Catenian bond with (ACT) 2022 Young Australian of the Year

scott 500The announcement by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Canberra on Australia Day 26 January 2022 that SEAN DONDAS was the recipient of the "2022 (Australian Capital Territory) Young Australian of the Year"  award has some real significance to Province 20 Brothers and underscores the important contribution that the Catenian Youth Support Project makes to the community.

Sean, who grew up in Perth and attended Trinity College, was awarded the inaugural Province 20 Youth Support Project bursary in 2013 on a needs basis whilst he resided at St Thomas More College in Crawley. His three-year bursary of $2,000 per year provided essential financial support while he completed an Economics/Arts double degree at the University of Western Australia. He was active in college life as a Residential Advisor and Eucharistic Minister until he graduated in 2015.

He subsequently graduated from Murdoch University with a Masters in International Affairs and Security. 

Since then, Sean has kept in regular contact with the Catenians, providing updates on his career development and it was pleasing that in less than a day or two after receiving the prestigious Australia Day award he acknowledged the support he had received from Catenian Association members in a heartful message to the Youth Fund.

"I was only 14 when my mother Saluna was diagnosed with cancer. There was massive uncertainty in our lives. We didn't know if Mum would survive, we didn't know how long she'd have the treatment for and what this meant for the rest of our childhood, our schooling and our lives. Even though I can't share my success with her I know Mum is looking down and smiling at me," Sean said.

dylan 400Sean pictured after the presentation ceremony with the “2002 Australian of the Year” Dylan AlcottThe eldest of three brothers with no other family in Australia, Sean wasn't sure who to turn to until he was referred to Canteen the charity that supports young people whose lives are touched by cancer.

"Canteen provided the space for me to connect with other people going through the same trauma. It was like a lifeline to tap into what I was feeling," Sean says.

When his mother died in 2009, Sean was just a teenager and became a ward of the State.

After joining Canteen in 2008 at the age of 14, Sean became an integral member, first as a local Youth Leadership Group, then Secretary, Vice President and President in Western Australia. He later joined the national Youth Advisory Team before being appointed a director on Canteen's board in 2015.

Sean has spent the past 13 years with Canteen helping many young people in similar situations cope with a cancer diagnosis in their family and has been a staunch advocate for young people's needs. His input has helped shape decisions on a range of vital strategies, including clinical trials, youth cancer services, community-based support and an online support community and counselling service.

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