High school students receive a lesson in finding your purpose from Australian of the Year Alumni

  • 13 June 2024

On Wednesday 12 June, almost 300 WA high school students gained top tips and words of advice on turning passion into purpose, from experienced and successful social enterprise founders who have been recognised in the Australian of the Year Awards.

At Auspire’s Inspiring Australians’ Youth Forum at the University of Western Australia, which is provided free to high schools, students from Year 8 to Year 12 heard from She Codes Australia Founder, Kate Kirwin; followed by Catherine MacDougall, Co-founder of Prepare Produce Provide, and finally Nick Hudson, Founder of The Push-Up Challenge.

Kate – who was recognised as WA’s 2024 Young Australian of the Year for creating pathways for thousands of women to learn coding and enter a STEM career – shared her key advice based on her experience, from graduating with a Business degree to forging relationships with fellow Young Australians of the Year.

woman presenting on stage

With the help of youth ambassador, Rishaye Shaw, Catherine MacDougall spoke of how her organisation inspires vulnerable young people to realise their potential – with Rishaye explaining how she went from “setting water on fire” attending the Culinary Olympics in Germany and raising the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag. For providing opportunities to people like Rishaye, Catherine was a WA Local Hero finalist in the 2024 Australian of the Year Awards.

woman speaking behind lectern

Closing the presentations was Nick Hudson, who was named 2024 WA Local Hero after having raised $40 million for mental health charities. With stories of that involved Surf Life Saving, burgers and website crashes, Nick encouraged the student audience that “change doesn’t just happen – someone has to enact change and it might as well be you.”

man presenting on stage with audience looking on

When the opportunity came to ask questions, hands shot up at lightning speed with students ready to grill the speakers on their personal inspiration, gaining support and making mistakes. Two students with the best questions were gifted a prize for their school, courtesy of event supporter, Perdaman.

Following the Q&A, students and speakers gathered on stage for more questions, selfies and even some push-ups!

man and students talking on stage

Thanks to venue partner, UWA, students enjoyed a campus tour and had the chance to win more prizes!

Australians of the Year Top 3 Ingredients for turning passion into purpose

Kate Kirwin

  1. Stay Curious
  2. Careers of the future don’t exist yet – so don’t worry
  3. You’re the CEO of your life

Catherine MacDougall

  1. Connect to your community and the people around you
  2. Build and maintain relationships
  3. Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you

Nick Hudson

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  2. Join different clubs and organisations
  3. Make mistakes and learn from them

View all photos from the Inspiring Australians’ Youth Forum here.

Nominations for the 2025 Australian of the Year Awards close 31 July 2024. Nominate at

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