STORYTELLER: Britteny Hunter is the 2014 Wide Bay Heywire winner for her story about homelessness after the 2013 floods.
STORYTELLER: Britteny Hunter is the 2014 Wide Bay Heywire winner for her story about homelessness after the 2013 floods. ROSS KAY

Bundaberg teen's tale of 2013 floods recognised

A BUNDABERG teenager's handwritten account of her experience during and after the 2013 floods has seen her recognised as one of the best young storytellers in regional Australia.

Britteny Hunter is the 2014 ABC Heywire Wide Bay winner and will be among 40 young people from across regional Australia to have their voices heard across ABC Radio, TV and online and take part at the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra next year.

Britteny, 17, said her family was one of many impacted by the natural disaster that struck the region last year but was quick to point out she was luckier than most.

"Our East Bundy home was flooded like many others in Bundaberg," she said.

"But we were very lucky we had friends that we stayed with for a year.

"A lot of others weren't so lucky because they didn't have flood insurance or enough savings to repair their houses."

During the turbulent time, long after the news crews left and the water receded, people were still in desperate need of help and Britteny said she came face to face with homelessness.

"We were displaced more than we were homeless," she said.

"I did some work through my church feeding people that were displaced and hearing their stories.

"I realised that the same thing could have happened to me and my family if we didn't have money and support of friends."

This realisation has changed Britteny's view on homelessness and the stigma associated with it.

"I had a very stereotypical view of what a homeless person was," she said.

"When I was living at my friend's house I didn't want people to know that I didn't have a home."

Britteny hopes to do more work within the Bundaberg community with entities such as the U Can Van and others to help counter the homeless issue but knows it will take a multi-targeted approach.

"In Bundaberg the main issue is the unemployment rate," she said.

"It's about teaching people skills so that they can avoid the poverty cycle."

You can view all the 2014 Heywire winners at http://www.abc.net.au/heywire/.



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