One of the promises of the Labor government during their recent election campaign was to establish a youth steering committee which would inform government decisions impacting young people.
This has fortunately been fulfilled with the establishment of a groundbreaking 2022 Youth Steering Committee, organised by the Department of Education, Minister for Youth and Australian Youth Affairs Coalition.
The committee is made up of 15 young people, aged 12-25 years of age from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences across Australia.
I had the privilege of being selected as one of the committee members through the application process and joined some incredible young people for our first meeting.
The meeting was held in November, in Canberra and gave us the opportunity to plan our goals and purpose, as well as meet with several politicians.
We had the pleasure of meeting Minister Anne Aly, the Minister for Youth and Minister for Early Childhood Education, who plays a major role in the committee’s work.
I met many other inspiring politicians, including Senator Fatima Payman and Minister Linda Burney. These are all trailblazers in the Australian parliament, with Fatima being the first Hijab-wearing woman in the Senate and Minister Burney the first Indigenous woman in the House of Representatives.
I also had the privilege of meeting my local member for Reid, Sally Sitou. It was amazing to be able to hear from and interact with these experienced politicians as part of the meeting.
For a long time, there has been little and, at times, next to no government consultation with young people, meaning that decisions regarding young people have been made in their absence.
This committee is crucial in recognising that young people are experts in the experiences and issues they face. It acknowledges that this expertise is valuable and can greatly benefit major institutions like the government.
It also recognises that young people are not a homogenous demographic and appreciates diversity and intersectionality.
“Young people make up more than 15 percent of our population, it’s important we don’t paint them with one brush of being young or disengaged or only caring about one issue,” Dr Anne Aly stated in a press release, illustrating the importance of this diverse representation.
I am optimistic this initiative will establish a norm of youth engagement, with a sustainable and thorough youth engagement model to be formalised.
It is important this occurs, with so many issues directly or otherwise impacting young people. Just some of these issues include cost of living, education, climate change and mental health. When young people get to have a say in how these issues are addressed, policy and outcomes improve.
I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this important space and give back to young people. The committee is very excited to continue working together and to see the benefits to come!