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19 March, 2021

Harrison named Lions' Youth of the Year

SAINT Augustine’s College Year 12 student Harrison Oates has a bright future ahead.

By Tanya Murphy

Saint Augustine’s College Year 12 student Harrison Oates has a bright future ahead.

Hot on the heels of being awarded Young Citizen of the Year at the Cairns Regional Council’s Australia Day Awards in January, he has now been named the region’s “Youth of the Year” by local Lions Clubs.

He was awarded the honour by a panel of local Lions Club judges following a rigorous interview process in Cairns last Sunday, March 14, which saw him compete against nine other finalists from across the far north.

Harrison said it was “incredibly humbling” to win the award from among some of the region’s top students.

His interview, two impromptu speeches and a five-minute prepared speech impressed the judges whose selection criteria were based on leadership qualities, sportsmanship, good citizenship, community involvement and public speaking skills.

After getting speech therapy at a young age to correct speech difficulties, Harrison worked incredibly hard to become the confident and accomplished speaker he is today.

The national debating finalist and school Public Speaking Captain is also President of the Student Representative Council at Saint Augustine’s and has volunteered extensively for causes such as Cairns Relay for Life and R U OK? Day events.

He’s also a keen sailor and volunteer instructor, who was instrumental in rebuilding the junior sailing program at the Cairns Yacht Club (CYC).

Harrison holds a full academic scholarship at St Augustine’s College, was selected to attend the 2020 annual QUT STEM Camp for high-achieving Year 11 students, has been invited to the prestigious National Youth Science Forum 2021, and has completed the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) Student Climate Leadership Program.

Harrison said his aspiration was to work in public policy.

“I would really like to represent Australia’s best interests on the national stage, for example by working for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and hopefully make a positive difference in our local and international communities,” he said.

Harrison will now travel to Townsville on March 27 to compete in the District Final against students from Mackay, Whitsundays, Townsville, Innisfail and Malanda.

The District finalist will then travel to Brisbane on April 17 to compete for the State Final, ahead of the National Final on May 10 in Canberra, which could see winners receive up to $5000 in prize money to assist them with achieving their goals.

Former participants include former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, ABC journalist Sabra Lane and Senator Simon Birmingham.

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