Thursday, February 22, 2024

Youth mental health advocate Freo’s Citizen of the Year

A “local hero” who co-founded a youth mental health charity in his early 20s has been named Fremantle Citizen of the Year for 2023. 

Leighton Bradfield, the co-founder of 20talk, was presented with the honour by Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge at an awards ceremony held in the council chambers of the Walyalup Civic Centre on Australia Day.

Mayor Fitzhardinge described Leighton as a passionate advocate for youth mental health.

“Leighton has dedicated so much of his life to the cause, leaving the security of a full-time job to help build this charity from the ground up,” she said.

“He was nominated by his friend and 20talk co-founder Lachlan O’Donoghue who is equally deserving of this award.

“Their movement has really taken off, amassing a huge social media following and using their channels to share real-life stories and mental health advice from young people which they record right here in Freo at their Naval Store studio.

“They also host a heap of great fundraising events across the year designed to normalise conversations around mental health.”

The duo launched 20talk after noticing a gap in the support system available for young people struggling with mental health following the loss of their two close friends to suicide.

Through talking with their peers they realised young people didn’t feel comfortable engaging with mental health resources and so they set out to create a youth-focused charity.

“20talk is for young people by young people and helps address the gap for youth-focused mental health support,” Mayor Fitzhardinge said.

The Active Citizen of the Year (Event) was awarded to Kidogo Arthouse artist and director Joanna Robertson for the Hand in Hand – Kidogo Irish Aboriginal Festival, while the Active Citizen of the Year (Group) was awarded to Friends of Cantonment Hill.

“Joanna started Kidogo Arthouse 24 years ago, and it has become a much-loved institution here in Fremantle – and a space constantly alive with music, art, events and creative activation, thanks in no small part to Joanna’s dedication, passion and creativity,” Mayor Fitzhardinge said.

“The Irish Aboriginal festival celebrates the love stories, friendships and connections shared between the Irish settlers and the Aboriginal people of WA in what is a relatively unknown connection. It’s a unique event and one that deserves recognition.”

Friends of Cantonment Hill has been instrumental over the years in protecting, maintaining and advocating for one of only two Bush Forever sites in Fremantle.

“In the 1980s a small group of residents fought to save the bushland from being sold for development – with some still a part of the Friends of Cantonment Hill group today,” Mayor Fitzhardinge said.

“Cantonment Hill has enormous historical significance and this group has played a huge part in protecting it for future generations to enjoy.”

Diane Brennan was awarded the Senior Citizen of the Year Award for her tireless service to the community over the years.

88-year-old Diane has devoted over 50 years of service to John Curtin College of the Arts as a drama tutor, adjudicator and speech coach.

“Diane began teaching at the school in 1972, retired in 2002, and continues to devote her time to the school in a volunteering capacity to this day,” Mayor Fitzhardinge said.

“Her service to the education and personal development of children and young adults has been outstanding. 

“There are no signs of her slowing down either, she has the stamina and endurance of those half her age.”

Talei Williams received the Young Citizen of the Year Award for her work in aboriginal education and for championing the voice of young people.

“At only 22 years old, Talei has some incredible achievements to her name including co-producing the Realising Dreams documentary which raised over $9,000 for Ignite Mentoring and Cancer Council WA, as well as the release of her upcoming book of the same name to help youth find their people, place and passion,” Mayor Fitzhardinge said.

“I want to give a big thank you to all our winners and nominees for going above and beyond for our community.”

Latest Articles