Our vice-captain’s legacy of service to others embodies the spirit of Mary MacKillop and has led to a prestigious community service award.

Asteer Saleem was among only 26 students in the state presented with a 2023 NSW Youth Community Service Award in honour of her mentoring, volunteer and advocacy efforts.

The awards are held annually by the NSW Branch of the Order of Australia Association and were presented by Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley at Government House on 7 September.

Asteer’s award recognises wide-ranging volunteer efforts which include tutoring students with autism, shopping for the elderly and vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, and fundraising for disadvantaged communities in India, Papua New Guinea and Kenya.

Asteer also actively contributed to creating safe homes for refugees through the Josephite Action Group, a community of young people who work with the Sisters of Saint Joseph for a more compassionate and just society.

She has campaigned for environmental conservation and helped to form the chess club at Mary MacKillop Catholic College Wakeley.

“This recognition isn’t just about personal achievement, it’s a powerful affirmation of the vital role that young individuals and future leaders play in shaping the future of our community.” – Asteer Salem

A positive impact

Asteer said she was both grateful and honoured to receive the award, which she viewed as encouragement to continue to serve others.

“The support and guidance I received from my school community have been instrumental in enabling me to serve my community with purpose and dedication,” Asteer said.

“These teachings have emphasised the importance of service, not only as a way to give back, but as a means to uplift and support those in need.

“Having experienced the horrors of war as a child, I understand firsthand the profound impact of community service. It was the selfless dedication of individuals who contributed their time and skills to help children like me that provided a glimmer of hope and a path to a brighter future.”

Principal Gilda Pussich said Asteer’s role as college vice-captain and prestigious NSW Youth Community Service Award were testament to her empathy and leadership.

I was very proud to have witnessed Asteer’s outstanding qualities of kindness, service and leadership being recognised both within and outside the Wakeley community,” Ms Pussich said.