Spotlight reveals a bright future

Young people were the focus of a regional roadshow that stopped by in Traralgon last week to highlight the biggest issues facing youth in coming years.

From the perils of social media to an increased number of young job seekers in Victoria, the roadshow pinpointed ways in which to tackle these ‘megatrends’.

VicHealth ran the Bright Futures forum throughout June for regional communities to explore topics such as social innovation, social connections and co-design with young people.

Council, businesses, community groups and service providers attended the Traralgon event, which Latrobe City deputy mayor Sharon Gibson described as eye-opening.

“I’ve got teenage sons, so I found it really beneficial for myself,” Cr Gibson said.

“I found some of it very, very sad, but again I don’t want to put my head in the sand, because that’s not going to help anyone.

“I really want to see us tackle this and make a difference.”

She said the issues discussed involved rates of suicide among young people, diverse family units and over exposure online.

Latrobe City was the last pit stop for the regional roadshow, in which VicHealth promoted its new grant program for health and wellbeing projects.

VicHealth’s Bright Futures for Young Victorians Challenge will provide funding at two tiers – up to $15,000 and up to $50,000 – for a period of 12 months. Projects demonstrating the greatest potential during the pilot stage may be offered further development funding in the subsequent 24 months.

Community partners and young people are encouraged to work with council to find solutions that promote community and young people’s resilience, social connection and mental wellbeing.

Cr Gibson said regardless of whether a Latrobe City project was successful, she felt grateful the forum was held as both a councillor and a mother.

“If you give them the tools when they’re young, then they’re fine to fly with their own wings when they’re older,” Cr Gibson said.

Victorian councils can apply by completing and submitting a Bright Futures Challenge application at

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