- Leading National Party federal parliamentarians visited Charles Sturt University in Port Macquarie as part of a ‘Regional Listening Tour’ to hear from locals about how they can help to improve peoples’ lives and communities
- The visit included a Regional Youth Leadership Roundtable discussion to hear students’ concerns and proposed solutions to the issues most affecting young people in regional Australia
- It was followed by a campus tour of new facilities and meeting some of the more than 265 staff and 1,600 domestic and international on-campus students in a range of disciplines
Charles Sturt University welcomed visiting senior National Party parliamentarians to the campus in Port Macquarie on Monday 17 October to listen to and learn from regional constituents, and to learn about the University’s recent role in the development of the NSW Mid North Coast.
Charles Sturt Director of External Engagement (Port Macquarie and Mid North Coast) Ms Kate Wood-Foye welcomed Federal Member for Cowper Mr Pat Conaghan, MP; Leader of The Nationals Mr David Littleproud, MP; and Deputy Leader Senator Perin Davey.
Ms Wood-Foye said the visit by Mr Littleproud, Mr Conaghan and Senator Davey allowed them to see first-hand that the University in Port Macquarie has a vital role in expanding higher education access, participation, and attainment on the Mid North Coast.
“Regional universities such as Charles Sturt University are building the workforce for the future because we know that if people study in a regional area, they are more likely to stay in the regions; 75 per cent of our students stay in a regional, rural or remote area once they graduate,” she said.
Mr Littleproud said, “We are touring Australia to hear from those who matter most to us – regional people with real issues, facing real challenges and needing real solutions.
“Charles Sturt University was the obvious choice to host a youth-focussed event for the Mid North Coast, with its increasingly impressive facilities and strong connection to the community. With their help we had a wonderful group of students attending from across the Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey-Macleay regions to share their views.”
The politicians participated in a Regional Youth Leadership Roundtable with more than 30 young regional leaders from local public and independent secondary schools and Charles Sturt University students from a range of disciplines.
Ms Wood-Foye said the forum enabled participants to share key insights into barriers and opportunities for the future of the region and country.
“For many this may have been the first time they have been in such a forum and been able to speak firsthand alongside their peers about the issues and opportunities that matter to them most as a regional young person,” she said.
“The discussion raised key issues such as access to mental health, employment pathways, careers in agriculture, housing affordability and the environment.
“They really asked informative and thought-provoking questions on housing shortages, participation in agriculture, impacts to youth mental health, climate change and impacts to local threatened species, and our First Nations people and greater representation.
“Importantly, they proposed well-rounded solutions to these issues for consideration of the MPs and represented an incredible showcase of the diverse, passionate and articulate range of young people on the Mid North Coast.”
Federal Member for Cowper Mr Pat Conaghan praised the feedback provided by the attending students and appreciated the variety of questions and issues that were raised.
“I was extremely impressed with the calibre of questions and the consideration that had gone into each topic that was discussed. We certainly have some motivated, articulate and collaborative future leaders among us,” he said.
Later during a campus tour Mr Litteproud, Senator Davey and Mr Conaghan had the opportunity to gauge the importance of regional universities such as Charles Sturt when they met lecturers and students in biomedical sciences, nursing, paramedicine, occupational therapy, environmental science, social work, education, and First Nations Students Success.
Ms Wood-Foye said Port Macquarie is the fastest growing Charles Sturt campus and with more than 265 staff it now offers 24 face-to-face undergraduate courses and five postgraduate courses to more than 1,600 domestic and international on-campus students in 2022.
“The Port Macquarie campus is also the University’s second largest campus. It supports and helps drive regional workforce and economic development on the Mid North Coast.
“This is evidenced by the newly-established Australian headquarter of Axiom Connected in the recently opened Stage Two of the campus which will provide new opportunities for industry, local students, workers and businesses.”