Freeman Catholic College student Gianfranco Dabbene was one of 10 students recognised across NSW for exemplary behaviour, inclusiveness and community-mindedness at the inaugural Premier’s Respect Awards. 

Gianfranco was acknowledged for his hard work and dedication to the school and the wider community at a special ceremony at the Museum of Sydney, alongside his family, friends and Principal Melinda Melham. 

The Premier’s Respect Awards were introduced by Premier Dominic Perrottet last year with the aim of giving respectful conduct in schools the same high regard and prestige as academic achievement.  

All 3,165 schools across NSW were invited to nominate a student in recognition of their respectful conduct, with Gianfranco being one of the 10 exemplary students selected by a panel of representatives made up of government and non-government schools.

Gianfranco accepts the award alongside Dominic Perrottet and Sarah Mitchell, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning

The power of kindness

Gianfranco said it was uplifting being able to attend the awards ceremony and hear about the good deeds of his peers across NSW. 

“It was an amazing day because I was receiving an award but also seeing all the other students in the state who were awarded for their amazing achievements and contributions to their community,” Gianfranco said. 

“Listening to everyone’s stories was inspiring, and shows people how we should be acting towards others” – Gianfranco Dabbene

Gianfranco said his grandmother is his biggest inspiration when it comes to being a good person. 

“She taught me how to determine what’s right and wrong, and to always help those who are in need to create a better future for our world,” Gianfranco said. 

“I feel as if I was born with the need to help others but this trait of mine was definitely influenced by my family, as well as my school teachers who are always by my side and supporting my decisions.”

An example for all

Melinda Melham, Principal at Freeman, said Gianfranco is a hard-working and aspirational student who was fully deserving of the accolade.

Gianfranco has participated in all service leadership opportunities at the school, including the 

St Vincent de Paul Sandwich Drive, Red Cross Shield Appeal and Share Lead Inspire program, and also facilitated preparation for John the Baptist Parish First Holy Communion retreat.

“Gianfranco is incredibly humble, selfless and well respected by staff and students,” Ms Melham said. 

“It is not unusual to see Gianfranco at all College events and initiatives, even if he is not involved he is there to support his peers in their pursuits.” 

“He is a remarkable role model for all members of our community, authentically living what he believes to be just, fair and important” – Melinda Melham  

Ms Melham said we can all learn a lot from Gianfranco and his fellow award recipients. 

“These young men and women provide us with hope for a brighter future and I am so pleased and excited that Gianfranco was recognised, as it reminds all of our Freeman students that their small acts of kindness are significant and noticed on a broader scale,” Ms Melham added.