Rural Youth Aspirations
Fostering youth aspirations within our rural and remote communities is a critical area of work for CEP, ensuring all students ‘learn aspiration’ and become aware of opportunities.
At CEP we know the best way to raise student expectations and aspirations is to raise awareness of the opportunities they have — whether that’s career options, future education options or employment opportunities.
In recognition of this, CEP, in partnership with rural and remote young people have developed an exciting national initiative that has been recognised at both a state and national level. Known as Rural Inspire, the initiative aims to provide a range of activities and services aimed at increasing the aspirations of rural and remote young people through expanding the opportunities they have provided within their communities.
One of our Rural Youth Ambassadors speaking at the Education State Conference in 2017.
Rural Inspire is a concept developed by the 2014 Rural Youth Ambassadors. Under a state-wide approach this initiative aims to inspire rural/remote young people in realising their dreams and broadening their aspirations. Key elements of Rural Inspire include:
- an interactive and youth friendly website and social media approach to provide a range of resources and information for rural and remote young people;
- the reconnection of people who grew up in rural communities back to their rural community to inspire young people through guest presentations, workshops, mentoring, work experience opportunities and possible employment opportunities;
- the development of a secure online ‘chat facility’, with ‘ex rural people’ offering support to these young people and their communities;
- sharing stories of people who grew up in rural and remote communities sharing their experiences;
- the facilitation of workshops and forums for upper primary and junior secondary students within rural and remote communities to support them in realising their dreams and aspirations;
- the facilitation of links between rural and remote communities with urban communities;
- ‘What’s Next’ – an in-depth resource providing support to rural and remote young people when they move from their local rural community to further study, training or employment.
Rural Inspire was developed in response to the issue of rural students not receiving the breadth of information and opportunity required to fully develop their aspirations. Most often due to the small size of schools and communities, leading to difficulty accessing opportunities and role models. This can be a similar challenge for teachers in rural/remote schools where access to peer support, mentors/coaches, and new ideas may be constrained. Despite the challenges that rural young people face, the Rural Youth Ambassadors acknowledge that rural communities produce some of Victoria’s, and Australia’s, best leaders, and that their communities are often more innovative, compared to their regional and metropolitan counterparts, in finding solutions to their challenges.
Rural Youth Ambassadors
A key initiative of Rural Inspire is the Rural Youth Ambassador program.
The Country Education Partnership (CEP) initiated the Rural Youth Ambassador program in Victoria during 2011 as a key strategy to develop the leadership skills of rural and remote young people, while also providing a formal state-wide voice for country students on issues affecting their education.
A group of thirteen young people were announced as the inaugural members in 2011, with the Honorable Peter Hall — the Minister for Higher Education and Skills at the time.
In 2019, the Rural Youth Ambassador program was identified as best practice within the Review of Education in Regional, Rural and Remote Education in Australia and as a result the Commonwealth Government has supported the expansion of the program into other states and territories across Australia.
The program assists rural and remote young people by:
- Providing a greater voice and visibility for young people in rural and remote communities
- Increasing youth participation in education and youth public policy
- Increasing public and political awareness of the unique challenges and opportunities impacting on the learning opportunities and outcomes of young people
- Identifying and showcasing examples of young people thriving in rural communities
- Strengthening existing initiatives to support the learning needs of rural young people
- Promoting greater participation of young people in local rural community organisations.
- Increasing leadership skills and knowledge of rural young people.
For an overview of the Rural Youth Ambassador program you can read – Rural Youth Ambassador Overview
In addition, to hear of the learnings gained by rural and remote young people.