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Peer Ambassador Josh Di Nucci receives WA youth award

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Peer Ambassador Josh Di Nucci receives WA youth award

SANE Australia Peer Ambassador Josh Di Nucci has received the Aboriginal Health Council of WA Positive Achievement Award, as part of the WA Youth Awards, presented by the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA).

Mr Di Nucci, 23, of Perth, Western Australia, was nominated for the award by SANE for his exceptional work as a mental health advocate and Peer Ambassador. 

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA Positive Achievement Award recognises young people who have overcome adversity, systemic barriers and significant personal challenges to achieve their goals.  

Mr Di Nucci has been sharing his story of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with the aim of reducing stigma and supporting others in the community with lived experience. 

YACWA said Mr Di Nucci was recognised for his battle against stigma, his perseverance and the way he has turned his struggles into a strength and channelled his energy into advocacy and stigma-busting. 

His journey living with OCD started when he was diagnosed with the mental health issue as a teenager in early 2016, while living and training as a gymnast at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. 

While receiving support through a psychologist at the AIS, he started advocacy work, by giving talks to groups of school students visiting the AIS, to share what shaped him as a person. Mr Di Nucci would use that platform to be open about his challenges with OCD. 

His journey with SANE began in mid-2018 when he started as a Peer Ambassador, and his involvement with the organisation has grown significantly since.  

He has been a Young Ambassador in SANE’s ‘Be Kind to Your Mind’ campaign, sharing his story using social media videos as part of a series on mental health and young adults, looking at identities, misconceptions, and embracing our whole selves.  

His story inspired an increase in donations to the Ambassador Program by a significant margin, with these vital funds helping to grow and sustain the Peer Ambassador program, with 13 new members recruited in 2020. 

Mr Di Nucci is currently a member of SANE’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee and has played a critical role in shaping the transformation of SANE Support. 

His insights and inclusiveness in this committee, combined with his advocacy efforts are changing the way SANE operates as an organisation to ensure supports are accessible and responsive to the needs of young people. His work in this space continues to improve opportunities for others faced with similar barriers.  

Mr Di Nucci also took part in a national stigma reduction campaign for mental health organisation, headspace, and was instrumental in the development of MercyCare’s Amber Youth Wellness program.  

Mr Di Nucci said it was an absolute honour to be nominated for the award.  

“I feel SANE Australia really values my journey and sees the power in my lived experience to promote change. I can't thank the team enough for supporting me through my advocacy journey,” he said.  

“I was so heavily silenced by the stigma surrounding OCD, so to represent the community and challenge stereotypical beliefs holds great meaning to me.” 

“For me, it’s about planting seeds of change within the community. I may never see the seeds grow into forests, but my hope is that I can help those going through similar experiences.” 

SANE Australia CEO, Rachel Green congratulated Mr Di Nucci, and thanked him for sharing his story to help others and make positive change in the community.  

“SANE Australia congratulates Josh for his mental health advocacy work, not only with our own organisation, but other mental health organisations too,” she said. 

“Josh continues to make a difference in our sector, and his own community, by sharing his story and experiences to service providers and key decision makers to make positive changes.  

“We look forward to continuing to support him, and his role as a SANE Peer Ambassador.” 

For more information on OCD as well as stories from people living with this diagnosis, visit our Spotlight on OCD resources.

Photo by Susie Blatchford. 

About YACWA 
The Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA) is the peak non-government youth organisation in Western Australia. YACWA operates primarily as a human rights organisation that seeks to address the exclusion of young people in a rapidly changing society. Their continued vision for Western Australia is one that celebrates and engages young people in all aspects of the community. Their role is to strengthen the trust, cooperation, collaboration; professionalism and voice of the non-government youth service sector to better serve the young people of Western Australia. See the 2021 YACWA Award Winners here.

Last updated: 13 April 2021