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Hundreds of Indigenous students were given inspiration and advice to enhance their lives and employment prospects at two Indigenous Employment Expos held in August 2012 on the south coast of New South Wales.

Organised by Regional Development Australia – Far South Coast (RDA FSC), the Expos were held at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre in Nowra on Tuesday 28th August 2012 and the following day at the Sapphire Coast Turf Club at Kalaru near Bega.

More than 500 students from 25 secondary schools and 200 jobseekers attended the Nowra Expo examining the information available at 75 stalls covering everything from bricklaying to aerospace industries and defence forces to training organisations. More than 300 students from 15 secondary schools and 100 jobseekers attended the Kalaru expo.

Much attention was focused on the Expo Ambassadors – rugby league and rugby union legend Wendell Sailor, ABC News 24 Weekend Breakfast co-host Miriam Corowa and Newcastle University Lecturer and Indigenous counsellor Liz Cameron, who spoke to students in the aptly named Inspiration Rooms.

As the three Ambassadors spoke, they urged students and jobseekers to use education to follow their passions.

“If you love what you do then hopefully you will find your way through,” Ms Corowa said as the Expo was officially opened.

“When you find your passions and you’re out there working you’ll be inspired and you’ll inspire others,” Ms Cameron said.

Ms Corowa said it was not always that simple, and told how she struggled to find her direction while completing her HSC at Lismore High School. Ms Corowa was interested in media, although “I freaked out during work experience at my local ABC radio station”, before she managed to find her voice while studying arts at university.

“You don’t have to have all the answers right here and now,” Ms Corowa said, suggesting students focus on what they enjoy and are good at.

Mr Sailor said he hoped those passions would extend beyond sport. While many people spoke of Australia’s great Indigenous sporting identities, “we’re more than athletes”, Mr Sailor said. “I want to see more Indigenous doctors and lawyers.”

As deputy chairman of RDA FSC, John Lamont opened the Nowra Expo, he encouraged students to ensure their learning did not stop when they leave high school, urging them to attend university or TAFE, or take up apprenticeships or traineeship.

It is with regret that we advise RDA FSC will not receive funding for the Indigenous Employment Expos in Nowra and/or Kalaru for 2013. It is a great loss to the region and the south coast Indigenous community. We thank everyone for their support in the past and your participation was integral in ensuring the success of this great south coast initiative.

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