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David Kemp honours high flying young achiever.

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Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs


21 January 1999



STRICT EMBARGO - 2.3 OPM (Eastern Standard Time) Thursday 21 January





A young Northern Territory man who, at the age of 25, has already established his own air charter business was today honoured by the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp.


Stefan Wood from the Darwin suburb of Larrakeyah was awarded the Commonwealth Minister for Youth Affairs’ Career Achievement Award.  The award was one of seven categories announced during the Young Australian of the Year ceremony held at Parliament House.


“Stefan is clearly a remarkable young man who is already an outstanding entrepreneur with the vision, drive and determination to take on and succeed in the highly competitive world of air charter,” said Dr Kemp.


“Although relatively brief, his career is already remarkable and I predict that he will go on to achieve whatever he sets his mind to.


“Young people like Stefan and all those who were nominated are a vital part of Australia’s future. This award is one way of recognising and encouraging young people who will be the achievers and leaders of tomorrow,’ said Dr Kemp.


“And the reality is that most young people are also achievers who strive to do their best in their studies and at work and who, like Stefan Wood, will make a real contribution to the future of the nation,” said Dr Kemp.


From being unemployed, Stefan has built up his successful air charter business in just three years.  As well as being Chief Pilot, Stefan’s company, Northern Air Charter, now operates nine aircraft out of Darwin airport and employs seven other pilots.


Writing in his nomination form, Stefan said that when he started the business, he was operating out of a spare room at home.


“Within the first year I was able to put up a building at Darwin airport, despite the fact that the banks didn’t want to know me,” said Stefan.


Mr Wood said he was grateful for the income support he initially received through the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, a Federal Government scheme which helps job seekers with an idea for a business to become self-employed.


“Everyone said that it couldn’t be done and my family thought I was just crazy.  I had no formal training and no aircraft but I had the one thing that many people lack -- the will to succeed and the desire to be successful,” Stefan wrote in his entry.


Stefan began flying in 1991, working three casual jobs to help fund the cost of his flying training.  After flying passengers and freight for a series of remote Northern Territory stations and Aboriginal missions, Stefan decided to establish his own air charter business.


Stefan’s company now has an expanding client base which includes the local Aboriginal community and the British High Commissioner, numerous Northern Territory Government ministers and celebrities and tourists from interstate and overseas.


According to his entry, Stefan believes, “The biggest mistake for anyone to make is to tell me something can’t be done.  I believe if you want to achieve something then anything is possible.  I am always looking at ways to grow, be it inside or outside aviation.”


The Young Australian of the Year Awards cover seven categories: Science and Technology, Environment, Arts, Sport, Regional Development, Community Service and Career Achievement.  One of the category winners is then selected as Young Australian of the Year.


As this ye ar’s national winner of the Career Achievement Award, Stefan Wood was selected from a field of about 520 applicants from which three finalists were selected.  Last year Stefan was recognised for his outstanding business and community achievements and was awarded the Young Territorian Of The Year for 1998.


As the successful finalist in this year’s national awards, Stefan will receive a $5,000 Commonwealth bank account and a trophy.


Media contact:

Samantha Herron or Peta Lane 0412 639 754 or 02 6277 7460





Stefan Wood, 25, from Darwin

Winner of the 1999 Commonwealth Minister for Youth Affairs' Career Achievement Award.


* The award was presented by the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp, at Parliament House on Thursday, 21 Jan uary 1999. The award is part of the Young Australian of the Year awards.

* Stefan Wood is the owner, manager and chief pilot of Northern Air Charter, based in Darwin.  With no previous business experience or formal training and no initial financial backing, Mr Wood has in three short years developed Northern Air Charter from a one aircraft operation run from the spare room of his suburban home into Darwin's fastest growing air charter business.  Mr Wood's business now has nine aircraft and is continuing to expand.

* Stefan began flying in 1991, and like many pilots, worked in two or three casual jobs to support his pilot training.  His first work as a pilot was at the Daly River Mission in 1993, flying freight and passengers to remote outstations.  He spent another two years working in isolated areas, until in 1995 he moved to Darwin, where he was unemployed while trying to start his business.

* Stefan was given a start with assistance and training from the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, funded by the Federal Government.  Northern Air Charter was established in November 1995.

* Within a year he was operating from his own premises at the Darwin airport. As well as operating nine aircraft, he employs seven other pilots.

* Customer service is very important at Northern Air Charter.  According to Stefan's entry: "…to give the best service you have to be prepared to work. People have told me that I was born with a mobile phone. You can be anywhere and people expect you to move brick walls for them".  With no formal business training, his achievements are the result of sheer determination and learning from experience.

* Mr Woods' business is one of seven of its type in Darwin.  Its rapid expansion is partly due to his innovative marketing and entrepreneurial skills.  Some of his publicity efforts to date include a stall at the local markets and letterbox drops.  The business is now also involved with inbound tourism operators and cruise liners.  They also supply aircraft to outback communities and mine sites and support various organisations to help raise money for the community.

* Smart enough to know that he can't do everything, Stefan employs a marketing manager and an accountant, as well as his pilots.  His regular clients include NT government Ministers and television personalities.  His business is strongly committed to developing tourism in the Northern Territory.

* Stefan Wood was also awarded Young Territorian Of The Year in 1998.


Please note: This information was compiled from Mr Woods' entry form and could not be checked with him prior to release as he was not aware that he was the winner.