Lunch with Leaders: Discussing finding purpose this Youth Week

  • 7 April 2022

Auspire – Australia Day Council WA, gave people around the country the opportunity to hear from 2022 Young Australian of the Year, Dr Daniel Nour, and 2022 WA Young Australian of the Year, Kendall Whyte, during the latest Lunch with Leaders.

The hour-long online event, which coincided with Youth Week, delved into the backgrounds and impacts of the two inspiring young leaders’ not-for-profits, Street Side Medics and Blue Tree Project.

We began with Daniel, who spoke about life after receiving the 2022 Young Australian of the Year Award and raising awareness of healthcare services for homeless people. He spoke about the first-hand events and conversations, which stuck with him, that led to the creation of Street Side Medics.

We were then brought to the present day, with Daniel discussing his immediate response to help during the floods in Lismore, NSW.

“Overnight, there was a natural disaster and many people lost access to the medical centres and services they rely on, and doctors and medical practitioners also lost access to their patients. There was absolutely no doubt that we needed to support them. We sent a fully-equipped van – essentially a medical centre on wheels – for the primary health network. Our objective was to ensure that the healthcare cycle we rely on was not broken.”

He also spoke about taking Street Side Medics national and the importance of slow growth to ensure the service remains reliable, and revealed some new funding news to help Daniel and the team continue what they’re doing.

While talking about his medical experience, he also touched on his Egyptian heritage, how he was inspired by his father to give back to his community, and how this has influenced his role within the story of Australia.

Questions from engaged viewers came thick and fast, wanting to know about how Street Side Medics is looking at more ways to help people living in rural areas, the reliance on volunteers and social enterprises to address the gaps in social issues, and other organisations that Street Side Medics collaborate with.

Daniel spoke about both the challenge and satisfaction of building trust with patients and breaking down their concerns, and how doing this can lead to Street Side Medics getting to more vulnerable people.

“Coming in with a gung-ho attitude never works; we take a slow and steady approach. It takes time for them to realise that we have no hidden agenda, we’re all volunteers and there are no strings attached. Once you’ve earnt that trust, it’s so valuable. One thing I learnt was to never make a promise to someone that you can’t keep. The second you break that trust, they’ll never come back to you.”

We then heard Kendall speak about the “unreal” experience of attending the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra and meeting the other finalists, hearing their stories and making valuable connections.

She explained the inspiration behind Blue Tree Project, the mission of the blue trees as conversation starters on mental health, and kicking the stigma. She spoke about the growth of the Project and how, with the State borders open, they will be looking at a more national approach in 2023.

“It’s growing really quickly because it’s a project that people can get involved with. Mental health doesn’t discriminate – we’ve seen schools, universities, mining companies, retirement homes – you name it – everyone has got involved within their community to produce a tangible object that becomes a talking point.”

The tangible object is the blue trees that can be found all over WA and across other States and Territories. Kendall encouraged people to raise awareness with activities and events such as painting days and BBQs alongside local services – “We go to where people are so that the message can be delivered in an engaging way.”

Kendall then answered questions from the audience including how to how to choose the right tree, the increase of councils and cities getting involved and why the colour blue. She revealed how Blue Tree Project is engaging with Aboriginal communities and vice versa, and her connection with rural and regional areas.

With mental health being such a tough subject that is personal to each individual, Kendall also opened up about her own mental health, what she enjoys during her downtime and the decision to work on Blue Tree Project full time – “Don’t shy away from entering a new industry or trying something different just because you don’t think you have the experience.”

To hear all of Daniel and Kendall’s answers and insight, watch the full conversation on your next lunch break here:

Lunch with Leaders is proudly supported by the National Diversity and Inclusion Partner of the Australian of the Year Awards, Chevron Australia.

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