Paving the way for Barossa’s future


Paving the way for Barossa’s future

When Casey Miles left high school, politics was not on her radar, but a series of opportunities has given the young Barossan a different perspective.
PHOTOGRAPHY sam kroepsch
>> Casey Miles

Casey Miles graduated high school in 2020 and went on to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher at university.

“I was enjoying teaching,” Casey says, “but I had just come out of the COVID year, 2020, and going back into teaching was difficult. It was a bit of a shock as an 18-year-old.”

Deferring her studies, Casey was offered the full-time events manager position at Lambert Estate Wines. She accepted – and it was during that time that her boss encouraged Casey to enter the Young Ambassador program.

With no reason to refuse, she began the nine-month program.

“It was a bit nerve-wracking because I consider myself a quiet, shy person,” Casey shares.

There are many elements considered throughout the judging process of the Ambassador program. Specifically, a large part of the judging would rely on the presentation of a project at the final awards event.

“I really wanted to do something decent and big,” Casey shares.

While pondering who could lead her in the right direction, somebody suggested Ashton Hurn, the local Member for Schubert.

“I reached out to Ashton and asked if we could chat about the program, which she had done in the past,” Casey says. “She got back to me, and we talked about key issues.”

Casey quickly realised that transport was something that Ashton wanted to pursue.

Learning this, she researched electric busses, which had already been trialled throughout SA by SAGE Automation Adelaide and a few weeks later, she received a phone call welcoming her to the factory to develop a proposal. Coincidentally, there had been a previous proposal for the same idea back in 2019.

In case something came of it all, Casey thought it best to meet with The Barossa Council Mayor, Bim Lange, to discuss her intentions.

“Bim was very excited,” Casey shares.

Since Ashton initially gave Casey the idea, she also looped her back in, running Ashton through the proposal. It was then that Casey was asked if she had ever been interested in politics.

“No,” was Casey’s initial thought – but she had grown interested, since chatting to politicians and getting an insight into the world.

Ashton proceeded to offer Casey a job she couldn’t refuse.

“It’s not every day the local Member of Parliament offers you a job,” Casey acknowledges. “I’d have been silly to turn it down.”

During the 2023 Barossa Vintage Festival, Casey volunteered a lot of hours with the other candidates.

“It was a very hectic week,” Casey says. “We all worked the five days, volunteered our time. We didn’t stop.”

On the day of the Young Ambassador awards presentation, Casey was faced with a room of roughly 20 people, including Mayor Lange, family, people in local businesses, previous Young Ambassadors, current Young Ambassadors, and anyone who had been involved in the program!

“It was quite nerve-wracking speaking in front of people about something I had no idea about nine months ago, but also very exciting,” Casey says. “I felt really good once it was done, but then they sent us into an interview panel, and we were hit with questions.

”I think I said something like, ‘I’ve not got many words left’,” Casey admits. “Instead, we had a conversation about where I wanted to go, working for Ashton and how I was excited to stay and work in the Barossa.”

Casey clearly did better than she thought because she was subsequently awarded the Young Ambassador title.

“It was incredible,” Casey beams. “I felt so honoured.”

Earlier this year, Casey was awarded the Young Citizen Award, which was also completely unexpected.

“In all honesty, it never crossed my mind as something I’d ask someone to nominate me for, I assume someone nominated me through the community.”

“I can see changes I’d like to make, so it would be great to be elected to give the younger generation a voice and see things come to life.”

- Casey Miles

This year Casey has taken on many other roles, like co-chairing the Young Ambassadors’ committee, joining the Vintage Festival committee, mentoring students with Foundation Barossa, and becoming a mentor at the Rotary Club Camp RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards).

“I’ve really named this year as, ‘be on every foot I possibly can, get out there in the community’,” Casey shares, “because I’ve grown so much, and I wouldn’t have without all this. “I’m really excited to pass the Young Ambassador title onto someone else.”

Casey is still keen to complete her teacher’s degree and remain working for Ashton in the Schubert Electorate Office. She also has aspirations to run for council herself in the 2026 election.

“In the program you really get pushed to be a voice,” Casey shares. “I can see changes I’d like to make, so it would be great to be elected to give the younger generation a voice and see things come to life. I absolutely believe in protecting our heritage and our roots, but the Barossa also needs to evolve. I love this community and I want to see it grow.”

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