The Leader has asked each election candidate it profiles to bring an item that means something to them; whether it be personal, symbolic or representative of a professional achievement, and give the public an explanation why.
WHILE he may be one of the youngest candidates to stand for Tamworth Regional Council, Marc Sutherland has a lifetime commitment to the region's young people.
As Director of the Gomeroi Culture Academy, Mr Sutherland's top priority will be making sure everyone's voice is heard if he is elected to the council in December.
"Decision-making in all aspects, but especially local government, should be inclusive and reflective of the diversity that exists in the community," he said.
"Young people are continuously locked out of these spaces."
Hoping to change this, Mr Sutherland said if he were elected his focus would be for council to develop and formally commit to a youth strategic plan to put young people, businesses, and families firmly on the agenda.
"If the youth are our future, when's our chance to lead?" he said.
"We need to consider the contribution young people make to the region.
"This is the first step to making sure young people's voices are heard."
It was this kind of formal plan that Mr Sutherland said was crucial in securing funding for the development of the Tamworth Regional Youth Centre in 2016, which he advocated for and later managed.
"It was a full circle, seeing the ability for change to happen and the importance of having people's voices heard," he said.
Also high on the agenda, Mr Sutherland said he would work to improve the council's commitment to caring for country, specifically around the regions native bushland and river systems.
If elected Mr Sutherland will be not only be one of the youngest, but also the first Aboriginal Tamworth councillor.
"If I were elected as the first Aboriginal councillor for Tamworth Regional Council it would mean not only the world to me, but it would mean a lot to people all across the region from all different walks of life that feel as though they've been locked out of decisions making spaces to feel optimistic about the future and sense of hope knowing that change is happening," he said.
Acknowledging that some people may be concerned about his age and experience, when asked to bring along an item of significance Mr Sutherland brought the jacket he was awarded as Young Citizen of the Year in 2005 to highlight his years of commitment.
"It's a special piece because for me I can look back through the last 16 years and see how my connection and my passion for caring and supporting local community and country has come through in a number of different spaces," he said.
"My connection to local government has been a life-long connection."
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