Students involved in Sunshine Coast future planning

20 June 2023


The students of today are the citizens and leaders of tomorrow. This is recognised by the Sunshine Coast Council, who sees youth voices as an important part of their Economic Development Review .

Their Regional Economic Development Forum for Youth was held on Wednesday the 19 April and was hosted by Glasshouse Christian College. Year 10 students Chloe and Loche represented the College at this workshop, collaborating with peers from several other public and private schools throughout the region.

The event opened with addresses by Mayor Mark Jamieson and the CEO of the Sunshine Coast Council Emma Thomas. These speakers prompted student thinking on innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development both now and into the future. In small-group round-table discussions, students were then challenged to imagine the needs of Sunshine Coast citizens in 2050. Clear themes of connection, transport, and sustainability arose.

Following the Youth Forum, Chloe was invited to represent these ideas to a packed room of business leaders, politicians, and industry groups at the Sunshine Coast Infrastructure Summit . Chloe reflects about her experience:

CEO, Emma Thomas led the panel discussion and we were asked questions that included: What parts of the Sunshine Coast makes it our favourite? Thinking about education, what facilities would support the jobs of the future? Considering the Sunshine Coast has the 2nd highest rate of private car ownership per capita of any local government area in Australia, where does the region need to be better and what will 2050 look like in terms of travelling around? How can the Sunshine Coast be more sustainable, especially taking into account the new solar farm?

Clear themes around our responses touched on the importance of improving connectivity and transport while maintaining our regions natural beauty and not becoming a fast industrial city. In relation to connectivity and transport, we agreed that it is essential to encourage more use of public transport as well as more electric sustainable transport (hybrid) and we raised the possibility of building underground infrastructure to retain amenity with less cars on the road. On the topic of education, we talked about the SCU being required to offer more diverse courses so students don’t have to relocate to a Brisbane university and struggle with housing affordability. We also discussed school providing more equitable learning opportunities and teaching life skills to prepare us for graduation. It was interesting to hear key speakers talk about the upcoming 2032 Olympics and what that will look like in regards to the economy, funding and connectivity. Another key area discussed was housing affordability and the growing population on the Sunshine Coast. This opened up a lot of discussion and posed questions such as: if we don’t want to build up, why not build underground? This has been successful in the planning of future cities overseas as there is a shortage of land.  We heard that underground homes are already in existence in Singapore, Turkey, Italy and are very successful.

It was excellent to see students exercising their citizenship skills and applying what they have been learning in class to the real world.

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