Grace Forrest wins WA Young Australian of Year 2021

The University of Notre Dame Australia alumna and Founding Director of Walk Free, an international human rights organisation working to eradicate modern slavery, has been named as the recipient of the 2021 WA State Young Australian of the Year.

As part of the Politics & International Relations and Social Justice graduate’s position at the Walk Free Foundation and their goal to be the last generation to live with modern slavery, Grace works closely with the United Nations to put modern slavery on the agenda and travels to impoverished nations to see first-hand the issues communities face.

In 2018 she was appointed as the youngest UN Goodwill ambassador for Australia (UNAA) for anti-slavery and peace and security. Also in 2018, Walk Free successfully campaigned for the implementation of an Australian Modern Slavery Act, which received the support of both major parties and the business community.

Grace has presented at the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit, the CHOGM Women’s Forum, and the United Nations. Most recently, Grace presented to the U.N. Security Council on Walk Free’s latest report ‘Stacked Odds’. In recognition of her work and impact, Grace was appointed the United Nations Association of Australia’s youngest-ever Goodwill Ambassador for Anti-Slavery.

Speaking about the highlight of her time as a Notre Dame student, Grace said “learning about the world and questioning the construction of nearly every belief system I had. Even if I came back to the same conclusion, I loved the process of analysis and question which was always encouraged by my lecturers.

My passion for social justice and international relations was fostered at Notre Dame.

On Twitter, Grace said it was an honour to receive the award and highlighted the other award-winners.

It’s an honour to be recognised as the WA 2021 Young Australian of the year & to stand amongst these incredible West Aussies; Rebecca Prince-Ruiz of @PlasticFreeJuly & two of Australias greatest voices and leaders Professor Helen Milroy & Dr Richard Walley. #Australianoftheyear

– Grace Forrest (@GraceAForrest) November 15, 2020

Grace also praised the work of her all-female Walk Free team.

Thank you @fiona_david 💙 This recognition truly does belong to the @WalkFree team, and the incredible women, like yourself, who helped build it from the ground up.

– Grace Forrest (@GraceAForrest) November 15, 2020

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