Chantal Ober, 2015 NT Young Australian of the Year
Chantal Ober from Katherine in the Northern Territory says she knows what it’s like to lack self-worth, inner strength and purpose as a girl.
“I compared myself negatively to a lot of other girls, found it hard to say ‘no’ to my peers and struggled with finding direction. Now that I am comfortable and confident in my own skin, I want to also help other young people on their journey,” Chantal said.
And several years of ‘helping other young people’ is why she is the 2015 NT Young Australian of the Year.
In 2012, YMCA staff were approached by two Katherine girls seeking to establish a “safe, positive and fun support group for other young girls facing similar issues in Katherine,” Chantal said. Subsequently, Chantal became a major driver in the establishment of the YMCA Girls Program.
“I love seeing the self-confidence of the girls boost over the program, the opportunity the girls have to learn and develop as a person, and the amazing relationships that are built,” she said.
“The Girls Program provides a safe space for young girls to have a voice and receive support for relevant youth issues.”
But Chantal’s work in her community does not stop there. As the Australian Government Indigenous Young Member on the 2015 National Youth Week team she is involved in planning this year’s activities. She works part time with Anglicare NT / STANDBY as a Suicide Crisis Response Worker and is currently working collaboratively with the community to lobby for a youth centre in Katherine.
Chantal volunteers for her local church, delivering the eight week shineGirl program in high schools which helps young girls gain self-worth, inner strength and purpose. She also runs the church group, Youth Connect, which focuses on volunteering projects within the community.
The NT Young Australian of the Year award’s criteria includes having made a ‘significant contribution to the Australian community and nation’ and being ‘an inspirational role model for the Australian community’. Though proud to receive this award, Chantal said she was also humbled by it.
As a young adult, Chantal has many years and opportunities ahead of her. When once asked if she would leave Katherine and go onto bigger and better things, her response was clear:
"No, I'm staying in Katherine! Why can't I do bigger and better things in Katherine?"