Today 45 young people will gather in Canberra to share their ideas, aspirations and experiences in rural and regional Australia as part of the 2016 ABC Heywire Youth Summit.
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, will recognise the outstanding entries of this year's finalists, and will present the 45 regional winners with their awards in Canberra tonight.
"These incredibly talented young people hail from every corner of the country, and each have a unique story to tell about life in rural and regional Australia—and Heywire gives them the chance to heard," Minister Ruston said.
"The array of stories on display tonight show the breadth of issues affecting young people in regional Australia—and, not surprisingly, agriculture is a major theme.
"Agriculture is central to our nation's future and young rural Australians will play an important role in ensuring our agricultural industries have a bright and prosperous future.
"There are certainly challenges for the sector: the average age of farmers continues to rise, climate variability remains a threat to productivity and mental health, global populations and demand for food continue to rise and we need to keep producing more with less resources.
"These are all opportunities for fresh, young minds to shape the future of a sector that will continue to be a pillar of our economy for as long as humans eat food and wear clothes.
"It's pleasing to see so many positive stories about life on the land, and this year's stories again shine a light on the beauty of life away from metropolitan centres.
"Not only does Heywire offer the opportunity to break down stereotypes of life in regional Australia, but it also gives young people who can often feel isolated the chance to contribute to a national discussion on a whole range of important topics.
"It's an incredibly important initiative, and the Coalition Government last year reaffirmed its support of Heywire, with Minister Joyce announcing grants to continue the programme for another three years, along with other funding for youth programmes in the agriculture sector.
"We are a government that is committed to revitalising the agriculture sector and driving increased returns through the farmgate to ensure it remains an attractive and rewarding career path."
For more information on ABC's Heywire initiative, visit: http://www.abc.net.au/heywire/.