Published on 19 March 2024

Youth Recognition Award winners crowned

Onkaparinga’s latest crop of young achievers was honoured at Port Noarlunga’s Arts Centre last night as the council held its 2024 Youth Recognition Awards ceremony.

Four inspiring young people and a hard-working youth worker were named winners following 93 nominations across five award categories, which collectively recognise, celebrate and honour young people for their outstanding actions in improving themselves and their communities, and for securing their futures.

The evening was presented and hosted by the Onkaparinga Youth Committee to coincide with SA Youth Week.

Naomi and Maureen from Spirit in Unity kicked-off the evening with a Welcome to Country, with guests also enjoying a speech from City of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were, short films from Onkaparinga Youth and Base 10 Youth Centre programs, and a performance from the Cardijn College Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

Now, meet this year's Youth Recognition Award recipients.

Business, Employment and Social Enterprise – Sienna Kate Jones

Sienna is a self-driven, young entrepreneur who has taken her hair braiding passion and turned it into a thriving small business, 'Hair by Sienna Kate'. Sienna is only 14 years old, but her business thinking is beyond her years. Sienna attends local markets, organising braiding birthday party bookings and has many returning customers, particularly cheerleading participants, who require perfect braids for their competitions.

Contributions to Community – Jack Dobson

Eight-year-old Jack was committed and trained hard for a 10km run in the Victor Harbor Marathon in December to raise money for two children with cancer. One of the children, Spencer, sadly lost his battle two weeks before the run. Jack raised $4000 for the families and completed the run in one hour and six minutes.

Personal Achievement – Charli Haining Kennedy

Charli has overcome severe scoliosis and a spinal fusion. Charli was told she’d unlikely be able to participate in her favourite sport of cheerleading again. Not to be deterred, Charli worked so hard to overcome her physical challenges. After many hours of hard work, Charli worked her way into a level 6 cheer team that won her the right to represent her club at the Cheerleading Worlds. Charli has worked extremely hard to fulfill this dream of hers and hasn’t let the physical obstacles stop her.

Learning Success – Harmony Bailey

Harmony (15, year 10) has exceeded academic excellence, receiving the Dux award at her school for the past three years—the highest award a school can bestow on a student for academic excellence. In addition, she received the Muriel Matters award in year 8—an award typically only given to students in years 10–12, but the school thought she was absolutely deserving. She has been awarded many school awards and was nominated by peers and teachers to represent her school as Issachar leader three years in a row.

Youth Worker of the Year – Deb Coad

Deb works with senior students who are either unsure of their future direction and/or disengaging from school. Deb works to set goals for each student, transports and supports students at job interviews and with mental health concerns, supports with strategies, visits to outside agencies to support wellbeing, and directs and assists with enrolling students in training programs, including TAFE courses, university study, short courses and employment. She uses restorative practice strategies to support both students and her fellow teachers.


Top to bottom: City of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were presents awards to Charli Haining Kennedy, Sienna Kate Jones, Jack Dobson, Harmony Bailey and Deb Coad. Photos: Paul Charles Bartlett

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City of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were presents a certificate and trophy to Charli Haining Kennedy during the 2024 City of Onkaparinga Youth Recognition Awards ceremony.