A YOUNG citizen of the year will not be celebrated at this year's Corangamite Shire Australia Day Awards despite young people showing strength in the face of adversity throughout 2020.
Every year a young citizen is nominated for their contribution to the community but this year the category will not be included due to no nominations.
Jennifer Rowan, a young resident from Corangamite, said it was disheartening to hear none of her peers were put forward for the award after such a challenging year.
"In the face of a global pandemic, the local Corangamite Shire Youth Crew banded together to live stream many events from their social media channels including their 'Live in Lockdown' Series, 'Cooking with Tess' series, online yoga, plus their very successful 'Youth Fest' celebration, which combined, received thousands of views," she said.
"I can think of countless young people who deserve this award, Penny Smith for making it to the 2020 Olympic target shooting team, Harrison Smith and Chris Barks for their dedication to our community events (in person and online), Tess Lourey for her successful year as youth mayor, Grace Moloney and Izzy Rowan for their debut on the Port Fairy Folk Festival Stage in their band 'Cara'... there are so many examples.
"But perhaps the biggest achievement of all is the Corangamite Shire young people simply getting through what was an incredibly tough year.
"Young people of Corangamite Shire lost their hospitality jobs, their retail jobs, they endured months of home schooling with oftentimes, less than average internet. And yet, they bloom. Because our young people are resilient and courageous they deserve to be in this year's Australia Day awards."
Karen Walsh, Great South Coast regional development coordinator for Youth Affairs Council Victoria, the peak body for young people and the youth sector, said young people should be recognised.
"We can't underestimate the importance of public recognition for the work and passion of young people," she said.
"Academic and sporting excellence get recognised all the time, and rightly so. But commitment to community and social justice and making the world a better place are so much more important, and they're not regularly acknowledged or encouraged.
"Those young people need the platform for their voices and the skills, contacts and experience that public awards can bring.
"Please everybody, take the opportunity to seek out and support and nominate young people who are working for the future."
Young people aged 12-25 years make up 17.2 per cent of the Corangamite Shire population.
The biggest achievement of all is the Corangamite Shire young people simply getting through what was an incredibly tough year.Jennifer Rowan
Mayor Ruth Gstrein said it was disappointing there were no nominations for young citizen of the year.
"We put it down to the fact there wasn't a lot of youth activities happening," she said.
"There were so many issues young people had to face, it wasn't normal year, yet VCE results in the region were very strong which highlights the resilience of our young people."
Cobden Technical College principal Rohan Keert said his students showed strength in the face of adversity.
"Student this year faced unprecedented adversity and were able to adapt; I look at the kids in my own school and they managed to find successful pathways in a very challenging year," he said.
"We need to have as many positive awards for kids to aspire to as possible rather than fewer.
"They got through a pretty challenging year, that in itself is an achievement."
Derm Ryan, Rural Manager of Youth Affairs Council Victoria said regional and rural youth faced unique challenges in 2020.
"Young people in rural and regional Victoria have faced significant challenges over the past year, with increased unemployment, disrupted education, social isolation, unreliable internet, increased stress and so much more," he said.
"But they also stepped up to lead initiatives and adapt them online such as the Live in Lockdown online music series, they found new ways to stay connected to and support their communities, and they led the way in assisting their families to use new online platforms.
"Recognising young people's achievements also showcases them in a positive way, and highlights them as role models for other young people."
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