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Uniting IdeasGen winner announced

Nick Tepper, 24 year old Queensland University of Technology graduate has won the Uniting IdeasGen competition for his idea BuddyConnect.

Statistics show that one in four teenagers will not complete high school – often due to social and financial challenges at home. To raise awareness of the challenges many young people face and to find new ways to help students stay in school, Uniting launched IdeasGen during Anti-Poverty Week in October 2016. Students who are supported to stay in school will have additional opportunities to pursue their chosen career paths, leading to better outcomes and helping to break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage. In fact young people who finish school will earn on average $1.7 million more over their working life than those who don’t.

Uniting IdeasGen invited young people to think of creative solutions which would encourage their peers to stay in school.

Nick’s winning idea is to connect school students in regional areas who are thinking about leaving school early, with mentors who made the decision to complete school when faced with similar challenges. Universities will be encouraged to award credit points for participation in the program – recognising the value in learning from others.

“When I heard that I won my heart exploded! I’m humbled and excited by this awesome recognition. But if this program makes just one person pause and encourages them to stay in school for just a little longer, a day, a week, or even better – until graduation day well that’s most important for me,” award winner Nick Tepper said.

Uniting Executive Director Peter Worland said, “Young people themselves are remarkably well placed to find ways to inspire their peers to stay in school. As students, they know the challenges and what motivates them. We wanted to draw on that insight, and bring one of these ideas to life. If we want to reduce poverty we need to increase year 12 graduates”.

Uniting IdeasGen received entries from all over Australia which were put to an online public vote. With hundreds of votes cast, the top 10 finalists went through to a judging panel to determine the most creative, effective and achievable idea.

“I’m blown away by the creativity and passion displayed by all of the ideas entered.  With the practicality of Nick’s idea along with his energy I am sure it will encourage many students to continue with their education,” Mr Worland said.

Media contact: Alison Thyer, Media and Public Affairs Lead (Contact: athyer@uniting.org or 0457 568 938).

About the winner

Nick Tepper, 24 Queensland University of Technology graduate

Nick’s rapid-fire idea is called BuddyConnect. It aims to connect students in regional areas with other students that have been in their position but now have gone onto further tertiary education or full-time work. They meet via Skype for one hour a week to discuss any topic– their marks, their homework, why they like school and even why they don’t. Establishing this relationship with someone who was in a similar position to them has the potential to inspire them to keep working on their education.

Highly commended entries

Jeffrey Khoo, 17

Jeffrey’s idea focussed on helping students to not only get through Year 12, but to continue their educational journey through university. His idea is a dual-enrolment program where students can gain high school and university course credits simultaneously. Outside of regular subjects, students choose to learn about a degree of their choice from a partner university for free. This helps to foster tertiary education, encouraging a pathway to university and helping break the cycle of poverty.

Megan Meredith, 23

Megan aims to answer the question teens are always asking: what’s in it for me? Her idea involves a program where students get to meet people from different occupations to get an insight into their careers. But, they get actual practical experience to see if it’s what they want to do. This will allow students to see what’s in it for them – what finishing high school will give them a chance at.

Editors notes

Currently in Australia, 1 in 4 students do not finish high school.

Completion rates: 26% of young Australians (under 19) do not attain Year 12. That’s an estimated 81,000 young people (1 in 4 students).*

Indigenous students: only 44% of indigenous students attain Year 12, compared to 75% of non-indigenous students. That means 2 out of 5 indigenous students go on to finish high school.*

Financial hardship: 61% of the most financially disadvantaged students attain Year 12, compared to 89% of the most advantaged. This means if a student comes from a family under hardship, 1 in 3 of them will drop out.*

Access to education: 43% (very remote) and 56% (remote) students attain Year 12, in comparison to 78% in major cities. If a student lives outside a major city, they are 2x more likely not to complete Year 12 (in comparison to students that live in a major city).*

Completion of Year 12 “increases a young person’s likelihood of continuing with further study, as well as entering the workforce.”*

*Source: Educational opportunity in Australia 2015: Who succeeds and who misses out, The Mitchell Institute