Rockhampton leads the way in regional youth social entrepreneurship

“I hear you are offering social entrepreneurship courses to school-aged youth in Queensland — what can I do to get Rockhampton a look in?”, was the call from Jim Callan from CQUniversity in Rockhampton in late 2017 that got our attention. From there, the whole community rallied with meetings and taster sessions held with stakeholders from the Rockhampton Regional Council, SmartHub Rocky, CQ University, local high schools, QLD Department of Education and local entrepreneurs. Funding was sourced from Young Change Agents primary partners Seventh St Ventures via SchoolsPlus for the pilot and Telstra Foundation for the regional rollout. Subsequently, Rockhampton Regional Council and Energy Queensland have committed to supporting our second stage program YINC.

Following 5 successful programs including 7 local high schools and 2 primary schools, last Thursday we held the inaugural Young Change Agents Regional Pitch — a showcase of the immense talent and creativity that exists.

11 teams pitched their early stage ideas in front of a judging panel including Olympic gold medallist swimmer and Telstra Community Engagement Manager Duncan Armstrong OAM, Elize Hattin SmartHub Manager for Rockhampton Regional Council, local young entrepreneur Kaleb Roberts of startup Zeit, and Zoe Seibold, Recruitment Advisor at Energy Queensland.

​​​​​​​The Judge’s Choice on the evening went to “SIC Shopping” — a social enterprise that aims to provide local employment opportunities whilst helping people with their shopping. The judges were impressed with the group’s momentum. The boys from St Brendan’s in Yeppoon — Lachlan Brown, Harry Hersey and Deklan Bulder, have started a crowdfund to help them raise initial start-up funding. The team walked away with $500 prize money to help them continue the development of their enterprise.

The prized “Audience Choice” went to “Rags to Riches”, a fashion brand created by a group of teens from Glenmore SHS which brings social and employment opportunities to people who have found themselves homeless and socially isolated.

​​​Other high school ideas included, “Calc Your Food” — an app to stop food wastage and deliver savings to households, “Sex Ed in a Text” — a resource written by teens and validated by a nurse to help teens navigate relationships and “Hear our Voice”, who offer local Councils a way to reach young people by increasing reach through social media.

The primary showcase saw 6 teams present ideas from a barking dog alarm system to help curb breaking and entering, a new online bank for kids, a program to train people who find themselves with caring responsibilities and an environmental documentary series by kids. Judges choice went to a team from Glenmore SS looking to help parents by rewarding completed homework with gaming time and a team from Heights College who developed a program to rehabilitate school bullies.

All have been awarded a scholarship to a 2-day YINC (youth incubator) run by Young Change Agents to be held at the SmartHub Rockhampton.

A big thank you to our major supporter Telstra Foundation and local partners CQUniversity, Rockhampton Regional Council, SmartHub Rocky and Energy Queensland.

Next up — high school and university students will work together in a two-day program to be held at the Uni from the 22–23rd October. More information here.

Can’t wait to get back there!