2022 has seen a significant increase in the number of rural and remote young people being nominated by their schools to be involved in the Country Education Partnerships Rural Youth Ambassador programs – whether that be in a Local Rural Youth Ambassador program, or within the State-wide Rural Youth Ambassador programs.
“Schools have shown a real desire to engage with young people in an ambassadorial way to ensure that the learning they deliver provides the opportunities young people need to realize their dreams”, Program Manager Phil Brown commented.
“Not only has there been a significant increase in the interest to involve young people in the Rural Youth Ambassador programs, but we will also see the program operate in every state and territory of Australia throughout 2022”.
This is exciting for the Country Education Partnership and demonstrates the impact that the Rural Youth Ambassador program has on both young people in rural communities and on rural education policy and the provision of education within their local communities.
State-wide Rural Youth Ambassadors
2022 will see a State Rural Youth Ambassador program in every state and territory of Australia with record numbers of nominations received for this year’s program along with an increased number of diverse young people involved. In excess of 250 rural and remote young people will be involved in the State Rural Youth Ambassador programs.
This year’s state-wide program will kick off with the Victorian forum taking place in Melbourne from the 4th-6th April. Students from 22 rural schools across Victoria (representing almost half of the rural and remote schools in the state) will be involved in the program, coming from places as far as Foster, Ouyen, Bright, Swifts Creek and Mansfield. The Victorian group will build on the rich work of the Rural Youth Ambassadors that have come before them.
The Victorian program will be followed with programs in every state and territory of Australia with an increased number of young people being nominated to participate.
Local Rural Youth Ambassadors
An exciting development within the Rural Youth Ambassador program that occurred in 2021 was the establishment of a number of local programs. Developed to provide rural and remote young people the opportunity to lift the aspirations and opportunities of young people in clusters of schools, the program will support seven Victorian clusters involving 33 rural and remote schools. The focus of each Local Rural Youth Ambassador program will be different depending on the specific needs of that cluster.
The program will also operate in a number of other states and territories throughout 2022.
Already in 2022, two clusters have held joint Senior School residential programs focusing on key areas such as well-being, pathways available after school, and considering how the cluster schools can work together to support the learning of their young people. One example is the West Wimmera Cluster of schools, where the schools will work together in the provision of the 2022 VCAL program – by working together students will have access to a range of VCAL programs including engineering, hospitality and agriculture.
National Rural Youth Ambassadors
The National Forum is an exciting opportunity for representatives from the various state and territory programs to meet together in Canberra to share their thinking and ideas at a national level.
At the most recent National Rural Youth Ambassador program representatives from the various 2021 state-wide Victoria, New South Wales, Northern Territory and South Australia programs came together in Albury/Wodonga. They met with politicians, Department of Education representatives and other key stakeholders in rural education. The young people discussed the challenges that were common across their communities and workshopped many outside-of-the-box solutions to these issues. A record of their discussions over the past twelve months were documented in a report.
Minister for Regional Education Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie said the discussions she had with the Ambassadors at the forum this week were inspiring.
“The Rural Youth Ambassadors should be immensely proud of the work they presented, speaking candidly and from the heart on issues unique to regional, rural and remote education.”
Fiona Nash, the Commissioner for Regional Education said that “not only did [the young people] bring the issues they thought needed to be addressed, but they also brought solutions. I look forward to continuing my conversation with these inspiring young people as I consider the future of education in regional Australia.”
Lani from the Snowy Mountains reflected that they “met with some very influential people over the four days and were able to share their ideas on behalf of all rural young people.” She was also grateful for the opportunity to meet a range of motivated and passionate rural young people from around the country.
The 2022 National Rural Youth Ambassador Forum will be held in Canberra during October this year.