YACVic Rural Youth Awards image text over red, orange and purple lightbeams.

On Wednesday 26 September Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) held it's inaugural Rural Youth Awards. 

The celebration brought together young people and those working in the sector to celebrate our amazing youth workers and innovative youth projects from across country Victoria. 

Designed and hosted by our YACVic Activators and Rural team, with guests from across the state, we recognised the achievements of young people and our rural youth sector.

Award winners

Young people leading change in rural or regional Victoria

Rural Young Person winner Lizzie Harms from Leongatha

Winner – Lizzie Harms from Leongatha

Lizzie wanted to develop a conversation about gender equality and respect in her community. She set up a workshop for hundreds of young women from across a number of secondary schools in Gippsland to work with Clementine Ford and gave young women the language and confidence to articulate their feelings about the world they live in. While this was occurring, young men gathered to discuss the importance of equity and respect for women — truly kick-starting a community wide conversation.  Lizzie continues show up for young people, at every opportunity she is given, or can find for herself.

Youth workers making a difference in rural or regional Victoria 

Lee Ann Rural Youth Worker from Portland winner

Winner – Lee Anne Nelson from Portland

Lee Anne is the Youth Resource Officer in Portland, is the Chair of the Glenelg Youth Network and is a key member and contributor to the youth and community sector in the region. Lee Anne embodies a strong sense of collaboration and partnership, working tirelessly to improve opportunities for young people. Whatever the issue, the community can count on Lee Anne to be there to provide support whether in a strategic role such as chairing the Local Learning and Employment Network to working on a Friday night at the Blue Light Disco. With her no nonsense attitude and dedication she is one of the unsung heroes of the community.

Innovative Youth projects or programs in rural or regional Victoria

Rural Youth Projects winners Youth Live4Life Inc

Winner – Youth Live4Life Inc

Youth Live4Life Inc. was founded in the Macedon Ranges Shire and has expanded to Benalla Rural City and Glenelg Shire. It is an innovative, evidence based and local community driven response to youth mental illness and suicide prevention. The program focuses on a whole of community approach to mental health education and suicide prevention in order to build resilient young people and communities.  Over 8,100 secondary school aged young people have undertaken mental health education and over 1000 teachers, parents and community members have been trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid. 

YACVic Rural Hall of Fame

Rural Hall of Fame winner Kane Sparks from Swan Hill

Inductee – Kane Sparks from Swan Hill

Kane is the Senior Youth Support Officer at Swan Hill Rural City Council. Kane’s knowledge and expertise in youth engagement and participation has established his reputation as a leader in this field. Kane’s ability to successfully engage with young people and facilitate youth participation in a co-design model has resulted in opportunities and support needed for young people to feel connected to their community. Kane always put young people first and is prepared to do whatever he can in his power to ensure that young people in Swan Hill are given as many opportunities as possible.

Congratulations to the winners, all the finalists and thanks to the Hon Minister for Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos MP for presenting the awards.

YACVic looks forward to next year's Rural Awards. Keep an eye out on our website and social media for future opportunities for rural and regional young people