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Curtin University
John Curtin Day
John Curtin Medallists

Vanessa Elliott (2001)

Vanessa Elliott is the embodiment of community spirit. All that she does is motivated by her vision for improved opportunities for the Indigenous community, especially those within her remote north-west community of Halls Creek.

Vanessa went to school in Halls Creek and Geraldton, and has completed two years of a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Literature at Curtin. Vanessa has temporarily deferred this study to devote her time and energy to improving conditions in her local community by completing a Bachelor of Applied Science in Community Development externally. Vanessa has demonstrated true leadership, as at 25 years of age, she is one of the youngest Local Government Community Officers in WA. Her work involves raising the profile of her community and improving the quality of life for the residents of Halls Creek and she has achieved this through various means.

Vanessa was responsible for securing a $1.1 million grant from the Ministry of Sport and Recreation to build a Community Resource Centre and an Aquatic and Multi-purpose Centre in Halls Creek. She has also organised reconciliation activities in Halls Creek for the past two years, with more than 1,000 people attending last year. This event has been identified by the Reconciliation Council as achieving the highest attendance per capita in the state.

She has also secured $45,000 from the Federal Government for the implementation of a youth suicide prevention program for Halls Creek; established the Halls Creek Youth Advisory Council, consisting of 30 youth from her community; has conducted a skills audit, which resulted in the employment of Indigenous youth at local mines; has organised art exhibitions to boost the profile of Halls Creek and its artists; wrote and produced the 2001 Shire Directory; developed and produced a tourist map; has implemented a highly successful Youth Safe Sex Project; and works as a Youth Coordinator with two trainee youth workers.

Vanessa was the runner-up in the 2001 WA Young Person of the Year award. She was also named winner of the Leadership Award at the 2001 WA Youth Awards and was recently named NAIDOC Youth of the Year. Vanessa has served as a representative on the National Youth Roundtable, has developed Community Action Plans for the Federal Government and has recently been asked to serve on the newly formed National Indigenous Roundtable.

Commitment to community service is central to all that Vanessa does. Her leadership and vision for indigenous people has had an enormous impact on her local community, reinforcing the notion that one individual can make a difference.