On Thursday 7 September 2023, the Peninsula Community Theatre came alive with the spirit of celebration for the 2023 Youth Recognition Awards.  

The annual youth awards celebrate the exceptional achievements of young people across the Mornington Peninsula  

This year, the awards received an impressive number of nominations, shining a light on the remarkable efforts of local youth. 

The evening brought together an enthusiastic audience: Mayor Councillor Steve Holland, CEO John Baker and Crs Antonella Celi, Debra Mar, Despi O’Connor and Kate Roper, Shire staff, community members, and, most importantly, the inspiring young individuals nominated for awards.  

Mornington Peninsula’s Youth Advisory Committee organised the event, supported by the Youth Services team. 

Over 140 people gathered to honour the nominees, enjoying live music from the talented band I’ll get back to you, before members of the Youth Advisory Committee took to the stage to present the awards in various categories. 

Photos from the awards night

The inspiring award winners

The Arts: celebrating talent and dedication 

In the arts category, we recognised two outstanding young individuals. Coco Barrett, with a passion for crochet and origami, showcases unique talents and voluntarily shares their skills with others.

Liam McAloon, a multi-talented artist, is notable on the Mornington Peninsula’s art scene, excelling in theatre, music, and more. Highlighted was their willingness to share their love for the arts with their peers. 

Championing the environment 

Receiving the environmental award, Noah Spivey was nominated for tirelessly volunteering to clean and protect the beaches of our Peninsula.  

Their dedication stems from a deep love for the environment and a commitment to preserving its beauty. 

Unsung heroes: making a difference 

In the “Unsung Hero” category, we recognised three young people for their selflessness.  

Jaidah Robinson, Alissa Francis-Pester, and Storm O’Hara have all gone above and beyond to assist their communities through various acts of kindness and volunteer work.

Storm O’Hara inspired through their efforts to raise funds for a school in the Philippines. 

Their commitment to helping others over many years, has provided essential resources and infrastructure improvements for a community. 

Jaidah Robinson was awarded for going out of their way to assist others.

Their volunteer efforts include packing food parcels for families, helping their Grandparents with “Meals on Wheels” during their school holidays and helping others in their neighbourhood. 

Inspiring volunteer Alissa Francis-Pester works on food programs at their local community house. 

They help community members access food parcels, contribute to a community cooking group, and assist new volunteers, always ensuring others feel included. 

Promoting inclusion and equity 

The “Inclusion and Equity” category saw the recognition of Tijana Mejia and Gabe Jennings.  

Tijana’s involvement with the non-profit organization “Girls from Oz” showcased their dedication to supporting young indigenous people through music lessons and workshops. 

Gabe Jennings takes active steps to promote inclusivity. They lead, advocate for and support others through the Peninsula Autism Friendship Group, and educate others about the importance of pronouns. 

Leaders in the community 

For their outstanding contributions to the community, we celebrated Candace Walker and Kate McInnes as “Community Leaders”. Candace’s positive attitude and dedication to youth development through activities like coaching and mentoring have left a lasting impact.

Kate McInnes has been a tireless volunteer across various community organizations, consistently providing support. Their work enriches the lives of other young people in their community. 

Mental health and wellbeing advocate 

Ravi Moss received the award for “Mental Health and Wellbeing”. They are passionate about raising awareness and supporting young people struggling with mental illness. Ravi’s initiatives during the pandemic, including promoting mental health awareness and advocating for “Movember,” helped others feel less isolated and more comfortable discussing their mental health. 

Award winners with Mayor Councillor Steve Holland

Celebrating remarkable achievements 

The 2023 Mornington Peninsula Shire Youth Recognition Awards showcased the incredible talents and dedication of young people on the Peninsula. It is inspiring celebrating young people making a significant impact on their communities and the world.

The Youth Advisory Committee did an excellent job planning and hosting the event. Young people interested in joining the Youth Advisory Committee can learn more and register interest here. 

Leadership Camp coming up 

Young people looking to develop leadership skills have an exciting opportunity. Coming up in the January school holidays is our Youth Leadership Camp at Shoreham. Past members of the Youth Advisory Committee have benefited greatly from these camps, and young people can apply now. 

Thanks to Impakt FReeZA for supporting this event with equipment and set up.