REGION - A passionate and enthusiastic group of young people has been chosen to represent the Northern Grampians Shire as part of the first ever Youth Action Council (YAC).
Twelve members have hit the ground running at their first three meetings and have already planned a number of exciting projects.
Last week, the YAC was announced as one of nine groups across Australia to receive funding from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal after it successfully applied for a $10,000 grant to implement an idea from the 2013 Heywire Summit.
The funding will be used to deliver a project named 'The Green Room' which, through local schools, will provide young people with important information on mental health. The program will be delivered by young people, allowing students to better relate and feel more comfortable with what is sometimes a difficult subject.
The in-school sessions will be supported by mental health first aid training for the wider community and mental health awareness days across the shire.
Northern Grampians Shire Council Acting Manager Community Sustainability Tony Dark said council had been overwhelmed by the response to the YAC.
"We received a fantastic number of applications from young people wanting to join the group," he said.
"It was really encouraging to hear their enthusiasm and the great ideas they have for their shire.
"The fact that these young people gave up their Sunday to attend the first meeting back in April really demonstrates their commitment to the group."
The YAC is made up of young people between the ages of 12 and 25 and will work with council to develop a Youth Strategy for the shire.
Their first meeting was facilitated by youth motivational speaker Nathan Hulls who has overcome adversity to develop successful careers in business, media, politics and community leadership.
During the session, YAC members set the direction of the group for the next six months and discussed some of the projects they would like to focus on. These included creating more youth-specific events, improving opportunities for further education and employment in the region, providing better access to mental healthcare, increasing utilisation of existing community assets, and improving the existing culture around drugs and alcohol.
The YAC is being funded through the State Government's 2012-2014 Engage! Program which aims to help improve young people's support networks and strengthen their connections with family, friends and peers. One of the main aims of the YAC will be to improve the connection between young people and their communities by promoting the positive contributions that they make.
As part of the program the YAC will manage various community projects and events.
The group will also provide opportunities for youth to volunteer, participate in mentoring and develop education and employment pathways.