Attendees listen to Commissioner for Children and Young People Liana Buchanan

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) brought 170 youth workers from across rural and regional Victoria together in Ballarat this week to attend ‘Connecting the Dots’ Conference. The conference explored the latest research, trends and best practice in the areas of youth health, wellbeing and safety. 

The conference gave an opportunity for the rural youth sector to strengthen networks, develop new connections, hear from a range of passionate presenters and attend thought-provoking workshops.

YACVic was thrilled that the Hon Gabrielle Williams, Minister for Youth, could address conference attendees on day two of the conference. “Rural youth workers help make our community stronger and more resilient.” said Minister Williams.“Our government understands that young people in regional Victoria face a different set of challenges to those in Melbourne.”

Connecting the Dots also featured keynote speaker, Dr Ani Wierenga, one of Australia’s leading youth researchers. Other guest speakers were from the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and the Commission for Children and Young People. 

The Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health also facilitated a series of workshops focused on improving sexual health and services for young people, which highlighted the changing and complex sexual and reproductive health needs in rural areas. 

In a YACVic first, scholarships were made available to rural workers that cover both conference registration, accommodation and travel expenses to allow for rural travel. 

“We recognise that many youth sector professionals work in a part time capacity and travel great distances to attend training opportunities” said YACVic Caretaker CEO Paul Turner. “Connecting the Dots aims to support rural and regional youth workers in accessing high quality training without the high price tag”.

For further information on Connecting the Dots, contact Rhiannon Jennings, YACVic Rural Development Coordinator for the Southern Mallee on 0474 506 000.