Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM executive editor James Joyce.
They are the faces of hope in the face of adversity - young Australians living on the land who have stepped forward to lead the next generation's thinking on how farmers and rural communities will not only survive the drought but thrive into the future.
Joanna Treasure is one of the 11 young people on the steering committee for the upcoming UNICEF Australia NSW Youth Summit on Living with Drought.
"I want to make sure kids growing up in rural areas are still encouraged to be involved in agriculture, despite the hardships they're experiencing," the 21-year-old told the Cowra Guardian.
"In order to retain its vitality now and into the future, agriculture needs innovative country kids who possess the nous to adapt to a changing world and environment."
The UNICEF summit in Lake Macquarie next month will bring together people aged 14 to 24 to discuss how the drought is affecting them, their families and communities, and to brainstorm ways to address the issues.
The young members of the steering committee are helping to shape the summit program. They will also spend the next few weeks selecting the 100 or so participants from applications received from across drought-ravaged NSW.
(BTW - Applications to attend the summit have been extended and now close at midnight tonight. Click here for more information.)
Kate Currans, at 15, is the youngest member of the committee. She grew up on a farm between Nyngan and Cobar and told the Nyngan Observer that most of her life had been spent coping with drought.
"I specifically remember, when there was any ewe with twins, it was my role to stop the crows from picking the eyes out of the first lamb, while mum would help pull the second stuck lamb," Kate said.
"Just small experiences like this expose you to death and the cruelty that animals can inflict on one another for survival."
Walgett's Emily Newton, 21, said young people living on the land were not spending their time being kids because they were seeing drought's effect, including mental illness and financial instability.
"My main hope is that young people are able to come away from the summit with the life skills to be able to tackle the hardships they find themselves facing in the drought," she said.
Hamish Sanderson, a Year 10 student at Trundle Central School who lives on a farm, says he's involved in the summit because teenagers and young adults from the bush need to be heard.
"These rural youth can also provide us with some ideas or inspiration for methods to assist the communities that are affected by the drought," he told the Parkes Champion-Post.
Patrick Blomfield and Elly Byriell, both 16, are representing the parched New England region on the steering committee.
Patrick, who lives on a 980-hectare Caroona cattle property, said he saw the summit as a way for young people to come together with a common goal - "to listen to ,and share, stories and ideas".
Now there's a novel approach for our policy-making politicians as they get ready to go back to work in Federal Parliament in Canberra next week.
BTW - do you want to run the nation's capital? Well, put down the mobile device you are reading this on, stretch those calves, lace on your running shoes and enter The Canberra Times Fun Run.
See below for more great reading from around the Australian Community Media network.
Executive Editor, Australian Community Media
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