Two Moree Secondary College students have been chosen to take part in a new program aimed at boosting the aspirations and leadership capabilities of young people in rural and regional schools.
Moree's Jordan Briggs and Natalijia Stanojevic are among a group of regional year 11 students who have been selected to participate in the NSW Rural Youth Ambassador 2020 Pilot Program for six months of leadership development, advocacy and learning.
"It's a leadership program where we discuss issues within our schools and communities and talk about what we want to prioritise and a plan to treat those issues," Natalijia said.
"It's quite cool because we get to be in there with the Minister for Education and highly influential people."
Encompassing locations from Bourke to Ulladulla and from Singleton to Finley, the young leaders have been participating in virtual forums discussions and working groups, using some of the latest technology, ahead of a planned three-day forum in term four.
One of the major issues they've been discussing is the availability of subjects in rural and regional schools.
"Kids want to do a subject but the school can't offer it due to the location of the school or teaching availability," Jordan said.
"So we're trying to find a solution to that and are looking at creating an online forum where kids can do these subjects."
"There's a lot of talking about access to teachers in general from rural areas and what kind of solution we can use to solve that problem," Natalijia added.
"A lot of our schools have teachers that are not qualified for the subject they're teaching."
Jordan and Natalijia both said they're already building their confidence and leadership skills from taking part in the program.
"I hope to gain the confidence to make a difference within the community and feel confident in myself, knowing there is something I can do about this and make a difference here," Natalijia said.
"Leadership extends from confidence."
The Moree pair are among nine other students taking part in the pilot program from across the region and Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall congratulated all nine students.
"As these young people enter the final years of school this is a golden opportunity for them to build positive leadership skills which will take their peers and communities forward," Mr Marshall said.
"Rural towns offer a range of fantastic opportunities for young people to exercise leadership and develop public speaking and citizenship skills like Lions Youth of the Year or Rotary Youth Exchange.
"This pilot program builds on those experiences by offering young leaders the chance to share ideas, engage with successful business and thought leaders, explore youth programs with key decision makers and most of all energise each other.
"Each of the Rural Youth Ambassadors will emerge with enhanced leadership skills and knowledge, plus stronger confidence in their future and a network of peers with whom they share interests and aspirations."
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell welcomed the initiative, which is a collaboration between the government, Aurora College and the Country Education Partnership.
Aurora College is the NSW Department of Education's virtual school, providing students in rural and remote communities with the opportunity to connect locally and learn globally.
"Through this pilot program these student leaders will become a voice for their schools, their communities and the areas where they live," Ms Mitchell said.
"They will also have a greater engagement in shaping rural and regional education by contributing reflections, feedback and comments about their own schooling."