November 17, 2015
UOW graduate named NSW Young Australian of the Year
UOW graduate and Top Blokes Foundation founder receives NSW Young Australian of the Year honour.
A UOW graduate who founded the young men’s health charity, Top Blokes Foundation, was last night (16 November) announced as the NSW Young Australian of the Year.
Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, 29, (pictured) is the Managing Director of the Top Blokes Foundation, which she founded in 2006, and was for a two-year period a member of the University’s Alumni Development Group. Melissa has also kept in close contact with UOW by participating in career and faculty student programs acting as a speaker and panel member.
She graduated from UOW with a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies in 2010.
While studying at UOW, Melissa was also selected from hundreds of applicants as one of Australia’s top 100 Bright Young Minds and accordingly participated in a national summit. The Brightest Young Minds Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in Australia in July 2007.
Melissa set up the Top Blokes Foundation when she was only 19 as she was tired of seeing young men painted as drunk and violent no-hopers.
“At 19, I realised that if we wanted to encourage young men to challenge and redefine their own behaviours, we needed to first understand the health and well-being issues that affected young men,” Melissa said.
She said being awarded NSW Young Australian of the Year was an incredible honour and a critical opportunity to raise awareness of young men’s health issues.
The NSW Australia Day Council chairman, Angelos Frangopoulos, announced the NSW recipients at a ceremony in Sydney.
Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, was named NSW Australian of the Year for her work as a ‘social change innovator’.
Australia’s longest serving emergency department director, Professor Gordian Fulde, 67, was awarded NSW Senior Australian of the Year, while Sydney’s Dr Catherine Keenan was named ‘Local Hero’ for her work as a youth educator.
These recipients will join recipients from the other states and territories as finalists for the national awards on January 25.