In mid-December, Nell Cane and I, (along with three other ambassadors), were selected to represent South Australia at the National Rural Youth Ambassador Forum in Canberra. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the forum was rescheduled to February 27th–March 2nd and was held in Albury, NSW. Victoria was represented by five ambassadors and New South Wales by three.
We met with representatives from the Federal Department for Education, Skills and Employment; Regional Australia Institute, and the National Careers Institute. We also presented to Senator Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education, as well as the newly appointed Regional Education Commissioner, The Hon Fiona Nash.
Each meeting began with a brief overview of each state’s concerns and ideas, before our four main issues and solutions, consistent across the three states, were presented. Our key discussion points, which were lengthy and in-depth, were:
- Post-School Information
- Mental Health
- Sharing of Resources
Each topic began with an outline of our concerns followed by our solutions to fix or improve these issues. I believe that our concerns and ideas were well received by Minister McKenzie and Commissioner Nash, both of whom were very excited about our solutions. Often, concerns that are raised to people of power come without solutions.
Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed my involvement in the Rural Youth Ambassador program over the past twelve months. During this time, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, increased my confidence, met many people from different places and made new friends, all while helping make a difference to education for rural and remote students in both South Australia and across the nation. I highly recommend nominating for this program in Year 11 if you have a passion for helping create change, want to develop your leaderships skills or enjoy working with others to achieve a greater goal.
I would like to thank the school for giving us the opportunity to participate in the RYA program, especially Mrs Woods for organising our flights to and from our Adelaide forums. I would also like to thank Mr Thomas for publishing my articles on the school’s website, Facebook page and newsletters in the Port Lincoln Times. Finally, I would like to thank the staff of the Country Education Partnership (CEP) and Rural Inspire for the fantastic program that they run. I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my articles over the past year. I have enjoyed writing them and informing both the school and local community about the difference that the Rural Youth Ambassadors have and will continue to make.
~ Mitchell Paterson (Year 12)