ABC announces the 2021 Heywire winners, celebrating regional stories

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• “I’ve never had an opportunity like this before, to tell my story on the radio.”

ABC Heywire celebrates 35 young regional Australians in its 2021 storytelling competition. Since 1998, Heywire has become a powerful platform for rural youth to share their stories and make a difference in their communities. 

This year, hundreds of people entered from across Australia. The Heywire winners were chosen for “telling it like it is” about life in their part of the country. 

From growing up in a refugee camp, to busting myths around Autism and celebrating LGBTQI pride. Lawn bowlers, bull riders, young farmers, linguists, female cricketers, and disability advocates share what life is like for them in regional Australia. 

Shakira, a proud young Jingili woman from Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory is one of the latest ABC Heywire winners and is looking forward to seeing more stories like hers out there. 

“I’m pretty excited – I’ve never had an opportunity like this before, to tell my story on the radio. It’s pretty big,” she said.  

“Tennant Creek is pretty small with not many people and opportunities for young people. It’s exciting to tell people about my story and my place.” 

“I want people to know time is precious, don’t waste it. I want young people to know that they’ve got to be there for their parents and grandparents and value their stories and knowledge.”

The Federal Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, Mark Coulton MP, also applauded the successful entrants.  

Heywire continues to empower young regional, rural, and remote Australians to share their stories, ensuring their voices are heard far and wide. It is why the Australian Government is proud to be an ongoing sponsor of the program.” 

“Many of these young people have grown up facing issues like drought, bushfires, floods and now the COVID-19 pandemic, and they continue to put their best foot forward to drive change in their communities.” Minister Coulton said.  

“I congratulate all 35 winners for sharing stories about what life is like in regional and rural Australia.” 

Heywire winner Ku Htee from Bendigo, VIC said, “I’m over the moon. I didn’t think I was going to win. It feels so amazing to have my story heard, I’m so proud, so happy and so excited – I have so many emotions! I can’t believe I’m a winner.” 

“A lot of my personal experience of growing up in a refugee camp in Thailand is in my story.  I hope other people from refugee backgrounds hear my story and take every opportunity that comes their way.” 

Ku Htee hopes her story will encourage people to make refugees feel welcomed and accepted in Australia, without any racism or discrimination.

Director of ABC Regional & Local, Judith Whelan, congratulated the annual competition winners on their stories.  

Heywire continues to be one of the most influential means for young people from regional and rural communities to be heard.  And in these testing times, it carries even more importance.” 

It is impossible not be drawn into each and every one of the 35 outstanding stories from our 2021 Heywire winners.  They are compelling and engaging and will, without doubt, have positive impacts on their communities.” 

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