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A Teen Take on Foreign Investment

Written by Lauren Butler – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

Growing up in rural Queensland has given me an insight into the agricultural industry and has shown me the real meaning of hard work. After living on the land for almost 16 years now, I have learned to appreciate the effort that goes into producing the food on supermarket shelves. The outback isn’t always a forgiving place and puts farmers through hard times, with long droughts and little rain to keep stock and crops alive.

I believe that having an appreciation of the land is an important part of growing up and valuing the hard work and determination that goes into keeping the rural industry alive. Farmers across the land create produce for Australia and the overseas markets. In recent months overseas companies have been purchasing properties around Australia and buying farmers out in their weakest moments. It is well known that farmers in central west Queensland have been doing it tough in the past months, and during this time corporations have used this opportunity to take properties off of farmer’s hands, essentially taking over the land.

These purchases mean that less money made from farming and beef producers, is going back into the industry.  Instead, it is heading overseas. This cycle means that hard working men, women and families who are keeping properties running aren’t getting the recognition they deserve; instead Chinese companies are using their progress to promote their companies.

Australia is losing the true meaning of hard work due to the shadowing from these overseas buyers. We need to help rural farmers stand up against these takeovers to ensure that the wealth of these properties goes back into the industry and supports our farmers, who keep Australia alive. If we don’t support our farmers during this time, overseas companies will continue to buy properties out and there will be nothing left that we can call genuine Australian produce.

The Secret Motivator

Rachel Alger Country to Canberra photo

Written by Rachel Alger, Country to Canberra Teen Blogger.

We work hard, but work is hard. We’re a species of procrastination. Often we need a good motivator to kick-start our inspiration and nudge us along the path of productivity. Unfortunately, that driving force is different for everyone, and it can be harder to find it than to actually start working.

We try everything. The most common methods depend on the strength of your willpower. Depriving yourself of your favourite things until you finish a particular task (e.g. “I will not eat any chips ever until I finish this”) leaves you feeling guilty when, three weeks and an unfinished task later, you eat the chips. Your task remains unfinished, and all you’ve accomplished is delaying your own chippy happiness.

Promising yourself one square of chocolate per completed task never works. You’ll always end up shoving the entire block into your face during intervals of minor self-loath after breaking your promise. You’ll never touch the tasks again for fear of stirring up the pain they’ve caused you.

Other methods don’t work.

The aggressive screams of “JUST DO IT” terrify rather than inspire you.

Listening to motivational music always leads to watching the movies they come from.

A strict time management plan works until you miss a task by one minute, and then you believe all hope is lost and you may as well wallow in despair.

Visualising idealised results is tricky. It works, but it can be hard if you don’t reach those expectations. It’s healthier to be satisfied in knowing you did your best and using that as motivation to try.

Rewards are a slightly more successful motivational tool, but after a while their effect fades. For example, you plan on rewarding two hours of studying with one hour of TV. However, subconsciously you’ll know that doing your work realistically has no relation to how much TV you can watch and when. Rewarding yourself with something you can access regardless of the work you’ve completed eventually ends in one of two effects; either you reap the rewards without the work, or you get used to life without the reward.

To be motivated, you need to promise yourself something abstract. You need a reward that can only be achieved through working; a feeling you cannot access unless you have completed your goals.

You imagine the perfect productive day.

Ticking items off a list.



That intoxicating self-satisfaction holds more than empty promises – it is the secret to motivation.

Once you employ this secret motivator – the wholesome, delectable satisfaction of productivity – you will find yourself craving the feeling of accomplishment. You will find yourself craving the permission to relax, guilt-free; to admire your achievements of the day, knowing your efforts have been utilised to their full potential. Productivity allows you to access the feeling that you have invested rather than wasted your time, with the results to prove it. Productivity hands you a VIP card to Success that you’ve earnt. You’ll enter the cycle: The more you finish, the more you’ll start. In a strange, roundabout way, your struggle to be productive can be solved with productivity itself. 

Threats, promises, rewards – none are as powerful a motivator as the knowledge that you’ve used the day to your advantage. Finishing things makes you feel good, so you’ll feel more motivated to do more in order to feel that fuzzy fulfilment. Wanting the unique feeling of satisfaction, unlocked only by the key of productivity, can push you to your full potential. Motivation, drive, and success are all effects of the secret motivator: productivity.

Guest Post: Caitlin Figueiredo

“Caitlin Figueiredo is a BIG picture idealist – her mission is to empower individuals from all walks of life to rally together to end social injustice within her lifetime. She believes every man, woman and child deserve to have the same opportunities, as one another and no one should ever be stigmatised due to their backgrounds or beliefs. Everything she does is for the purpose of creating an equal and fair world.”

We are thrilled to have the amazing Caitlin Figueiredo as this month’s Country to Canberra guest blogger.  It is a real honour to have Caitlin share her story publicly, for the first time, with us.  You can’t help but be inspired by the passionate, determined and hard working young woman that she is.

caitlin-figueiredo-australia-2From Calvary Hospital to the United Nations

by Caitlin Figueiredo

I’ve always known my calling was to take care of people and help unify our world. When I was six years old, I pledged my life to help the less fortunate and provide a voice for those without one. However, before I could do that, I’ve had to overcome considerable challenges to get to where I am today.

Growing up was an uphill battle as I faced disempowerment from chronic illness. I’ve missed around three years of school, had to repeat year 11, I’ve been in hospital so many times I lost count and faced years of physical and psychological abuse.IMG_1305

Looking back, my abuser targeted me for two reasons, one because I was a girl and two because they did not like my independence or my ability to stand up to injustice. I was never one to remain silent and for my abuser, this was something they tried to literally beat out of me. My experience with violence and an inability to defend myself made me powerless to the years of psychological abuse I would face from my classmates and those around me.  School for me was a place of anxiety and I was forced to change schools six times, told by teachers and those around me that I would fail and even received death threats. But despite the external challenges, I hated how ashamed and weak my experiences made me feel – I internalised my pain. It took me years before I finally developed the courage to open up to my family, let alone anyone else. Throughout these times I had to learn how to live with my psychological demons where my battle with bipolar and anxiety seemed all encompassing.

One of the biggest challenges was dealing with the misconception that I was not a ‘real girl’ because I did not fit society’s gender stereotypes. A11046366_998783946833532_4179872879907633597_odvertising, social media, celebrities and those around me led me to believe a ‘real girl’ was delicate, submissive, quiet, thin, always wore pretty clothes/makeup and conformed to social trends. I was also told my only job in life (as a girl) was to be seen and not heard, get married and reproduce. I wasn’t anything like those stereotypes and I definitely was not going to remain silent. This resulted in my internal struggle with my own worthiness.

I also remember in college, students believed there was no way I could be straight because I did not ‘fit the girl mould.’ A few people went so far to say ‘I’m so in the closet, I’m sliding down the rainbow slide to Narnia.’ I obviously didn’t get the message that ‘straight girls’ could not play elite basketball and wear sports gear… Whoever created the saying ‘sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you’ – well, they lied. They did hurt. And they did cause damage.

For a time my experiences silenced me, unable to speak out in fear of negative reactions and social stigmatisms around abuse and mental illness. This has fuelled my passion to represent those without a voice. So after too many years listenin12698638_1087179854660607_5182418314152990838_og to others telling me ‘who I am and what I’ll achieve’ – I’ve spent the last two years working to recapture my purpose, defeat my demons and prove to the world that nothing and no one will stop me from living my life to the fullest and making a difference.  It was through my personal experiences I realised society places unhealthy pressures on girls and boys. And I’m on a mission to challenge them. I know what it feels like to think you have the world against you. I know what its like to live in a place of hopelessness. I want to use my story to inspire others in similar circumstances to know it gets better and they’re not alone.

Where am I now?

Last year I truly stepped into my journey towards helping people by working with World Vision as the VGen ACT State Director. I founded their youth movement within Canberra, which has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. In my role I lead a passionate, game-changing tribe of volunteers who refuse to accept poverty as part of our generation’s legacy. VGen influences Australian government, business and culture through our grassroots campaigning and advocacy. Earlier this year I 12932678_1118620714849854_2823069216463646337_ntravelled to Cambodia with World Vision to grow VGen’s global youth partnership program, to visit World Vision Australia’s community development programs and to collectively advocate for ending child labour alongside fellow Cambodian youth leaders.

I have also co-founded and developed Pakistan’s first Arts for Peace initiative alongside my friend Francis Ventura. The initiative aims at empowering young Pakistani women and girls through their interaction with the arts. Our program teaches local women and girls and the wider community about their human rights, the im1482861_917450411636398_27480043699336912_nportance of education and how incredible and valuable they are as women. In order to grow the initiative’s reach, I am in the process of building my first School for Peace in Lahore, Pakistan with Francis and our colleague in Pakistan (this will be Francis’s second School for Peace); the school will open later this year.

While 2015 was an incredible year; I became healthier, stronger and happier –  2016 is turning out to be my best year yet! After Cambodia, I had the incredible honour to represent Australian youth at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. After speaking at the UN, I was invited by UN Women’s Senior Strategic Advisor to work for the UN and UN Women as a Strategic Advisor and Youth Consultant on youth and gender equality and youth involvement with the Sustainable Development Goals.. Around the same time I was also approached by the CEO of Global Resolutions to become Australia’s first Global Resolutions Ambassador. The Global Resolutions Initiative is large-scale social impact event created to mobilise resolutions for a better world. I was immediately drawn to Global Resolutions because of its invitation to global citizens to celebrate ‘possibility,’ and stand in solidarity for a sustainable future under the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.12719264_1087436994634893_3367331484734592805_o

Currently, I’m developing a gender equality program for the Global Goals for Sustainable Development aimed at empowering over 200,000 young boys and girls by 2018 with the United Nations and World Merit. In August I’ll travel to New York to present my program to the UN Secretary-General. Once approved the program will be implemented within the UN Member States – including Australia. The program will work on creating a holistic empowerment model, focused on psychological, emotional, social, economic empowerment of women and advocating for women’s rights, providing a voice for the marginalised and disempowered. I joined this project because I want to ensure every child in the world has the tools and support needed to fulfil their dreams and shine – no matter their circumstances, religion, ethnicity, place of their birth or gender!

Recently, my work on gender equality and young girls’ empowerment has been recognised by The White House and the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, by naming me Gender Equality Global Champion. Last week,  I travelled to Washington D.C where I attended the United State of Women Summit hosted by Mrs Obama and The White House, which was a phenomenal experience. I am deeply honoured and grateful to be recognised as a Champion, to have connected with my UN colleagues, Mrs Obama and the other champions, to continue developing new leadership programs and opportunities for young girls and women around the world.

Moving forward:

I’m on a mission to create a movement of passion-fuelled youth and leaders banding together to unify our world. Through the power of story telling, I want to provide a voice for those without one and ensure our leaders listen and enact change where it is needed. I aim to continue developing my gender equality and empowerment programs and to use my story to inspire youth to live their purpose; help them overcome disempowerment and stimulate change.13244878_1155636767814915_4634463773748376729_n

Lastly, to all the readers: If you ever doubt your potential, life gets you down or someone tries to steal your greatness, just remember – when you believe in yourself and stand in the light you have the ability to change the world.

At just 20 years of age, Caitlin is undertaking all of this while completing a double degree in Laws (Honours) and International Development from the Australian National University.

You can read more about the incredible Caitlin here.

Broadening My Horizons

11262356_10206720360317866_1929929064_nWritten by Vanessa Sporne – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

It’s hard to believe it has been nearly six months since I left home, left my family, left everything that was familiar to me.

I remember filling in my university preference list in the middle of last year. When you’re tapping little keys on a computer, and watching little letters appear on a screen, it doesn’t seem real. It didn’t hit me that this list was going to determine which path I took when I came to the daunting fork in the road at the end of high school. All I thought was, ‘this one sounds good!’ and tapped away, watching the little letters on the screen spell out ‘Australian National University’. I felt like I’d achieved something, when in reality all I’d done was fill out an online form.

It wasn’t until that fateful day when results were released and I received my offer from the ANU that it all became real: Where am I going to live in Canberra? How will I afford to live? Can I cope with moving away from my family? Will I ever get to see my friends? Will I be able to make new friends?  Will my cat forget me?! These questions plagued me. I couldn’t see how taking such a leap could benefit me in any way. Wouldn’t it be easier to just stay at home and stay comfortable?

The answer was yes; it would have been easier. I knew though that I was never going to experience all I wanted to if I simply couped myself up in my little town with my ten friends from high school. I knew that I wanted something more, and that terrified me.

The first day of Orientation Week suddenly arrived and I was thrown into this enormous building at Bruce Hall, filled with 349 other students, who I was supposed to live with for the next three years. It felt like I was told a thousand names that day and I could barely remember a single one. I was terrified every time I ventured out my door, but each time was easier than the last. I had become a master of small talk, but as I became closer and closer with the people around me I gradually let go of any regret and began to feel proud of myself, and my courage.

That week turned out to be one of the best of my life. I had been immersed in this incredible group of like-minded people who were kind, intelligent and interesting. I’d broadened my friend circle in a matter of days, from a handful in Jamberoo, to hundreds from around Australia and the world. I can’t any credit for this (trust me, I’m no socialite), I’m thankful to the incredible people of Bruce Hall, who made my transition so easy.

University though couldn’t be a 5-and-a-half long year party, one day I was actually going to have to attend a class, and that day came much too soon. My first law lecture was an absolute blur, everyone knew more than me and I felt like they were speaking a foreign language. All I could think was ‘what the hell is a plaintiff?!’ When I received my mark for my first assessment I was heartbroken with a 54%. Once again regret flooded back; I was obviously too dumb for law and too dumb for this university. I convinced myself that there was no way I could compete with these kids who had gone to the best high schools in the country. I should just go back to where I belong, and stop trying to be something I’m not.

My Dad convinced me to keep trying though. My determination returned and my marks began to rise. I felt confident in my intelligence once again and began to feel a passion for what I was studying.

Being away from my family and friends hasn’t been easy, but I now feel an incredible appreciation for every person in my life who has helped me along the way. Pictures of them cover the wall of my tiny room here in college so I can look up and see them every day. I know it’s hard for them too, but they understand that although I’m far away it’s where I’m meant to be. My friends are now off on their own adventures, travelling the world, living in new cities and studying new and exciting things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be there for eachother.

I would never take back my decision to move away. I look back and imagine all the amazing opportunities I would have missed out on if I had stayed in my comfort zone. I never would have met these incredible people that have taught me more about myself in four months than I have in years. My eyes are now open to world in front me and all the possibilities that I’m now free to pursue. Oh and, my cat didn’t forget me 🙂

NB. Please Help!

There is currently a plan to demolish my college (Bruce Hall) for redevelopment.  The residents here have started a petition to our vice chancellor in order to make him consider other options which don’t involve the destruction of a heritage site.

Please could you show your support to help save my wonderful college by signing the online petition here.

It would mean a lot to me and the other people hare at Bruce Hall as none of us want to lose our home.

Thank you! xoxox

Ellecha’s Reflection Piece: “One of the Best Experiences of My Life”


 Ellecha Thorp is a 16-year-old Cape Naturaliste College School student who was the 2015 Country to Canberra Essay Competition winner, representing Western Australia. You can read her winning essay here

I’ve always had an interest in politics and by this little thing I like to call fate, a teacher of mine handed me the cut-out advertising the Country to Canberra Essay Competition and I knew straight away I had to enter. I wrote the essay and submitted it not really thinking much of it. I did look into what the prize entailed for this year and realised what an absolutely amazing opportunity the winners would have.

A few weeks later I finished work and had a missed call from an unknown number and I called back and spoke to Hannah the wonderful CEO of Country to Canberra who told me I was WA’s Representative on the trip – I was in the car and I just started crying! It was such an overwhelming thing and I felt so honoured.

The trip came up so quickly and soon I found myself on a plane heading over to Canberra. After a long day of travel I finally got to meet Hannah in person and all the other girls. We all got on so well and I am so grateful for the new friendships I have made.

The 2015 PowerTrip was absolutely incredible. From the second we all arrived to the second we left it was a whirlwind of incredible experience after incredible experience.

The highlight for me was the tour of parliament house and question time, and the wealth of politicians we got to meet. To be able to meet the people running our country and actually get to speak with them was personally, one of the best experiences of my life. It was very surreal and before we had the chance to digest each meeting and event we went to, we were off to the next.

Upon returning to the hotel that night, I was able to reflect and try to process everything that had just happened and still to this day I go over and over everything we were able to do and the incredible moments and experiences I got to share with Hannah and the beautiful other winners.

Meeting all these successful women was so amazing because they were all so incredibly down to earth and willing to open up and share their stories. How they got to where they are and the challenges they faced.  Each and every one of the women had a unique message to share and in such a short period of time I learnt so much.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful Hannah for creating this opportunity for girls like myself and also to Milli and Clare who volunteered their time to help with the trip. I also think that the amazing and powerful leaders we met deserve a big thankyou for taking their time to meet all of us girls and I know the special memories and things we learnt will forever have a special place in our hearts. The 2015 Country to Canberra Power Trip was something I will treasure the memory of forever, and I am so thankful and grateful to have been able to represent Western Australia.

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBy Sandy Bauer – Country to Canberra Teen Blogger

Your Vibe attracts your Tribe. Literally.

Since the very day I saw it- I’ve lived by the quote, ”Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card.   How you leave others feeling after having an experience with you is your trademark.”

As a new entrant to the full-time workforce this year, I’m finding this quote particularly valuable.  Here’s a a few other thoughts I’ve had about attitude and how that affects our work.

In a lot of cases, when you first start out work in a new industry or company, there will be plenty of people who are going to start out being your friends. By being able to adjust our personalities and read other peoples, you will work out that some people aren’t what they first seemed. However, it is important to start any job with an open mind and attitude.

In every single thing we do our attitude defines a situation even when it comes down to work.   How we behave at work often depends on how we feel about being there. We have attitudes towards the food we eat, people we meet, places we go and things we do.

The two biggest attitudes we have that define our work, is job satisfaction and organisational commitment. Job satisfaction is our feelings towards our chosen job and is one of the most important attitudes to be aware of. If you’re not satisfied with your job than you become stressed and unhappy because you’re not pursuing something you’re passionate about.

Then there is organisational commitment which is the emotional attachment an employee gets towards the company they work for. Usually someone who accepts and believes in company values, is then willing to put in the work to achieve the company’s goals. Building a trust-based relationship with our employers is critically important to any job satisfaction or organisational commitment.

I was brought up with the attitude of having an open mind towards my job and the people you work with.   I know at times there will be places and particular jobs that will really test out your attitude and people skills. However, as long as you have a burning desire and a passion for the job you are doing, 9 times out of 10, that will pull you through the hardest of work days. An intense enthusiasm for all things worth doing will get you through the toughest times in all parts of life.

Lastly, it’s important to remember ‘Every bad day, ends with a smile’. 🙂 🙂

My Teenage Take on Rural Living

EllieWritten by Ellie Simpson – Country To Canberra Teen Blogger

It’s hard to be myself.

That is the only downfall of living in a rural area like Burnie, Tasmania. I don’t mean that it’s hard to be myself as in talking to people or expressing my feelings. No – this is much more than that. I can’t express my fashion. It comes naturally to me to walk the streets of our little town in the highest platform shoes I own and one of many faux fur coats. You know how you can just sense when someone is looking at you? I look at a passersby and I catch them every time. Looking me up and down like I’m some sort of circus act they’ve never laid eyes on before, thinking ‘What on Earth is this chick doing in a town like this?”. And sometimes, that is exactly how I feel. Someday, I will live in a city like Melbourne or Sydney where I can wear my leather jeans and furry jackets in a place where my clothing choice is more… appreciated. Occasionally, I get tired of the same four clothing shops in town. However, living in a rural town isn’t so bad.  When I really think about it, there are a number of things I like a lot about my town;


In a town like Burnie, it’s easy to know everyone. And by everyone, I mean literally – EVERYONE. This can be good and bad depending on how private you prefer to be about your life. But whenever someone is in need, the people of Burnie are here to help. The people living in rural towns are kind to one another – holding fundraisers for people in need, giving a helping hand to schools or supporting local businesses and organisations. We can all use a little bit of help, even if we think we don’t need any.


I forget how beautiful Tasmania is now that I’m driving by myself. I used to stare out the window as a kid and feel too car sick to even look outside. Now that I’m driving, I’m concentrating too much to notice what’s going on beyond the highway. Every now and then when I am a passenger in someone’s car, I spend that time admiring the view. There are so many animals and so much greenery; I sometimes wish I paid more attention to how beautiful the countryside is. It’s not often that highways runs along the ocean around the whole state.


Tasmania is a great place to grow up. Close friends and family, a bit of country fun (depending on where in the state you are), and a great education. Some people, like myself, who feel the need to move to the big city at some point, can do so. Nothing is stopping you. The world is your oyster, they say. Rural towns are always going to be around, and they’re a great place to come home to. Most people grow up here in Burnie, move to the mainland for school or work and then come home to raise their families. And the cycle repeats.


There’s not much more to say than what is in the subheading. It’s as simple as that. The people are just so nice. I don’t know if it’s because everybody knows somebody or because there is fewer of us in rural places, but most people you will come across are genuinely caring and kind people. Everybody is willing to offer opportunities and that is something that makes living in a small town worthwhile.

Even though I can’t shop as much as I like and only limited people admire my taste in fashion, I suppose living in a rural town isn’t so bad after all. It has its perks, and whether those perks are family, friends, school or work, they’re all things that make our lives easier and better, right?

Happy Mother’s Day

IMG_7151Written by Madalyn Wallace – Country To Canberra Teen Blogger

It’s Mother’s Day today which means there’s no better time to reflect on the importance of female friendships. Throughout Australian history, mothers, daughters and friends have stood arm in arm to fight for their working rights, right to vote and right to be elected in Australian Parliament. On a less serious note, worldwide exhilaration has developed following the announcement that Netflix will be screening our favourite mother-daughter duo in a Gilmore Girls revival.  As a die-hard fan of Lorelei and Rory, I and many other fans of the show, relate to the ups and downs of a mother-daughter relationship. Sure it’s tough at times, but in the end we have to thank the women in our lives because they are responsible for making us who we are today.

How many times have you gone through a crisis without the advice or comfort from your mother, sister, grandma or friend? I can’t think of a single hardship in my life that I haven’t sought the advice of a fellow lady. The best part about having true girlfriends is that you could go months without speaking and one of you will experience something horrible and reach out to the other, who’ll gladly offer ice-cream, advice and comfort in the form of; more ice-cream. This describes my very best friend who is an extremely successful and driven young lady. She’s modest, assertive, helpful and above all the kindest soul I’ve ever met. I believe that having a female friend like this means having a life-long sisterhood.

It’s true grandma’s will always say yes when mum says no and they are the perfect person to come to when things get a bit rocky between you and your mum. I’m lucky enough to have two grandmas and two great-grandmas, who have educated me in the fine arts of baking, crocheting, tea-time mannerism and home remedies. They have each contributed dearly to every birthday, Christmas and even, every break-up. They’re always in your corner helping you through life’s troubles as they have been through it all before and gained so much wisdom worth sharing.  As sad as it is they won’t be around forever, so it is important to make the most of their company.

I’ve saved the two best female relationships for last.

Even though I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by numerous strong female leaders outside my home, the two women which I have the greatest bond with are my younger sister and of course, my mum. My younger sister and I used to clash a lot when we were young, but after we grew from little girls into women we banded together. We still argue over who has rights to mum’s hand-me-downs and who has to do the chores, but I still love her in the end. Recently she began her senior year of high school and not showing a strong academic mind in her junior years, she has proven everyone including me wrong. Her results are through the roof and now more than ever I believe she can go where ever she wants if she puts her mind to it. She’s taught me that no matter what people think or how much they judge you, you have the power to go where you want to go if you work hard. Honestly, I thought I would be teaching her this lesson but I am so incredibly proud of her efforts and she has inspired me to do the best I can do.

Last but not least, my mum has taught me more than I could ever begin to explain.  Sure, she taught me useful things like how to cook, how to clean, how to separate towels from clothes, even the smallest things that I take for granted everyday, like how to dress myself, how to brush my teeth and especially how to tie my shoelaces. Although I truly value the lessons she’s taught me, what I value even more is the lessons she never intended to teach me. How to care for someone when they’re ill like she does with her chicken soup, cool towels and that soothing touch that only a mum can give, how to make someone laugh like she does with her sarcasm and when she laughs it makes you laugh but the biggest lesson my mum has ever taught me is how to love and be loved. She loved her kids and her husband more than anyone in the world she showed us everyday by completing thankless tasks and listening to us talk about how bad our day was when she’d had the most horrible day herself and was on the brink of a hospital inducing migraine. She’d listen to every word and even though she was aching all over she’d cover it with one of her comforting smiles and offer just the right advice. She sacrificed so much for all of us and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to keep us happy.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with an amazing mum, sister or grandmother, so this mother’s day take a moment to thank the lovely ladies in your life because they’ve taught us valuable lessons and helped shape us into the ladies of the future.

Let’s talk about ‘Catcalling’

Han WorsleyWritten by Hannah Worsley – Country To Canberra Teen Blogger

In this post, I don’t mean to demean anyone, and I don’t mean to stereotype on the basis of gender. Both men and women get catcalled, both men and women catcall, and it is never okay. What I intend to highlight is that there are underlying patriarchal values in the way we talk about the specific issue of men catcalling women.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a whole lot of stuff about catcalling. I say “stuff” because there’s a lot of variety – everything from posters, to Facebook statuses, to videos. With that, there has been a lot of debate which has been making me feel increasingly uneasy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that discussion and a variety of beliefs on all topics is important.

The problem I have with this discussion is that it isn’t a reasoned one.

The problem I have with this discussion is that it’s a perfect example of men feeling entitled to women and expecting those women to appreciate them for doing so.

The problem I have with this discussion is that the catcallers who describe themselves as “nice guys” are the first ones to turn around and spit out insults and profanities when the woman they catcall doesn’t show them appropriate appreciation.

It’s the main justification that these people have for catcalling that seems worryingly patronising, bordering on sexist.  It seems that being raised in a patriarchal society has created a sense of male entitlement and superiority. Commonly, justification goes something along the lines of “I meant it as a compliment” and because that man meant it as a compliment, it was one, and it should be received as one, regardless of the woman’s feelings, because the man is always right. The issue here is that often the perception of the catcaller and that of the victim are very different.

“I froze. I felt my heart beating so fast, I was really scared.” (Catcall victim)

“Stupid cow needs to learn to take a ?!$?! compliment.” (“Nice guy” catcaller)

“I just wanted to walk home in peace. My body isn’t there for the enjoyment of the men I walk by.” (Catcall victim)

“I’m a nice guy. If I see something I like, I should be allowed to compliment it.” (“Nice guy” catcaller. He even tells us, just in case we didn’t realise.)

The above “nice guy” quotes are taken from actual comments on Facebook articles and there’s a lot more where that came from. Scarily, the quotes from catcall victims are taken from university friends. People I work and study and party with every day.

But back to this idea of catcalling as a form of compliment. The definition of compliment is “a polite expression or implication of praise” (Oxford Dictionary, 1969). This definition implies that the receiver should probably appreciate what they hear.  So generally, if the receiver does not feel complimented, it’s not really a compliment. In fact, if the receiver goes so far as to say “I was really scared”, then it’s most definitely not a compliment.  Furthermore, the compliment can’t have been given with the best of intentions if within 30 seconds you can berate the same person for their lack of what you see as appropriate acknowledgement. The fact is, most women feel threatened, embarrassed and uncomfortable when catcalled. Making lurid comments about a woman’s body and expecting her to feel flattered simply because that’s the way YOU think she should respond is not okay.

So that’s the problem I have with catcalling and the way people discuss it. There’s no respect for women, their bodies, and their feelings. We tell them that their bodies are nice (as if they need validation from others), we tell them that they’re silly for feeling unsafe or scared when it’s just a compliment (because women always overthink), and then we tell them that they must respond tastefully (because women must always be kind and demure, and appreciate what men do for them).  Maybe we should stop telling and start listening, because catcalling and compliments are not synonymous.


Kelsey’s Reflection Piece: The trip that motivated a thousand ideas

IMG_5243Kelsey Price is a 16-year-old Middlemount High School student who was the 2015 Country to Canberra Essay Competition winner, representing Queensland. You can read her winning essay here

Kelsey’s Power Trip was generously sponsored by the Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Women’s Network. 

Getting the call, saying that I had won the Country to Canberra essay competition, was the most amazing thing that has ever happened. I was simply overwhelmed.

Excitement grew in me as the Power Trip was getting closer. When I embarked on the plane, I was so nervous, and I didn’t know what to expect. When I landed in Canberra, I was greeted by the other state and territory essay competition winners, and we all got along immediately! It was interesting to learn where the other girls were from and their stories. After all, we all came from completely different parts of Australia, which meant we had diverse stories to tell.

The main day rolled in quickly, and we had a jam-packed schedule, which included time to meet scores of wonderful and influential women. The girls and I went to the Powerful Women’s Breakfast at Farmers Daughter where we gained invaluable advice from women in politics, not-for-profits, the public sector and business. We also went to ABC 666 Canberra and I was selected to be one of the winners who took part in a radio interview with the Mornings Host, Genevieve Jacobs. This was an opportunity I’ll never forget, as I got to speak about my hometown of Middlemount, my aspirations and the ‘Cinderella Complex’, which is the topic I wrote my winning essay on.

During the Power Trip day, we also went on a tour of Parliament House and the War Memorial, had lunch with our Raising Hope Education Foundation Mentors and watched Question Time. We visited more politicians in Parliament House, including Tanya Plibersek MP and Senator Fiona Nash. I was lucky enough to secure a one-on-one chat with my local MP, the Federal Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry to discuss key Central Queensland issues as well as gender equality and rural education. Finally, we then had dinner with more female politicians like the Assistant Agriculture Minister Anne Ruston and Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie.

As I jumped back on the plane to leave Canberra, my nerves were gone, and I was filled with confidence and motivation. I had such and amazing experience in the ACT and I left with so many ideas to suggest to my community and school about equality and young women’s self-belief. I am very grateful to have this experience and I would love to thank Hannah Wandel for letting me have this amazing opportunity! Also, a big thank you to my sponsor, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. Without their support for young women and gender equality, this trip would not have been possible.


Thank you to Maurice Blackburn Lawyer’s Women’s Network for generously sponsoring Kelsey’s 2o15 Power Trip.