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Queen awards young Aussies for their services to the community

Two young Australians visited Buckingham Palace to receive awards for their work in the community

Two young Australians visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace to receive rewards for their work servicing the community.

Caitlin Figueiredo and Hunter Johnson received the Queen’s Young Leader Awards during a ceremony at the Palace and joined the ranks of 240 other award winners who represent the best of all 52 of the Commonwealth’s countries.

“It’s a dream come true to join the ranks of an incredible group of young people who are making a difference to many lives across the Commonwealth,” Figueiredo said.

The Queen’s Young Leader Awards was established in tribute to Her Majesty The Queen’s lifetime of Service. The 240 winners awarded over the four-year program will continue to be supported in their efforts in the community.

“The prestigious Awards programme celebrates exceptional young people from all over the Commonwealth and the work they are undertaking to improve lives across a diverse range of issues,” the awards program said in a statement in December.

Figueiredo founded World Vision’s youth organisation VGen ACT and co-founded Peshawar School for Peace to encourage peace-building and provide education and gender-inclusive career opportunities for 300 women and girls.

She is also CEO of Lake Nite Learning, a social enterprise specialising in upskilling young people. This is on top of being a Plan International Youth Ambassador and speaking to governments and the UN about ending violence against children.

“I’m still filled with awe to know that my work with women and young people has been recognised at such a high level,” Figueiredo said to the Awards.

Johnson co-founded The Man Cave, an organisation that works to end the stigma around mental health in men and reduce domestic violence. He has also co-managed Young Social Pioneers, an incubator programme for young social entrepreneurs.

“For us, it’s incredibly important to just create a space where young guys can actually be themselves” Johnson said in an interview with the awards program.

“I know the power of authenticity from working with thousands of young men across the country, and they’re crying out for this opportunity that they just don’t know exists,” he said. “At the end of the day we believe this is not about throwing away our masculine traits but embracing more of our humanity.”

Johnson also co-founded Kids in Philanthropy (KiP) which aims to introduce empathy and the culture of giving among children by encourage them to raise money for young people in need. In four years they have raised $300,000 through fundraising events.

The young leaders spent a week in the UK meeting mentors, such as UK Prime Minster Theresa May, and training. They also visited the UK headquarters of organisations including Facebook and the BBC World Service.

Guests at the event included David Beckham, former UK Prime Minister Sir John Mayer, Prince Harry – who was named by the Queen as a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador – and Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex.

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