The Nationals in Government are keeping their promise to give regional youth a voice with applications now open for NSW’s first-ever Regional Youth Taskforce.

Young people in rural and regional areas will be able to express their concerns and propose solutions to tackle the issues important to them, such as getting a job, transport, mental health, housing and homelessness.

Minister for Regional Youth Bronnie Taylor launched the taskforce at Keys Youth Hub in Coffs Harbour this week, and said it would give young people across regional NSW a strong voice to shape NSW Government policy and service delivery at a State and local level.

“Regional NSW is home to a third of our State’s youth, and whether you live in the country or on the coast, young people face unique challenges. Regular droughts, high unemployment and the tyranny of distance can make growing up harder for our young people in regional NSW,” Mrs Taylor said.

“As the first Minister for Regional Youth, I want young people in our regions to know that this is your chance to be heard, to champion your local causes, represent your friends and classmates, and be involved in the decisions that help to create change in your hometown.”

“Young people are the experts on youth issues, and as a Government we need to listen to them, we need to hear them out on what services and support works best for them, and what doesn’t,” Mrs Taylor said.

NSW Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the taskforce would give young people in his region a big opportunity to drive change.

“Young people have been telling me that they want to engage with government on decisions that affect them, but they don’t feel like their voice will be heard when it counts the most,” Mr Singh said. “Now they have the opportunity to speak up, and be confident that the decision-makers will listen.”

The taskforce is a key step in the NSW Government’s first-ever Regional Youth Strategy, which will focus on youth unemployment, skills and education, transport, access to services, recreation and mental health, to ensure young people’s wellbeing remains a top priority.

“Inside the first 100 days of this new term of Government, we have delivered on our promise to create a first-ever Minister for Regional Youth, and establish an Office of Regional Youth,” Mrs Taylor said. “Regional youth will also have access to a $50 million reservation from our Stronger Country Communities Fund, to invest in projects and programs in areas such as job preparation, digital skills, arts and recreation, youth centre upgrades, driver training, performance art and support groups.”

Mrs Taylor said the taskforce would be made up of 18 members that will meet regularly and provide direct advice to NSW Government agencies, the Office for Regional NSW and Cabinet on Statewide policy decisions and local plans. She urged any young person that was passionate about their region and those who lived there to apply.

“We want to see applications from everybody. It’s not just about the best and brightest, firsthand experience is key here and will mean you can tell us what you think will really work for your city or town,” Mrs Taylor said.

“I give you one promise: if you talk to us, we will listen.”

Applications are open until 11.59pm on July 14, 2019. To find out more or submit an application, visit www.nsw.gov.au/RegionalYouthTaskforce.