WA Youth Awards: Stirling Times reporter wins Charmaine Dragun Memorial Award

Kate Leaver with her WA Youth Award.
Kate Leaver with her WA Youth Award.
Kate Leaver with her WA Youth Award. Kate Leaver with her WA Youth Award.

STIRLING Times and Eastern Reporter reporter Kate Leaver was among the winners at the WA Youth Awards on Friday.

The event held at the Crown Perth recognises the contribution to community made by WA youth.

Leaver was awarded the Charmaine Dragun Memorial Award, aimed at young journalists, photographers, bloggers and contributors under 25, acknowledging the role the media play in forming public opinion about young people and youth issues in our community.

The 24-year-old’s story about Gwelup teenager Matt Toms’ struggle with Tourettes opened a conversation within the community.

MORE: WA Youth Awards: Stirling Times reporter in line for Charmaine Dragun Memorial Award

Leaver said she was honoured to win the award and share the teenager’s story.

“I’m really honoured to have even been a finalist – let alone have won the award,” Leaver said.

“The media plays such an important role in how society views young people and youth issues so it’s so important get those positive stories out there.

“The most amazing thing about the night was to be in a room of such inspirational young people who work tirelessly for the community.”

WA Young Person of the Year went to aspiring journalist 19-year-old Vanessa Vlajkovic.

The Dianella woman who also won the Positive Achievement Award was the first deaf blind person in WA to enter university.

“I’m lost for words, I can’t explain how I’m feeling at the moment,” she said.

“I can’t wait to see what happens in the future for me; I’ve only just finished my first year at university.

“I’ve been advocating and advocating for the deaf blind community; it’s my passion but also advocating for human rights for everyone.”

Other award winners included Bennett Springs resident Brianne Yarran who won the Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award, Oscar Kaspi-Crutchett of Mt Lawley who won the Cultural Endeavours Award, while the Organisational Achievement Award – Small Organisation went to the WA Youth Cancer Advisory Committee in Nedlands.

Ms Yarran is a Year 12 Aboriginal student at Hampton Senior High School and is a part of the Follow The Dream: Partnerships for Success program.

This year, Ms Yarran delivered the keynote speech at Perth’s National Apology Anniversary Event, presented at Perth’s National Sorry Day Event and received a scholarship to attend the WA United Nations Youth Summit.

The WA Youth Awards are presented by the Youth Affairs Council of WA in partnership with the Department of Local Government and Communities and are supported by Lotterywest.