Joe Collins lives in a small town in Victoria's Mallee district of 694 people. He is passionate about community and ensuring young people in regional areas have the same great educational opportunities as their city counterparts to achieve excellence.
The Year 12 student and Student Representative Council president of Tyrrell College in Sea Lake is a Rural Youth Ambassador for the Country Education Partnership (CEP) Program.
Joe, along with 20 of his peers, advocates for schools across rural Victoria to collaborate in their local areas, and provide students with a higher standard of teaching and up-to-date resources.
Joe also leads several local sporting clubs and was named last year's winner of the Sea Lake Lions Youth of the Year and this year's winner of Yarriambiack Young Achiever Community Service Award.
To top off his achievements, Joe has been named 2017 VCE Leader of the Year.
Joe says he is honoured and thankful to receive the award, even though he doesn't work for the recognition.
'I believe that the leadership I have shown was done just out of heart, and almost second nature as it's vital in our small communities to ensure we remain vtyhe iable and thriving, which I suppose I inherited from those before me,' Joe says.
Joe says he plans to attend a leadership program to New Zealand instead of Schoolies, and enrol in a university in the city to study agriculture. He says he hopes to stay connected to his community in Sea Lake even while he's away.
'I'm also very excited for the new leadership opportunities that university life may offer,' Joe says.
VCE Leadership Awards —recognising our young leaders
The VCE Leadership Awards recognise the efforts of VCE students in promoting leadership and participation in their school and local community.
VCE Leadership students demonstrate initiative, inspire others, work well in a team, and are committed to making a difference.
Nominees participate in arts, sport, debating and public speaking. They may campaign for social justice, environmental protection and/or fundraising.
Previous recipients include comedian and radio presenter Tom Ballard for his work with local youth communities and activism against homophobia and cyberbullying, and 2014 Victorian Young Australian of the Year Thomas King for his commitment to animal rights and environmental conservation, creating the website 'Say No to Palm Oil'.
See: Student Voices
VCE Leadership Awards