ABC Heywire winners celebrate the strength and diversity of living in regional and rural Australia – Resilience, courage, and the desire to create change feature strongly in the stories from the 2024 ABC Heywire winners, announced today.
Hundreds of Australians aged 16 to 22 from regional, rural, and remote areas entered the competition by speaking openly and authentically about life beyond our major cities, through written stories, photos, videos, or audio recordings.
The stories from this year’s 35 ABC Heywire winners highlight Australia’s rich diversity and provides an insight into the lives and communities of young Australians living in the regions.
With stories spanning from Fitzroy Crossing to East Arnhem, our winners have shared tales of fly fishing in Northern Tasmania, patrolling beaches in Queensland, smashing glass ceilings in construction, rebuilding communities after disaster, creating safe spaces for open and honest conversations, and listening and learning from Elders on Country.
The winners have worked with the ABC to produce their stories for radio and online, the results of which are available via the ABC Heywire website.
The 2024 ABC Heywire cohort includes Rameez, from Bathurst, who highlighted the opportunity Heywire gives young people in regional Australia.
“We don’t have a lot of places to share our stories to wider audiences. Heywire gives us the platform to be authentic and share something about our lives.”
Lara, from Swan Reach, Victoria, Gunaikurnai Country, knows that with a strong community, you can get through almost anything.
Reflecting on the Black Summer bushfires she said, “It was a really hard thing to live through and we shouldn’t have to live through it again.”
“I am proud of the way my community came together and picked themselves up – it shows how resilient we are. If my community can do it, so can yours. You are not alone.”
Darcy, a proud Bardi, Mirawoong, Yamatji Noongar man from Geraldton, Western Australia knows the impact a positive mentor can have on developing a person’s sense of identity. Darcy said he wants to be that for the next generation of Indigenous people.
“I plan to give back and share my knowledge, support them and give them a sense of belonging.”
Ruby, from Margaret River, Western Australia knows all too well the phrase you can’t be what you can’t see and wants to help make the path easier for women to enter and succeed in construction.
“I was told that I shouldn’t do construction, when there was nothing else I would rather be doing,” she said. “It would have been easier for me if I had seen other women in the construction courses that I was doing. We aren’t represented.”
ABC Director, News, Justin Stevens, congratulated this year’s winners on their brave and authentic stories.
“The magic of Heywire is the young Australians who take part. Courageous and candid, they open a window into their lives in regional Australia, sharing with us the challenges they face and the dreams they have.”
“Young people need to have a voice that is heard all over the nation and the ABC is proud to support this with the annual Heywire competition.”
Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride, said this year’s winners were worthy additions to the Heywire legacy.
“The Australian Government has funded Heywire for two decades in a celebration of the power of storytelling.”
“Heywire shines a light on the lives of young people in rural and regional Australia – their experiences, their challenges and their incredible achievements.”
“The 2024 winners show us what great young advocates we have right across Australia and I congratulate them all.”
Since its inception in 1998, Heywire has become a leading and powerful platform for rural youth, amplifying their voices and putting them at the centre of the conversations that shape their communities.
Community organisers, LGBTQIA+ allies, advocates, Indigenous youth leaders, fisherman, volunteer surf life savers, medical students, law students and farmers, are just a few examples of the winners who have worked with the ABC to produce their stories for radio and online, the results of which are available via the ABC Heywire website.
Heywire acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts; Department of Health and Aged Care; Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; Department of Employment and Workplace Relations; the Office for Youth and AgriFutures Australia.
The full list of 2024 ABC Heywire winners and their stories are here: https://www.abc.net.au/heywire/winners/
|Synopsis of their story
|Broken Hill, NSW, Wilyakali Country
|I want other trans autistic young people to know they aren’t alone.
|Bathurst, NSW, Wiradjuri Country
|I can talk to my mates about anything. But it took years to get there.
|Ulladulla, NSW, Yuin Country
|There’s nothing queer about being kind. My town is starting to understand that.
|Sawtell, NSW, Gumbaynggirr Country
|A supercell hailstorm smashed my town. We can’t let it become the norm.
|Lismore, NSW. Bundjalung Country
|My family is from an asbestos mining town. It’s a place of beauty and sadness.
|Adelong, NSW, Wiradjuri Country
|I’ll never forget the skeleton of the gum leaves.
|Tura Beach, Djiringanj Country
|A zombie tried to claim my forest. My community is fighting to protect it.
|Gilgandra, NSW, Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi and Wailwan Country
|In my country town, the sound of the air ambulance means one thing — pain
|Ballarat, VIC, Wadawurrung Country
|My family farm spans six generations. Land conservation is key to keep the legacy going.
|Bendigo, VIC, Dja Dja Wurrung Country
|I didn’t know anything about the child protection system until I was in it.
|Swan Reach, VIC, Gunaikurnai Country
|School was out but the army was in. The summer everything changed.
|Wodonga, VIC Wiradjuri, Waveroo and Dhudhuroa Country
|Dancing the igisirimba with my family is my favourite part of the week.
|Kerang, VIC, Baraba Baraba Country
|I want my journey recovering from an eating disorder to be a catalyst for change.
|Seymour, VIC, Taungurung Country
|I felt like I didn’t have a cultural identity. Now I have two.
|Birchip, VIC, Wotjobaluk Country
|I was terrified of coming out as transgender. Then dad told me he’d always wanted a son.
|Hobart, TAS, palawa Country
|I will always face challenges, but they won’t stop me from doing the things I love.
|Lilydale, TAS, palawa Country
|Fly fishing is how I escape the world
|Galiwin’ku, NT, Yolngu Country
|I’m a ranger on Galiwin’ku, Northeast Arnhem Land.
|Alice Springs, NT, Arrente Country
|Nothing tastes better than tjupi — honey ants — when you eat them with family.
|Katherine, NT, Dagoman, Jawoyn and Wardaman Country
|Katherine is my home. I don’t like the crime here.
|Renmark, SA, Naralte Country
|Gender dysphoria is exhausting; but the moments of euphoria sustain me.
|Mount Barker, SA, Peramangk Country
|I’ve struggled with my weight. But supportive mates and sport have helped.
|Port Lincoln, SA, Barngarla Country
|A sense of belonging means I hold my head high and treasure my new community.
|Rockhampton, QLD, Darumbal Country
|I used to admire the surf lifesaving volunteers. Now I’m one of them.
|Charters Towers, QLD, Gudjal Country
|My faith and my diversity are things to celebrate, not fear.
|Cairns, QLD, Gimuy Country
|It felt like I was being stabbed. But I was told it was just ‘regular period pains’.
|Mt Isa, QLD, Kalkadoon Country
|Distance has always been a big part of my life. But it’s never been a barrier.
|Toowoomba, QLD, Jagera, Giabal and Jarowair Country
|After fleeing a genocide in Iraq, I found a safe new home in Toowoomba.
|Bundaberg, QLD, Taribelang Bunda Country
|I would drown in my anxiety if it weren’t for the beach.
|Margaret River, WA, Wadandi Noongar Boodja Country
|I was the first and only girl in my construction class at TAFE.
|Albany, WA, Menang Noongar Boodja Country
|I learn a lot from my elders about joy and resilience. And I promise to keep their stories safe.
|Geraldton, WA, Yamatji Country
|As a proud mixed race young man, I have unique struggles and privileges.
|Laverton, WA, Wongi Country
|Even when there’s nothing to do in this town, I can run and feel free.
|Burringurrah, WA Wajarri Country
|We can’t drink from the taps in my community because there’s uranium in our water.
|Fitzroy Crossing, WA, Bunuba Country
|Almost a year after the flood cut off roads in Fitzroy Crossing, we’re still rebuilding.
Media Release – ABC
ABC Heywire winners celebrate the strength and diversity of living in regional and rural Australia
TV Central ABC content HERE