Coping with the loss of a father, watching another father’s battle with depression, connecting with a grandma through music, society’s response to a family member’s disability and lamenting the loss of a private paradise to urban sprawl. These are some of our students’ stories that have put Newcastle on the national stage as a voice for regional youth.

Five University of Newcastle students were recognised among regional Australia’s most creative and distinctive young storytellers when the ABC today announced its 2012 Heywire winners.

The annual competition encourages young Australians to share their ideas and stories in a creative multimedia way, but at the heart of Heywire is an individual telling a personal story.

The group of talented students were chosen among 40 winners, making Newcastle the most well represented university in the competition.

Their stories are unique and get to the heart of what it is to be a young person growing up in a regional community; sometimes arresting, sometimes humorous, but mostly inspiring and engaging.

 As part of their prize, winners have the opportunity to have their voices heard at the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra early next year.  The summit,  held in February at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, allows participants to engage in vigorous debate and workshop issues important to regional youth with industry and ABC mentors and politicians.

Previous summits have brought together emerging leaders from regional Australia to develop ideas to improve life for young people in their communities and is seen as a springboard into careers into journalism, politics and humanitarian service for many participants.

Our students’ stories


Richard Baines, Adamstown


Richard talks about the loss of his father and how tragedy can irrevocably change your feelings about a place.


“I will have to wait and see whether or not this house, this town, this state, this country, will ever feel like home again.”



Shanna Beeton, Taree

Shanna entered Heywire as part of a university assessment, but it quickly became much more than that, it became a way for her to talk about the elephant in the room.

Shanna’s dad became a partial quadriplegic after an accident on the hockey field. Her winning entry pays homage to her dad’s strength through disability.

“It’s a reminder that country kids are bred tough and that heroes aren’t made in comic books. And it’s a reminder to not to judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

Click HERE to hear Shanna’s story.

Isabel Enks, Ulamambri

Growing closer to a loved grandma through music.

“I began to sing for you and as soon as you recognised my voice, your eyes lifted.”

Click HERE to hear Isabel’s story.

Stephanie  Beckedahl, Kariong

“Everything is changing around me and I can’t help but wonder if I’m supposed to change too.”

Her hometown is changing as city folk encroach on the once quiet slice of paradise that is Kariong, one hour north of Sydney.

Click HERE to hear Stephanie’s story.

Emma-Lee Scott, Weetaliba

A Dad’s fight with depression.

“Sprinting so fast, feeling my life is about to come crashing down, as a rope lies in my Dad’s arms, as he walks with purpose towards a tree.”

Click HERE to hear Emma-Lee’s story.