Regional Youth Forum held at Burra

More than 100 students from three neighbouring regions joined together for a Regional Youth Forum, held at the Burra Town Hall on Wednesday.

A collaborative effort between the Goyder, Clare and Barossa Youth Advisory Committees and the Commissioner for Children and Young People Helen Connolly, the forum was the first of it's kind in the state.

Year 8 and 9 students from Burra Community School, Eudunda Area School, Clare High School and Nuriootpa High School discussed some of the big issues that they faced living in regional areas of South Australia.

These issues included mental health, education, job opportunities and online behaviour.

Running from 10am til 2pm, the day concluded with a discussion panel which included speakers from each region.

Sharna Juett, Jake Akler and Luke Graetz answered questions alongside Jasmine Lawrie from Clare YAC and Emily Lines from Goyder YAC.

The speakers touched on the important roles groups like YAC play in the community and how young people can use the platform to spark change.

Ms Lawrie and Ms Lines agreed that young people need to be vocal about their community and what needs to change to have a positive impact in years to come.

"Your voices have to be heard, but you have to start using your voices to be heard," Ms Lawrie said.

Touching on the topic of mental health issues for young people, Ms Lawrie said it was important to communicate and help each other out.

"We all have different backpacks of things, but we can unpack them together and share the load a bit."

The forum was hosted by Goyder YAC and was made possible during Mrs Connolly's visit to Burra and Clare two years ago.

She said the forum was beneficial in helping the youth identify the issues they face but to also discuss solutions.

"Often we get kids to tell us what the problems are and then leave it at that, whereas this was about saying what are the issues but more importantly what are the solutions," she said.

"The real bit of today was about this focus on them and their assets and the assets in their community that they can use, rather than thinking it is all about services or money."

The next step in the process was for Mrs Connolly and her team to collate the various issues and solutions identified at the forum, with the results to be given back to the three YACs.

Plans would then be drawn up to implement ways of addressing the issues in their respective communities through discussions with local government and state government.

Mrs Connolly hoped that the forum could be taken around different parts of regional SA to give different perspectives on issues that young people currently faced.