Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” It resonated with me this week after having a chat with one of our future leaders, Atticus Punt-Trethewey.
It occurred early on in our conversation when Atticus explained how to pronounce Trethewey correctly. It’s not Treth- (away), it’s Treth- (ewey). They are quietly confident one day it’s a surname no-one will forget.
The 22 year old music production graduate was the 2023 recipient of the Young Citizen of the Year Award for Hepburn Shire – a role they have cherished with great honour.
Over a caramel slice and hot chocolate at the hip hangout, Brew Jays, we talked crossover bags, the best product for curly hair, and why ‘The Rex’ should be turned into a venue for Daylesford Youth.
As Young Citizen of the Year, tell me how 2023 has panned out.
It’s been really good. I’ve had lots of different opportunities to connect with people. Integrating with all these different community organisations, it’s been great and having the award helps.
What have you been doing in the community?
The reason for the nomination last year was part of a uni project. We set up this youth music festival called ‘Alt Wave’ and it was to promote youth mental health. We wanted to create a safe space for young people to come together and enjoy music and it was a rousing success.
How important is mental health, particularly with our youth?
It’s paramount. For me going through high school and just youth in general, mental health is something we struggle a lot with. It’s a way I want to give back to the community in helping.
Especially in regional areas, it’s something that gets overlooked quite a bit and just drawing attention to that, raising awareness is something that I’ve been passionate about.
Why in rural regions are our youth slipping through the cracks?
It’s the isolation of it. You are away from everywhere, from things that you want to do.
I think if we work together with communities, as communities, to create more spaces for youth in regional areas, it will really help to combat that.
Your festival ‘AltWave’ last year was a huge success, what else do you think would benefit a town like Daylesford?
I think Daylesford could use a dedicated youth space. Obviously, that would be a lot to set up, it would be a lot of hoops to jump through there, I’m aware of that. But I think if we could create a space, like the Rex, that would be amazing.
For people who don’t understand what space you need, can you explain. What do the youth of today want to get up to?
That’s a difficult question. It’s having a place, be it a café like the one we’re in now. Just to have a place that isn’t a school or home or something like that, was kind of what I was thinking.
Going back to the festival, why did that work?
I think it was because we all had that shared vision of creating that space that we were talking about. We all had these incredible talents and connections. To make it come together, make sense of what we are coming together to say. Help our youth.
Nominations are closing soon for next year’s Youth Citizen of the Year. Do you have any advice for the worthy recipient?
My advice would be, prepare yourself for the eventuality that you might win it, because I was totally unprepared for it.
Has it changed you in any way?
It’s made me a hell of a lot more confident, that’s for sure. Having the award is really good, but it’s only the beginning for me.
Going back to your not-confident self, what advice do you have?
Know school is not the end of your life. In fact, it’s only the beginning!
What brings you joy?
Well, obviously music. That’s something that’s always been an immense source of joy for me.
I see joy in your dress sense too. I want your crossover bag, necklace, and hair too! Fashion, obviously that’s a passion for you as well?
Yeah, that’s something I’ve kind of come to grips with recently and sort of embracing my queer identity. If you’re not aware, I’m non-binary.
And embracing the way I’ve always wanted to dress, but never felt truly able to, that’s been really good.
If you were sent off into Wombat State Forest for the rest of your eternal life, what three things would you take?
I’d fully want to live out like Lord of the Rings fantasies and bring a bow and arrow and pretend I’m Legolas. Like hunting in the wilderness, and some sort of really nice Elvish short sword.
If you had a superpower what would it be, and what would you do with it?
In terms of practicality, telekinesis would be a really useful one. If you’re sitting on the lounge and the remote’s just out of reach, and you’re like, I just wish I could levitate it towards me.
What are you streaming right now?
I’ve been really getting into the new Star Wars show recently, Ahsoka.
Mentors are important, who are yours?
My parents. They’ve been really championing me since day one.
If you were a hashtag, what would you be?
So many hashtags. Too many.
Perhaps describe yourself in a sentence then?
I’m a human being exploring my passions and trying to give back to the community.
Having you in the community is a gift itself. I wish you every success.
Nominations for 2024 awards close on October 20th.
Last year’s winners were John Drife (Citizen of the Year), Atticus Punt-Trethewey (Young Citizen of the Year) and The Great Dividing Trail Association Reconciliation Walks (Event of the Year).
Council announces the awards during a Civic Event on 25 January each year. Anyone can nominate a citizen or community group for an award. Nominations will close at 5pm on 20 October 2023.
For more information or to make a nomination, visit Council’s website https://www.hepburn.vic.gov.au/Community-awards
Raquel Stevens is a former Network Ten News Journalist. She has been a part time local for more than 25 years, and one day hopes to be a full time local.