011 Brisbane floods and delivering large infrastructure projects like Sydney’s WestConnex. Erin is passionate about STEM education and improving the quality of life in remote indigenous communities. She believes ‘Closing The Gap’ can be supported through both sustainable, evidence-based engineering projects and the two-way sharing of knowledge and culture.
Dr Nicole Papadopoulos
Dr Nicole Papadopoulos is a clinical psychologist with a passion for helping children reach their full potential through evidence-based lifestyle treatments. Her PhD thesis, completed in 2003, was a pioneering work that explored the impact of motor proficiency and physical activity on mental health outcomes for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Today, Dr Papadopoulos is leading the ground-breaking AllPlay Dance program developed by the Deakin Child Study Centre. This program provides inclusive resources and opportunities for dance schools, teachers, parents and children so that children of all abilities can experience the joy of dance. Through this program, Dr Papadopoulos will contribute vital research that explores the social and emotional benefits of dance for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Morgan has worked within the for-purpose sector for the past ten years in a range of policy, advocacy and service development roles. She is dedicated to transforming traditional ways of doing advocacy, looking at how centring the lived experience of those whose voices aren’t traditionally heard can affect social change. Morgan is currently the Project Officer Youth Engagement at Berry Street, and the OASIS Project Senior Associate, Lived Experience Lead at YLab Global. She was an Inaugural recipient of the 2017 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Women Leaders program in Victoria and sits as a Board Member for Women’s Information, Support and Housing in the North (WISHIN).
Supported by Third Link
Maddy is a 21 year old social entrepreneur from Melbourne. Through her teens Maddy worked on exciting Science and Technology projects that would take her all over the world with the backing of CSIRO, AusIndustry and Monash University – she even received her own patent at age 16. Now, she works hard through her startup, STEMSparX, to ensure that every child has access to captivating STEM education and can embark on their own exhilarating learning adventure.
Alexander is an emerging education technology specialist with a focus on aligning the interests of stakeholders from the education, corporate and social impact sectors. He has co-founded an international NGO Via Sport that has run programs in India and Indonesia and has piloted and developed an online education platform, Econome. Alexander has previously worked for EduGrowth, Australia’s premier ed-tech incubator and has consulted for government departments and education institutions. He has a focus on developing local solutions to globalised problems.
Yash is an 18-year-old social entrepreneur from Brisbane. He is the CEO of TechFlow, a technology company he co-founded four years ago to bridge the digital skills gap and divide in Generation Z. Through their DIY Artificial Intelligence (AI) kit, TechFlow aims to not only democratise AI and data science technologies but empower Generation Z to solve global problems. Since its inception, TechFlow has reached hundreds of thousands of youth digitally and a thousand students through their workshop programs.
Brock is a 20-year-old student at the University of Melbourne. In 2019, Brock was named a Pinnacle Scholar for his academic excellence and outstanding leadership potential as an LGBTI individual. In high school, he was instrumental in the campaign to implement and maintain the Safe Schools Coalition. Through his not for profit, he plans to build on the Safe Schools program through designing school workshops where LGBTI facilitators deconstruct harmful stereotypes, foster supportive environments and empower LGBTI youth to transcend barriers to success.
Ashlee is a social entrepreneur from Melbourne. Through her start-up, PHonate, she aims to accelerate access to education and healthcare in developing countries by empowering local partnerships with the technologies to ensure the most rural and hardest to reach communities have access to these human rights. PHonate achieves this through its circular economy model and partners with organisations across Australia in repurposing second-hand technologies. Ashlee’s passion and background in education equality include running award-winning Gender Equity programs, designing international youth empowerment initiatives and engaging the next generation as a University Academic Tutor and One Young World Australian Ambassador.
Mariam is a community developer, which basically means she brings people together. In 2017, she became the youngest President of SUPRA (the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association), leading the organisation to deliver a 600% increase in its community engagement. In 2018, Mariam won the first-ever Australian Dell Policy Hack for a proposal tackling women entrepreneurs’ access to capital in Australia. By 2019, she co-founded MoneyGirl to empower and inspire women to become financially independent.
Olivia is a 22 year-old social entrepreneur from Brisbane. Through her social enterprise, The Unknown Project, she seeks to challenge damaging attitudes towards asylum seekers and refugees. The sale of ‘blind date with a book’ books act as a metaphor and speaks to the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ adage we all grew up with. The profits are used to provide access to education and opportunities for young people from these backgrounds in Australia.
Fiona is the CEO of Game Changers who work to empower Australian sporting clubs with the skills, courage and character to have all players reach their greatest human potential. She is an accomplished award-winning gymnast and coach, the Pierre de Coubertin award recipient, an 8th International Pierre de Coubertin Youth Forum attendee and the Mornington Peninsula Young Citizen of the Year. Fiona completed an internship in the U.K. working for Youth Sport Trust, specifically with the Young Ambassador program which works to empower young sporting leaders in the U.K. Through this experience Fiona became extremely passionate about empowering all young people.
Supported by Charter Hall
Meg is a civil engineer at Arup, author of blog Her Bold Universe and founder of Arup’s ConnectSTEM. She is passionate about personal leadership and is on a mission to bring people and purpose to the heart of engineering. ConnectSTEM addresses the barriers faced at every level of a woman’s career, and addresses retention as well as attraction of women into engineering careers.
Tricia is a Gen Z youth advocate and behaviour change facilitator who has worked with over 25,000 students during her career. In 2016 she co-founded She Can, a behaviour change program that equips high school students who identify as female with life skills before they leave school. Tricia is a 2018 Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars scholar and was the first Australian woman selected onto the global IMPERIA leadership program in 2019.
Taking a leap of faith, two years ago, Jason quit his job as a corporate lawyer to pursue his passion to harness business to solve social and environmental problems. Since then Jason has used his unique skillset and experience across law, strategy and business development to help launch, operate and scale purpose-driven and not-for-profit ventures. In his current role at Good Cycles, a social enterprise creating jobs and reducing youth unemployment, Jason leads the start-up of businesses and expansion of operations.
Kanav Batra is an engineer from Melbourne, who is passionate about using technology to positively address the challenges faced by our society. In 2019, Kanav founded Envision Systems, a tech start-up that aims to reduce transport congestion by bridging the fundamental gap in data for governments and users. Envision Systems was recently selected by the Victorian government, to develop a solution that provides better information on how people use the public transport network.
Taylor is a 24-year-old entrepreneur and consultant from Sydney working to make economic empowerment and entrepreneurship more accessible. After learning about the many barriers that exist across the Asia Pacific region for emerging entrepreneurs to start and sustain their businesses, Taylor sought to create Pacific Progress an organisation built with the intention of enabling the economic advancement of entrepreneurs across the Pacific Region.
Lily is a 26-year-old changemaker from Melbourne. She has previously volunteered at numerous youth organisations with a passion for creating experiences, educating others and learning new skills. “The EBI Project” is an initiative which seeks to develop youth for employment pathways and opportunities. Lily is a Monash University graduate, an alumnus of AIESEC, and works in NFP Marketing.
Afra is a 25 year old Social Entrepreneur and Management Consultant born in Sri Lanka, raised in Bahrain and living in Melbourne. After working across the 3 countries by the age of 18, and experiencing the shortcomings of high performing environments she founded Impact Path, an organisation that aims to combat burnout by empowering young leaders to use corporate as a vehicle to drive social change. Since then, she has been recognised as one of PwC Australia’s top 10 leaders in Diversity & Inclusion, founded the first international Graduate Mental Health seminar which impacts over 200 new starters annually and is a published author on gender equality.
Jim is a 30-year-old Melbournian who works at the intersection of engineering, economics, and policy. As a strategy consultant he brings technical horsepower to problems like clean energy investment and the future of transport – but also sees these as complex social issues. That’s why Jim advocates for meaningful inclusion and diverse thinking in government – so we can collectively decide how to implement new technologies and make our cities more equitable, liveable, and sustainable.
Hailing from Sarawak, Malaysia, Darren is a 24-year-old biomedical engineering student based in Melbourne. In early 2019, he co-founded Monash Young MedTech Innovators, with the mission to create Australia’s largest youth-led innovation ecosystem for grassroots and interdisciplinary approaches to problems in healthcare. It’s since grown from a team of 2 to 32, a community of over 200, held Victoria’s largest student-run MedTech hackathon and generated 6 project teams tackling important problems within healthcare and medicine.
Supported by Citi
Renee is a 27-year-old Saibai woman from Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait) with ties to Papuan New Guinea woman living and working on Ngunnawal/Ngambri country. She is in her 4th year of teaching Science and Maths at a local public high school in Canberra. She is a co-founding member of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition (NIYEC) and is currently studying a Masters in Indigenous Education at Macquarie University. She is a proud advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers dominating education.
Renee is a proud Wiradjuri Woman from Mt Druitt, Western Sydney. Renee’s cultural and ancestral ties to belong to Erambie, Cowra, the Riverina region of Central Western NSW. Renee is devoted to working hand in hand with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure current and future generations have limitless opportunities in all aspects of life. Renee firmly believes that the secret to success is to listen and work alongside community, to create tangible and positive change for all. With those goals in mind. she has developed the Western Sydney Aboriginal Youth Network.
Erin is a 29 year old Eastern Arrernte woman who has over ten years of experience working to engage young Aboriginal people in schools and community programs. Erin’s initiative seeks to improve the wellbeing and educational outcomes of Aboriginal children by working within schools to build their capacity to work with their students by introducing and strengthening trauma informed practices. She works with community network groups and local collective impact teams, collaborating with health and education experts and facilitating community-led solutions
Jye is a 27 year old Kungarakan and Buranggum man, based in Darwin. Jye is a changemaker and the founder of the Life Itself Movement (LiT). LiT is an independent, community developed and led initiative aimed at providing self-determining, healing centered support opportunities for men under the age of 35. Beginning in March 2019, the LiT movement has run night connection sessions in the Top End, engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men between the ages of 18 to 28.
Semara is a proud Gudjula, Eastern-Kuku Yalanji and Darnley Island woman, that calls Cairns home. She is the co-founder and chairperson for Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Corporation. With a passion for youth leadership development, she empowers young people to create change for themselves, their families and their communities. Currently studying a Bachelor of Business Administration, Semara aims to build sustainability for DIYDG and other deadly organisations changing our world.
Shane is a Guwa and Wulli Wulli man with family connections to Cherbourg, Queensland. He was born on Kaurna country and grew up in Adelaide. He struggled through school after suffering third-degree burns in an attack, while in recovery he found a connection to his Aboriginality by drawing with his mother in the hospital. He was gifted the name “Mankitya” by the local Kaurna community which translates to “the scarred one’’. Within his work he uses graffiti and street-inspired art, blended with indigenous art. These two styles marry to create a dynamic conversation about his cultural heritage that touches on modern and traditional styles and stories that his mother passed down to him and his own interest in street art culture. This led to the creation of his wellbeing, mentoring and art therapy business “Street Dreamz”.
Brianne is a very proud Whadjuk, Balladong and Wagyl Kaip Noongar woman from the South West of Western Australia. She is currently in her third year studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Australia, double majoring in Law and Society and Indigenous Knowledge, History and Heritage. Brianne is passionate about Indigenous education at all levels. Through her position as Chairperson of the Western Australian Student Aboriginal Corporation (WASAC) she advocates for all Indigenous students on campus to ensure their education experiences is culturally safe and inclusive, accessible and represented in all aspect of University.
Supported by The Scanlon Foundation
Hana is 18 years old and is currently studying her first year of Biomedical Science at the University of Queensland. Her initiative First Day aims to teach English to illiterate adults – whom cannot read and write in their mother tongue and thereby rely on verbal teaching. Inspired by her own Mother, she hopes to empower, through education, the often-overlooked adults unable to learn in a traditional class setting.
Philip is an Australian lawyer, human rights advocate and policymaker. He works at KPMG Banarra, transforming companies to respect human rights and maximise their social impact. He is a Westpac Future Leaders Scholar at Melbourne Law School and has advised the United Nations research project on children’s rights in the digital age. Philip has been named by Pro Bono Australia as one of the country’s most influential people in the pro bono sector. He is the founder of Global Passport, an online platform that incentivises real-world connections between international and local students through experiential learning.
Molly is creative, curious and motivated. With a background in fine arts, she loves arts and culture, learning about food, and is constantly inspired by creativity within Australia’s youth arts and wider sector. She works as the Media Learning Manager of SYN Media, overseeing the social enterprise ‘SYN Media Learning’. Previously as Pathways Manager, she supported and engaged over 500 young members. She’s the current Youth Representative on the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) board, and in 2019 will participate in the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) ‘Young Social Pioneers’ program for her proposal to improve governance diversity and inclusion policies and practices.
Ed is a passionate campaigner, advocate and organiser dedicated to raising the voices of young people. Whilst in high school he established a Youth Advisory Committee in his local council area to provide young people with a voice on local issues. More recently he has been involved in the organization of the School Strikes 4 Climate and has lead grassroots election campaigns with the AYCC. Ed is now leading Young Elects, a campaign to encourage and support people under 35 to get elected to local, state and federal government.
Harpreet is a proud Punjabi-Australian human rights activist and passionate advocate for gender justice, mental health, LGBTQI+ rights and the representation/inclusivity of culturally diverse communities in decision making. She is deeply committed to being involved in the progress of eradicating gender-based violence, shame, discrimination and stigma. She was as an Australian delegate at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women three years in a row, an Emergency Services Youth Team leader for Red Cross NSW and Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Youth Ambassador, all of which led to the creation of her initiative, Breaking the Taboo.
Ani is a 19-year-old law/commerce student from Deakin. He has been a member of the Monash Councils Youth Reference Group for the past five years and currently serves as the Chairperson. During his five years on this group, he has been a strong advocate for getting young people involved in local government and empowering them to get involved in their local communities, a goal he attempts to continue with his Victorian Youth Municipality Reference Group.