As a teenager, Michael Lim felt disengaged and facing a bleak future.
Yet after surrounding himself with strong mentors, he was able to turn his life around.
Mr Lim has since dedicated his life to helping young people who find themselves in similar situations.
He has made a profound difference to his community – efforts that were recognised last Monday night.
Mr Lim was named as Brimbank’s Young Citizen of the year at the council’s Australia Day awards ceremony.
“I started doing what I do to help young disadvantaged people in Melbourne’s west because I saw myself in them and I wanted to give them all the opportunities I had,” he said.
“It’s fantastic to see my work recognised by my local council. It’s a great honour and extremely humbling.”
Mr Lim has been a Brimbank youth ambassador since 2016. At the age of 21, he became chief executive of Community Health Advancement and Student Engagement, which aims to improve health literacy among young people in Melbourne’s west.
“The majority of the work I do is volunteer-based,” Mr Lim said. “I do it because I want to bring about long-lasting positive change to the community I belong to.
As a year 10 student Mr Lim enrolled in the NITOR program, which is designed to improve the lot of disengaged year 10 boys.
“When I was 16 years old I found myself heading down a bad path,” he said. “I was given the opportunity to empower myself and do something about it.”