Regional youth will be given a voice to express their concerns and propose solutions to tackle the issues important to them, such as getting a job, transport, mental health, housing and homelessness, with applications now open for NSW’s first-ever Regional Youth Taskforce.
Launching the taskforce at Keys Youth Hub in Coffs Harbour, Minister for Regional Youth Bronnie Taylor said the new taskforce will give young people across regional NSW a strong voice that will shape NSW Government policy and service delivery at a state, and local level.
“Regional NSW is home to a third of our State’s youth, and whether you live in the country or on the coast, young people face unique challenges. Regular droughts, high unemployment and the tyranny of distance can make growing up harder for our young people in regional NSW,” Mrs Taylor said.
“As the first Minister for Regional Youth, I want young people in our regions to know that this is your chance to be heard, to champion your local causes, represent your friends and classmates, and be involved in the decisions that help to create change in your hometown.
“Young people are the experts on youth issues, and as government we need to listen to them, we need to hear them out on what services and support works best for them, and what doesn’t,” Mrs Taylor said.
Member for Coffs Harbour, Mr Gurmesh Singh said the Taskforce will give young people on the mid-north coast a big opportunity to drive change.
“Young people on the mid-north coast have been telling me that they want to engage with government on decisions that affect them, but they don’t feel like their voice will be heard when it counts the most.
”Now they have the opportunity to speak up, and be confident that the decision-makers will listen, not just on the mid-north coast, but across all of regional NSW.” Mr Singh said.
NSW Advocate for Children and Young People Mr Andrew Johnson welcomed the taskforce, saying that it could ensure the views of young people are heard when government is making decisions.
“We are very encouraged to see the government listening to the voices of young people. Thousands of young people in regional NSW started the conversation, and it is great to see they will continue to be listened to in shaping the strategy.” Mr Johnson said.
Today’s announcement is a key step in the NSW Government’s first-ever Regional Youth Strategy, which will focus on youth unemployment, skills and education, transport, access to services, recreation and mental health, to ensure young people’s wellbeing remains a top priority.
“Inside the first 100 days of this new term of Government, we have delivered on our promise to create a first-ever Minister for Regional Youth, and establish an Office of Regional Youth,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Regional youth will also have access to a $50 million reservation from our Stronger Country Communities Fund, to invest in projects and programs in areas such as job preparation, digital skills, arts and recreation, youth centre upgrades, driver training, performance art and support groups,” Mrs Taylor said.
Mrs Taylor said the taskforce will be made up of 18 members who will meet regularly and provide direct advice to NSW Government agencies, the Office for Regional NSW and Cabinet on state-wide policy decisions and local plans. Minister Taylor urged any young person that is passionate about their region and those who live there to apply.
“We want to see applications from everybody. It’s not just about the best and brightest, firsthand experience is key here and will mean you can tell us what you think will really work for your city or town,”.
“I give you one promise: if you talk to us, we will listen.” Mrs Taylor concluded. Travel costs and accommodation will be covered for Regional Youth Taskforce members travelling across NSW for meetings.