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Q&A with The Glennie School Year 12 student, Faith and Service Co-Captain, birdwatcher, social justice activist and aspiring vet, Rheanca Lincoln

Spotlight Q&A

Meet Rheanca Lincoln and find out about her social justice activism, her current extra-curricular activities at The Glennie School, what person of faith inspires her the most and what her secret skill is

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Where do you currently live?

I live in Toowoomba, Queensland and have lived there for 15 years.

What do your school roles involve?

I am very honoured to be our school’s Faith and Service Co-Captain. I help with leading service initiatives inside of the school and help out with faith-based activities, such as the Christmas carols. I am also part of the Environment Club at school, where we try and promote environmental sustainability. Through school, I am also taking part in Rosies: Friends on the Streets, volunteering with other students and a teacher to provide social connections and warm food for people who are socially disadvantaged, isolated and homeless in Toowoomba.

What projects or activities are you currently working on?

The main project I am currently working on is called “We Are Not Alone”, alongside a fantastic youth committee. We were recently successful in the Foundation for Rural Regional Renewal (FRRR) ABC Heywire Grants and received $10,000 to do it.

We Are Not Alone will unite the Toowoomba Region’s communities in a fun community event. With performances, workshops, organisation exhibitions and special guest speakers, we want to create support for young people with disabilities in our community.

We want young people with disabilities, chronic illness or who identify as neurodivergent to feel empowered — to know that although we may sometimes feel lonely, we are never alone.

Some other projects I am doing include the annual Youth Peace Conference, filming the itchY switch through a different grant with Eczema Support Australia to provide educational resources for GPs and young people, and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s project Climate Canva.

Aside from that, I’m always looking into doing various environmental projects, I really love tree planting days or wildlife citizen science. My most recent project I did was called Paws4ClimateAction with Toowoomba for Climate Action and Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. I also recently got a new job with the Queensland Family and Child Commission as a youth advocate, so I am looking forward to doing new workshops and projects with them.

Rheanca receiving Lions Youth of the Year Program Award in 2023

Rheanca Lincoln from The Glennie School receiving the Lions Youth of the Year Program Award in 2023

What has been one of the key highlights of your time at school so far?

For one of the service projects at school, our committee helped out with conducting a noodle drive to collect noodle cups for Rosies, Toowoomba. Rosies only runs on donated goods, so we thought that we could play a part in this and donate noodle cups. Noodle cups are a favourite on Rosies’ outreaches and are often the only warm meal patrons have in a week.

We encouraged everyone in the school to go buy at least one noodle cup and donate it to the collection. On the day of collection, some of the Year 12s helped count all the noodle cups and were astonished that we collected over 700 noodle cups! It was such an exciting moment, and a demonstration of the goals we can achieve when we the entire school community comes together for a unified cause.

What are your plans and goals for the next 12 months?

I really hope to get accepted into Veterinary Science / Veterinary Medicine at university. I’m really passionate about wildlife conservation so it would be my dream to become a wildlife vet. If I don’t get in, I’m going to study Veterinary Technology and apply again the next year. I am also going to continue doing lots of volunteering and continue working on projects.

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

I am really inspired by Haniff Abdul Razak in Toowoomba. Mr Haniff is the Director of the Multi-Faith Multicultural Centre at the Pure Land Learning College Association in Toowoomba, and is always striving for Toowoomba to be a model city for peace and harmony. Mr Haniff sometimes helps guide the Toowoomba Youth Peace Group I am a part of and he is always making a positive difference wherever he is. I am very lucky to have met Mr Haniff.

Why is it important for Christians to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples towards Reconciliation?

I believe it is extremely important that everyone, from all different faiths and backgrounds, unites and stands in solidarity with First Nations Peoples. In Australia, we have the privilege of being able to use our voice and we are lucky that the foundations of current Reconciliation movements have already been built from First Nations activists who came before us. That is why we need to use this momentum to step up and help amplify First Nations voices, fight for First Nations justice and continue working towards practical forms of Reconciliation.

We need to be working towards systemic reform that addresses the intersectionality of First Nations justice and allows for First Nations’ self-determination. For non-First Nations people such as myself, it is important to remember that even if we aren’t directly impacted by an issue, it is still our responsibility as a community citizen to act in allyship.

Five women standing in front of a Rosies outreach bus

The Glennie School’s Rheanca Lincoln (Right) with school volunteers and a teacher at a Rosies outreach in 2023

What is the bravest or kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

The kindest gesture I received was when I was unfortunately too sick to do my school captain candidate speech. Even though I couldn’t do my speech, a beautiful friend of mine delivered my speech for me, and other friends offered to do this for me as well. I couldn’t thank them enough. On the same day, I received countless kind emails and messages. In particular, my chemistry class took a picture of themselves and sent it to me saying that they were thinking of me. It meant the absolute world to me.

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

I love to go outside and see all the birds because I really like birds. I am working on my identification skills and it’s really fun learning more about birds. My favourite backyard bird is the willie wagtail, because they are so silly and cute! I also love playing with my dog Rumi and teaching him fun tricks. I also love cooking and creating new recipes that are more inclusive of those with multiple-food allergies and anaphylaxis.

If you could have a billboard with any text on it, what would it say and why?

It would say, “Different. Not Less”. It’s what one of my role models, Chloé Hayden, an exceptional actor and disability advocate, always says. I love it because it’s a good reminder that we are all so different and absolutely should be valued equally.

Where do you do your best thinking?

Sometimes, I like to go outside and sit in the sun. However, most of my project ideas come randomly, like before I go to sleep or randomly as I get lost in my thoughts.

Rheanca receiving the Edstart Achievement Award in the Social Impact category in 2023

The Glennie School’s Rheanca Lincoln receiving the Edstart Achievement Award in the Social Impact category in 2023

What’s your best childhood memory?

My best childhood memory was playing with all my neighbourhood friends. I loved going to all their houses every afternoon and knocking on their door, seeing if they were ready to play. We would go bike riding, play heaps of games, bake and go swimming.

Our neighbourhood also used to host Christmas parties at different people’s houses, or we would all go “trick or treating” collectively, which was so fun. Even though all my neighbourhood friends left Toowoomba, I still stay in touch with them.

If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

I play with my dog, Rumi. He brings me so much joy and reminds me to live in the present. I also like to remember that it’s totally ok to have some bad days, and it’s just a part of life.

What day would you like to re-live and why?

I would love to relive attending the Steve Irwin Gala Dinner. I was so honoured to meet Robert Irwin while receiving my award even though I was very starstruck. I got to have the best food, meet other Visionary Wildlife Warriors, watch the original Wiggles perform and hear all about the legacy of the original wildlife warrior, Steve Irwin. I was so grateful that I was invited.

What is your secret skill?

I used to be an avid chess player when I was younger and used to absolutely love the game. I can still remember a few openings and tactics, and I could play blindfolded (through using the coordinates of the chess board) if I really put my mind to it.

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would that be?

That’s a really hard one, because I love food.  If I had to choose, it would be hummus, closely followed by olives and hot chips! I love love, love, love hummus so much. I just spoon it out of the tub — it’s so delicious.

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