This year, Youth Projects launched our first ever 'Youth Awards' as an opportunity to recognise the enormous contributions of young people, and the ways in which they are creating meaningful change within themselves and the wider community. Proudly supported through by the Victorian Government's Engage! 2022-2024 program, these awards cast a spotlight on emerging changemakers and the young achievers that live amongst us. 

Earlier this week at a very special event in Carlton, the community came together to celebrate the hundreds of young achievers nominated across five different categories. On the night, the 2022 Youth Awards winners were announced! 

So, without further adieu, Youth Projects is proud to introduce our 2022 award winners.....

Social Change Maker - Alex Dekker

In 2020 at the start of Covid-19 and at just 20 years old, Alex started his very own food charity - Alex Makes Meals. 

Since 2020 Alex has:  

  • Made and prepared over 300,000 meals (3000+ meals per week) 
  • Delivers to over 50 locations (including our very own The Living Room) 
  • Now has a team of 80+ volunteers  
  • Always stocking The Living Room fridge full of meals  

Trainee of the Year - Vincent Baltazar

After being referred to our Transition to Work program, Vincent soon became an office local and was quickly referred to start a  Traineeship at our social enterprise, The Little Social in Hosier Lane where he has been: 

  • Always so enthusiastic and determined to learn new skills  
  • Dedicated and passionate  
  • Engages and is creating rapport with The Living Room clients  
  • Always comes in with a smile  

Vincent reminds our team every day why we do what we do.

Personal Growth Award - Sharni-Lee Tolliday 

Originally a client our ours through our Disability Employment Services, after seeing how talented she was and with the announcement that we were opening 3 new youth hubs within the west, Sharni was recommended to apply for one of the Customer Service Officer roles. 

She quickly won over the recruiting team and was offered a full-time role at our Sunshine Youth-Hub and was lately poached to our Glenroy HQ Youth Hub.  

Youth/Support Worker of the Year - Joshua Keenan 

Joshua is one of Youth Projects' Transition to Work crew working across Werribee and Melbourne's west.

He is passionate about mental health, making his role accessible by doing outreach to clients who need it (rather than them coming in), supporting his clients - holistically, coming to their level and advocating for young people when they need it.  

Joshua always goes above and beyond for his clients and has many incredible stories, but it wouldn’t be possible without the faith and empowerment he puts in his clients.  

His peers have described him as an excellent listener, who empowers his clients to achieve their goals in a safe and realistic environment.   

Youth Projects’ Young Achiever of the Year 2022 - Kaif Ul Wara 

Kaif is a graduate lawyer, poet, and ambassador for young people.  She is passionate about social justice, mental health, migrant and refugee rights, creative spaces, youth participation in Parliament, and advocacy.  

She has been heavily involved in youth advocacy work since high school, including her involvement in YAG and Merri-bek ’s Youth Advisory Council.  

Kaif is very innovative and during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, she realised that there were no creative arts groups dedicated to youth for art within her local Merri-bek council area. So, through a council grant, she started her council's first-ever online creative arts club called ‘Blooming Innovators, which supports young artists in her local municipality.

As part of our Youth-led Content Series Kaif wrote a piece on Why Advocacy by Young People is Important, this then got seen by the Victorian Parliament and she was invited to be a part of Parliaments' 'State of the Future’ campaign where she was interviewed about the experiences of young leaders within the community. 

Pictured (L-R): Alex Dekker, Sharni-Lee Tolliday, Kaif Ul Wara, and Joshua Keenan

Pictured (L-R): Jules video message about trans-equality, our friends from Hume City Council, Guest speaker - Kaif Ul Wara

Pictured (L-R): Kaif Ul Wara & her dad, Youth Projects' Youth Advisory Group

A massive congratulations to the 2022 Finalists and Award Winners for everything you do to create meaningful change within yourselves and the wider community.  

Youth Projects' Youth Awards will be back again in 2023, with award nominations open later in the year.

This event has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Victorian State Government and Engage! 2022 – 2024. 

‘Engage! provides young people with the opportunities and support they need to achieve their goals, and to be respected and engaged as valued members of their local community. Activities will promote the voices of young people and participation in decision making; support young people to develop new skills through training, mentoring, and volunteering; and showcase and recognise young people’s contribution to the community.’ – The Hon. Ros Spence MP (Minister for Youth)