Recognition for Outstanding Service to the Community

The Order of Australia recognises those who have made outstanding contributions that benefit their communities, and ultimately our country. These awards, by their very nature, define and identify role models at all levels within our communities and inspire us all to become more fully engaged citizens. The Order of Australia Association (NSW) Youth Community Service Award was instituted to recognise similarly outstanding service to the community by senior NSW secondary school students. Each year, all NSW High School Principals are requested to consider recognizing outstanding community service by a senior student during years 11 or 12 of the NSW HSC or International Baccalaureate programs. Traditionally, academic and sporting achievements, as well as service to the school community, are recognised and rewarded within individual school systems.

Award recipients at Government House with Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC (centre), Award judge Mrs Lynette Smith OAM (left), Chairman Mr Peter Falk OAM and Honorary Secretary Mrs Carolyn Lyons OAM (behind Governor) and Award Convenor Dr Frank Kelleher OAM (next to Her Excellency)

There are, however, many students who extend that service beyond their school boundaries and into their communities – local, national and even international. This service beyond school boundaries was recognized by the late Dr. John Lincoln AM, a member of the NSW Branch of the Order of Australia Association. He initiated the Youth Community Service Award for the NSW Branch in 1992 and it was first presented to 20 students in 1993 for their exemplary community service. His name was added to the Award title on his passing. Since then, it has been continued by the NSW Branch and expanded to 25 Awards in 2012. This year, 2019, the Branch Committee has reverted to the original name of Youth Community Service Award, an Award of the NSW Branch of the Order of Australia Association. This has been done to more clearly identify it as a NSW Branch Award and to bring its nomenclature more into line with those of the other States.

Community service is wide ranging, with examples from the 2017 – 2019 nominations including:

Fundraising for: 

  • program and resource support, (often including in-country service) for schools and communities in Fiji, Kenya, Tanzania, Iraq, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Samoa, Thailand, Laos, Bali, Uganda, Israel and the Solomon Islands;
  • construction and development of facilities, resource and education support of remote Australian indigenous communities.
  • school and university scholarships in Papua New Guinea, Asian and African countries
  • organisations including Zonta International, St Vincent de Paul, Red Cross, Cancer Council, Respite Care services, Prisoner Aid groups, Church Outreach Support Programs, Care for the Aged, Rural Fire Service, Headspace Youth Reference Groups, Relay for Life, 40 Hour Famine, Clean-up Australia, Surf Lifesaving, Leukemia Foundation, Redkite, Salvation Army Appeals, Drought Relief, RU OK and Youth Leadership programs.


  • disadvantaged and disengaged youth in local communities, inclusion initiatives within indigenous, refugee and other disadvantaged youth incentive programs, and tutoring autistic, special needs and immigrant children.


aged care, multicultural development programs, disaster relief programs and activities, community youth leadership programs, refuge centres, prisoner support groups, performing arts education, Local Government youth advisory committees, community radio and education programs against domestic violence, racism and discrimination in local communities, supporting drought-affected farmers, families and communities

Action for Change:

introduction of tactile banknotes for the visually impaired, establishment of Women’s Shelters, service with emergency services organisations, acceptance and advocacy for inclusion of immigrants and refugees, recognition and support of multicultural initiatives, service learning for development, environmental awareness and climate change, representation at National and International workshops and conferences

Over 1,000 NSW High School Principals are contacted by email in April each year with information and a request for nominations. Nominations normally close in late May and all are individually assessed by a judging panel of 3 members, each an Order of Australia recipient. The 25 successful nominees are finalised at a subsequent plenary meeting of the panel. Awards are presented by the Governor of NSW, Her Excellency the Honorable Justice Margaret Beazley AO QC at a special ceremony held at NSW Government House in September.

The recipients of these awards are very special young Australians, whose actions and contributions have set them apart and enriched their communities, often well beyond the boundaries of their schools.


The link for nominations for the Youth Community Service Awards is at

Contact for further information:
Dr Frank Kelleher OAM
Convenor Youth Community Service Awards
Order of Australia Association
0427 644 397 or email


Sarah Al Helfy – Ella Burgun – Takesa Frank – Josef Graf-Cooper – Darcy Howard – Ryan Jepson – Sophie Keoghan – Dabiel McNamara – Mikayla Saliba – James Gray – Kate Jacobs – Zara Blackmore – Sarah Lovelady – Mitchell Old – Adam Riesel – Carla Krnel – Hugh Norburn – Reegan Sumares – Mikayla Gualtieri – Kyle Silk-Jones – Pariselle Hughes – Connor McLeod – Keshna Jeyandrabalan – Amelia Farrant