By Steph McNicol
MITCHELL Shire Youth Mayor Ebony Layley is ‘incredibly grateful’ be named Young Citizen of the Year.
Ms Layley said her mother kept her win a secret from her until only a few days before the Australia Day Awards ceremony at Pyalong Memorial Gardens on Sunday.
“I was taken aback. I’m on a youth council with nine other young people, I’m incredibly grateful,” she said.
“When I got up there to accept the award, I didn’t want to make it all about me, because the team behind me on stage do just as much work as I do.
“I think it’s important we get recognised. I’m so grateful for my team, they’re like my second family and my number one supporters.
“I’m so grateful I get to be the spokesperson for my team, and for a community member to actively nominate me and say, ‘she should get the award’, is incredible,”
Projects Ms Layley have worked on include advocating for a headspace in Wallan in support of youth mental health, securing funding for a mental health workshop and working alongside Wallan-based charity Love in Action to support struggling residents in the shire.
During his speech on Australia Day, Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe recognised Ms Layley’s work as part of the Mitchell federal election advocacy campaign.
“She ensured the voices of our young people were represented in our discussions,” he said.
“Her passion for the community has been instrumental in representing young people from Mitchell Shire in both Melbourne and Canberra.”
The Wallan teenager’s mother Cheryl Layley described her daughter as hard-working and was happy she was recognised for that attribute.
“She has always been well beyond her years, since she was little. The best thing she ever did was join the youth council three years ago,” she said.
“Council is her number one priority and it’s where she gets all of her joy. She’s so determined to help people with their mental health.
“I’m super proud of her and everything I see her doing – nothing’s stopping her.”