Twenty-six of Australia’s brightest young leaders were recognised for driving positive change in their communities at the inaugural Australian Olympic Change-Maker national summit in Canberra.
Selected by a panel of Olympians from more than 1,000 nominations across the country, the 26 year 10 to 12 students were awarded medals, produced by the Royal Australian Mint, at a ceremony with Olympians, AOC CEO Matt Carroll and Royal Australian Mint CEO, Ross MacDiarmid.
The ceremony is part of a two-day summit where the young Australians shared their community projects and learned from Olympians including Cameron Girdlestone (rowing), Brooke Hanson (swimming), Josh Katz (judo), Koti Ngawati (swimming), Greta Small (alpine skiing), Marianna Tolo (basketball) and Kathy Watt OAM (cycling).
The Olympic Change-Makers will also present recommendations to the AOC based on their summit experience on how the Olympic movement can affect change in key areas including equality and diversity, sustainability, regional engagement, the benefits of sport and empowering the voice of young Australians.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll was inspired at the impact young Australians can have using sport in their communities.
“The AOC is committed to using the power of sport to make a difference,” Mr Carroll said.
“These 26 young leaders selected for the summit and the thousand more who have been part of the inaugural Olympic Change-Maker program embody the Olympic spirit.
“From Olympians inspiring the country with incredible feats in the sporting arena to young Australians making a small but extraordinary difference in their local community, the Olympic spirit is about making a positive impact and acting with respect, teamwork and sportsmanship.
“Congratulations to all the Olympic Change-Makers recognised today, we look forward to following your journey as you continue to demonstrate the Olympic spirit and lead in your communities.”
The award ceremony at the Mint coincided with the announcement of the Mint as an Official Partner of the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020.
“The AOC thanks the Royal Australian Mint for their invaluable support of the Australian Olympic Team and for supporting young leaders of tomorrow with the Olympic Change-Maker program.”
More than 1000 year 11 and 12 students from every state and territory were nominated by their schools, with 700 attending state-based Olympic Change-Maker summits to share their journeys and learn from Olympians.
The 26 national Olympic Change-Makers, from every state and territory, were selected based on their outstanding generosity and leadership in creating real impact in their communities.
Rio 2016 basketballer and Tokyo 2020 hopeful Marianna Tolo sees the important role young Australians can have.
“It’s humbling to be in the room and hear the stories from the students, each with their own unique pathway to get where they are today,” Tolo said.
“The energy from the students is incredible. This is the next generation, with a whole different experience to the generation of current athletes.
“It’s really important to listen to their input and provide our support, to help them use their unique experience to influence change.
“Being from North Queensland, I was so lucky that sport gave me the opportunity to travel and get exposed to people from different backgrounds. The Olympic Change-Maker program gives young people a platform to share their unique backgrounds, experiences and ideas to come up with fresh new ideas that can benefit people in their own communities and across the country.”
From volunteering as a basketball coach at the Disability Trust to establishing a morning basketball club bringing his school community together, Bulli’s Tyson Bricknell is already using sport to make a difference.
“The idea of being able to make a change, whether it’s for one person or an entire community, is so inspiring,” Bricknell said.
“We’re the next generation, and we have some weight on our shoulders to try to pick up and build on what’s come before, to improve on how we found things. Sport is such a powerful way to make a difference in our communities.
“The early morning basketball club I set up started as a way to improve some skills of our team – but it grew into something much bigger, across age groups and different teams. Kids are coming into school early, so excited and motivated, the club built a community which goes beyond the court now and into our whole school community.
“Being able to share this experience and learn from Olympians and students around the country is just incredible - I could barely sleep all week I was so excited.”
The Royal Australian Mint’s responsible Minister, the Minister for Housing & Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Michael Sukkar said that the Mint is proud to support Australia’s gifted young leaders on their road to greatness and is looking forward to sharing in their unique stories and achievements in the future.
“The Royal Australian Mint has a long-standing tradition of celebrating Australian achievement and leading into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games the Mint is proud to be supporting the Australian Olympic Change-Makers from across the nation” said the Hon Michael Sukkar.
“The Mint tells important Australian stories, and the Mint’s medallions have an enduring value and long-lasting quality that is shared through generations. Even in the digital age, the Mint’s medallions, medals and coins are widely sought after and it is again working hard to create meaningful and popular products in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
Find out more about the Australian Olympic Change-Maker Program here.