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The Foundation for Young Australians holds its annual Unleashed Awards in Melbourne every November to acknowledge and commemorate the efforts of young changemakers Australia-wide.

This year, young people working to shift societal standards, addressing global medical challenges, and working to tackle drug and alcohol poisoning were honoured.

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First among the seven award categories is the Boss Enterprise of the Year Award, open to a business, venture, or social enterprise created by students in years 7-9. This year's winner was the BeeSustainable initiative from Mentone Girls Grammar in Melbourne. The student-led enterprise produces recyclable Eco Food Wraps from local beeswax and reusable cloth in an attempt to decrease the quantity of plastic wrap throughout the environment. 

Taking the top prize in the year 10-12 category for the same award is social enterprise Connect from Oran Park Anglican College. Connect was created to advance the technological knowledge of older generations via seminars and tutorials. In doing so, they hope to decrease the gap between age groups and allow for inter-generational social relationships.

The Jumpstart Award, open to young people aged 12-18 involved in initiatives with a social purpose, was given to Dyslexia Demystified. The initiative aims to stop feelings of embarrassment around dyslexia by offering online support groups to dyslexic young people. The online seminars are run by young people with dyslexia in an attempt to ensure those in need have people to look up and are able to accept the condition as a "positive part of their identity." 

connect.pngConnect taking home their Boss Enterprise of the Year Award (Years 10-12) trophy. FYA

The Local Legend Award celebrates one social-led initiative that has been developed in rural communities by individuals aged 15-25. This year's winner was the Leading the Way project. Run by a young Yamaji woman, the initiative aims to change societal attitudes around Indigenous culture by incorporating reconciliation activities into early learning education.

Nightlife First Aid from South Australia took home the Vanguard Award, a category open to young people aged 18-29 making a genuine impact in early business endeavours. Nightlife First Aid aims to create safe partying environments by ensuring events where drugs and alcohol may be present have young people trained in first aid available in case of a medical emergency. In the first three-and-a-half years, the project has averted the deaths of 25 young Australians and treated over 1,000 young partygoers.

nightlife.jpgA thankful party-goer and a Nightlife First Aid employee. Nightlife First Aid Facebook

The Game Changer Award honours people aged 18-29 who have created significant change. This year’s winner was The Last Straw, a campaign which works within the hospitality industry to educate bar staff about alternatives to plastic straws. In three years, the campaign has engaged with 500 venues, which, in turn, has stopped 20 million straws from entering the environment.

Young Australian writers were also honoured through the Writers for Change Award. Vanamali Hermans, a 20-year-old Wiradjuri woman, was this year's winner thanks to her written piece on why class and money shouldn’t hold students back from learning and taking part in Australia’s higher education system. Her article has spurred discussions with her university regarding the systemic changes needed to address class inequality.

The New Work Order Award, for schools and universities working to prepare young people for the future, was awarded to Elizabeth College in Tasmania. The co-educational school has constructed an Innovation Enterprise program to help develop and support students' business and entrepreneurial expertise.

Lastly, students from Windsor High School in New South Wales were awarded the Innovation Nation Award for their commitment to promoting recycling throughout their school via the Cash Cage system. The built recycling bin system collects recyclables that are then offloaded at the “return and earn” facility. 


Defeat Poverty

Inspiring Young Australians Celebrated at the 2018 Unleashed Awards

By Madeleine Keck