Youth given chance to share views at Great South Coast Regional Partnership forum

UNITED VOICE: Students John Garland, Jarrod Hurst, Belle Stickland, Leo Filer and Sam Shepherd shared their views. Picture: Rob Gunstone
UNITED VOICE: Students John Garland, Jarrod Hurst, Belle Stickland, Leo Filer and Sam Shepherd shared their views. Picture: Rob Gunstone

YOUTH in the Great South Coast want access to tertiary education in the cities they live.

That was the opinion expressed by a number of young people at the third Great South Coast Regional Partnership forum held in Hamilton on Wednesday night.

Good Shepherd College student Belle Stickland, a year 11 student, is part of a Hamilton youth group which encourages young people to become more connected with their community.

But students who want to further their education are faced with a dilemma over whether to leave the place they have become immersed in.

“We only have Deakin in Warrnambool near us and we are such a big community,” Ms Stickland said.

“There are kids who want to go on to further education but once you get involved in a community, you become quite attached to it.

“It’s hard when you have to choose between staying in the community you grew up in and furthering your education.”

Portland Secondary College student Sam Shepherd agreed with Ms Stickland.

He said he believed more young people would stay in regional areas if there were more tertiary options available.

The students were among more than 250 people who attended the forum.

Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford said the forum was a great chance for people to share their views on how to improve the region.

“This for us is all about listening to the community,” Ms Pulford said.

“The underlying philosophy to the entire forum is ‘locals know best’. They know what’s best for this region.”

Participants at the forum were asked to join round table discussions about key areas including economy, transport and infrastructure, how to make our communities safer and environment and culture.

Great South Coast Regional Partnership chair Emily Lee-ack said the region was already reaping benefits from programs put forward at past forums.