KI teenager heads from country to Canberra

23 Jul 2020
Country to Canberra 1

Posted December 02, 2019

Kangaroo Island teenager Sienna Putland is aiming to tackle gender inequality one island at a time after taking part in the Country to Canberra 2019 Leadership Competition.

Photograph: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie with Sienna Putland from KI who took part in the Country to Canberra 2019 Leadership Program.

The 15-year-old from Parndana met her local Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie in Parliament House last week and told the Member for Mayo she was keen to put the skills she had learned into practice.

“I’m hoping to tell my whole school about what I have learned and how I can help address the gender gap across the Island and Australia,” Sienna said.

“I’m also hoping to set up a discussion group so we can talk about gender equality on the Island.

“Country to Canberra has been such an amazing experience – I never saw myself doing something like this but it’s been really great.

“I’ve learned so much about public speaking and how to project myself in a way that shows I am a strong and confident leader.”

Country to Canberra is a leadership program for young women in regional, rural and remote Australia that involves a trip to the nation’s capital.

During the trip, the participants meet inspiring politicians and CEOs, receive leadership and media training, tour Parliament and attend a Powerful Women’s Breakfast.

The program started in 2014 with the aim of empowering regional women by providing mentorship and skill-building, networking and education opportunities.

Eighteen young women took part in the 2019 leadership competition, including Sienna.

Rebekha Sharkie said Country to Canberra was a worthwhile initiative.

“Young women in rural Australia face greater barriers than their city counterparts so programs like this are important,” Rebekha said.

“We know from Mission Australia’s Youth Survey Report 2019, released yesterday, that nearly half of respondents from regional areas, male and female, felt there were many barriers that could impact upon the achievement of their study and work goals after finishing school.

“Nearly three times the number of young people from regional areas told the survey that ‘where’ they lived was a major barrier - 13.9% compared with 4.9% of respondents from major cities.

“This is significant and we need more initiatives such as Country to Canberra to empower young regional women to build their leadership skills and educational opportunities.”

According to the Mission Australia’s Youth Survey Report 2019, the top three issues of personal concern for young people from both major cities and regional areas were coping with stress, school or study problems and mental health.

The next most personally concerning issues for both cohorts of young people were body image and physical health.

In 2019, the top three issues identified by young people from major cities were mental health, the environment, and equity and discrimination.

For young people from regional areas, the top three most important issues in Australia were mental health, the environment and alcohol and drugs

Since 2018, the proportion of those from regional areas reporting the environment as a key national issue has more than tripled from 8.7% to 33.5%.

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