Local Connection, Lasting Impact: Australian of the Year Alumni inspire high school students at Murdoch University

  • 27 March 2023

The room buzzed with the chattering voices of hundreds of high school students as they marched into the theatre-style lecture room at Murdoch University on Thursday 23 March.

So began the first of Auspire’s 2023 series of “Inspiring Australians Student Forums”. Over 250 attendees from across Perth heard from Australian of the Year alumni Jimmy Murphy (founder of the Town Team Movement), Dr Saschveen Singh (Tropical Disease Specialist with Doctors Without Borders) and 17-year-old Scott Guerini (Telethon fundraiser since the age of 4!).

The morning started with some light-hearted humour from our emcee of the day, Murdoch’s own Alexander Circosta who also introduced our speakers and gave a very warm acknowledgment to country.

First up was Scott, who started his journey as a four-year-old who wanted to help sick children and babies by doing what seemed like the hardest thing for him to do at that age, walking 25km from his parents’ farm to the nearest town. After two weeks of pleading with his parents finally allowed him to try, and he ended up finishing the walk in 8 hours and 40 minutes and raising over $3,000 for Telethon. Scott has since walked every year and has raised over $200,000 with his walks.

Scott talked about the need to find “your person”; someone who has your back through it all. This person for Scott has always been his mum who constantly reminds him that it doesn’t matter how long it takes or how far you go, what’s important is that you try.

Scott, however, always completes his walks. He does so with the encouragement of his family, like his little brother who cycles alongside him as he walks those long kilometres, and his community who cheer him on every step of the way. As Scott always says, “It’s easy to make a difference, what can you do?”.

Someone making a huge difference is Dr Saschveen Singh. Saschveen, a tropical infectious disease adviser for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), talked to the students about the importance of exploring one’s curiosity. “Curiosity gives you a Dopamine rush and it’s important to discover all sides of your personality, from the artistic side to the science-loving side” said Saschveen about the importance of exploring new things.

Saschveen went on to explain that exploration can come in many forms, from traveling for leisure and discovering new cultures to learning a new skill or hobby. She also emphasised the importance of reaching out and helping the community “Volunteering is a great way to discover what you want”.

Volunteering is the cornerstone of the Town Team Movement, the initiative founded by our last speaker, social entrepreneur, Jimmy Murphy.

Town Teams are citizen-led groups that work with local government agencies to make their communities better. Jimmy spoke to the students about the importance of active citizenship, and the value of identifying what you want to improve and actively working to improve it. He also recognised one of the students, Belle, as being a part of her own community’s Town Team.

The students enthusiastically shared their own stories about what they’re doing in their school communities, one student started “Containers for Change” at his school while others talked about how they volunteer at their local communities. “Make the world better, one action at a time” said Jimmy while sporting his “ACT LOCAL” t-shirt.

During the session, Alex asked the students get up, stretch, and look under their seats to find a $50 voucher that was generously donated by Event Sponsor Perdaman. One lucky student found it and it went straight to the school’s seed fund for the students to kickstart their own community project.

Our guest speakers then answered some very interesting questions from the audience with a Q&A session led by Alex. Another $50 voucher was kindly donated by Perdaman to the student with the best question asked, “What keeps you positive on a tough day?”.

At the conclusion of the event students went on to enjoy a tour of the campus chaperoned by Murdoch Student Ambassadors and enjoyed a free lunch generously donated by Murdoch along with merch packs.

Auspire would like to acknowledge that these events are only made possible through the support of our event sponsors and program partners: National Diversity and Inclusion Partner of the Australian of the Year Awards, Chevron Australia, Murdoch University and Perdaman.

You can view the event photos here.

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