Gerry finalist for Australian of Year

Published 4:00pm 31 October 2023

Gerry finalist for Australian of Year
Words by Nick Crockford

Gerry Blackwell, founder of the Youth Development Foundation (YDF) in Strathpine, is a 2024 Australian of the Year Award nominee for Queensland.

She is one of four vying for the state award, among 16 named across four Queensland categories and one of 133 nominees for the national awards.

Gerry founded YDF in 2014, telling Moreton Daily earlier this year it was to help young people make positive changes in their lives.

Under her leadership, YDF has assisted more than 8000 young Queenslanders, placed 3000 in work and helped 500 return to school or take further study.

YDF, based on Gympie Rd, has a remarkable 96 per cent engagement rate, with 98 per cent of participants going on to improve their circumstances.

Gerry finalist for Australian of Year

Gerry worked in the Federal Government’s Work for the Dole program, but realised it “wasn’t about people, it was about data”, she said.

“I thought this needs to be about people. We need to show people how to do it (find work and live a happier life) and support that change.”

Encouraged by her husband, Gerry launched YDF and in its 10th year took out bronze in the People’s Choice Local Community Business section of the 2023 International Women Changing the World Awards.

“It was very cool … just to see that the work I do with YDF is being recognised in a bigger circle,” she told Moreton Daily six months ago.

“We were pretty excited about it, but it is not just me. I don’t do this all by myself. It takes a whole group of people to do what we do.”

Queensland’s winners will be revealed in Brisbane on November 8 and then go forward to the national awards to be announced in Canberra on January 25.

National Australia Day Council CEO Mark Fraser AO CVO said the Queensland nominees “come from all walks of life and many different areas of endeavour and contribution”.

“They remind us all of what we can do when we make a decision to take action, make a stand, lend a hand or strive for a goal. They remind us we are all capable of being extraordinary.”

To contact Youth Development Foundation phone 3463 0585 or visit the website www.ydf.org.au

The 2024 award nominees are:

2024 Australian of the Year for Queensland

Benjamin Bjarnesen BM - Speaker, educator and advocate against domestic violence (Brisbane)

Geraldine Blackwell - Founder, Youth Development Foundation (Strathpine)

Marco Renai - Founder, Men of Business (Gold Coast)

Adjunct Professor Adam Scott - Innovator in medicine and founder, White Cloud Foundation (Indooroopilly)

2024 Senior Australian of the Year for Queensland

Reverend Robyn and Reverend Dr Lindsay Burch - Founders, Havafeed Relief (Gold Coast)

Martin Corkery - Rotarian and philanthropist (Hendra)

Ted Kearney - Soccer referee coach (retired) (Brisbane)

Ronald West - Organist and former theatre owner (Cooran)

2024 Young Australian of the Year for Queensland

Toby Hendy - Science communicator, Youtuber and filmmaker

Emma McKeon AM – Olympian (Labrador)

Curtis Rayment - Founder, It’s a Man’s Issue (Townsville)

Grace Sholl - Mental health advocate and aspiring psychologist (Logan)

2024 Local Hero for Queensland

Laurie Bateman - Constable, Queensland Police Service and world-record-breaking sheep shearer (Palm Island)

Bradley Crosbie - Founder, WYLD Projects Indigenous Corporation (Bundaberg)

David Elliott OAM - Co-founder, Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History (Winton)

Vanessa Fowler OAM - Founder, Allison Baden-Clay Foundation (Ipswich)

Gerry finalist for Australian of Year

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