YEAR 12 Snowy Mountains Grammar School student, Cassandra Maye, travelled to Canberra recently to represent the Eden-Monaro region at the 2014 Heywire Youth Summit, which was held at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Cassie said, "This was such an incredible experience. I met so many interesting people who have a different view of the world from their part of Australia."
Cassandra's week consisted of collaborating with government partners and the FRRR (Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal) to come up with solutions to issues within communities. Cassie's team for Heywire 2014 consisted of Prudence Melom from Toowoomba and Ali Rezia from Shepparton.
They talked about some of the issues of immigration and tolerance and acceptance of refugees, and together they created "E-Raced", which Cassie described as "eliminating race by erasing the differences", i.e. erasing negative perceptions and stereotypes and, as a result, building more tolerant, understanding and supportive communities. Explaining the concept further, Cassie said it would be a storytelling event, at which new Australians would share their experiences with local communities and enjoy a meal together, featuring food from their country of birth. Everyone would be invited to meet and chat with the storytellers, asking questions about their life, culture, traditions and, of course, their journey to Australia.
Cassie said that these friendly, local events would provide regional and rural communities around Australia with the wonderful experience of meeting new Australians from all around the globe. E-Raced would also be available online, thus creating a human library of stories and enabling the wider Australian community to read the stories of new Australians and to share their own experiences.
Australia is a mosaic of different cultures and Cassie said this is what makes the country so special and unique. Cassie and her team therefore believe that, by educating Australians about their differences, E-Raced will be able to erase racism.
At the end of the week, the 40 students and Cassie pitched their ideas in Parliament House to government officials, members of parliament, senators and to the general public. Communities will be able to apply for grants run by the FRRR (Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal) of up to $10,000, with $100,000 worth of grant money to be distributed.
The week closed with the Heywire Gala dinner, at which Cassie was honoured to be able to speak on behalf of the Heywire group of 2014. She received her Heywire certificate from Senator Colbeck from Tasmania. Cassie hopes that, within the coming year, an E-Raced event can be held in the Monaro region.