The Australian Olympic Committee has organised the Australian Olympic Change-Maker National Forum in Sydney ©AOC

Students have come together in Sydney and virtually this week for the Australian Olympic Change-Maker National Forum where they heard from some of the country’s top athletes.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has received close to 1,000 nominations to date for the programme, which celebrates students who are driving positive change within their schools and local communities.

The National Forum provides a unique opportunity for nominated Australian Olympic Change-Makers to connect, learn and be inspired by the experiences of some of the country’s top athletes.

Kyle Vander-Kuyp, who represented Australia in the 110 metres hurdles at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics in Atlanta and Sydney, respectively, hopes the Forum provided an extra boost of motivation for those involved in the programme. 

"The National Forum was a big success, and it was great to have the opportunity to encourage the Change-Makers to keep pursuing their passions and keep aiming to make positive change," Vander-Kuyp said.

"It's really inspiring to see young people who are wanting to create change, who are wanting to connect to a larger purpose and who have the ability to pause and think, how can I have an impact and how can I become a leader in my community.

This year the AOC is encouraging students to "Power the Change". 

Surfer Sally Fitzgibbons claimed she was feeling inspired by the many initiatives the Change-Makers were taking part in.

"The Olympic Change-Makers are so thoughtful, they’ve got direction, and they have this incredible insight on what they want to do to create change," Fitzgibbons, who represented Australia when surfing made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, said.

"Seeing some of the initiatives the students are coming up with and to see the environments they are creating for their peers and the ones that come after them is so inspiring."

New South Wales-based Olympic Change-Makers were invited to attend the National Forum in Sydney, with students travelling far and wide to be part of the live audience. 

Year 12 student from Nowra Anglican College, Parri Barrele, claimed it was well worth the four-hour trip from the New South Wales South Coast to learn from the Olympic athletes.

"The National Forum was a great opportunity to hear from Olympians about their experiences through sport and how they have used their influence to inspire others," the 18-year-old said.

"I think that everyone can benefit from sport, and I think the skills you learn through sport, like determination and resilience, can be transferred no matter what career path you take.

"Hearing the Olympians talk about everything they have achieved because of their hard work and passion has made me more motivated to achieve my own goals, both in and out of sport."

Nominations for the Australian Olympic Change-Maker are open until next Thursday (September 21) and more information is available here