ALMOST a quarter of a million (249,600) Australians will turn 20 this year.
They were born in the year 2000 - a time when the Sydney Olympics was declared the "best Olympic Games ever", the GST was introduced and the Brisbane Broncos defeated the Roosters 14-6 in the NRL grand final.
It was also the aftermath of the Y2K Bug (also known as the Millennium Bug) and this year interest rates reached 6.25 per cent.
It was also the year that Tameka Kennedy (Bathurst), Ashwini Manorathan (Dubbo), Jake Mackin (Orange), Emilia Keen (Lithgow), Sam McFarlane (Mudgee) and Lucy Miller (Dubbo) were born.
These six young adults, all with different jobs and living in different parts of the region, are informed and interested in the world around them and have a keen interest in a better future.
While all of them use social media on a daily basis and praise the benefits of quick and easy communication, they also have concerns about the impact of this type of technology.
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Ms Keen said the ability to communicate instantly with people in different countries was a definite positive.
She feared, however, that overuse of this technology may lead to some young people having less social skills during face-to-face situations.
"I also think it's bad because it's taking away communication and conservation skills," she said.
Technology and social media are part of everyday life for Mr Mackin, who said: "There wouldn't be a day that I don't look at it. It's just so much easier to contact people."
"It's great because of the fact that it's easy to connect with people, but then that's bad as well.
"I'm worried about how easy someone can pretend to be someone else and play games with your head."
Ms Miller feared the balance between the positives and negatives of social media was "out of whack".
"Kids are just going straight to social media rather than exploring real things like skateboarding or going outside or exercising," she said.
"I think it'd be great if social media could influence people to be more active."
Singer, songwriter and musician Ms Kennedy, meanwhile, said social media helped people share her music across the world.
"It's very useful to get your brand and name out there. It helps build my profile and it helps when they share my music," she said.
Crime, climate, care: Outlining a 2020 vision
THESE young adults may be just starting out in their respective careers, but they say 20 years on the planet has made them aware of a wide number of problems.
The environment, the drought, elder abuse, crime, inter-generational tensions, climate change, bushfires and social inequality are issues close to their hearts.
Dubbo-based Ms Manorathan, who is studying medicine at the University of New South Wales, said the lessons she's learnt have given her plenty to think about.
"There's so much social inequality in the health system," she said.
"My degree has really opened my eyes to how people's socio-economic background really impacts how they live and their access to health."
Ms Miller, who works in administration and as a waitress, is worried about how young people are treated by older generations.
"I really think that there needs to be more communication and collaboration between generations and I think there could be better levels of respect and understanding," she said.
I really think that there needs to be more communication and collaboration between generations and I think there could be better levels of respect and understanding.Lucy Miller
"If we work together, we could solve a lot of issues."
Dubbo-based Ms Miller said while established industries in her local government area should be supported, new ones should also be encouraged.
"Industry needs to evolve more in regional centres because if you look at major metropolitan areas, the industry is so diverse," she said.
"It'd help if we had a more diverse industry out here, but also we need to support the ones we already have."
With the vast majority of the Central Tablelands (99.6 per cent) and the Central West (99.0 per cent) in intense drought, these young adults said they were worried about its effect on their communities.
Ms Keen, an aged care worker and Charles Sturt University nursing student, said the abuse of elderly people was a significant concern to her.
"I'm so passionate about nursing and aged care I get really upset when I hear about elder abuse," she said.
Ms Keen said there was a lack of entertainment for young people in Lithgow.
"There's not a lot of areas to hang out; there's no bowling alley or movies," she said.
"I think that some might turn to drugs or alcohol or misbehaving or getting into mischief."
Apprentice boilermaker Mr Mackin said the level of crime, particularly theft and robbery, in Orange was concerning.
Climate change and its effects on the environment and the ongoing bushfire emergency worries Mr McFarlane who is studying mechatronics and electrical engineering at The University of Newcastle.
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"I looked outside during the fires and there was so much smoke around; it was 2pm, but it looked like 7 or 8pm," he said.
Bathurst's Ms Kennedy said the ongoing drought and bushfire emergency in Lithgow left her fearing for her family.
"My parents live in Lithgow and the fires were pretty close to them and that was a worry," she said.
Positive about the future, but changes needed
LOOKING towards the next 20 years of their lives, these six young adults say that overall they are optimistic, but changes in society, attitudes and government intervention are needed.
Mr McFarlane is hopeful for greater environmental consciousness and that world leaders will consider the impact of non-renewable resources on the environment.
"It's pretty evident to see that C02 emissions are causing global warming," he said.
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"It doesn't really seem to be up for debate in the community, but it's the politicians who are seeming to be taking their first steps."
Mr Mackin said governments had a big part to play in helping the environment and "what they're doing is not enough".
While Ms Keen said she is positive about the future, and said: "I like to keep an open mind, I want to hope for the best and I don't like to think negatively".
At the start, when you're young, it's really obvious racism, and then as you grow up it's micro-aggression. It's really tough to grow up and have that; it ruins your self-worth.Ashwini Manorathan
For Ms Manorathan, who is of Sri Lankan background, the changes she'd like to see are a lot more personal.
"I'm hopeful for a society that is more diverse and not whitewashing everything that we see in film or music," she said.
"Growing up, I didn't see anyone who looked like me on TV or in the movies ... I feel a bit like an alien sometimes.
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"I've been hoping to see a better representation."
Ms Manorathan said racism was a factor in society, but that it had changed as she'd aged.
"At the start, when you're young, it's really obvious racism, and then as you grow up it's micro-aggression," she said.
"It's really tough to grow up and have that; it ruins your self-worth."
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