Rural Youth Ambassadors
Country Education Project
PO Box 1255
Wangaratta, VIC, 3676
Patron: Mr Bailieu Myer AC
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“.. students should be empowered to change the education system in a way that willi provide motivation and provide a more selective modern day approach in developing and educating students in a broader and more diverse manner, that requires students to adapt.”
“Rural young people believe that education requires adaption. Almost never in learning does one size fit all students in Australia from decade to decade. Now in the changing world, more than ever, does society require the education system to change along side it.”
These statements could be written by some informed and skilled education leaders as they explore the desire for the future of education. They could be from a parent who outlines their desire for their young person. They could be something that a principal outlines as his/her desire for the future of learning within their school.
Instead they come from a couple of rural youth ambassadors speaking of their passion and desire for their own learning.
There is a growing interest in the concept of “Youth Voice” within education. Governments, education sectors, principals, and the broader community are highlighting the need to have a strong youth voice to enhance and improve an engaging learning environment into the future. With this interest at multiple levels, there is also a breadth of definitions used by people when describing youth voice. In the majority of cases it is defined as gaining a perspective from young people.
Country Education Project (CEP) believes that youth voice is much more than gaining a perspective – it is empowering young people to think and act within a complex environment and contribute to the discussions and deliberations within a partnership framework.
CEP therefore developed the Rural Youth Ambassadors program to provide young people within rural Victoria to partner with CEP, education sectors, rural communities and government in enhancing and improving learning opportunities and outcomes.
Involving up to 15 young people from all parts of rural Victoria, the fist Rural Youth Ambassadors program was established in August 2011. It was launched by the Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Mr Peter Hall at the 2011 Rural Learning Summit.
CEP is committed to providing an ongoing opportunity for young people to be involved in the Rural Youth Ambassador initiative.
To support young people in rural Victoria to be partners in discussions focusing on rural teaching and learning through:
- considering education challenges and opportunities facing rural youth,
- identifying initiatives to enhance and improve rural learning, and
- developing their leadership skills and knowledge.
The Rural Youth Ambassadors will deliver on the following outcomes:
- Provide a voice and visibility for young people in rural Victoria
- Increase youth participation in education and youth public policy in rural Victoria
- Increase public and political awareness of the unique challenges and opportunities impacting on the learning opportunities and outcomes of young people in rural Victoria
- Showcase examples of young Victorians thriving in rural communities
- Contribute to the strengthen of existing initiatives to support the learning needs of young people in rural Victoria
- Greater participation of young people in local rural community organisations. Eg local community reference groups or boards.
- Increased leadership skills and knowledge of rural young people
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Rural Youth Ambassadors
Annually, young people from across rural Victoria are identified, and invited, to participate within the Rural Youth Ambassadors program for a period of twelve months. These young people comprise:
- representatives of DEECD schools across all country regions
- representatives of CEO schools across all country diocese
- representatives of Independent schools across rural Victoria.
CEP, oversees the selection and appointment of up to fifteen young people to form the Rural Youth Ambassadors for the following twelve months.
These Ambassadors will be expected to be involved on the following basis:
- attendance at face to face forums organized
- regular participation within an online forum
- participation in a local community organization
- attendance at other relevant events such as participation in government reviews, etc.
To assist with the ongoing development of these young people, and to support succession, an online alumni has be established to allow those Rural Youth Ambassadors who have completed their twelve months are able to continue to contribute to the ongoing work of the Rural Youth Ambassador program.
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Rural Youth Ambassador Program:
Each year, the Rural Youth Ambassadors identify an education theme that will provide the focus for their discussions and exploration over the twelve months. This theme will be one that is relevant to rural education provision within Victoria.
The program will have a number of practical aspects including:
(i) Initial Residential: a two-day forum is held where the youth ambassadors are provided with an induction and also involved in a number of leadership development activities relevant to the theme identified for the twelve months.
This two day forum coincides with the CEP annual Rural Learning Summit, where they participant within the Summit discussions.
(ii) Online Forum: a secure online forum is developed to allow for the ongoing exploration and discussion related to the identified theme.
(iii) Forum I: a face to face two days where the young people explore in greater depth the focus theme. Guest presenters, possible site visits, and facilitated discussions form the basis of these two days.
This forum is generally held at the end of the year
(iv) Local Community Participation: the young people are encouraged to participate in a local organization during their time as a Rural Youth Ambassador. These could include becoming a Board member, committee of management member, etc.
(v) Forum II: an opportunity to finalise their discussion and deliberations and complete the report to be presented to the relevant Ministers and release the report.
This forum occurs in the first term of the following year and coincides with their presentation to the relevant government Ministers of state government.
(vi) Government Initiatives: Rural Youth Ambassadors are encouraged to participate in any review of government policy related to their focus theme and youth participation in education; the Rural Education Reference Group (which currently has two Rural Youth Ambassadors involved), and other relevant forums and workshops.
Characteristics of a Rural Youth Ambassador:
CEP has developed a number of key characteristics essential for rural young people to have and exhibit in becoming a Rural Youth Ambassador.
- Be enrolled in Year 11 within a rural school and be prepared to commit for a period of twelve months
- Demonstrated that they can meet timelines and achieve identified outcomes
- a strong academic record
- Demonstrated leadership within their school community and have represented young peoples views at a local, regional, state or national level.
- A demonstrated commitment to their school communities extra curricula program and/or had extensive commitment to community initiatives and programs.
- Be endorsed by both their school and parents.
The following timeline has been developed for the Rural Youth Ambassador program:
- promotion of the Rural Youth Ambassador program
- nominations of rural youth received
- identification of the Rural Youth Ambassadors
- induction forum to coincide with the CEP Rural Learning Summit
- development of the online forum
- leadership development workshops as part of the induction program
- Forum I – to be held in early December
- Continuing the ongoing discussions within the online forum
Term I (of following year):
- finalization of the discussions and the development of a report
- presentation of the report to Minister for Education and other key stakeholder groups
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