TWO teenagers from the region have been chosen among 11 youths who will be instrumental in a first-time drought summit in October.
Patrick Blomfield and Elly Byriell, both 16, will help plan and report on UNICEF Australia's NSW Youth Summit on Living with Drought.
One task will be to help select the 107 young attendees, who will talk with decision-makers about living with drought and how responses could improve.
They will also work with participants on recommendations to be put to bureaucrats and politicians on the summit's last day.
Patrick, who lives on a 980-hectare Caroona cattle property, said he saw the summit as a way to contribute to his area.
He wanted to be involved "to listen to and share stories and ideas, and connect with other young people in the same position as me".
Elly, from a mixed farming property on the Breeza Plains, said she "wanted to make a change for other young people and the future, if there's ever a drought again".
"I'm hoping to just see all the youth affected by drought, and that we all come together and share our stories and try and get something put in place."
Asked what the drought meant for him, Patrick said: "I think about the lack of feed, the massive stock losses, terrible crop yields, the stress and hardships faced, farmers selling off third- and fourth-generation properties because they can't afford to keep them running and make an income".'
Elly said she had seen schoolmates' parents struggling to pay for their education expenses.
"For youth in general, I think they want to know that their education is safe, to know that even if parents can't pay for it, they're still going to have a future and be educated well."
UNICEF Australia head of policy and advocacy, Amy Lamoin, said the summit would be "an opportunity to connect, engage and reflect".
"Summit participants will hear from inspiring speakers, and take part in discussions, workshops and activities," she said.
"They will work with others who share and understand their struggle, form new support networks and learn new tools and strategies to cope with the daily struggles of the drought."
- UNICEF invites NSW residents aged 14-24 to apply to go to the summit, by 11.59pm on August 30.
- It will be held at Lake Macquarie from October 9 to 11 and all costs, including travel and accommodation, will be covered.