By Jessica Micallef
In his role as the youth resource officer at Gisborne Police station, Leading Senior Constable Jason Azzopardi has seen first-hand the challenges that many young people face.
He knows the effect bullying, substance abuse, unemployment and family violence can have on young people.
And so he founded KidzFlip, a not-for-profit group that links troubled youth with training, education and support groups, to help youth face some of those challenges.
His efforts were recognised recently with a nomination in the Victorian Australian of the Year Local Hero’s award.
Mr Azzopardi said he was surprised he was nominated.
“I was shocked. I thought there were people more deserving of the nomination,” Mr Azzopardi said.
“It was good to be amongst people listening to their stories and it was lovely to be nominated.”
Mr Azzopardi said he has always been motivated to help others. He has provided support and care to the families and friends of three young people who lost their battle with mental illness.
Mr Azzopardi attended an award ceremony at Government House last week where the state winners were announced. The national awards will be held in Canberra next January.
National Australia Day Council chief executive Karlie Brand said the Victorian nominees are among more than 120 people being recognised as part of the 2019 Australian of the Year Awards.
“The … nominees are inspiring not only for their achievements, but for their passionate pursuit of dreams, innovative thinking and commitment to helping others,” Ms Brand said.