WA Australian of the Year Alumni inspire university students to turn their passion into purpose

  • 17 May 2024

Take risks, challenge the status quo and nothing is impossible unless you give up on yourself.

These were just a few of the motivational words from 2024 WA Australian of the Year alumni to university students who attended Auspire’s Inspiring Australians’ University Forum.

On campus at the University of Western Australia on Thursday 16 May, four guest speakers shared how they turned their passion into purpose – beginning with an idea and turning it into a successful charity or social enterprise.

four speakers at event

Charlie Bass, founder of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation, and WA 2024 Senior Australian of the Year, explained that it’s not just one ingredient, but a combination of ingredients coming together. WA’s 2024 Local Hero, Nick Hudson, shared his own “Venn diagram” of ingredients, including his background in engineering, his own experience with mental health and community, for the creation of The Push-Up Challenge.

Sam’s Spares co-founder, Samuel Thomas, told his perspective as a young leader whose not-for-profit is just two years old. As a person with autism, the WA 2024 Young Australian of the Year finalist also spoke about the misconceptions around those who are neurodivergent.

four speakers and emcee on stage listening to question from audience member

Catherine MacDougall, who was named a finalist in the Local Hero category alongside Nick, for her organisation Prepare Produce Provide, explained how she saw a disconnect between young people, education and community, and looked to solve it by combining her skills as a chef and teacher.

Not only did the young audience hear from these successful experts, they were also treated to a free lunch, during which inspiring conversation continued, and had the opportunity to win gift cards from event supporter, Perdaman.

audience of young university students

See all photos from the forum in our album here:

Thank you to Perdaman and the University of Western Australia for supporting this event.

If you know someone making a difference to WA, nominate them in the Australian of the Year Awards at


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