Engaging Youth in Regional Australia
Together, we acknowledge our First Nations peoples as the traditional custodians and owners of the lands on which this work was made – Wiradjuri, Kariyarra, Ngarla, Njamal, Nauo, Barngarla, Wirangu, and the Dja Dja Wurrung. We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Curated by artist-geographer Dr Candice Boyd, Finding Home is an exhibition of research findings from the Engaging Youth in Regional Australia (EYRA) study funded by the Australian Research Council from 2019-2021. Inspired by discussions with community groups and interviews with young people, 16 artworks were produced. Paired with explanations and direct quotations, these works aim to illustrate the research in a uniquely personal way.
Youth outmigration has been an issue in regional Australia for decades, based on an enduring assumption that young people need to leave to pursue educational and employment opportunities that the regions can’t provide. This research demonstrates that choosing to stay or leave a regional area as a young Australian is a deeply emotional and complex decision – not a foregone conclusion.
What if instead of asking them “when are you leaving?”, we asked “what are your plans?”? What difference might that small shift in emphasis make so that regional youth feel free to make a home wherever they feel safe and comfortable, and not according to prior assumptions and expectations? How might Australian regions better foster young people who choose to stay, support the transition for those who leave, and value the knowledge and experience of those who return? What might we learn from Aboriginal practices of passing knowledge from one generation to another? How can we engage youth in regional Australia in novel ways as they journey towards ‘finding home’?
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