Big year for bright teen
Saturday, 12th March, 2016
By Emily Roberts
Toni Maher has had a busy few months after winning the ABC Heywire competition and participating in the Young Endeavour.
After finding out she had won the Heywire competition for the region, Toni then went to the summit in Canberra.
“I was at Broken Hill High School last year,” the 17-year-old said.
“I was encouraged to enter Heywire by my English teacher and some of the ABC radio staff.”
The competition involves writing a true story about yourself or the community.
“I didn’t really know what I would write,” Toni said.
“But then it was suggested to write about my life.”
Toni lives on a large sheep and cattle Station near Wilcannia.
Last year, she received the honour of participating in the Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge.
“I also wrote about that experience,” she said.
“I didn’t think I would win, I wasn’t really expecting it.
“Everyone was really encouraging.”
As part of the prize, besides getting to attend the summit, Toni was able to record her story which was featured on ABC.
“I’ve done lots of radio talking so I was pretty relaxed (when recording the story),” she said.
“Then I attended the summit in February.
“About 45 young people from around Australia stayed at the Australian Institute of Sport.
“The participants ranged from 16 to 23 years.
“We worked together in groups to sort out common issues.
“My group worked on a project called ‘Back to Bush’ which involved tourism and awareness of outback towns and what they have to offer.
“I personally spoke about the water issue which was incorporated into our project.”
Toni said it was a fantastic experience and she also spoke to officials from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
“I was able to get some contact numbers, so I’ve been speaking to them regularly about the issues here,” she said.
After the Heywire Summit, Toni then participated in the Young Endeavour Challenge.
“It was a spontaneous decision.
“I was selected to be in a ballot then you get chosen for a trip.
“I participated in an 11-day sail from Hobart to Melbourne.”
Toni said it was a hard but interesting experience.
“We had to do a lot of teamwork exercises, but we also had to look after the ship.
“We were all running on a minimum of four hours sleep a night and some people were really seasick.
“But we created some special bonds. I really miss the experience, it was a very good opportunity.”
Toni said she will just spend time focussing on Year 12, which she is now studying by distance education.
“At the end of the year, I plan to go to Fiji for a shark conservation project.”