Two graduates from the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) are proud recipients of the prestigious Queen’s Young Leader Award that was presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on 23 June 2016.
Mary Siro from Vanuatu and Nolan Parairua from Vanuatu, are amongst over 60 young people from the Commonwealth to receive the award this year.
The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.
Ms Siro and Mr Parairua completed their Certificate IV in Youth Work qualification from APTC.
APTC is an innovative development project funded by the Australian Government, providing Pacific Islanders like Mary and Nolan, with Australian qualifications for a wide range of vocational careers for skilled workers across the Pacific.
APTC Chief Executive Officer, Ms Denise O’Brien wishes to express her congratulations to Mary and Nolan for their achievement.
She added that APTC is proud to have helped upskill such youth leaders for the Pacific region.
“Their commitment to supporting and advancing the development of young people is commendable, and APTC encourages them to continue to demonstrate their leadership and serve their communities.”
Ms Siro’s desire to help and support young people began with her own experience. She had to leave school early because of problems with family finances.
Her determination led her to join the Wan Smolbag Youth Centre which supports young people who are not in school. Since joining as a youth member, Ms Siro then worked part time as a tutor for sports and as a peer educator at the reproductive health clinic.
As a tutor at Wan Smolbag, Ms Siro runs a women in sports program, which engages with communities to encourage women to have access to nutrition classes, reproductive health information and sports. She also does sports lessons with the children in the literacy class, and with older youths.
Ms Siro graduated from APTC in 2014. She describes her experience studying at APTC as not hard, saying that, a lot of what she was taught complemented her knowledge and work at Wan Smolbag.
Like Ms Siro, Mr Parairua has also shown exceptional leadership in his community. In 2010, he established the Solomon Islands Youth Strive Investors for Liberty Association (SIYSIFLA), with the aim of reducing youth crime and including youths in national decision-making.
The Association works with young people to promote literacy, gender equality, health awareness and rural development.
Mr Parairua, who graduated from APTC in 2013, says that APTC has played a big role in his achievement.
“APTC’s Youth Work program qualification provided me with skills and knowledge that has enabled me to better engage with rural communities in order to implement strategies to raise awareness and address issues faced by young people that I work with,” he said.
Mr Parairua plans to return home and share the ideas that may be significant in influencing changes in his country.
During their stay in the United Kingdom, Ms Siro and Mr Parairua received specialised training that will help them with their work in their communities. This included media training, one-one-one coaching about their projects and participating in the Leading Change course at the University of Cambridge.