Samuel Thomas, co-founder of Sam’s Spares and an e-waste advocate in Gosnells, has been nominated for the 2024 Young Australian of the Year for Western Australia
He said the nomination took him by surprise as he does what he does because he loves it and not for recognition.
“It defines my journey and the movement I’m striving to lead,” he said.
“Giving my time, knowledge, and expertise freely, without seeking acknowledgment, is the driving force behind this project.
“I want to inspire young people to volunteer, to discover their passions, and to make a difference.
“Your journey can begin with a simple idea, a willingness to give back, and a commitment to follow your dreams while helping others achieve theirs.
“Sam’s Spares started with a conversation, a passion, and the desire to make the world a better place.”
He said the award showed what’s possible when you pursue your passion and choose to give back.
“Volunteering is not just about the time you invest; it’s about the impact you make on the lives of others and the world we share,” he said.
“Imagine getting to wake up every day, go to work and do the thing you love most in the world.
“Now, imagine being able to share that passion with others, empowering them to pursue their own dreams.
“What if your work not only aligned with your personal values but also had a positive impact on your community and the planet, we all share?”
Sam’s Spares is a not-for profit organisation with three primary objectives: diverting repairable technology from landfill; IT training for neurodivergent people; and providing refurbished technology free of charge to those most vulnerable members in our community as well as the organisations who support them.
He said the business was born out of a brainstorming session with his mum, Di.
“As I was nearing the end of my Year 12 studies, we discussed my future career path,” he said.
“At that time, I was already running a successful business as a private support worker, specialising in training autistic youth in IT repairs and providing social support and mentorship.
“As an autistic man myself, I found that the support that was offered to me to enter the workforce was limited and limiting, companies theoretically there to support me to enter the workforce portrayed the belief that I was somehow incapable.
“The system seemed focused on providing lifelong support rather than empowering me with the skills I needed to one day support myself.
“I felt that it was important for me to step up and show that not only can I succeed but I can drive a movement to empower my neurodivergent peers to follow their dreams with no limits.
“Combining my love for electronics, my dedication to mentoring neurodivergent youth, and my commitment to giving back, we laid the foundation for Sam’s Spares.”
Last year he won the 7 News Local Champion Award for Environment which was followed up by a national story on the ABC.
Sam’s Spares now has a contract with Canning Council, with three other councils also considering joining.
The WA award recipients will be announced on Thursday November 2 in a ceremony at Government House in Perth.
The winners will then join the other state and territory recipients as national finalists for the national awards announcement on Thursday January 25 in Canberra.