Last night, the Sunshine Coast played proud host to the Australian Event Awards – the pinnacle awards program for our country’s events industry. And of all the awards presented in the epic four hour event, the one that touched hearts the most was the win by Youngcare for their 2016 Simpson Desert Challenge, in the Best Charity or Cause-Related Event category.

Accepting the award for their team, Michaela Lennon said that every night, 7,000 (!) young Australians wake up in an aged care facility, just because there is a lack of suitable alternatives for young people with full-time and complex needs. It’s an incredibly sad scenario that 7,000 Australian families face every single day.

But thanks to Youngcare, started in 2005 by David Conry (and his three mates Matthew Lawson, Nick Bonifant and Simon Lockyer, who vowed with David to change the system), the Youngcare Wesley Mission Queensland Apartments opened in Sinnamon Park in Brisbane in 2007 and the very first resident was David’s wife Shevaune.

Youngcare’s mission is, “To help young people exit or avoid admissions to aged care right now. We also aim to develop viable and replicable models to solve the problem once and for all, giving young people with high care needs the choice in care and accommodation they deserve.”

To raise funds for Youngcare’s upcoming development at Albany Creek, Brisbane (a joint venture with MS Queensland), as well as generate ongoing awareness of this hidden hardship that many families face, Youngcare again held their now-famous Simpson Desert Challenge again this year, which saw thirteen trekkers raise a minimum of $35,000 each to take part. Twelve support crew joined them on the journey, as well as Channel 9’s Melissa Downes and NOVA Brisbane’s Katie Mattin.

Partnering successfully with the Birdsville community, who provided vehicles, fuel, drivers, day-packs with fly screens for the headgear, morale support and more, Youngcare has already announced that it will run their Simpson Desert Challenge again in 2017, as well as host their inaugural 2017 Great Wall of China Challenge!

The inspiring 60 Minutes story about Shevaune and David which struck a chord with the nation when it aired in 2006 – and saw David receive more than 600 emails the next day – is included here if you’d like to learn more about this amazing Youngcare backstory.

Congratulations again to the dedicated team at Youngcare for your Australian Event Award last night and good luck on your next challenge adventures.



Feature image credit: Australian Event Awards