Celebrating young people making a difference

andrew mellody

Andrew Mellody

Applications for the 2016 Connections UnitingCare Anti-Poverty Awards are now open. Any school or young person aged 16-30 working on a project to overcome poverty is encouraged to apply.

Now in its 12th year, the awards celebrate the hard work of young people and schools making a difference in the world. They recognise projects that tackle injustice and inequality both locally and in overseas communities.

Connections UnitingCare CEO Angela Forbes said the awards present an opportunity for young people throughout Australia to be celebrated for their work.

“Young people are seldom recognised as a resource in decision-making processes. Investing in young people has more potential than ever, since young people today are the most educated generation ever,” Ms Forbes said.

Ms Forbes said the awards recognise the energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit of young Australians seeking to create social change.

“Each year I am moved by the motivation and commitment of the young people who apply,” she said.

“They are all on a journey of understanding the reality and impact of poverty in our society. Through their actions, whether aimed at communities within Australia or overseas, they have taken up the challenge of making a difference. I am excited to see whom we will discover this year.”

Helping to launch the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards is 30-year-old Victorian Andrew Mellody. Mr Mellody received the 2015 Individual Award for his work with Co-Ground, a not-for-profit organisation which launched in response to Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. Crosslight spoke with Mr Mellody at the awards last year about what motivated him to create Co-Ground.

Almost one year on, Co-Ground has completed two international development projects and is currently working on a mobile café social enterprise. All profits from the café will go towards sustainable funding for Co-Ground’s development projects. It will also support the sale of direct trade coffee and encourage training and leadership opportunities for young people in Australia.

“It’s important that ownership remains with the communities we’re working with to ensure what we’re doing is empowering and sustainable,” Mr Mellody said.

Gawler East Primary School in South Australia was the recipient of the School Award last year. It was the first time a primary school won the award.

Children from grades two to four raised funds for displaced villagers in the Philippines. Gawler East Primary School teacher Anita Marling-Bauer said the experience taught her students they could be true global citizens.

“They realised they have a voice and can promote real change around the world. We hope this experience will be just the start of them thinking of others less fortunate than themselves,” Ms Marling-Bauer said.

“The Anti-Poverty Awards make real for children and young people the knowledge that they can contribute, no matter what age they may be, for the children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow.”

For more information about the Anti-Poverty Awards, visit antipovertyawards.org.au.

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