Voices of the Future

Sweet Nothin' - Grace Callaghan and Jai Harrison

The current Captains of Wingham High School, Grace Callaghan and Jai Harrison, share their thoughts on living locally, their future and where the world is going. Politicians please take note!

Jai and Grace met when they played music together in their school production of Romeo and Juliet. They teamed up and formed a musical duo – Sweet Nothin’ and have made beautiful music ever since.

Jai and Grace represent all that is good in our world – caring, enthusiastic, thinking, hard working, young people. If this is an indication of the next generation we are in good hands!

JAI HARRISON

The best part about living in the Manning Valley is knowing so many people and having a tight community. Living in a small area gives you the opportunity to be much closer to all your friends and family. It also has many benefits compared to living in a big city including growing up around trees and forests and being minutes away from land where you can ride horses or motorbikes. It’s a great place to live.

Do you worry about getting a job?

I don’t worry about getting a job because of the many pathways that are given to high school students to allow them to study what they love. The teachers are very helpful and the school has a great careers advisor as well as countless excursions to local and distant universities which help a lot.

Do you think you have to move away to get a good education and find work out of this area?

Between now and university Grace and I plan on having a gap year in which we would like to travel Australia writing and playing music and see where it takes us.

For me I think it would be easier to study and get a job around the Newcastle region. I am interested in mainly science based courses in particular engineering and Newcastle has fantastic facilities for engineering. There are generally more jobs available for engineering in the city, the Manning Valley still provides many good jobs in different areas. I am also very interested in joining the police force after studying and getting a degree at uni so I have many options available and I will make a more definite decision as it all gets closer.

What advice would you give to teenagers who have left school and can’t find a job locally?

I would advise them to do some market research into what jobs are in demand currently and get a base qualification for that job at a local TAFE. Once you have a base qualification required for that job, if it is in demand, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a job.

Do you follow local politics, what the Council is doing, and if you could make changes/improvements to the area what would they be?

I do follow it a little bit. I think the Council does a lot of good things but the local roads need some immediate work. Some of the Greater Taree City roads may cause accidents or serious damage to cars. I also think the Council needs to organise more driver awareness days and courses for young drivers to ensure that they become safe drivers in the future.

What is your major concern about our country?

My major concern about this country is that our political agendas are highly influence by transnational corporations. Also, when I watch politics It is blatantly obvious that the leading politicians only support big companies. I wish the politicians who run the country would listen to what people have to say and do something that benefits everybody. Money should not be the number one priority.

The environment?

I am always worried about the future of the environment. Coal seam gas mining is a very big scare for me. We have got sufficient technology that allows us to get our energy from renewable sources yet we continue to frack and burn coal. Other countries are running purely on renewable energy and it’s about time we stop being greedy and do the same.

The politicians?

It scares me that most politicians continue to lie, as they are such powerful and influential people. I think politics should be more about including the population and listening to what people have to say rather than just doing what makes the most money.

Refugees?

I agree that we cannot just open up our country to illegal immigrants, however, we must do what we can to ensure that they do not die at sea or wash up dead on our shores. Instead of sending them away, we need to put more work into making their countries a better place to live in so they don’t have to leave in the first place.

Terrorism?

Yes terrorism is an issue, however, it is not right that media and politicians make it sound like all Muslims are terrorists when only very few are. I also find it slightly hypocritical to call just them terrorists when we too, along with other countries drop bombs on innocent civilians. There needs to bea better way to fix the issue of terrorism that doesn’t include killing innocent people and dropping bombs everywhere. We need to be more focussed on helping each other, rather than dividing our nations.

GRACE CALLAGHAN

I believe the best part about living where I live is the community. The people are so encouraging and helpful, traits which often result from a tight knit community such as the Manning Valley. Our location too is a blessing. We are surrounded by some of the most beautiful rainforests and gorgeous beaches.

Do you worry about getting a job?

At this point I don’t worry. Jai’s and my music is going wonderfully, and has shown us that if you put in the effort, you can make a successful living. We are lucky to be given so many opportunities in and beyond school that aid us in getting employment.

Do you think you have to move away and get a good education and find work out of this area?

I think it’s different for everyone. Some people may want to go to university, in which case yes you have to move away. Australia has some amazing universities and I am looking forward to hopefully attending one in the future. However, there are so many more opportunities. You can get apprenticeships, part time or full time jobs. Some of our friends have left school in the past year and are thriving here in the Manning Valley. TAFE education is also available and I think that is often underappreciated. It’s a hands on way of education that is excellent if you want to stick around in this area and also get an education.

Jai and I, to be honest, don’t know what the future holds for us. We are planning a gap year, in which we will travel and go crazy with our music. After that, we may go to Uni, as we think we will have more life experience and a better idea of what we want to do as a career. If I was to go to university, I would probably look at nutrition and dietetics, teaching or journalism.

What advice would you give to teenagers who have left school and can’t find a job locally?

I would say just keep looking. Volunteer around the place, get your face out there and let people know you’re a hard worker. Make up a resume with all of your achievements and hand it out everywhere. Even if It’s not your number one choice, you get experience with every job you do. As for after school employment, university is a great opportunity. Our teachers stress that there are many different ways to get in, it isn’t all about your ATAR. TAFE is another excellent path to get into a job you want, or into a UNI course. Alternatively, you can just get out into the workforce and build experience as you go in order to get where you want to be. We are privileged to have lots of employment opportunities and education pathways.

 Do you follow local politics, what the Council is doing, and if you could make changes/improvements to the area what would they be?

I do try to follow them. One positive thing I have noticed is our local politician’s involvement in events. Jai and I played at Summerfest not long ago and saw some of our local representatives there, which was nice to see. The only thing I would say needs work is the roads. It is crucial they are in good condition, almost everyone uses them every day. I am realising the full extent and need of driver safety as I see my friends around me getting their P’s.

What is your major concern about our country?

Our country is constantly developing. My concern is that we are losing touch with our country and each other. We need to remember what is important: our environment, our heritage, our people and our values. I fear that we are beginning to be controlled Multinational companies who’s prime pursuit is money.

The environment?

The environment is so precious and often we do not take care of it as we should. As a young person who has many years left on this earth, I am concerned for the advancing environmental problems. Coal seam gas, pollution, littering, and other countless issues. It is time we put all our efforts into renewable energy technologies. Our Aboriginal ancestors lived with the land, they did not seek to dominate it. We must follow this value. I am very passionate about maintaining the gorgeous environment we have in Australia, and I believe everyone should be the same.

The politicians?

From the snippets of news I see and hear, as well as opinions from countless Australians, the politicians seem out of touch with what it is to be Australian and a leader. There have definitely been positive contributions by our politicians, but also many unheard cries for help and change. Everything seems too focussed on big corporations, and the little people and country towns are often brushed off.

Refugees?

As long as they are here to help positively contribute to this country, I believe they have a place here. If we cannot accept them, we must try to ensure their safety by making their countries a safer place. We are all humans; race, religion, or geography doesn’t change that.

Terrorism?

I believe this is an issue, but one that is blown out of proportion by media. All Muslims are often portrayed as terrorists, which is completely untrue. Our country, along with others, carry out terrible acts of violence as well. We must think more ethically if we wish to have a harmonious country and planet.

 

Thanks Jai and Grace. (ed.)

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