Youth leading the way in COVID recovery

Young people from across the Central West converged on Taronga Western Plains Zoo recently for a youth leadership forum supported by the NSW Government.

Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders said the ‘Connecting Country: Youth Leading the Way’ Summit, was a huge hit, bringing together 100 young people from Dubbo, Cobar, Kandos, Yeoval, the Central Coast and even Wilcannia.

“When facing challenges like drought, a global pandemic or flooding, it’s not unusual for anyone to feel powerless,” Mr Saunders said.

“With its focus on environmental conservation, this summit was all about empowering our young people with really practical actions they can take to help address pollution along our inland waterways – building their resilience and confidence in the process.

“I’m really proud the NSW Government was able to support this event with $9,930 from our Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery Initiative, to help youth in our communities bounce back stronger than ever.”

The ‘Connecting Country: Youth Leading the Way’ Summit was hosted by Take 3 for the Sea, a charity dedicated to reducing plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans, on September 14 and 15 at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

“Take 3’s key message is that by taking just 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach or other waterway, you’re making a difference,” Mr Saunders said.

“We hear a lot about plastic pollution in our oceans, but it’s just as important for us to look after our precious creeks and rivers, which are the lifeblood of regional NSW.

“Students were given tools to tackle the challenges of plastic pollution in their own hometowns, developing Community Action Plans to implement at their schools, all the while building their leadership skills and emotional resilience.”

Students from Kandos pledged to create a waste-to-art project from rubbish collected along the Cudgegong River, while other students were keen to raise money for charity by implementing Return and Earn collection points around school.

The Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery Initiative is funded through the NSW COVID-19 Economic Recovery Initiative and the co-funded NSW and Australian Governments’ Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply for funding for wellbeing programs, events and resources as part of the initiative. Applications for both large and smaller grants are open now and close on 31 December 2022, or when fully allocated. For program and eligibility guidelines, visit

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