LEONGATHA Secondary College student Lizzie Harms has beaten out four other state finalists to claim the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria’s inaugural Rural Youth Award for leading change in a rural community.
Lizzie was named the winner of her category at an awards ceremony at Melbourne’s Parliament House last Wednesday, in recognition of her efforts to kickstart a community-wide conversation about gender equality and respect for women, which included a workshop on empowerment attended by hundreds of local high school students earlier this year.
After the ceremony, Lizzie said the win, which included $1000 prizemoney, felt “amazing” and made her more motivated to continue her campaign to empower young women and promote gender equality.
“I was in shock. I definitely didn’t expect it, especially hearing about the other nominees’ achievements. That was a bit daunting, and I didn’t rate my chances very highly, but it was also really inspiring to hear about what other young people are doing.”
Lizzie, who’s completing Year 11, said she hoped to get more involved in advocacy work with the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria and she was excited about the opportunities the award would create.
“It’s uplifted my hopes and I think it’s a good thing for the area. Hopefully it shows other young people they can have a voice.”
Other awards presented on the day included ‘youth workers making a difference in rural or regional Victoria’, ‘innovative youth projects or programs in rural or regional Victoria’ and the YACVic Rural Hall of Fame.
Lizzie was the only nominee from Gippsland across all categories.