It’s rare to see young people given a platform to share their views and ideas, even more rare for rural and remote youth. Those below the voting age have few opportunities to be recognised despite being directly impacted by the decisions being made by the generations before them.
Even where speaking opportunities are available, generally only those who already possess the confidence and capacity for public speaking have their voices heard. Those who may not have as strong an ability with expressing themselves orally are often left voiceless and lacking alternate avenues to share their ideas and opinions. This often leads to young people feeling alienated and disenfranchised by decision makers and can result in a sense of apathy or detachment from the world. It is essential that our younger generations have a sense of ownership and agency over the world they stand to inherit.
The National Landcare Conference provides a platform for community and grassroots organisations to share and reflect on their successes, learnings and opportunities. Ideas are exchanged and projects created and in recognising the fantastic opportunity the conference presents the Western Landcare Youth Network made it their goal to attend and present at the conference.
Through a series of fundraising efforts a group of 5 students accompanied by the Youth Network Coordinator attended the conference having been accepted to present. Offering a space for these youth to be represented and also for them to network with others from across the country was the main aim of the initiative. With the Youth Network itself building the capacity of its participants to see themselves as the future caretakers of our land, it was a natural course of action to pursue speaking opportunities wherever available.
Not only while standing on stage and delivering their ideas to the audience but also through one on one conversations and general interactions were the participants able to voice their concerns, ideas and aspirations. Attending the conference built confidence, enthusiasm and self-belief in the participants while garnering the attention and support of a wider audience to the needs of our youth. Those who listened to the Youth Network present and those who were able to meet the group all committed their energy and skills to ensuring the program continues in supporting and raising the calibre of young people in rural settings.
As a result of their attendance all 5 participants and many others who couldn’t attend the conference will be undertaking a leadership and facilitation course with Intrepid Landcare.
For more information and PDF download please visit: https://landcare.nsw.gov.au/groups/Western_landcare/youth-speak-up/