Nipuni Wijewickrema - GGs Flowers - ACT

Nipuni (Nip) Wijewickrema is a passionate and driven young woman, trying to change the world one flower at a time.

At the age of 20, Nip realised there was a lack of meaningful employment opportunities for people with special needs, specifically her sister Gayana who has Down syndrome. Unable to sit back and let Gayana live a life without purpose, Nip and her family established Canberra's most loved floral business GG's Flowers.

Starting in the bathroom and moving to the garden shed, GG's Flowers has now grown into a successful and established business that is empowering and employing people with special needs from all walks of life and has delivered beautiful bouquets to thousands of Canberrans.

Nip believes that all people with special needs are capable of leading fulfilling and engaging lives and this can be achieved through meaningful employment. Nip understands that combined with a little bit of love, compassion and patience, her social enterprise has the power to change lives.

Leaving her fulltime employment to work for the business was a difficult but necessary milestone. It was a brave step, but meant giving up job security and a good wage to be able to invest her time and money into GG's Flowers, and do so without a salary. She believes this to be her philanthropic investment in the first of many meaningful employment projects for people with special needs.

Nip speaks openly and honestly about the lack of inclusion in our community and the heartstopping and gutwrenching journey of having a sister with a disability. She proudly talks of the challenges and lessons faced and hopes to inspire other people to start or at the very least, engage with social enterprises.

Nip maintains close connections to the community and has been a volunteer suicide and crisis counsellor for Lifeline Australia for over five years.

In 2016, Nip was named the ACT Young Australian of the Year.

ACT, Final, 1Cristy Houghton