Melissa Wolfshoerndl, Volunteer, Hawkesbury Community Outreach Services Inc.
Melissa Wolfshoerndl has been nominated for the 2013 Young Women of the West Award in recognition of her youth and community work with Hawkesbury Community Outreach Services Inc. (HCOS).
Melissa was a resident of the Hawkesbury region and a student at Colo High School who since 2010 actively volunteered with HCOS, assisting the organisation with many of its local and regional youth work practices.
Melissa was nominated for her assistance to the HCOS, in particular her work with youth bus service, which offers out of hours support to young people across the Hawkesbury one night each week. The service gives young people the opportunity to meet new people whilst also getting involved in the local community, through fun activities including rock climbing, camping and kayaking.
Melissa has also volunteered as a peer sexual health educator, visiting local schools to pass on educational messages about sexual health to young people in a friendly and non-threatening way. She was also the Youth representative at the 2012 Hunter Mental Health Forum, where she advocated for the mental health needs of young people.
Melissa commits much of her time to youth advocacy work, as well as helping to make a direct difference in the lives of young people in Greater Western Sydney. She is a member of the NSW Youth Advisory Council, the Western Sydney Youth Forum, and the Hawkesbury City Council Youth Summit, and works closely with the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition and the NSW Youth Action and Policy Association, on various volunteer projects.
Melissa now lives at the University of Western Sydney's Bankstown campus, where she is undertaking a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She also represents Bankstown City Council in her work within the NSW Youth Advisory Council.
Melissa's nomination was supported by a letter from The Hon. Victor Dominello MP, Minister for Citizenship and Communities and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, who appointed Melissa to the NSW Youth Advisory Council in January 2012. The letter states:
"Melissa has made a valuable contribution to the work of the Council, particularly in relation to young people's identity and belonging. Melissa has taken part in the Council's consultations with young people in Central Western NSW on how young people see themselves, and how they can better connect with their communities.
"Melissa is an enthusiastic and compassionate young woman who is making a valuable contribution to improving the position of young people in New South Wales."