ABC Heywire winners celebrate stories of life across regional and rural Australia  

Strength, perseverance, and optimism feature strongly in the stories from the 2023 ABC Heywire winners, announced today.

39 winners were chosen from the hundreds of Australians aged 16 to 22 from regional, rural and remote areas who entered the competition, speaking openly and candidly about life beyond the major cities, through written stories, photos, videos or audio recordings.


Heywire winner Jo is a proud sistagirl from Ngukurr, a remote Indigenous community in the Northern Territory. She wants her story to help other LGBTQIA+ young people feel less alone, and says, “I hope it will inspire all people who have faced the same challenges as I did.” 


ABC Director Regional & Local, Judith Whelan, congratulated this year’s competition winners on their engaging and authentic stories, and says, “The stories from this year’s Heywire winners provide a real window into the lives of young people living in regional Australia.  What is uplifting about them is that they celebrate regional communities and the things that make them unique.”   


“Their stories speak of the challenges of life outside our big cities but also reveal inspiring ideas on how their communities can make the most of their strengths and potential.” 


Winner Location Synopsis of their story
Charles Canberra, ACT, Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country I’m from a single-parent migrant family, and I’m so grateful for my Mum’s support that lets me soar.
Sophie Broken Hill, NSW, Wilyakali Country I’m not hard of hearing; I have auditory dyslexia and I know sometimes people need patience and understanding.
Joe Orange, NSW, Wiradjuri Country A lot of people my age are on antidepressants. Growing up isn’t easy; but the good things in life are still there.


Mia Nowra, NSW, Yuin Country  My Mum had me when she was a teenager. Hardly anyone talks about the struggles single mother’s go through.
Amarah Taree, NSW, Biripi Country One minute I was curled up in bed, the next, I was handed a baby in raging floodwaters after we’d launched a tinny onto the road.
Jack Tamworth, NSW, Kamilaroi Country Being gay in an all-boys country boarding school isn’t easy, but I’m owning my identity as a young, gay rural kid and doing my best to create more safe spaces for queer young people.


Ivy Lismore, NSW, Bundjalung Country With my town in ruins, I reached for my guitar and the advice of a Reddit thread.
Shayan Wagga Wagga, NSW, Wiradjuri Country I stay connected to my culture by making Persian a part of my post-migration life
Annie Bombala, NSW, Ngarigo Country Work in the sheds is hard and the pace is fast but I really enjoy the challenge of being a rouseabout.


Scone, NSW, Wonnarua Country


Droughts, floods, fires, mice: disasters are inevitable – but I know they will pass.
Olivia Gilgandra, NSW, Wiradjuri Country Everything changed when Mum and Dad separated. Now we’re happier than ever:  family games night just looks a bit different.
Tyreece Alice Springs, NT, Arrente Country It was a lucky day under blue skies, a yellow goanna was on the menu.
Ifa Darwin, NT, Larrakia Country  Art is my form of escapism; where I express my emotions and process things. I’ve just had my first solo exhibition!
Jo Ngukurr, NT, Ponto Country and Yugal Mangi people I’m a proud sistagirl, and I know that I’m not the only one. I want sistagirls everywhere to feel supported and be proud of who they are.
Shanissa Rockhampton, QLD, Darumbal Country A Chron’s diagnosis by a doctor who spoke with kindness and consideration gave me my career: I want to be a doctor who makes a difference.
Jordan Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire, QLD I’m just a kid from the Cape, but I have figured out a few things: I love my community, so I’m doing my best to support other young people here to stay out of the system.


Harry Doomadgee, QLD,

Gangalidda Country

My favourite place is out bush on country with family – enjoying fresh air and spotting deadly creatures.
Rheanca Toowoomba, QLD, Jagera, Giabal and Jarowair Country Skin diseases are a lot harder when you’re not white. I wanted to feel listened to and comfortable in my skin – so I started itchY.




Mooloolaba, QLD, Kabi Kabi Country and Jinibara Country


My masculinity isn’t underdeveloped by having two mums.


Rachel Mackay, QLD, Yuwi Country  After Dad died, inside the lens of a camera is where I felt safe to process my grief. I could change the settings and control the framing.
Kadee Barcaldine, QLD, Iningai Country I work two jobs so I can afford to travel this amazing country, but the outback is my home .
Scarlett Yalata, SA, Wirangu and Mirning country I think Nana would be proud of me because she loved to help her family, too.
Zane Port Pirie, SA, Nukunu Country I’ve spent almost every weekend with Grandpa. That’s where I learnt what it means to be a good man.
Ceobahn Renmark, SA I want to see change in real-time; I’m listening to the land as a ranger.
Tom Kingston, SA, Meintangk and Moandik Country I fell in love with flying before I could walk. Now, I’m starting my pilot’s licence alongside my Dad.
Miranda nipaluna/Hobart, TAS, palawa country I’m a proud palawa woman; my voice is an echo of my ancestor Fanny Smith’s and I will use it as she did.


Pacey Devenport, TAS, palawa country Piecing rhymes together and making music saved my life and changed my world.
Meg Ballarat, VIC, Wathaurong Country You’ve got to be prepared for anything and use what skills you have to make the best of any situation; it’s all part of the show.
Peta Kyneton, VIC, Dja Dja Wurrung Country If only mental health was clear cut and easy to explain; I became a peer support worker so other people know they are not alone.
Charlee Heyfield, VIC, Gunaikurnai Country I don’t want to have to work my entire life around pain; I’m working diplomatically with my body and the doctors I trust with it to live the life I want.
Tara Wahgunyah, VIC, Yorta Yorta Country It took months and months and second opinions to find out what was really going on in my ears; being misdiagnosed put me on the course I am on today.


Warrnambool, VIC, Gunditjmara Country


‘Pretty’ isn’t about how you look; it’s about how you feel and about how you treat others. Kind and compassionate – that’s how I want people to see me.
Blake Birchip, VIC, Wotjobaluk Country I think Birchip is beautiful. I’m a photographer trying to share the beauty of the Mallee with the world.
Georgia Wagin, WA, Wirlomin Country It feels like we’re still fighting the fire, months after it stopped burning. Getting back what we lost takes time.
Adrianna Morawa, WA, Wadjarri Country Learning how to make bush medicine from Nan is special. Out bush, under an ancient starry sky, is where I am home.


Asharnta Meekatharra, WA, Yugunga-Nya Country I work at the Meekatharra Youth Centre to support young people.


Draven Bunbury, WA, Wadandi Country Muhammad Ali put boxing on the map. I want to do the same for wheelchair boxing.
Haylen Wyndham, WA, Balangarra Country I knew from the moment I got a handle on my first beat that I was meant to be a drummer.

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