Australian of the Year Alumni inspire students at Edith Cowan University

  • 29 June 2022

Students from schools around Western Australia filled a lecture hall at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup to hear from 2022 Australian of the Year Awards Alumni.

Emcee and Auspire CEO, Morgen Lewis, welcomed Year 9 and 10 students and their teachers to the first of Auspire’s Inspiring Australians Student Forums for 2022, before introducing the first of the speakers.

WA’s 2022 Local Hero, Craig Hollywood, was up first to explain the story of Short Back & Sidewalks, how the free haircutting service for people experiencing homelessness offers the opportunity to connect and provide other services. He described it as people from all walks of life helping people from all walks of life. He then told the students about the incredible experience of visiting Canberra and meeting the Prime Minister for the Australian of the Year Awards final.

Kendall Whyte, who was recognised as WA’s Young Australian of the Year for 2022, then took to the floor to tell attendees how her brother, Jayden, inspired the Blue Tree Project and her mission to break the stigma of mental health. Despite her and her team’s efforts, she declared how far society still has to go with supporting mental health. She gave the students some tips, including not being afraid to ask for help and encouraging students to think about mental health as a bank account – what goes out, must come back in.

After a quick stretch break, WA Australian of the Year, Paul Litherland, gave an informative and eye-opening presentation on his work with online safety. Supported by statistics, he revealed how online use and the popularity of smartphones has changed over the years. As someone who is dedicated to preventing the negative effects of internet use, he urged the audience to help him by protecting themselves and each other.

The audience were then given the opportunity to ask their questions, which led to Kendall revealing more about the bright blue colour that covers the trees, Paul’s experience as a police officer, and words of encouragement about skillset and not being afraid to change pathways.

The speakers were then surprised with flags that adorned their faces, which were flown high in Canberra in the days leading up to the national announcement of the Australian of the Year Awards.

The other speakers at the forum were James Holborn, Commercial Advisor at Chevron Australia, and Edith Cowan University’s Future Students Engagements Coordinator, Renae Strauss, who briefed them on the Amazing Race that followed the presentations.

Check out photos from the morning here.

Thanks to our supporters who helped us to provide this Student Forum: National Diversity and Inclusion Partner of the Australian of the Year Awards, Chevron Australia; Perdaman and Edith Cowan University.

We look forward to welcoming future young leaders to the next Inspiring Australians Student Forum. If your school missed out this time, register for upcoming dates here.

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