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Aboriginal literary ambassador recognised at Young Achiever Awards

Congratulations to 17-year-old Shantae Barnes-Cowan, who won the DHS Aboriginal Achievement Award at the 2021 Seven News Young Achiever Awards on Friday 21 May.

The Aboriginal Achievement Award was presented by DHS Chief Executive Lois Boswell and recognises contributions to the Aboriginal and broader community, barriers overcome, leadership skills and cultural achievements.

It was a proud evening for Shantae, an Adnyamathanha woman from Whyalla, who shone among a strong field of 200 nominees. Among her many achievements, Shantae has served as Indigenous Literacy Foundation Ambassador for South Australia and, alongside fellow students, promoted the importance of literacy to Aboriginal children in Melbourne.

Shantae appeared in two ABC television series, Total Control and Operation Buffalo, and was recognised as one of the Casting Guild of Australia’s Rising Stars for 2019. She was also a guest speaker at the opening of NUNGA Screen and at this month’s DreamBIG Children’s Festival.

She has played netball and basketball at the state level, acted in a coaching capacity to support other local sportspeople and was named 2018 NAIDOC Female Sports Person of the Year.

We asked Shantae about what the award meant to her, as well as her aspirations and advice to other young people.

What does this award mean to you?

“Winning this award means a lot to me as I am very inspired to do great things for my community, family and friends. I am a role model for younger Aboriginal kids and want to show that anything is possible if you work for what you want.”

What are your aspirations for the future?

“I wish to become successful in the future and make my hometown, family and friends proud.”

What advice would you give to other young people looking to make a difference?

“Don't hold back and don't let anyone get in your way. Make goals and work hard to get to them. Make everyone around you proud but mainly make yourself proud.”

The 2021 South Australian Young Achiever of the Year was awarded to Dr Trudy Lin, 28, one of only five registered specialists in Special Needs Dentistry in Australia, providing oral healthcare to people with disability, psychiatric illnesses and complex medical issues.

For more information about this year’s winners, visit the Young Achiever Awards website

Page last updated : 12 Aug 2021

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