VCE Leaders for 2023
From Left: VCAA CEO Stephen Gniel, Hannah Lanfranchi, Kelly Gilbert, Osama Akkad, Derrick Ch’ng, The Hon. Natalie Hutchins MP, Sienna Gladstone, Jocelyn Seager, Jessica House, Ganika Shree and VCAA Board Chair Diane Joseph at the VCE Leadership Awards 2023.
Eight outstanding young leaders who inspire others to strive for positive change were recognised at the 2023 VCE Leadership Awards ceremony last week. The award recipients were chosen from a record pool of 53 nominees across government, independent and Catholic schools in Victoria and internationally.
The Awards, held on Friday 8 September at Treasury Theatre on Wurundjeri Country, celebrate active participation and contribution from outstanding VCE and VCE Vocational Major students in their schools and wider communities.
Recipients were recognised for their work fighting for social justice, supporting refugee and migrant communities, promoting youth wellbeing and amplifying student voice.
The VCE Leaders for 2023 are:
- Osama Akkad, Al Siraat College, Wurundjeri Country
- Derrick Ch’ng, Balwyn High School, Wurundjeri Country
- Kelly Gilbert, Frankston High School, Bunurong Country
- Jessica House, Mordialloc College, Bunurong Country
- Sienna Gladstone, Brauer College, Gunditjmara Country
- Hannah Lanfranchi, Highview College, Dja Dja Wurrung Country
- Ganika Shree, Suzanne Cory High School, Bunurong Country
- Jocelyn Seager, Mount Waverley Secondary College, Wurundjeri Country.
Our congratulations to Sienna Gladstone from Brauer College who was named this year’s VCE Leader of the Year. The VCAA selection panel noted that Sienna demonstrated a level of maturity well beyond her years.
Through her leadership, Sienna has promoted student voice on a state and national level, working with students across Australia to establish a National Student Voice body. Panel members were impressed by Sienna’s tireless advocacy for consent education and support of student mental health and wellbeing.
Sienna spoke about leading through deep listening and understanding how everyone’s different lived experiences can inform advocacy holistically.
‘Something that has become apparent to me is my ability to lead from the back – not every place is my place to speak,’ she said.
‘People come to me with questions that I might not have the experience to answer. I take a lot of joy in finding people who do have the experience and giving them that opportunity to share their ideas.’
Wurundjeri man Alex Kerr opened the ceremony with a generous and moving Welcome to Country, reminding the audience about the importance of learning from the rich histories and cultures of First Nations people.
In her opening address, Minister for Education and Minister for Women Natalie Hutchins congratulated the VCE Leaders. ‘You’ve given your time to support people and causes you really believe in – not for your own benefit but for the benefit of all. A true leader can unite people and inspire action. That’s what I see in all of you.’
VCAA Chief Executive Officer and MC for the event Stephen Gniel noted in his opening remarks: ‘These students engage and inspire others through their advocacy work to bring about social, regional, and global change.’
Leena Mazin, the 2022 VCE Leader of the Year, spoke about her experience of the award and her continued community service efforts. She reminded the audience that young people were not just future leaders but today’s leaders actively working together to effect change.
A talented string quartet from McKinnon Secondary College provided musical entertainment for guests throughout the day.
2023 is the first year that the VCE Leadership Awards included Vocational Major students, an exciting change allowing even more students to be recognised and celebrated. The VCAA acknowledges VCE Leader Jessica House from Mordialloc College as a champion of the Vocational Major within her school and community.
VCAA website to read more about Sienna and Victoria’s other VCE Leaders for 2023.