BASED on their innovative, passionate ideas about diversity and leadership, three high school students from regional WA have been selected for a ‘power trip’ to Canberra.
Sarah Recklies, Kununurra and Sophie Luscombe and Hannah Bowden, Busselton, were the deserving winners of the Country to Canberra’s Leadership Competition, which aims to connect influential female mentors with young women who are keen to make a difference
Country to Canberra chief executive officer Hannah Wandel said the organisation was inundated with entries from young women across the country.
“Hundreds of girls submitted phenomenal videos and stories to our leadership competition, making it an incredibly tough selection process,” Ms Wandel said.
“This is the first time that we’ve selected three winners from WA, so the girls should be extremely proud of such a high achievement.
“They’ll be great ambassadors for their local communities when they shine on the national stage in Canberra.”
Ms Recklies, a student at Kununurra District High School, is looking forward to building on her professional contacts and leadership skill and to come out of the trip feeling empowered with new experiences and knowledge.
“From all the details I have received so far in regards to the trip, I think there’s going to be a lot of professional development workshops and chances to establish professional connections,” Ms Recklies said.
“I’m really wanting to learn from these experiences to help me develop professionally for the future.
“The whole experience is (going to be) a new thing to me – being from a hot, remote area where going barefoot is the daily get-up, Canberra is like a different world and I think it is vital for me to experience such a formal setting.”
The 18-year-old said being from regional WA had given her opportunities that many young people didn’t get.
“The rural region has shaped me in a way – it’s exposed me to experiences and places that some people never get to see (such as) the beautiful natural formations such as Lake Argyle or our muster festival.”
After she finishes high school, Ms Recklies plans to move to Tasmania where her parents live and study criminology and psychology at university with the hope of joining the police force in the future.
From Cape Naturaliste College, 17-year-old Ms Luscombe made the top 40 in last year’s Country to Canberra Leadership Competition and was encouraged to re-apply.
“A previous head girl of my school, Ellecha Thorp, won Country to Canberra in 2015 and when I became head girl this year and found out Ellecha was volunteering on the trip, I knew I had to enter,” Ms Luscombe said.
“I had met Hannah Wandel earlier this year when her team did a trip around Australia, visiting regional and rural towns running workshops to empower women.
“From the moment I met Hannah, I just knew ‘these are my people’.
“I hope this trip will give me an unbreakable bond with some like-minded, powerful women and give me the boost I need to move into the next stage of my life as I graduate high school and move into adulthood.”
Living in two regional towns and a rural town throughout her life has given Ms Luscombe the determination to achieve as high a level as anyone from metropolitan areas.
“I wouldn’t say it has held me back at all, but it’s definitely given me a drive to reach the highest level I can,” she said.
“In more recent years, being a regional high school student has given me a passion to make sure regional and rural kids receive just as many opportunities for growth and that’s why I love the work Country to Canberra does.”
Next year, Ms Luscombe aims to study a double degree in law and economics at Curtin University.
With a new found love for economics after studying it as an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) subject, Ms Luscombe has her sights set on being an economist for the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Sixteen-year-old Ms Bowden, a Georgiana Molloy Anglican School student, entered the leadership competition in the hope of developing connections with people of similar interests.
“I think the trip will be an amazing opportunity and I hope to forge connections with people from around Australian and further develop my leadership and public speaking skills,” Ms Bowden said.
“I hope to gain a deeper understanding of various issues around Australia and learn from other perspectives of people I meet on the trip.”
Ms Bowden grew up on a farm near Beverley where her family produced grain and sheep before moving to Busselton where her family is involved in the South West wine region grape harvest.
She has a strong passion for human rights and providing equal education opportunities for all people.
With an eagerness to study international relations and economics at university, Ms Bowden hopes to be an Australian diplomat in the future, maybe even for the United Nations.
Regarded as an ‘experience of a lifetime’, the prize includes a Powerful Women’s Breakfast at the Hyatt Hotel, meetings with Federal ministers, mentorship sessions, a tour of Parliament House, leadership and public speaking training, tickets to Question Time and more.
“In past years, the teenage winners met with former foreign minister Julie Bishop, deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek and even the prime minister,” Ms Wandel said.
“Our aim is to empower rural girls to reach their leadership potential and that’s why we also run our Project Empower workshops in schools.
“We need to continue to encourage young women’s leadership, fight for gender equality and a fairer and more progressive Australia for all.”
The Power Trip commences on Saturday, November 24 until Wednesday, November 28, 2018.