2020 Mercy Foundation Youth Awards

Congratulations to the winners of the Mercy Youth Awards 2020!

The judges had a difficult task in selecting the winners of the Mercy Youth Awards. Thank you to everyone who entered the competition.

The winners are:

1st Place
Leila B, Merici College ACT

What does freedom mean to you?
This photo resembles the darkness and despair suffered by many exploited workers in Australia and other countries. This image in black-and-white gives a deeper meaning and a greater concept when one views the image.
To me freedom means the ability to make your own decisions and to live your life in a safe, healthy, and happy way. This includes having the right to a fair wage, freedom of religion and to not be discriminated against because of colour, race, or creed.

2nd Place 
Naeoumi T, Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College NSW

What does freedom mean to you?
In my photograph, the key on the left side of the image represents freedom and escape from trafficking while the right side with the black background represents the side of the trafficking. The money is representative of the value placed on humans and the black background symbolises the darkness and wrongness of it. The polaroid photograph of the child with the word “sold” on it is the person whom was trafficked. The removed face symbolises how human trafficking removes the identity of the person. The polaroid photograph and the key are both coloured while the rest are desaturated as it shows that there is hope for the person trafficked to be free.

3rd Place (tie)
Georgia W, Seymour College SA

What does freedom mean to you?
To explain what freedom is in 100 words should be a crime. Freedom is not one thing. Freedom can be seen. Freedom can be felt. Freedom can be heard. Freedom can be lived. Freedom is the chance of a better day. Freedom is the conscious effort to believe that one day you will achieve your dreams. To believe in a universe where everything has meaning; that the tides will change. To have faith in the process and set your soul free, this will lead you to live a life of freedom. Which is all one can ask for.

Anabelle A, Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College NSW

What does freedom mean to you?
To me, freedom means one’s ability to be their own self in the world and experience all that life has to offer and act without confinement or constraint. Freedom however, also has another meaning of “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved” which targets the means of modern slavery in the world today. Modern slavery can occur through people’s passports being withheld from them – a symbol of their identity and freedom. The key is a symbol of ‘the key to freedom’ and also of a home and life which many unfortunately do not obtain due to enslavement globally.

Highly Commended:

Abbey W, Mt Lilydale Mercy College, VIC
Alexandra M, Seymour Colleg, SA
Alice B, Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, NSW
An N, Caroline Chisolm Catholic College, SA
Ella A, St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, NSW
Grace A, Cabra Dominican College, SA
Grace M, Tenison College, SA
Ivanka J, Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, NSW
Kaitlyn S, Presbyterian Ladies College, NSW
Sarah O, Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College

The school that submitted the most entries was Monte Sant Angelo Mercy College; 330 entries were received from 35 schools across Australia.


Special thanks to the very talented Kylie Dunlop, of Kylie Dunlop Photography, for generously giving her time and expert advice in judging.

The judges included Kevin Gardner, Board member, Sue Mowbray, CEO and Leesa Feilen, Projects Coordinator at the Mercy Foundation.

Thank you to all students who entered the Mercy Youth Awards Photo Competition. The standard of the entries was excellent and we are impressed with all efforts made.

Winners’ photographs will be posted shortly.

** You must ensure your photo includes a key (like a house key) to enter the competition **

The Mercy Foundation Youth Awards is a photo competition open to high school students across Australia from years 7 to 12. The competition aims to encourage young people to learn more about social justice issues in Australia.

This year, the competition opens Monday 27 April and the theme for 2020 is “Freedom- Ending Modern Slavery”. Entrants are asked to:

1) Take a photo specifically for the competition that explores the idea of freedom and the image must include a house key to ensure images submitted have been created expressly for the competition (remember no faces!)
Include a written statement of 100 words or less that explains how your photo explores the idea of freedom
3) Read about modern slavery here then complete an online quiz on Modern Slavery

Entry form and quiz available online here

Details for Students available here
Details for Teachers available here

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First Prize:
$700 will be awarded to the winning Entrant and $700 will be awarded to the winning school*

Second Prize:
$350 will be awarded to the winning Entrant and $350 will be awarded to the winning school*

Third Prize:
$200 will be awarded to the winning Entrant and $200 will be awarded to the winning school*

$50 vouchers will be awarded to the next top 10 entries and the school that submits the most entries wins $250.*

*Please note that the  judges may award more than one winner in each category. In this case, the winners will share the prize money.

Competition closes Friday 3 July 2020, winners notified mid August.

2019 Winners can be found here

Image by Tania Hutchins


Image Credit Tania Hutchins