Young Community Citizen of the Year volunteers for his future

  • 11 April 2022

Akash Parekh is just 18 years old, but has probably done more volunteer work than the average person does in their lifetime. Having first volunteered at SciTech as a school requirement, he joined Stirling Youth Advocates (SYA) after discovering the group online as part of the City of Stirling.

In the three years he has been an active member, he has contributed to Carine Skatepark Festival, Groundswell Festival, Mirrabooka Markets, a Youth Matter Campaign for Youth Week and Youth Affairs Council of WA’s Mental Health Forum. He also organises and hosts panel discussions and tutors school students in Maths. As an individual and within the SYA group, Akash is greatly involved within the community.

“City of Stirling reach out to us to have a young presence at events, so we’re involved quite a lot. For example, at the Groundswell Festival in Scarborough, there are surfing and skating competitions, as well as food trucks and markets. At the last festival, we organised a treasure hunt where a lot of young people got involved and participated in our activities. Another event we are regularly involved in is the Mirrabooka Markets, which started two years ago and one of the members of Stirling Youth Advocates now organises it.”

At the time of our chat, Akash is preparing for an online panel discussion for 24th April, aimed at students who are transitioning beyond school to look at the options available to them. He is incredibly passionate about the topic, having been in their shoes himself. Coincidentally, it was volunteering that helped Akash transition into university.

“No teacher told me about looking into scholarships, however it was my older brother who encouraged me. After doing my research and applying for a few scholarships, I was fortunate enough to receive one of Curtin University’s most prestigious scholarships, the John Curtin Undergraduate Scholarship. A lot of young people don’t seem to realise the many benefits of volunteering. Aside from the social benefits of making new friends, there is also significant monetary and professional value. A big factor of any merit-based scholarship is community service. In merit-based scholarships, they usually look for academia, community service and leadership. You can quite easily combine community service and leadership because community service gives you a lot of leadership opportunities.”

Volunteering as a requirement of his scholarship may encourage Akash to continue, but he is quick to express the joy he feels helping people and seeing the community come together. Of course, he is also motivated to continue volunteering after receiving the 2021 Young Community Citizen of the Year Award from the City of Stirling. The Award has had an impact on the other members of SYA, as it gives them the belief that it could be theirs one year. Furthermore, Akash is aware of how valuable volunteering is not only to him and his future, but to Australian society and economy.

“There are a lot of services that are built on volunteers – without them, a lot of services wouldn’t exist. During COVID in the City of Stirling, volunteers were driving around giving food to elderly people and volunteering at the hospital. It has a large economic impact as volunteering saves billions of dollars to the Australian economy every year.”

Besides being a member of SYA, Akash is involved in events that are more influenced by his family heritage. While he was born in Perth, his family moved from Mumbai 25 years ago. He speaks Gujarati at home, he celebrates Hindu festivals such as Navaratri, Diwali and Holi, and most of his childhood friends are Indian or multicultural. He describes being drawn to others from similar cultures, but he explains how volunteering makes him feel part of the Australian culture.

“I’m really grateful to be able to volunteer, go into the community and participate in anything I want to. I feel that anyone who lives in Australia automatically becomes a community citizen, even if they don’t have residency, because they become a part of the Australian culture. If someone participates in their community, they should be able to proudly claim themselves as an Australian citizen.”

If you know a young person who’s contributing to their community like Akash, nominate them in the 2023 Community Citizen of the Year Awards at

The Community Citizen of the Year Awards are proudly supported by 9 News Perth, WA Today and News Talk 6PR 882.

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