LUKE FERGUSON

OUTSTANDING YOUTH WORKER

Luke Ferguson is a youth support worker at the Woden School, a school that caters for the functional needs of students with disabilities. Luke works to break down barriers, remove stigma and enhance the self-esteem of young people with disability.

Recently, Luke won ‘ACT Local Hero 2022’ as part of the Australian of the Year Awards as well as also winning the ‘Excellence in Support Work’ award at the 2019 Chief Minister’s Inclusion for his work establishing ‘Party Down Productions’.

Party Down Productions, established in 2019, is an inclusive music program run by young people disabilities aged 12 – 18 yrs. Luke has used the power of music to break down barriers, remove stigma and enhance self esteem of young people with disability, shifting the focus to their innate ability to spark joy in the lives of those around them.

Luke helped write the music-video ‘Labels Don’t Define Us’ with the students – the song, an empowering anthem about accepting diversity, won first prize in the 2019 ‘Focus On Ability Film Festival’ School Documentary category. The video went viral internationally and was shared by the United Nations on their Social Development Network website in Washington.

This year Luke was the Youth Work co-ordinator for the YWCA Canberra Computer Clubhouse, a program that delivers better socio-economic outcomes for the Tuggeranong community and better STEAM employment outcomes for women and young people from culturally diverse backgrounds. For NAIDOC Week 2020 Luke produced a music-video with the Clubhouse students, ‘Nidja Noongar Boodja Koort – Walking Together, Acknowledging Country’, a recording of Aunty Honey Webb’s inclusive song – it featured students from seven schools across Australia, including three specialist ACT schools. It was shared online far and wide.

During Youth Week this year Luke produced an audio-book for a young author with Aspergers (referred to him by the AFP) – the United Nations Information Centre presented the young girl at her audio-book launch with an Award for Outstanding Achievement.

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