Sydney, 18 November 2004

Australia's outstanding young creative talent will be recognised at the inaugural Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards presented tonight in Sydney.

Qantas Head of Marketing, Martin McKinnon said The Spirit of Youth Awards (SOYA) were a new annual event that will help nurture young Australian talent in a diverse range of fields.

"Qantas has joined with some of Australia's most talented people to provide unique opportunities to engage", Mr McKinnon said.

Over 7,000 young Australians aged between 16 and 25 submitted entries for the awards in the areas of industrial design, photography, pictures, music, writing, moving pictures and fashion design.

Additional awards in science, dance and cooking were also offered in association with Qantas partners the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Bangarra Dance Theatre and Tourism Training Australia respectively.

"The judges were really impressed by the standard of entries and are predicting bright futures for many of the top entries and from the exposure, recognition and collaborative support they gain from the Spirit of Youth Awards," said Mr McKinnon.

Mr McKinnon says some of the finalists had already achieved recognition through their involvement in SOYA.

"Australia has some fantastic young talent and we're proud to help provide a forum for them to express their abilities and to work with and learn from some of Australia’s creative leaders."

Mr McKinnon said one finalist had already been invited to make a film clip, another had sparked the interest of the Museum of Contemporary Art and at least three fashion designers have had their work placed in leading Sydney boutique, Pretty Dog.

The winners of each category will receive $5,000 in cash and $5,000 in air travel to help advance their creative career. They will also receive the opportunity to be mentored by some of Australia's leading figures in their field, such as Peter Morrissey (fashion), Neil Perry (cooking), Paul Mac (music) and Gillian Armstrong (film).

"In addition to the opportunities provided by the prize itself, SOYA will also provide a selection of the winning and highly commended entrants with their first taste of public exposure. An exhibition in the Art Gallery of New South Wales for one week will be followed by a tour Qantas Domestic terminals from mid-December," Mr McKinnon said.

The Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards are run in partnership with the Federally funded Noise Festival.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (3184)