ABC’s Heywire winners for 2021

ABC Heywire celebrates 35 young regional Australians in its 2021 storytelling competition. 
Since 1998, Heywire has become a powerful platform for rural youth to share their stories and make a difference in their communities. 
This year, hundreds of people entered from across Australia. The winners were chosen for “telling it like it is” about life in their part of the country. 
From growing up in a refugee camp, to busting myths around Autism and celebrating LGBTQI pride. Lawn bowlers, bull riders, young farmers, linguists, female cricketers and disability advocates share what life is like for them in regional Australia. 
Shakira, a proud young Jingili woman from Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory is one of the latest Heywire winners and says, “I’m pretty excited – I’ve never had an opportunity like this before, to tell my story on the radio. It’s pretty big.
“Tennant Creek is pretty small with not many people and opportunities for young people. It’s exciting to tell people about my story and my place. I want people to know time is precious, don’t waste it. I want young people to know that they’ve got to be there for their parents and grandparents and value their stories and knowledge.” 
The Federal Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, Mark Coulton , also applauded the successful entrants and says, “Heywire continues to empower young regional, rural and remote Australians to share their stories, ensuring their voices are heard far and wide. It is why the Australian Government is proud to be an ongoing sponsor of the program.
“Many of these young people have grown up facing issues like drought, bushfires, floods and now the COVID-19 pandemic, and they continue to put their best foot forward to drive change in their communities.” 
Heywire winner Ku Htee from Bendigo, VIC says, “I’m over the moon. I didn’t think I was going to win. It feels so amazing to have my story heard, I’m so proud, so happy and so excited – I have so many emotions! I can’t believe I’m a winner.
“A lot of my personal experience of growing up in a refugee camp in Thailand is in my story.  I hope other people from refugee backgrounds hear my story and take every opportunity that comes their way.” 
Director of ABC Regional & Local, Judith Whelan, congratulated the annual competition winners on their stories, “Heywire continues to be one of the most influential means for young people from regional and rural communities to be heard.  And in these testing times it carries even more importance.
“It is impossible not be drawn into each and every one of the 35 outstanding stories from our 2021 Heywire winners.  They are compelling and engaging and will, without doubt, have positive impacts on their communities.” 
The full list of Heywire winners and their stories are here.

Kevin  Broome, WA  I am a Yawuru, Jaru, Bardi, Bunuba boy from Broome, WA and I am a cowboy. 
Connor  Geraldton, WA  Cadets means family to me. 
Cindy-Lee  Donnybrook, WA  Young mums can have careers too. 
Pedro  Gibson, WA  Music helped me survive bullying and gangs. 
Zander  Albany, WA  I’ve faced my fears to conquer my shyness. I’m a baritone in my school choir. 
Rania  Cocos Islands, WA  I was born with bones as fragile as glass. 
Liam  Ainslie, ACT  Moving from the dangers of Cape Town to safety in Canberra. 
Lily  Nowra, NSW  The wheelchair isn’t who I am, but it’s definitely shaped who I am. 
Amber  Lithgow, NSW  My ‘four-legged therapist’ has helped me smile through the toughest battle of my life. 
Alyssa   Moree, NSW  Racism is real, but I won’t let it drag me and my brothers down. 
Jake  Temora, NSW  I am the only boy in ballet class. 
Kimi   Coonamble, NSW  The best thing about Australia is less homework! 
Paris   Yamba, NSW  My heroes wear helmets. 
India  Bega, NSW  Organising a Pride festival in my small town was so freeing. 
Sam  Callaghan, NSW  Basketball helped me beat cancer’s lasting grip. 
Josh  Macksville, NSW  Cerebral Palsy won’t stop me chasing my farming dreams. 
Maletta  Tiwi Islands, NT  I have two goals: to be a kick-boxing champion or an animator. 
Shakira  Tennant Creek, NT  My pop couldn’t go to school, but he instilled in me a love of education. 
Tahalia  Biloela, QLD  People that truly care about me won’t judge me for my hearing loss. 
Elijah  Bundaberg, QLD  Art helped me through the dark years of coming out as transgender. 
Kaleb  Kewarra Beach, QLD  My love of language has taken me across the world. 
Ty  Longreach, QLD  We put 60,000km on the car just going to sport this year. 
Jessica  Esk, QLD  Living with autism feels like I need to ‘script’ my whole life. 
Matthew  Callington, SA  Farming wasn’t as easy as I thought! 
Chloe  Mintaro, SA  Just like my cover drives, women’s cricket is rocketing towards the boundary. 
Ella  Naracoorte, SA  Aunt flow was a nightmare! 
Seth  Cleve, SA  Flying high – I want to be a commercial pilot! 
Ashlyn  Broken Hill, NSW  Winning the Wudhagaragarra Award for Excellence in Indigenous Education. 
Zoe   Acton Park, TAS  My dad made coming out to him easy. 
Patrick  Launceston, TAS  Autism won’t stop me chasing my dream to work in agriculture. 
Miranda  Creswick, VIC  I’m the first one of my siblings to go to boarding school… and I was terrified to leave. 
Ku Htee 
Eaglehawk, VIC  After spending my first 15 years in a Thailand Refugee Camp, I have a new life in Bendigo. 
Ella  Myrtleford, VIC  Girls can work in building and construction too. 
Will  Moulamein, NSW  Three cheers for the rain, because our whole lives depend on it. 
Tully  Dixie, VIC  You never appreciate home until you leave. 



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