CEP’s Rural Youth Ambassadors from around Australia met with key education policy makers from South Australia and Victoria to present solutions to challenges faced by rural and remote students.
In Victoria, the ambassadors met with Education Minister James Merlino and other Education Department senior officials via Zoom Tuesday 19th October where they especially discussed the challenges around mental health and remote learning.
They presented their thinking in relation to the State Government’s mental health and well being initiative, congratulating the Minister for this great and needed initiative. The ambassadors were keen to share with the Minister that they would like to see the idea of rural schools sharing resources as a solution to the provision of mental health support and programs.
They also suggested their idea of having a ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ where students are given one day every now and then to catch up on study, focus on their mental health and participate in activities that promote wellbeing (the idea being to focus on prevention).
A major area of discussion was increasing education programs for students and teachers so they understand the signs when their peers are struggling with their mental health and providing them with the information they need to support them to get the right support.
The Minister was very supportive of the ideas presented for rural schools and communities. Minister Merlino was very receptive to our experiences of remote learning over the past year. He acknowledged the sentiment that remote learning is not the answer to the challenges we face in rural communities, but that it be seen as a powerful to support our face to face learning.
He was very supportive of our desire to encourage local schools to work together more with a focus on relationship building and sharing of resources across schools rather than developing more remote delivery options.
Meeting with Victorian Education Minister James Merlino to present solutions to challenges faced by rural schools.
Also during October, the South Australian Rural Youth Ambassadors presented their ideas in relation to improving education within their rural and remote communities to a number of key education personnel. They shared the information that they had collected through their online survey which engaged over 280 rural and remote young people.
Off the back of the information gained, they presented four key areas they have been exploring over the past nine months:.
- access to a broader learning provision inclusive of extracurricular activities,
- recruitment of teachers,
- mental health and well being
- opportunities for after school options.
Each of the four sessions brought together key people from the Education Department, and allowed for an in-depth discussion between the Rural Youth Ambassadors and the staff from the department.
There was a commitment made by all involved to continue the discussions begun at these workshops.
The Rural Youth Ambassadors also meet with the key people who had developed the Country Education Strategy, which the RYA’s have had a big part in developing.
They considered a range of practical ideas that they believe would be worth supporting to improve the education provided within their communities.
In the next step of the Rural Youth Ambassadors journey, all state ambassadors will be meeting the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Minister for Regional Education. They are looking forward to the opportunity to share their thinking and ideas on Monday, 1st November through an online platform.