EML Game Changer Program

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:25): It gives me great pleasure today to rise and speak about an important initiative undertaken in the Riverland community that is having a positive impact and creating future leaders in the region.

I recently had the honour of presenting completion certificates to the next generation of Riverland leaders participating in the inaugural EML Game Changer program hosted at the Berri Football Club. The Riverland has been fortunate enough to have fantastic community support for this program to enable the development of a new generation of leaders and to highlight the importance of what leadership means not only to sporting clubs but also what it means to have good and productive leadership in the community to generate good community spirit.

The Game Changer initiative was designed to assist the Riverland community by providing an innovative and interactive approach to the prevention of drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, mental health and suicide prevention as well as developing young community adults as the next generation of community leaders. Additionally, the program aims to prevent that urban drift, ensuring the future of our regional communities by raising the next generation of leaders in our community.

It is critically important not only to retain our youth here in South Australia but it is also really important that we retain our regional youth. It has a significant impact when we see our young leaders, our young hopefuls, drift away—that is what we call our 'urban drift'—to bigger and better things, never to return.

This program was launched in the Riverland in conjunction with partnerships with TAFE SA, the Outside the Locker Room program, the SANFL, the Riverland Football League and Regional Development Australia. The program, through local netball and footy clubs, takes an active, constructive approach in encouraging and assisting regional communities with the challenges faced by young adults.

I would like to thank Alex Flint, the regional development manager, who facilitated and did a lot of the legwork and travel backwards and forwards into the Riverland to make sure that this program was a success. I travelled to these meetings held around the Riverland, and what I saw was a group of youngsters who wanted to be part of prosperity. They were looking to be part of their community and to further enhance their leadership skills within their sporting groups.

From when I presented to them earlier on in the year to when I spoke recently with them and presented their certificates, it was like chalk and cheese. With the tuition and guidance of this program, there has been such a change in those young, wannabe leaders, and I was so buoyed by it that I decided to acknowledge this program today and the impact it has had on those young lives and the impact I think it will have on our region in business, in the community and in sporting areas of significance.

We all know that good leadership is hard to find, and good leadership is something that people aspire to. It is the attraction of those team players, those community people who are always looking for leadership within business and sports. It is about going to someone who is a confidante, a mentor, to ensure that if they have a social issue or aspire to be part of a sporting club, or seek to further their working careers or business skills, they have someone to talk to. Through this program, that is exactly what happened.

I am proud that my local sporting clubs have taken this initiative to support the next generation of community leaders. I am proud of our local young people who have accepted the challenge. They have stepped up to the plate and they are there to be counted. When I am out in my communities and see these young leaders, they now have the confidence to come and speak to me about their experience through this game-changer program. They also have the skill to come and talk about the issues that they want to talk about—issues at their sporting club or within their community club—and it is talking about their role as a leader in a regional community.