Rural Youth Ambassadors make an Impact across Australia

by | Nov 10, 2022 | Bush Voices

Over the past month rural inspire has facilitated numerous Rural Youth Ambassador forums across the country. With a number of them having an enormous impact on how their education can be improved into the future.

Rural Inspire team has worked with a number of local rural communities in liuting the aspirations of young people through its Local Rural Youth Ambassador program.

In Nagambie, the young people have been working with local businesses to develop ways to build partnerships between the local businesses and the young people. Go Nagambie is working with Rural Inspire on this exciting program to address the large number of youth job vacancies that exist in their businesses. The young people have met many times to develop ideas that they will present to the final gathering of go Nagambie business members later in November this year. Mentoring, establishing a local website promoting career opportunities and workshops facilitated by local businesses are all ideas they will present. Go Nagambie is keen to pick their ideas up and lead this work into the future – a great example of a sustainable approach of lifting the aspirations of young people within a small town.

The first Specialist Schools Local Rural Youth Ambassadors group has gathered throughout the year both in Bendigo and Melbourne. This group of Ambassadors have made a big impact on raising awareness for students with all abilities. The young people have prioritized accessing quality facilities (accessible for all their peers), more engaging extracurricular programs that challenge the young people and cater for a variety of interests and needs. Lastly, transport (such as buses) to ensure students don’t miss out on opportunities. The group will prepare a video to summarize their experiences and look forward to sharing it once complete. They have presented all of these ideas to regional directors and deputy secretaries within the department of Education.
An exciting initiative of the group is the development of an interactive video highlighting their experiences and their dreams for their future life. Look out for it!

Just last week, the Rural Inspire team travelled to Mount Gambier in South Australia to work with young people from various schools throughout the region. Two days of exciting and challenging conversations were had exploring the education provision they have access to and what it’s like living as a young person in Mount Gambier. Working with local sporting clubs to create awareness of mental health issues, schools working together to offer a broader curriculum offering partnering with local businesses in developing youth appropriate programs and support services.

Rural Inspire has continued to support the various Statewide Rural Youth Ambassador programs.

In Western Australia, the Rural Youth Ambassador program has operated in two large rural regions of the state – one in the Wheatbelt region and the other in the Mid-West region – a region that is larger than the state of Victoria.
The Rural Youth Ambassadors in the Wheatbelt explored a range of ideas that would address the difficulties young people have in accessing information about university and the many pathways after high school with the Murdoch University.

In addition, the Rural Youth Ambassadors developed a proposal to see Yr 11 and 12 offered to District Highs which is not currently available to them. They presented their ideas to principals of the region where they encouraged them to work together to improve the lives and outcomes of Wheatbelt youth.

In The Mid West region, the Rural Youth Ambassadors have developed a creative approach to the delivery of education throughout the region utilising a collaborative approach. Known as VECTOR (Virtual Education Connections to Overcome Remoteness) the proposal is centred on supporting schools throughout the Mid-West in developing a collaborative approach throughout the region to ensure that all young people are provided with the education they need and want. The Rural Youth Ambassadors have developed a Discussion Paper that outlines their ideas and they have presented it to principals and senior education personnel within the region. See the Discussion Paper by clicking on “VECTOR”.

Already principals within the region are beginning to develop strategies and ideas that are outlined within the Discussion Paper for implementation in 2023.

In Queensland, the Rural Youth Ambassador came together in Brisbane for three days to share their thinking and ideas about education within their rural and remote communities. Thirteen young people from across rural and remote Queensland met to finalise their ideas, and then present them to the key personnel with the Department of Education.
With the support of the Rural Team within the Department, the Rural Youth Ambassadors meet with Directors and Executive Directors within the Department of Education where they explored a range of ideas related to the recruitment of teachers to their rural and remote communities, accessing the education they need to support their journey after school and being provided with a broader range of information and experiences of the career opportunities available to them after they finish their schooling.

The NSW Rural Youth Ambassadors have had a huge impact on rural education policy, as announced by the NSW Department of Education last week.
Throughout the year, the young people have worked towards three exciting ideas. They include:

  • Schools collaborating in their regions to provide more resources and subjects to all students, so everyone can achieve their dreams. 
  • @teachingrural initiative, which involves an Instagram and website that promotes the teaching opportunities that rural schools, towns and communities can provide,  encouraging university students studying teaching to come and teach at their towns. The Rural Youth Ambassadors gained great support from the Deans of Education of the universities who are keen to promote the resource to all their preservice teachers.  
  • The implementation of the role of a Journey Aid – an idea that  combines the career advisor role and a well-being role, because the ambassadors found that these two areas are often linked and impact on their journey through school.

The young people had the opportunity to present their ideas to the Minister for Education, representatives from the Department of Education and also the Deans of Education from various universities. These presentations were well received and the Deans are prepared to work with the Rural Youth Ambassadors to develop the idea. Watch this space!

The Victorian Rural Youth Ambassador have just completed their final forum for the year in Melbourne where fifteen young people from across rural Victoria came together and shared their thinking with the Minister for Education, Deputy Secretary within the Department of Education and a range of senior Department personnel
The two areas the Rural Youth Ambassadors presented to these people centred on two key areas – establishing “BRACE”, an initiative that would see rural and remote schools being supported to work more collaboratively to provide education and the development of a more connected approach to inclusion, diversity and well being.

The two ideas presented generated a great deal of discussion in the workshops the Rural Youth Ambassador facilitated, and they were encouraged by the response they received from those involved in the discussion.

Later this month, the Rural Inspire will work with the Commonwealth Department of Education and the newly appointed Minister for Youth Affairs in facilitating the National Rural Youth Ambassador Forum in Canberra.

Twenty-three State-wide Rural Youth Ambassadors will travel to Canberra from all over the country – from Kalbarri to Moura, from Wilsons Promontory to Darwin, from Bruce Rock to Narooma, and everywhere in between. These excited Rural Youth Ambassadors will spend a week in Canberra meeting with a range of people and organisations sharing their experiences of living within a rural community as well as sharing their ideas of how they think their life can be improved.
They will spend a day at Parliament House being hosted by the newly appointed Minister for Youth, meeting with relevant Ministers and also spending time with their local member of Parliament.

The Rural Youth Ambassadors will also spend time with the recently appointed Ministers Youth Steering Group who will also be in Canberra at the same time.

They will also meet with a range of key organisations to share their thinking – they include the Regional Australia Institute, Country University Centres, representatives from the Office for Youth, the Commissioner for Regional Education and numerous senior personnel from the Department of Education.

It will be an exciting time for these rural and remote young people, many of them who have never been to Canberra.