All around Australia there are impressive young Australians stepping up to leadership roles. Here are four that have already made a serious impact, in fields as diverse as the deaf community, poverty prevention, encouraging women to get involved in STEM and linking students up with job opportunities.
2015 Young Australian of the Year and Auslan advocate
Drisana Levitzke-Gray is the fifth generation in her family to be born deaf and has dedicated her adult life to advocating for the rights of those with hearing impairments. In 2014, she became the first deaf Auslan user to sit on a jury.
Levitzke-Gray’s first language is Auslan – the sign language of the Australian deaf community. She has advocated for Auslan to be seen as a proper language in its own right – with its own rich history, culture and traditions – and should taught widely to people of all hearing capabilities.
Levitzke-Gray has worked with communities in Europe and Samoa to expand understanding of deaf youth’s rights and leadership capabilities.
Co-founder, Thankyou Group
In 2008, when he was only 19 years old, Daniel Flynn created Thankyou Water – a social enterprise that sold bottled water and aimed at reducing poverty and disease around the world. The organisation has since grown into Thankyou Group, and now produces food and body care products as well.
Flynn was studying Project Management at RMIT when he heard that while 900 million people around the world did not have access to safe drinking water, Australians spent $600 million on bottled water each year. He corralled a team of friends, who worked with him on the project while juggling university degrees and part-time jobs.
All profits made by the enterprise are directed to food, water and health and sanitation programs around the world.
Co-founder, Girl Geek Academy
A digital marketer by trade, Sarah Moran created Girl Geek Academy because she wanted to know what the Internet would look like if more women were building it.
Girl Geek Academy run initiatives to get women and girls involved in coding and hackathons, 3D printing and wearables, game development, design, entrepreneurship and startups. The organisation is a response to the severe gender imbalance in the STEM industry – according to the report Australia’s STEM Workforce, published in 2016 by the Office of the Chief Scientist, 84 per cent of people with a STEM qualification are male.
The organisation consists of a group of female digital professionals with successful STEM careers who aim to teach one million girls how to build apps and create start-ups by 2025.
The organisation also work with teachers, schools, corporates and startups to increase the number of women with professional technical and entrepreneurial skills.
Another high achieving teenager, Adam Troyn was just 19 years old when he came up with the idea of Kampus – an online portal that connects students with internships, voluntary or paid roles to get them the experience they need to have a better chance of landing a job in their field once they graduate.
Many graduates struggle to find work when they leave university as even entry-level roles increasingly expect the applicants to have some kind of experience related to the role. But it can difficult to gain that experience while you’re still at university or school, especially without being taken advantage of. Kampus aims to link students with those experience-gaining opportunities while protecting them from being exploited.
For students, the portal helps them find an internship, voluntary or paid work with a local business, and put their knowledge into practice before graduation.
For employers, Kampus provides an opportunity to engage local students with relevant opportunities in their field through internships, voluntary or paid work, and gain efficient access to the emerging workforce.