Bridget Rollason - PRIME7 Journalist

“People from my small hometown will see me on TV, and they are so shocked and proud. I love this – it proves you don’t need to have grown up in the city, or come from money, to compete with those who have!”

Hailing from Maryborough, Bridget is now a Television Reporter for regional network PRIME7 in Albury, NSW.


"I had to move from Maryborough to Melbourne to complete my studies, putting me two hours from home. It was pretty daunting at first, and it was very expensive to live on campus. I went not knowing anyone, but it was the best decision I ever made.

While I was at Uni I was constantly told of the bleak job prospects of journalists, especially in TV, but I stuck to it and completed as many internships as I could to make myself more employable. I took advantage of the fact I came from a regional town and went back and volunteered with the ABC in Ballarat and WIN Television during my holidays, where there was less competition than in Melbourne. That definitely helped me get my first job! Once I finished my degree I applied for five or so jobs, before I landed my first gig as a journalist at PRIME7 in Ballarat.

A lot of my friends from uni struggled to get jobs, because they weren’t prepared to move to regional areas, but I knew it would be a good stepping stone to get me where I wanted to go. After a year in Ballarat, the company moved my job to Canberra. I didn’t want to go, it was so far away from home. But I did it, I got some amazing experience, and I was mentored by a lot of great people, including Natalie Forrest who is the PRIME7 Network presenter in Canberra.

Thankfully, I was only in Canberra for six months, which allowed me to move to my current job as a TV reporter in Albury – a lot closer to home! It was definitely my experiences that landed me my first job in Ballarat, and that allowed me to move up the ranks."


"In my community, like most regional towns, everyone knows everyone. In my job you have to be a pretty good communicator and I think coming from a rural area has really helped me exceed. I’m happy to talk to anyone & everyone, and just having that country, friendly vibe has definitely helped me a lot."


"Get as much experience as you can! Use your local contacts to your advantage and volunteer as much as you can- anywhere! The hardest thing for people in the city is to get experience, because there’s so much competition. I honestly don’t think I would’ve landed a job in such a competitive field if I had have grown up in a place like Melbourne. I just wouldn’t have been able to get the experience I needed!"



Richard Dickmann - Bayer Cropscience Australia


Richard Dickmann grew up in rural Victoria, near Simpson in Southern Victoria. From his roots on a dairy farm, he now works at Bayer CropScience Australia as the Head of New Business Development. He has his dream job, which delivers real value to Australian farmers and communities. From his dairy farm he has now lived in six countries: France, Singapore, Japan, China, Germany, and back to Australia.

Growing Up:

"I grew up on a farm, and worked with my parents. The starting point of my career was my love of agriculture. I learned many life lessons while milking cows!

Farming teaches you that while you must plan and prepare for the future, it is never certain. You need to handle the bumps (like no rain), but be ready to ‘make hay’ when the rain falls, and the sun shines."

Next Steps:

"I went to University and studied forestry. However, I was drawn back to Agriculture, which is more immediate; you see the results of your work every year, rather than every 30 years. A lady I met (and later married) moved to France, and, somehow, I asked for a job with the same company. Crazily, I got it.

For the next 26 years, we moved to 6 countries, working in Agriculture all around the world. I worked in France, Singapore, Japan, China, Germany, and… back in Melbourne. We travelled 100,000km, to end up just 200 km away from Simpson and back in Melbourne!"

Working at Bayer CropScience Australia:

"Today, I am responsible for searching for new technologies for Bayer, and defining our Sustainability policy. It really is my dream job, as I get to use the experience I built up overseas for the benefit of Australian Agriculture, farmers, and communities.

I am passionate about Australian agriculture: the land, the people that farm it, and their customers. We have a great future, feeding ourselves and our neighbours."

Growing up in Simpson:

"My favourite memories about living in Simpson stem from the bond between people within the community. There is a great balance of independence, but also being part of a community that is ready to help each other.

This is not the case in the city, where people live more isolate lives. The great thing in the country is that people are willing to help you; all you have to do is ask!"


"The biggest challenges for rural youth are similar to those faced by youth everywhere, but amplified. The biggest challenge young people have is in getting a clear view of their options and the career paths that are available.

All I can suggest is to take full advantage of career advice services, and any people you know that can show you how things are done. Don’t be afraid to ‘lend a hand’ to someone, as you will always learn something.

We all know that rural kids are generally not afraid to travel long distances. Look in every direction for job opportunities. Mobility greatly increases you career options. I moved all around the world!

In my company, I work with a lot of people from rural areas, which I really love. Rural people are down to earth, and are not afraid to ‘get the job done’, by working and cooperating with others. You can use this to your advantage in your job search; people know how hard-working rural people are."

Richard has some key messages:

1.       You build your career, one little step at a time.

2.       Always be ready to take opportunities when they come, and don’t hesitate to take a chance, no matter where or when. ‘Just do it’; you will always learn something.

3.       Always ask the question; if you don’t ask, you won’t get.



Rose Vallance - Gap Year

Rose is taking a gap year in order to travel and save money. She works at a restaurant in Mildura, and has spent an extraordinary month in Kenya, volunteering at an orphanage. She grew up in Ouyen, in North-West Victoria, and completed her schooling at Red Cliffs Secondary College, and she has a passion for acting.


“My month volunteering in Kenya changed everything. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, the time spent overseas made a huge difference. I came back feeling even better than I did before I hit the walls of mental illness. I’ve always been a positive person, but when that disappeared I felt lost. Kenya rejuvenated this positivity. Everyone in Kenya is constantly laughing, and it’s hard not to be affected by this incredible lust for life. I live life looking at the positives, negativity will get you nowhere in life.

The single biggest influence on my life was my Nanna Rose. From a young age, she read news articles to me about the way of life in African countries and the challenges that can be faced. Looking back, this caused me to be very conscious of the face that we take so many things for granted in Australia. My Nanna kitted blankets and send them to charities, and so I’ve always had an interest in volunteering in Africa."


“Ouyen was an amazing place to grow up! It was a very safe environment and I spent a lot of time with friends and family.

One of my favourite memories is of our end-of-Year-11 party, which was just before I changed schools to Red Cliffs. I was very emotional about the fact that I was at the end of my last year with these amazing people.

I was sitting in the pool, I was surrounded by people that I had known for years, many of them since kindergarten. I felt very lucky to be sitting with a group of people I had grown and matured with over such a long period of time and through so many crucial years.

There are so many amazing benefits of being in a rural school. The key to any successful learning or working environment is a comfortable space, where people are safe asking questions and interacting. Our small class sizes and our personal relationships are irreplaceable."


“The future could be anything! I’ve long had a passion and a drive to study acting, but this can feel like an impossible dream - but that won’t stop me from trying! I have a multitude of exciting options, including in makeup, arts, and teaching. My biggest passion, however, is travel - I want to go everywhere and experience everything."


"It was difficult growing up in a rural community with a passion for arts and a longing for a career in that field, because in that setting these jobs can seem unnecessary. It isn’t seen as a practical or realistic goal and often I was questioned or told my dream was risky, or that it was a waste.

If you are passionate enough it will show them how serious you are and they will feel it pointless trying to put you down. Keep focused and don’t back down when people tell you what you 'should' be aiming for."



Xavier Healy - Unimelb Student

Xavier Healy grew up in Ouyen, in the Mallee region of North-West Victoria.  He recently moved to Melbourne and began studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. Xavier is the Project Lead of Rural Inspire. In the future, he wants to study Law or International Relations and wants to work to help others reach their potential, in Australia and overseas.

Xavier's journey so far:

"I was born and bred in the small town of Ouyen, and completed all of my schooling at Ouyen P-12 College. I was fortunate enough to get into on-campus residency at the University of Melbourne, and moved into Ormond College at the start of 2015. I'm studying Arts and majoring in Politics & International Studies and Media & Communication, and hope to study Law in the future.

I decided to study Arts because I was interested in finding out more about the world, and about expanding my knowledge and thinking skills. I've taken a range of subjects and done a range of things in Melbourne, and have gained skills and lifelong friends along the way. I couldn't recommend living on-campus enough, especially when you come from the country and know very few people in your new city!

Rural Inspire was the result of years of conversations, and I took it on because I believe in it's underlying purposes: every Australian deserves the best education & opportunities, no matter their background. I'm passionate about helping all of us to reach our potential."


"Moving from Ouyen to Melbourne was a huge step. I felt like I was thrown in the deep end. In hindsight, it almost felt as though I was experiencing 'culture shock'. While I was often daunted, it has been the best experience of my life. I wouldn't change a thing, and I urge people to understand that the best things in life can be scary, but are worth it.

Country towns can seem small, but the friendships you make in your small classes and in your tight-knit communities are something that you'll never find anywhere else.

I also believe that gaining exposure to new ideas is crucial in anyone's development, and absorbing as much information as possible will help you become the best version of yourself."



Jemma Walsh - Italian Gap Year


Jemma grew up in Strathmerton in North-Eastern Victoria. She is currently taking a gap year working, studying and travelling in Italy. In 2017, she’ll make the move to Canberra to study Commerce & International Relations at the Australian National University.


“I have been very lucky in that I have had many good teachers throughout my years, who genuinely cared for the success of their students. However, I became a Rural Youth Ambassador with the Country Education Project in Year 11, through which I was lucky enough to travel to Malaysia in 2015. This was the milestone event that solidified what I wanted to do after year 12.

My dream is to become an international lawyer or to work at an international consulate. My year in Italy is important to achieve this, as I need another language under my belt and to be exposed to life in Europe.”


“I could not have achieved the things I have without the support of my rural community. They encouraged and supported me, through thick and through thin. My community provided me a sense of purpose and identity.

Rural Education holds many challenges, many of which revolve around exposure. The lack of exposure is often to things such as career options, opportunities and dreams. Rural kids need to take every opportunity they can to open their eyes and explore the world beyond their small country town.”


"Dream big, aim high and anything is possible. Dreams are the foundations of success."



Sharyn VOlk - PhD

Sharyn Volk grew up in Pyramid Hill, where here parents and brother still live. Sharyn moved to Melbourne after high school and went from studying a law degree, to running a jeans company in the fashion industry, to retail property consultancy, to being in the final phases of earning her PhD at the University of Melbourne.

Sharyn’s Education & Career -

"When I started my law degree at the University of Melbourne almost 40 years ago I could never have envisaged how my life would unfold.  There have been many twists and turns which have ensured I have lead a very exciting life.  I never finished the law degree and, by accident rather than design, I instead began working in the fashion industry, where I met my husband. 

We ran a very successful jeans companies for 20 years and then moved into retail property consultancy services. The need for a challenge demanded another stint at university which resulted in an Arts Degree with Honours and a major in archaeology.  

Now I am in the final phases of my PhD, through which I am investigating the function of ancient Egyptian funerary figurines.  My study has afforded me the opportunity to engage in tutoring and lecturing in an ancient Egyptian subject, at the same university where it all began.

What drives you?

Life is full of tough choices – it’s important to make a decision and run with it! I am passionate about my family and now about my teaching.  What you choose do in your life should make you wake up every morning excited to get out there and do it!

Sharyn’s advice -

The prospect of major changes can be very daunting.  When I first moved to Melbourne, I was very unsettled and it took some time for me to adjust.

Always remember how blessed you are – growing up in the country and now perhaps afforded the opportunity to join the city folk.  Perhaps you were deprived of some experiences and facilities in your schooling, but in contrast you may have benefited from the individual attention that only comes from small classes. 

Growing up I always felt a great sense of security in my life.  This gave me the confidence to make decisions, and although they have not always been the right ones, they have all made invaluable contributions to the fabric of my life.

The world is full of opportunities.  It is up to you to reach out to them with both hands. Do not expect success to be dropped into your lap.  Make the most of everything presented to you, even the insignificant.  Meet as many people as possible and seek advice.  Everyone is willing to help if you ask.

Be brave, open to all possibilities, and follow your dreams!



Nerida Morrish - Teacher & Horse Competitor

Nerida grew up in Melbourne, but has made the small Mallee town of Ouyen her home. She didn’t enjoy her schooling in the city, but found a path towards loving to learn. She is now the Head of Arts and a year-level coordinator at Ouyen P-12 College. Outside of her work, Nerida competes with horses to a national level.

Nerida at School -

"When I was at school, I was a brat. I had no intention of ever having anything to do with school when I had finished my own schooling. I took a year off after year 12, going overseas and working at my family’s business doing data entry, loading trucks, and completing warehouse work.

I got a bug for learning (albeit a bit later than most) and I decided to go back to school to redo Year 12. I worked my butt off and obtained a high score to get into Uni.

I wanted to be a primary teacher, and I completed my teaching degree at ACU.

Later, while working full time, I completed my Masters of Education via distance education with the University of New England."

Being a Teacher - 

"I am passionate about learning and about sharing that love with my students. I believe that when you love and enjoy something, learning the content comes easily.

I am driven by the looks on my student’s faces when they have that moment of understanding; an epiphany. I set very high standards for all of my students and, to the most part, they all try to meet them."

Moving to Ouyen -

"I have made some tough choices. First, to leave Melbourne and move to a new state, then to move again, but 1000km west to live in the desert. The move to Ouyen proved to be a real contrast to living on one of Australia’s best beaches, at Mollymook.

This move back to Victoria was in 2004 and I took up a position as Art teacher in Ouyen. I have been there ever since and have continued to study. I have completed several Cert IV courses, subjects with Open University, and I am just about to complete my Advanced Diploma of Advertising and Graphic Design.

I have also managed to work full time, to complete further studies, and to compete with horses to a national level."

Why the country?

"I never expected to be where I am today. I was always a city girl, but now I can’t take more than a couple of days in the city.

Living in a small town is all about community. Everyone knows how to help each other and neighbours regularly talk over the fence. Footy and netball games can bring together hundreds of people, which is to the amazement of city people. We come together for all events and for all occasions. We support each other through anything.

Nothing beats a cold winter’s night looking up with a 180o view of the sky and to see every single star at night.

Yes, rural living has its disadvantages, but when wonders greet you at every sunset and sunrise, and when you can visit the city, why not live in the country?"





Lauren Cain - Student & Environmentalist

Lauren Cain grew up in South Gippsland on a beef farm in an area called Mirboo. She attended her whole schooling in the nearby town of Mirboo North. Lauren has completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne. She is now taking a gap year, and earning some money before –fingers crossed – she can travel at the end of the year. She is interested in the environment, and, in particular, land conservation & the protection of endangered species.

What does the future hold?

My ideal job would be as a park ranger or working in a zoo as a keeper or handler.

I’m going to complete my Masters degree, although I haven’t decided on what! I’m also going to learn some practical skills and do some volunteering so that I have contacts in the industry.

I was inspired by the farm I grew up on; it’s where my love of nature and the outdoors comes from. Throughout my life I have spent a lot of time at Wilson’s Promontory National Park, which I feel has inspired me to be a park ranger.

Reflections on growing up in Mirboo -

One of the best things about going to my school was the close relationship we had with our teachers. All the teachers knew our names and our families. They cared not only about our education, but about our well-being too. Whenever something happens in the community, it really bands together to support each other.

The challenges faced at my school were a lack of access to a wider range of subjects. We only had the basic subjects available to us, so some kids went through distance education. They were forced to do this, even though we were advised against it.

Advice -

My advice would be to persevere through it and do the best you can. Find your own extra sources of information; be innovative! If you’re looking to go to university, just do the subjects you need [if you go to a small high school], because once you’re at university you can pick anything you like.

Don’t let yourself be limited by where you live – it’s only a short period of your life. There is so much time and so many opportunities, so keep positive!



Jasmine Steen - ACU Student

Jasmine Steen grew up in the small South-Western Victorian town of Victoria called Lavers Hill. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts/Global Studies at ACU in Melbourne. Jasmine is passionate about helping others to grow, which she mans in a very broad sense. Studying at university has “bombarded” her with a range of new ideas and perspectives. Growing up in rural Victoria was challenging for Jasmine, but she knows that this experience came with a range of benefits.

What does the future hold?

"Since starting at university, my idea of my ‘ideal job’ has become increasingly unclear. University exposes you to a new way of thinking, and I am constantly bombarded with new ideas and perspectives. I do not have a certain pathway in mind; I am currently absorbing the things that I am passionate about and I know that the rest should flow if I commit to what I love.

I am constantly looking for new opportunities to take part in. I enjoy working with new people and trying out new things. I believe this is the best way to learn. I have definitely caught the travel bug! I cannot think of a better way to enjoy life than experiencing the world from different angles."

Reflections on growing up in Lavers Hill -

"I felt like I belonged to my school, and that my presence made a different. I had close relationships with my teachers and peers, and I always felt like I could talk to someone. I believe going to a rural school really impacted my life in a positive way.

I wasn’t always a confident, outgoing person. The experiences which helped me develop into the person I am today are because of where I grew up. I don’t believe I would have been exposed to certain opportunities or experiences, had I have grown up in a city.

Although I can look back and appreciate what my school and community helped me to achieve, it can be difficult as a young person to keep an open mind. I often felt trapped within my rural community, or I felt as though I had exceeded all that there was to achieve.

Socially, it can be challenging for a young person. You often feel as though you are alone or missing out on certain experiences. In my experiences, the most comforting thing as a young person is to know that you are not alone." 

Advice -

"Do not be afraid to try new things; take all the opportunities you can to explore the world beyond your comfort zone.

You have a voice, and it deserves to be heard. So, use it. You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to listen. 

Living in rural Victoria does not put you at a disadvantage. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise."

 If you have any questions for Jasmine, send them to and we’ll pass them on!




Catherine Brooks - Unimelb & Aspiring Teacher

Catherine Brooks grew up in Aireys Inlet. She is now studying a Bachelor of Arts in Media & Communications at the University of Melbourne. She is passionate about becoming a teacher and then supporting every student to reach his or her dreams.

What does the future hold?

"I am currently working at a not-for-profit called the Engage Education Foundation, who aims to overcome educational inequality, and I am going to volunteer in Cambodia to work in a primary school for a month. My ideal job is to be a teacher who students want to be taught by."

Growing up in Aireys Inlet -

"A small town is a very unique experience. My school was very supportive of me and were willing to let me follow my own path through VCE. I struggled with stress, but my school was great and with their continual encouragement, VCE was a great experience. Throughout my schooling, I made a very tight circle of friends who I know will be with me forever.

My town has a beautiful atmosphere of friendliness, and it is a wonderful place to live. One ANZAC day, I was the keynote speaker and I recall standing in front of the crowd at the dawn service. I remember the complete silence. Looking behind me towards the assembled war veterans, and many had been brought to tears. In front of me there were the primary school students, and they were looking up at me wide eyed.  It was a really special moment.

I only did one subject at my school, and the rest I did via correspondence (Distance Education). It was challenging to not have a teacher, but it was an opportunity to manage my own study load and set the pace of my study. I had a lot of autonomy, but in hindsight I think this made me more prepared for university and professional life."

Advice -

"I’ve learnt that it’s about owning your choices, and making the most of them.

Believe in yourselves and make the most of what you have, and you never know where you might end up."



Charlotte Nixon - Aspiring Teacher


Charlotte was born and bred in Ouyen, Victoria. She’s now studying to become a teacher at Flinders University in Adelaide. She’s passionate about become a great teacher, and about encouraging others to be the same.


Charlotte put herself out there and became a Rural Youth Ambassador with the Country Education Partnership. “It lead me to figure out that teaching and education is what I am passionate about, and it allowed me to extend my ways of thinking.

“I’m a people person. I love being surrounded by great friends and I love to help out others, whenever I can.


“The sheep that live on hills don’t actually have two legs longer than the others – thanks for letting me believe that until I was 14, Pa…”

“Coming from a rural community, your freedom is a huge advantage. School-wise, small class sizes were a great benefit, and your teachers can get to know you and the way you learn.

“The lack of inspiration and aspirations for kids is a pretty big problem. There should be more of a push for children to dream big.


“Don’t be scared of your dreams. If they do scare you, work hard until you achieve them.”