Creating opportunities for young people in the area is the key outcome that the collective project, Northern Rivers Together (NRT), is aiming towards.
Currently it is functioning as a pilot project and is looking for funding for a five-year roll out.
Sasha Graham, who is co-ordinating the program, emphasised that though the area is an ‘amazing place to live and grow up in,’ large numbers of young people have to move away to larger towns and cities for jobs and opportunities.
Unemployment rates of up to 20 per cent in some areas make this the second-highest unemployment region in NSW and if the project received funding for five years, one of its key outcomes would be to see a reduction of average unemployment to ten per cent.
‘Northern Rivers Together is a voluntary consortium of organisations working collaboratively to facilitate the creation of the necessary environment allowing for greater opportunities so more young people can stay in the Northern Rivers region and thrive within a vibrant, creative economy,’ said Ms Graham.
The current pilot project is rolling out two key events in May.
The first, which was held on May 4, aimed at year nine and ten students from Shearwater Steiner and Mullumbimby High School, and ‘showcased successful creative and social enterprise founders, including FlowHive, Cumulus VFX and Skuff TV,’ Ms Graham explained.
‘A photo-voice competition will present photos and ideas around career aspirations and barriers which resonate for young people.
‘These emerging themes were explored during a facilitated and dynamic Hackathon, in which students formed groups and co-designed solutions to the opportunities and challenges.’
The second project, which takes place over two days, is aimed at nine- to twelve-year- olds and is called the Lemonade Stand. This business workshop aims to provide kids with mindset and tools to go after their dreams and will be held at Bangalow Primary School.
‘Currently, we have spent two years developing this program on a limited budget and we now need to secure interim funding of $150,000 to continue the project,’ said Ms Graham.
There are approximately 30 other collective impact projects running around Australia from Tasmania to Bourke.
‘Our consortium’s collaborative approach has helped to educate thinking in systems change, which involves cross-discipline and cross-sectoral work that adds a dimension of diversity in thinking, problem solving, learning and collective action,’ concluded Ms Graham.