In April 2018 YACVic Rural brought together 11 Activators to speak advocacy and youth participation in rural and regional Victoria. The inaugural Activators program invited young people from rural and regional Victoria to pitch their ideas to us and in return YACVic Rural would provide them with the resources to develop their seed ideas into a realised project.

At the end of last year we spoke with Activator Max Taylor from Warnambool, now we’re chatting to Josh Baker from Bass Coast Shire. Josh is working on a program called ‘Let’s Life’ and it’s all about creating greater access to education for young people from rural and regional Victoria. Let’s hear from Josh.

image of Josh Baker holding a mic at Connecting the Dots conference

Tell us about your Activator project and what youth issues are you hoping to address through this program?

My Activators project is called ‘Lets Life’ program and it’s about creating greater access to education for young people from rural and regional Victoria. It aims to work with young people to establish skills, confidence and a deeper understanding of independence.

This pilot project will launch in the Bass Coast region and I hope that 12 participants enter the program. Each of these participants need to show a strong interest to attend tertiary education in 2019 and also keen to move out of home to complete their studies.

While establishing this project I’ve identified the lack of understanding about city life in Melbourne, such as public transport and even what financial support may be available. Some young people from rural and regional Victoria struggle to live independently while trying to learn in a new environment. It doesn’t help that they’re surrounded by unfamiliar faces too!

Let’s Life addresses this barrier by educating young people on life at university and TAFE and what it’s like to make the big move from rural and regional Victoria to urban areas. The project provides educational resources on establishing accommodation and independence, navigating public transport and providing hands on experiences through excursions and even nationally accredited training to help participants find a part-time job. The impact of this will see more young people from rural and regional Victoria attend further education.

Why is this project important to you?

I see a huge potential in the community but I also see many barriers for young people! I want to make a real difference and provide opportunity to those who may not have the confidence to attend further education or live independently.

I work in the education sector and TAFE contributed to over fifty per cent of my VCE completion. There is more than one pathway to attend university and I’m passionate about spreading this message.

How has Bass Coast Shire Council responded to your project? Have they been supportive?

Bass Coast Shire Council have responded with more support than I could have imagined. They linked me up with media and councillors and provided strong networks within the community. They have also help me establish partnerships and even secure funding for the program.

How has the Activators program helped you realise your advocacy project?

I have been able to generate, expand and brainstorm some key ideas that have led to the conception of this project thanks to the support of the other Activators. I am also grateful to the support of my mentor, former YACVic Rural Manager Andy Bell, and the team at YACVic. Thanks to the Activators program I’ve been given the confidence and platform to establish my project.

I have built a deeper understanding of what advocating for something really means and why it’s important to push forward and move through barriers — even when they seem impossible.

Why is it important for rural young people to participate in programs like Activators?

The Activators program gave me insight into what drives and motivates young people to be passionate about a project. The program has seeded 11 new and innovative projects through a single stream. I don’t think we would see much change happen, particularly around the youth space if it wasn’t for programs like the Activators.

Programs like the Activators is vital for young people to make change and develop the confidence they need to action their ideas on the big stage. The Activators program is important above all else to meet like-minded people and network in new ways, with confidence and support.

About our guest blogger

Josh Baker founded Let’s Life, a program that supports young people  transition from rural to metropolitan Victoria for tertiary education. The program equips young people living in Bass Coast region with the skills and confidence they need when moving to a new area for study.  Let’s Life will provide a network for young people along with accredited training to boost employability. There will also be facilitated trips to Melbourne to orient young people with city life. Stay up to date with the program at the Let’s Life Facebook page and website.

Get Involved

Find out more about our participation opportunities for young people here or contact Sam Champion, Participation and Development Coordinator, via [email protected] or (03) 92673702.

Are you aged 12-25?

Become a YACVic young member and join a community of advocates passionate about young people and the issues that affect them in Victoria. It’s just $3 to sign up!