Bright ideas from bright young minds

Posted on 19 Oct 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Bright idea light bulb

Young people from rural communities across Australia have shared in almost $150,000 in grants designed to bring their bright ideas to life.

The cash will bankroll 16 community initiatives aimed at addressing issues that matter to remote, rural and regional youth.

The projects have been funded under the Foundation for Regional & Rural Renewal (FRRR) ABC Heywire Youth innovation Grants program.

Now in its 11th year, the youth-focused program offers funds for communities to adopt, adapt and act on the ideas generated by young Australians at the ABC Heywire program’s annual Regional Youth Summit.

This year’s summit saw 39 young participants develop six ideas for change on issues that matter most to rural youth, which included:

  • exploring ways to relieve boredom
  • how to create easy access to mental health support
  • the cost of food relief
  • catering to education and diverse learning needs
  • ensuring youth voices are heard
  • creating better futures for young people with disabilities.

Investigating initiatives to alleviate boredom for young Australians in country communities struck a chord with young people at the conference and attracted the most applications.

“Young people are the future and often we find that grassroots organisations know how important it is to involve the youth and make them part of the community, but they simply lack the capacity to do so.”
FRRR People Portfolio Lead Deb Samuels.

Project name: Zero Positive for Schools

Where: Scone, NSW

Grant: $6,200

Idea: prevent climate anxiety for youth with a summit featuring young environmentalists and support for implementing school-based action plans.

Project name: Boredom Relief

Where: Nganmarriyanga School, NT,

Grant: $10,000

Idea: foster youth agency and responsibility by enabling an opportunity design their own Boredom Relief project.

Project name: We Are Not Alone

Where: Toowoomba, QLD,

Grant: $10,000

Idea: encourage greater visibility of disability with a youth-led accessible community event to establish support networks.

Project name: Hear Our Voices

Where: Tasmania

Grant: $10,000

Idea: prepare youth to become leaders of community-driven climate solutions with workshops to develop skills in facilitation and visioning sessions.

Project name: Boredom Relief

Where: Birchip, VIC

Grant: $10,000

Idea: Birchip Neighbourhood House to empower youth with skills in event management through the delivery of a youth-led arts and culture event.

Project name: Homegrown Hub

Where: Ringer Soak, WA

Grant: $10,000

Idea: Kununurra Community Garden Kitchen to enabling cultural education on Indigenous plants and increasing access to food security with the installation of a community kitchen garden.

Heywire Summit 2023 Photo c Bradley Cummings

They included 2023 Heywire participant Blake, who is leading a project which successfully attracted funding to address a lack of opportunities for fun youth events in rural communities such as his own.

“In small rural towns, it can feel like there is nothing for young people to do,” said Blake.

“We need to make sure that there are safe events and spaces for youth, or else they will look to drugs and alcohol for entertainment and excitement.”

Blake said his project will involve young people designing and leading a one-day event of live music and activities.

“The drug and alcohol-free event will involve young and upcoming artists, and include art and cultural activities,” he said.

“I know it will help the young people in our community to build connections and give them practical experience in event management.

“I’m excited for it to get underway!”

FRRR People Portfolio Lead Deb Samuels, said that the program helps to put youth-led ideas at the forefront of rural communities and helps young people to feel heard.

“Young people are the future and often we find that grassroots organisations know how important it is to involve the youth and make them part of the community, but they simply lack the capacity to do so,” she said.

“Thanks to our donor partners, this program gives community groups the support and resources they need to overcome these barriers and focus their time and energy on initiatives that will make young people feel seen and empowered.”

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