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.
||I am a Yawuru, Jaru, Bardi, Bunuba boy from Broome, WA and I am a cowboy.
||Cadets means family to me.
||Young mums can have careers too.
||Music helped me survive bullying and gangs.
||I’ve faced my fears to conquer my shyness. I’m a baritone in my school choir.
||Cocos Islands, WA
||I was born with bones as fragile as glass.
||Moving from the dangers of Cape Town to safety in Canberra.
||The wheelchair isn’t who I am, but it’s definitely shaped who I am.
||My ‘four-legged therapist’ has helped me smile through the toughest battle of my life.
||Racism is real, but I won’t let it drag me and my brothers down.
||I am the only boy in ballet class.
||The best thing about Australia is less homework!
||My heroes wear helmets.
||Organising a Pride festival in my small town was so freeing.
||Basketball helped me beat cancer’s lasting grip.
||Cerebral Palsy won’t stop me chasing my farming dreams.
||Tiwi Islands, NT
||I have two goals: to be a kick-boxing champion or an animator.
||Tennant Creek, NT
||My pop couldn’t go to school, but he instilled in me a love of education.
||People that truly care about me won’t judge me for my hearing loss.
||Art helped me through the dark years of coming out as transgender.
||Kewarra Beach, QLD
||My love of language has taken me across the world.
||We put 60,000km on the car just going to sport this year.
||Living with autism feels like I need to ‘script’ my whole life.
||Farming wasn’t as easy as I thought!
||Just like my cover drives, women’s cricket is rocketing towards the boundary.
||Aunt flow was a nightmare!
||Flying high – I want to be a commercial pilot!
||Broken Hill, NSW
||Winning the Wudhagaragarra Award for Excellence in Indigenous Education.
||Acton Park, TAS
||My dad made coming out to him easy.
||Autism won’t stop me chasing my dream to work in agriculture.
||I’m the first one of my siblings to go to boarding school… and I was terrified to leave.
||After spending my first 15 years in a Thailand Refugee Camp, I have a new life in Bendigo.
||Girls can work in building and construction too.
||Three cheers for the rain, because our whole lives depend on it.
||You never appreciate home until you leave.
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