28 April 2024

Insight from: Robbie Sefton

You don't have to look far in the country to find a good story. Someone with a good idea who turns it into a thriving business.

A young man or woman who's found sporting success on the national stage. A regionally-based artist whose work is now highly sought after by collectors across the globe.

Or the student who's at university, pursuing a degree and future career they hope to one day bring home to the bush.

The bigger message is that with effort and determination, you can achieve your dreams and you don't have to be in a big city to realise those ambitions.

However, it must be acknowledged that sometimes the path for those in rural and regional Australia can be a little longer, and even a little rockier, than for those in larger communities where assistance and resources are often in much larger supply.

I'm constantly inspired by those individuals - and often groups - in rural and regional communities who make it their business to further the personal and professional goals and interests of young people.

The ones with a passion to pursue a particular course, but who may not have the knowledge, experience, networks or financial resources to take that first step.

These dedicated people are everywhere. In fact, in my hometown of Deniliquin I can think of numerous examples of individuals and organisations reaching out to country kids to help further their ambitions.

The Country Education Foundation (CEF), of which I'm a big fan, is a national not-for-profit helping young people in country areas access education, training and jobs through the likes of grants and scholarships.

But, it's also a community-based organisation, with local foundations across Australia run by community volunteers.

Deni is just one of those communities fortunate enough to have a CEF presence.

Another example is Jenny Fellows, of Fellows Bulk Transport, who has recently taken out the National Trucking Industry Woman of the Year Award, which recognises the professional or personal contribution made by a woman within the local industry.

A passionate advocate for the industry, she has also chosen to share her knowledge and expertise with the next generation, volunteering with Transport Women Australia's mentoring program, and establishing the Deniliquin Driver Education Program in 2006.

The program has evolved into a week-long course teaching school students how to share the road safely and has expanded from Deniliquin to outlying schools.

In 2020, it won the Australian Road Safety Foundation's School Programs Award.

In the case of the CEF, it's helping put students on the path to career success, and helping play a role with far wider ramifications for rural and regional Australia.

Students who wish to go to university will often have to move away to study, but it's true that a proportion of them will return to the bush at some point, bringing with them highly sought after skills that may be in short supply in the regions.

Jenny through her mentoring is securing the future of the local transport industry, and the contribution of women to the industry.

With her driver education program, she's also helping secure the future of young country residents by teaching them critically-important road safety skills.

Our regions cannot thrive without the CEFs and Jennys of the world, but the good news is, look a little closer at any country community and you'll find many inspiring examples of people going the extra mile to ensure those coming behind them have a safe, successful and rewarding future ahead.

To read this article in The Land newspaper, visit Country Education Foundation one of many vital services in the bush | The Land | NSW

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