Showcasing regional Australia’s best young storytellers

Forty-one regional Australians, aged between 16 and 22, were honoured today as winners of the ABC’s Heywire storytelling competition.

Each winner was selected as the outstanding storyteller in their region from almost 700 entries nationwide. From Grenfell in NSW, to Robinson River in the Northern Territory, from Palm Island in Queensland, to Penguin in Tasmania and Manjimup in WA, their stories come from every corner of the country.

The winning stories will be broadcast across ABC radio and featured on ABC TV and iView. In a media landscape which often lacks the voices of young people, especially those from outside capital cities, Heywire amplifies these important perspectives.

In February, winners will come together in Canberra for the Heywire Regional Youth Summit. At the Summit, they will meet with Members of Parliament, Senators and community leaders, to share their view on issues which they are passionate about, including mental health, substance abuse, access to services and cultural diversity.

The Director of ABC Regional, Fiona Reynolds, says “ This year’s winners provide a unique perspective on the challenges and joys of life in regional Australia. “Every year we are blown away by the honesty and candour of the stories we receive,” she said.

Heywire offers the chance for these young people to be heard nationally and to develop as leaders in their communities. The future for regional Australia is very bright, with young people as passionate and articulate as these.”

From enjoying the big rain which ends years of drought; to settling in Mt Gambier after fleeing war-torn Syria; from delivering lambs during a storm in Central Victoria; to rediscovering your language and culture in remote WA, these stories showcase the diversity and talent of young people living in regional, rural and remote Australia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the Coalition Government is proud to support the important Heywire programme, providing funding to continue the programme for another three years.

“Heywire is a wonderful initiative that helps our young country people inform national discussions to address issues affecting their communities, but it is also a fantastic way to highlight what is great about life in regional and rural Australia. 

“I commend these young people for telling it how it is and making a difference for their communities across the nation.

“I am excited to meet this year’s winners to learn more about their experiences and help get their stories heard on a national scale.”


2017 Heywire Winners




 Sheetal Mangal

 Canberra, ACT

 Migrating from Fiji, I discovered home is the people you love

 Leah Robins

 Dubbo, NSW

 Working the land Grandpa never saw sun safety as an issue, for me it’s second nature

 Jamilla Dempsey

 Austinmer, NSW

 Dealing with my own mental illness has helped me assist others

 Caitlin Muddle

 Dungog, NSW

 Hopefully the end of my family farm will be the beginning of    another family’s happiness

 Nicholas Stacey

 Tamworth, NSW

 My town is special; it just took me a while to notice

 Mitchell Pitman

 Casino, NSW

 I was told I’d never walk. But I wasn’t going to let that happen! 

 Georgie McKelvie

 Temora, NSW

 Discovering the difference between the country and city

 Yongyan Xia

 Grenfell, NSW

 Regional Australia is home, but I don’t want to lose my only connection with China

 Connor May

 Merimbula, NSW

 I used to dream of flying, now I dream about being a pilot

 Daroo Morris

 Mitchells Island, NSW

 No matter how hard life is… you can achieve anything

 Cristella Campbell

 Robinson River, NT

 I love my Nana’s stories about the old days on the cattle station

 Claire Wright

 Tennant Creek, NT

 Caring for mum as multiple sclerosis takes hold

 Kieran Martin

 Willowra, NT

 I’m going to make my grandpa proud and overcome life’s challenges

 Breanna Cook

 Monto, Qld

 My horse and I share a unique bond

 Mandi Edwards

 Emerald, Qld

 Choosing to start a family at 17 does not make me a cliché

 Ben Grace

 Cairns, Qld

 My identity was forged in the wilderness of the Far North

 Mikayla Mayoh

 Townsville, Qld

 My cousin’s death changed my perspective on drug addiction

 Raikiesha Castors

 Palm Island, Qld

 Going to boarding school has made me two-ways strong

 Zoe Barnes

 Mackay, Qld

 Volunteering and giving back to my community was my way out of depression

Kate Skinner

Mountain Creek, Qld

Surf Life Savers are meant to help others but that day we needed help

 Bella Joseland

 Yaraka, Qld

 After years of drought, the rain brings so much happiness on my remote station

 Ranim Alkharabeh

 Mount Gambier, SA

 Fleeing the war in Syria for a beautiful life in Australia

 Natasha Leedham

 Karoonda, SA

 Country cricket is for everyone, even shy girls like me

 Krystin Mance

 Coober Pedy, SA

 Saving our Outback Drive-in showed me the true spirit of Coober Pedy

 Kane Goldsworthy

 Port Neill, SA

 Finding friendships in a rural town full of retirees

 Brian Edwards

 Broken Hill, SA

 Volunteering as a first-aider in the outback was one of my best decisions

 Dominic Rheinberger

 Hobart, Tas

 How I overcame depression and my addiction to graffiti

 Brooke Farrelly

 Penguin, Tas

 I was Tasmania’s first junior drag racer

 Oliver Wood

 Launceston, Tas

 Being transgender in a rural town

 Eman Soliman

 Shepparton, Vic

 I am proud to wear a hijab

 Ashley Eadon

 Woodend, Vic

 Dad’s community spirit has given our family so much

 Lauren Shin Carlson

 Phillip Island, Vic

 As a Korean-Australian I’m lucky to have two cultures

 Emiley Cody

 Ross Creek, Vic

 Moments like this is why my family are farmers

 Navneet Bhatha

 Swan Hill, Vic

 Getting to know my new multicultural community

 Josephine Bond

 St Helen’s Plains, Vic

 The wind change saved many properties from the fire… but it destroyed ours

 Molly Hunt

 Wyndham, WA

 Taking the leap from a remote community to boarding school

 Kyle Reinke

 Lancelin, WA

 Why don’t we support kangaroo shooters?

 Sam Baxter

 Denmark, WA

 I wonder what I’d be like without our holidays at The Bay

 Regan Austin

 Manjimup, WA

 How riding a “kids toy” changed my life

 Caitlin Tippett

 Jigalong, WA

 I arrived at Jigalong knowing nothing about my ancestors, language or culture

 Luke Stevens

 Gibson, WA

 The day we lost a family friend in a bushfire


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