A volunteer who helps keep young people safe on the street after dark, a mentor for young Indigenous people and an active advocate for marginalised young people, are among the winners of the annual Betty Makin Youth Awards.
Hosted by the City of Sydney, the awards recognise young individuals and groups who have excelled in educational, vocational and community projects over the past year, as well as individuals or organisations dedicated to working with young people.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said it was inspiring to hear how the city’s young people were helping others in their local community.
“We’re proud to host these annual awards, which honour the great Redfern community leader Betty Makin who devoted so much time and energy to helping young people,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Our young people are tomorrow’s leaders and innovators, so taking time to recognise their achievements is very important.”
Four young people received awards under the categories community minded and creative, and were each awarded a $500 scholarship to help them achieve their goals:
Community minded – Beau Johnson-Holmes (22)
During a night out, Beau sought assistance from the Take Kare Safe Space and was inspired by the difference the program was making to young people like himself. The impact of the Take Kare project has been life-changing for Beau who now volunteers every Friday and Saturday night from 10pm to 4am.
Beau gives his time selflessly to help the young people of Sydney stay safe on a night out in the city and just completed his 300th shift of volunteering.
Community minded – Jessie Simon-Fitzpatrick (19)
Jessie is an active member of Youthblock which provides free, safe and confidential support, counselling and health services for young people aged 12 to 24.
Jessie provides a voice for marginalised young people by participating in regular meetings, consultations and discussions with GPs on improving health services. She is a strong advocate and promotes the view that young people are individuals and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. She also advocates for changing the dialogue about young people from a risk perspective to that of a strengths-based one.
Creative – Jack Williams (19)
Jack is a vocalist and teacher at Redfern Dance Company where he mentors the young dancers of the Aboriginal Performance Group.
He is a role model and inspiration to the children of the group with whom he regularly educates and shares his passion for performance.
Creative – Giuliana DeBellis (16)
Giuliana is passionate about encouraging younger girls to feel confident. For four years she volunteered at her local dance school teaching kids to sing and dance and overcome their fear of getting up on stage.
In the last few years, she has discovered a love for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and pursued learning through various courses.
Giuliana discovered a shortage of woman in the industry so developed a program to help younger students learn and be encouraged into STEM.
She was encouraged to run the program during lunchtimes at her school.
The City also presented additional awards to recognise the hard work of people providing youth support and youth projects across Sydney:
Youth worker of the year – Sam George
Sam is a case worker at Weave Youth and Community Services where he works on the Creating Futures program. The program is designed to help and empower Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who have recently been released from prison and give them every chance to create a positive future for themselves.
Sam empowers the young people he works with and is passionate about helping them to successfully integrate back into the community through a structured plan that includes pre and post-release assistance and practical support.
Outstanding partnership of the year – Twenty10 Mardi Gras – Generation Fearless project
Youth organisation, Twenty10, partnered with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and local designer Nikki Margarita to create a float for young LGBTIQ people to march in the parade.
The partnership brought together young locals aged 12 to 25 to develop the theme: ‘Respect! Resilience! Regeneration! – Generation Fearless’.
Over four weeks they produced a choreographed routine, costumes and a float, and on parade day more than 100 young transgender, non-binary, gender diverse and sexually diverse young people took part.
The partnership provided a unique opportunity for LGBTIQ young people to be part of Mardi Gras, while also developing personal and creative skills through the consultation and workshop series.