From places as far as Wudinna in SA, Condobolin in western NSW, Nhulunbuy in NT, and Foster in Victoria, 15 rural and remote young Australians will travel to Albury/Wodonga to meet with Federal Ministers, education officials and key policy makers to share their thoughts on rural and remote education. Over the course of three days, they will be involved in several meetings to speak on behalf of their peers all over the country.
Supported by Commonwealth Government and Department of Education Skills and Employment, the National Rural Youth Ambassadors Forum is the final outcome of a year-long leadership program delivered by the Country Education Partnership (CEP) throughout 2021 across South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Victoria.
Known as the Rural Youth Ambassador program, it aims to develop leadership and ambassadorial skills of rural and remote young people, through providing a formal, national voice for rural young people on issues affecting their education and communities.
The Ambassadors arrive in Albury/Wodonga on the 27th February and will stay until the 2nd March.
The Rural Youth Ambassadors will have the opportunity to meet with Ministers of the Commonwealth Government responsible for rural and remote communities and spend time meeting with local Members of Parliament.
While in Albury/Wodonga they will also have the opportunity to meet with a number of key Department of Education, Skills and Employment staff to explore the challenges they face and the innovative solutions that they have identified. Among these key stakeholders will be the newly appointed Commissioner for Rural Education, the National Careers Institute and the Regional Australia Institute.
The Rural Youth Ambassadors are looking forward to discussing the issues of access to post-schooling resources and opportunities, incentives to encourage young people to take up employment opportunities in rural areas, and mental health support for rural young people.
The Rural Youth Ambassador National Forum is the culmination of the various states programs and forms an essential part of the expanded Rural Inspire initiative which is support by the Commonwealth Government and a number of State Governments.
“I am looking forward to the National Forum and traveling to the nation’s capital with great excitement. I am proud to have achieved the opportunity to attend the National Forum. At the start of the Rural Youth Ambassador program, I was quiet, I didn’t contribute lots to discussions and absolutely despised public speaking. Now, I am more confident, I add my thoughts to discussions and have improved my public speaking immensely. Being able to represent South Australian rural and remote students in Canberra is an honour and something I’m really looking forward to.
I hope to meet lots of new people, challenge myself to new things and help contribute to making a difference for rural and remote students in both South Australia and across Australia.”
“Looking towards the National Rural Youth Ambassador Forum, feelings of excitement, anticipation, and motivation arise. I have the expectation of a very full few days, and you would want nothing less from such a significant opportunity. I also have personal expectations: to be the best version of myself possible to duly represent rural young people across the whole of Australia, and to continue the values of leadership and teamwork that I have built upon in the past year as a Rural Youth Ambassador.
There is a definite element of stress and pressure to be felt with such a huge sense of responsibility to make change for those who I will be representing, but I hope to grasp the opportunity, alongside the other Rural Youth Ambassadors, to give it the best chance possible.”
“I am so grateful to be a rural youth ambassador. Living in a small town used to make me feel really isolated and incapable of making a difference. The rural youth ambassador program has allowed me to step out of that mindset and has given me the opportunity to address the things that I feel need to change within the education system. It has allowed me to feel heard and has empowered me to speak out more. I have been given the responsibility to represent my fellow peers and students from all around rural Victoria and now Australia and am hoping that this trip is a success and that I can accurately speak on behalf of all the students in rural communities who are still feeling the same as I did before I became a rural youth ambassador.
On the trip I hope that some of the key points that the Victorian group has talked about can be brought up. These points are that in rural communities, we need more learning opportunities like better and a wider variety of classes, we also need more qualified, varied and a higher number of teachers to run these classes and we would like to see more mental health awareness and practical implementations that are effective in preventing and treating mental illnesses. I hope that in bringing up these points we are able to see differences in the education system in the near future and watch as a new generation of students reap the benefits of all our hard work.”
“I am honored and humbled to be chosen to represent not only the 60,000 rural and remote young people from New South Wales but thousands of others across Australia. I believe the most important thing is to have meaningful, constructive conversations. These conversations certainly will not change everything overnight, but they will start and continue to make positive progress towards change. For myself, I am hoping to improve my confidence in speaking to influential figures that I would not usually have an opportunity to share my ideas and thoughts with. I want to discuss concerns such as Education Provision, Mental Health, Lack of Teachers and After School Opportunities.”