Council rolls out the red carpet for youth awards

After months of planning, Wodonga Council's annual RED Carpet Youth Award winners will be announced on Friday.

Nominees and many guests will fill The Cube Wodonga for a gala dinner and awards ceremony where winners will be declared across nine categories.

Youth Events Officer Sam Lampe said she was looking forward to seeing the nominees all dressed up for their special night.

"It's a great night to recognise and celebrate not only people's achievements but the way young people are making a difference in the community," she said.

The awards, which are marking their 10th year, feature a variety of young people who are making a difference, excelling in their chosen field and putting others first.

There were 72 young people nominated this year, which was narrowed down to 31 finalists.

The categories for 2018 are:

  • Individual Community Service Award (sponsored by Business Wodonga)
  • Sport and Recreation Volunteer Award (sponsored by YMCA Wodonga)
  • Young Carer Award (sponsored by GenesisCare Radiation Oncology Albury Wodonga)
  • Apprenticeship/Traineeship Award (sponsored by ATEL Employment Services)
  • Endurance/Persistence Award (sponsored by Indie School)
  • Advocacy and Action Award (sponsored by Rotary Club Wodonga Central)
  • Music and Performing Arts Award (sponsored by PROJECTion Dance)
  • Visual Arts and Media Award (sponsored by Dutch Media)
  • Youth Ambassador Award (sponsored by Junction Support Services)

The awards are organised and run by a committee of seven young people from local high schools, with the support of Wodonga Council's youth services and events officer, over a six-month period.

Watch this space Friday evening when the winners will be announced.

Below are photos of the nominees in their respective award category.


From volunteering to fundraising and generally making the community a better place, the nominees in the Individual Community Service category are certainly go-getters.

Aleisha Coyle is a 14-year-old attending Victory Lutheran College who is actively involved in the community. She has been fundraising for Country Hope for the past three years, raising about $5,500 in her quest so far.

Jye McBurnie, 17, is not one to sit around. From fundraising for cancer to volunteering on numerous committees, the 2017 City of Wodonga Joint Young Citizen of the Year winner has certainly demonstrated a passion for Wodonga.

Lauren Coyle is a 14-year-old who demonstrates leadership qualities. Lauren was a guest speaker at the 2015 National Young Leaders Day in Melbourne.

McCarlie-Jayne Dohrmann is an all-round achiever. As a venturer with the 1st Baranduda Scouts Venturer unit, the 17-year-old continues to demonstrate leadership in helping other youth members and achieved her Queen Scout Award – the highest youth award in scouting. The active volunteer firefighter with the Leneva CFA unit last year spent two weeks in Cambodia volunteering to help a village in Beng Melea.

An unplanned pregnancy to psychological and emotional abuse, the nominees in the endurance/persistence category have overcome some big challenges to turn their life around.

Mica Baker managed to turn her life around after running away from home several years ago due to psychological and emotional abuse. She is currently undertaking her VCE and would like to continue her education at Swinburne University where she would like to study for a career in forensic psychology.

Nathan Pearce is a 17-year-old Belvoir Special School student with an intellectual disability who is making a splash in the swimming arena. He has gone from a virtual non-swimmer to competing in the Special Olympics.

Shynae Matammu was thrown a curve ball after finishing her senior high school year when she unexpectedly fell pregnant while undertaking a gap year traineeship. The 21-year-old is now juggling life with her baby girl, Azariah while studying an Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology at Wodonga TAFE. She is showing great persistence as she continues her studies on a different pathway to that she originally intended.

Tayla Sjorgren was in year 11 last year when she was severely concussed during a weekend sporting event. This concussion resulted in an acquired brain injury. Tayla took it upon herself to take charge of her recovery and accessed medical and ongoing occupational therapy supports independently, while studying year 12 and is determined to complete VCE to the best of her abilities, while continuing her intensive therapy to recover from the ABI.

It takes hard work and determination to succeed in any apprenticeship/traineeship, something the nominees in the apprenticeship/traineeship category know all too well.

Anna Cardwell has always worked hard in everything she does and it has never been more evident this year while taking part in the Youth Ministry traineeship at Catholic College. She has not only organised retreats/camps but has also helped prepare in-school and out-of-school masses.

Ben Rapsey, 17, was a year 10 VCAL student at Wodonga Senior Secondary College and extended his VCAL placements to the highest standard to ensure he was offered an apprenticeship upon completion of the school year.

Bryce Tracey’s biggest inspiration is his father, a paraplegic who has inspired him throughout his life by showing him there are no limitations to what you can achieve if you work hard towards your goals. Bryce is currently in his third year of Certificate III in Refrigeration and is undertaking an apprenticeship with O’Connell’s refrigeration and air-conditioning.

Emily Cariss is always determined to get things done and goes above and beyond what is required in her traineeship. The 19-year-old youth ministry trainee at Catholic College Wodonga often works overtime, volunteering at the local parish, and assisting teachers and staff when required.

Making sacrifices for others is second nature to these young inspirational carers in the young carer category.

Abigail Malpass has an amazing caring nature. Her family became foster carers and Abigail has welcomed four foster children and loves them as her own siblings.

Alexandra Michael would like to use her interest in children and medicine to embark on a career in pediatric oncology when she finishes her high school education next year. The 18-year-old has been volunteering at the Ronald McDonald’s Family Rooms at Wodonga since February, supporting families who have babies that need looking after in hospital.

Makayla Good, 19, spends a lot of time caring for her two younger brothers who have special needs. She was also a carer for her maternal grandparents before they passed away in August 2016 and May 2017. Despite the many obstacles in regards to completing school work, she continues to do very well.

Marnie Elliott faced losing her mother to cancer earlier this year. However, despite dealing with grief, the 17-year-old has maintained her focus on school work. Marnie continues to support her father and brother in their grief, whilst dealing with her loss personally.

From involvement in scouts to sporting clubs, this is a talented group in the Sport and Recreation Volunteer category.

Andrea Bejsta, 17, has been part of the Australian Scouting organisation for a decade and shows lots of promise in the field, often organising exciting outdoor adventures to support the joey, cub and scout sections. Andrea also continues to inspire many through her love of sailing, hiking and any adventurous outdoor activity.

Elijah Shuker lives and breathes for soccer, demonstrating a strong commitment to the Wodonga Heart Soccer Club. The 16-year-old not only plays in the 3rds team but also coaches. Elijah's contribution does not finish after the game, he often stays behind to help pack up the equipment for all the miniroos.

Gemma Thorneycroft is passionate about her chosen sport – calisthenics. The year 11 student has been competing within a team for 11 years and is working on her goal to become a qualified level one accredited calisthenics coach. Outside of calisthenics, she has achieved level one NRL junior referee and is undertaking AFL boundary umpiring with North East Border Umpires.

There's a group of budding young artists who are painting a bright future in the visual arts and media category.

Bonnie Burgess is the winner of the recent GASE competition at Gigs Art Gallery and consistently delivers high grades in visual arts. The 18-year-old was involved in a school project to build house pride with the development and production of a school mural.

Mykelti Kotzur has been an outstanding arts student. The 17-year-olds final piece from 2017 was selected for Top Arts, which represents the highest achieving artwork in Victoria. Her work is currently on display at the National Gallery of Victoria in Federation Square.

Theo Smith is a keen media student, who works to put an incredible amount of effort into his media creations. Last year he was instrumental in contributing to the collaborative film ‘The Troublesome Package’ - where he worked as the chief cameraman.

Tyler Conlan has designed a range of materials for different community and youth events and initiatives. The 17-year-old is currently studying VCAL and Certificate IV in Design at Wodonga TAFE, a huge workload in itself.

From fleeing war-torn countries to overcoming language barriers, this bunch of young people have faced adversity and come through the other side in the advocacy and action category.

Atosha Birongo (Natasha) is a 17-year-old who fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo and settled in Australia where she now advocates for children’s rights and young people.

Claudia Reeb is an advocate for young people at her college and in the wider community. She is passionate about reducing the stigma about disabilities in the next generation and put together a disability awareness day/program to raise awareness and reduce stigma for people with disabilities.

Jordan Ross is a campaigner against bullying. The 16-year-old has a big voice when it comes to raising awareness of the serious impacts of bullying, having helped establish the Big Shout 2016-2017 anti-bullying campaign.

Patrick Sibomana is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and spent his childhood and youth living as a refugee in Kenya, before being granted a humanitarian visa to Australia. Since arriving in Wodonga, Patrick has become actively involved in the community, embracing every opportunity that has come his way and has such developed a strong and influential voice in the community, advocating for a range of social issues including, family violence prevention, mental health, and youth affairs.

From musicians to painters, the nominees in the music and performing arts category are a talented bunch.

Charlotte Kay has many talents when it comes to performing, participating in musical theatre, choirs, and community projects. Charlotte played Mrs Potts in Bytesize’s Beauty and the Beast.

Eliza Spalding is an up-and-coming singer and guitarist who is passionate about her craft. Eliza performs with her brother, Zac in a duo all over North East Victoria. She gives her time for free when playing regularly at Koori First Steps Preschool and several nursing homes.

Meg Newton, 14, has a dedication and focus for classical ballet. Meg, who started dancing as early as three, is continuing her training with Projection Dance School, for the prestigious Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland (known as the most Elite International Ballet competition) for 2019.

Noah Esplana is a 14-year-old with a passion for dance. The full-time ballet dancer trains a minimum of 30 hours each work and also dedicates time to teach Rock ‘n’ Roll dancing to seniors and people with disabilities, while also volunteering to teach hip-hop dancing to children of all abilities.

The Youth Ambassador category is an award where nominees are selected from all award categories.