OZ SPIRIT: Ebony Wickham performing at the Killarney Lions Australia Day Celebrations.
OZ SPIRIT: Ebony Wickham performing at the Killarney Lions Australia Day Celebrations. John Towells

Youth take spotlight in region-wide Australia Day shake up

CHANGES to Australia Day celebrations will put the spotlight on youth and encourage residents to stick around in their towns for the long weekend.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the introduction of a new Southern Downs Junior Citizen of the Year in 2019 would encourage young people to feel a sense of belonging in their community.

"Part of it is our whole ongoing campaign to provide support to young people ... and make them want to stay part of their region and their community,” Cr Dobie said.

Warwick State High School Youth Council representative Rani Towson said the awards were a good chance to encourage young people to get involved in their community.

"Hearing more about other people doing stuff and achieving things, it's kind of like you see it and you think 'oh maybe I want to do that as well',” she said.

The new policy, which removes Australia Day award categories including the cultural award, sports award and others, will give service groups the opportunity to facilitate their own community awards.

Cr Dobie said the Lions Club in Killarney had organised their own community awards for some years.

"We've looked how different groups around the region host their celebrations and tried to find a good balance so it becomes community events and awards,” Cr Dobie said.

An Australia Day street party in Warwick in 2016 would be an opportunity to attract visitors to the region as well as encourage residents to stay around.



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