A couple of days ago I was lucky to attend the National Youth Awards at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. I was a finalist in the “Creating Pathways” category for my work in community media education with SYN Media, the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and previously Radio Adelaide.

Much to my surprise – I won! It was a wonderful honour to be presented with the award by Senator The Hon Scott Ryan and to share the night with my partner Kevin and close friend and colleague Tahlia. I had a wonderful time mingling with and meeting amazing young people from all across the country working on a wide range of projects to change our community for the better.

I truly believe that giving young people access to the platforms and the skills to meaningfully participate in the media changes their lives. Giving under represented young people access to media platforms and giving their perspectives the respect they deserve can have lifelong impacts. I believe that community media changes the lives of audiences and participants alike and plays a major role in promoting social cohesion.

In some ways it’s strange to win an award like this, because all of my work isn’t possible without the amazing friends, family colleagues and volunteers who work so hard to make opportunities available to young people in the media. I feel I should mention a few who have helped create pathways for me:

The staff and volunteers at Radio Adelaide gave me amazing opportunities at the age of 17 and gave me my first real media jobs including my first job as a media educator – teaching broadcast skills to volunteers and community groups. Also the Adelaide University Union who entrusted me to revitalised their Student Radio programming and gave me opportunities hosting and organising events all across campus.

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia gave me a major opportunity as their Youth Representative and eventually a full position on their board of directors. It was with them that I was able to lead The CBloggers Projects – bringing together 20 of the brightest young leaders in community broadcasting from across the country to test their skills at the annual CBAA conference.

The Foundation for Young Australians who took me in as part of their Young Social Pioneers program and showed me just how much I am capable of as a social change maker. The program gave me powerful insights into making change happen and connected me with lifelong friends who will continue to challenge and push me well into the future.

SYN Media where I am currently the Education and Training Manager. Thank you to everyone in this wonderful organisation who has placed their trust in me and given me the opportunity to develop and grow as a leader. I love working there, because I feel our work makes a genuine difference in the lives of young people. The volunteers and staff work so hard to create a meaningful set of platforms and opportunities for young people that is genuinely youth led. I am forever grateful for the opportunities and the faith you have placed in me.

And of course – my family and friends whom I love dearly and who support me every day. I couldn’t do it without your love and support.

I am very lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had. Thank you to anyone who has helped create a pathway for me. I can only hope to create pathways and opportunities as powerful as the ones I’ve been lucky enough to have. Thank you.