Guyra student speaking on behalf of rural youth

Cordelia Lloyd (back row, far left) joined students from across Australia in Canberra
09th Mar 2021

Guyra Central School
student Cordelia Lloyd joined students from places as far as Streaky Bay in SA, Alstonville in northern NSW, and Yanakie in Victoria, as one of 18 rural and remote young Australians who travelled to Canberra to meet with Federal Ministers and education officials to share their thoughts on rural and remote education across Australia.
Over the course of three days, they attended several meetings to speak on behalf of their peers all over the country. 
The National Forum was the final outcome of a year-long leadership program delivered by the Country Education Partnership (CEP) across South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. The program aims to develop leadership skills of rural and remote young people, while also providing a formal, national voice for rural students on issues affecting their education and communities. 
Guyra Central School student Cordelia Lloyd explains how a group of rural students are influencing government policy.
I first heard about the Rural Youth Ambassadors program when I received an email on an ordinary school day. At the time I had no idea just what that email would lead to.
Many of us including myself, applied for this program without any thought that in the near future the program would take us anywhere close to Canberra and important politicians that can help facilitate our ideas and hopes for youth growing up in rural Australia.
However, as we have progressed through our time as a part of the Rural Youth Ambassadors for our respective states, we have learned there are no bounds to what we can achieve. So, despite our original state of mind when we started in the program 22 high school students from either NSW, South Australia, or Victoria have spent three days, speaking with Ministers, our local Members of Parliament and other pertinent individuals. We discussed key issues facing young people from rural Australia and the initiatives we would like to see taken to address them.
As a group we have developed three main ideas, the first being a partnership between schools in a nearby radius that enables them to work together so that they may share resources and offer a broader range of subjects and extra curriculars to students.
Our second idea regards mental health and proposes a solution that involves a proactive rather than reactive approach that is student driven and better allows for teachers and parents to help students deal with mental health issues.
Our final idea addresses how students from rural areas receive information about pathways after high school that involves a youth-to-youth approach where a careers expo travels around to all the high schools in rural Australia. The expo would focus on the stories and experiences of those who have successfully taken opportunities outside of their rural community as young people and then later returned.
After spending a whole day presenting our ideas, we returned to our accommodation excited for the days ahead of us, yet exhausted.
During our visit, we hope to have our ideas circulating around in Parliament House and even for some of these ideas to begin the process of being implemented. This program has also enabled us to find like-minded individuals that share our passion and initiative for providing a better world for young people living in rural Australia.
As a result of this all of us have bonded from our shared experience of the National Forum and the friendships we have gained due to this will continue to prosper and strengthen into the foreseeable future.
As a result of this experience, we have all also grown as individuals and become better versions of ourselves and leaders.
After our four days together in Canberra we hope that all the hard work we have done leading up to and during the national forum will result in rural youth benefiting from an outcome that bridges the gap between metropolitan and rural Australia in relation to education, mental health and our opportunities and pathways for after high school.
And lastly when we all return back to our hometowns we will take with us our personal growth, better leadership skills and a message of hope for the future for young people living in rural Australia.