Youth Activist Series
At home in Australia we’ve been working with young women to create the change they want to see here. Our Youth Activist Series is a youth advocacy program for young women in Australia who are leaders in their communities and passionate about making change in the area of gender equality.
The program provides an opportunity for young women to learn more about the state of gender equality globally, and develop skills and real world experience in advocacy and gender equality. Our Youth Activists are trained in gender equality, advocacy, media, speaking up to people in power and other forms of activism, and they use those skills to affect change in Australia.
In 2016 the Youth Activists co-designed the highly successful mapping tool Free To Be, led a Girls Walk, participated in Girls Takeovers, launched the Everyday Sexism Report, ran the City of Melbourne Youth Services Forum, spoke on the panel at the Wheeler Centre event YAS KWEEN: Girls on Screen and were instrumental in ensuring that Plan International had our best ever media year.
In 2017, the Youth Activist Series expanded to Sydney and Canberra, where they continue to do incredible work in the area of gender equality, putting young people at the centre of our advocacy work.
What they said
Young Indigenous activist Aretha Stewart-Brown, 16, was born in Melbourne but moved to Nambucca Heads in New South Wales to be around "her mob’’ the Gumbangirr clan, before moving back to Melbourne to advance her educational opportunities at Williamstown High School.
She is now an in demand speaker and has appeared doing talks and acknowledgement of country ceremonies for the ACTU, Landcare, Minus 18, Melbourne University, Friends Of Willy Wetland, Jesuit Social Services, One Tree Foundation, Australian College of International Surgeons and at Invasion Day and NAIDOC marches in Melbourne.
She represented the country and her Indigenous relatives who served in Australia’s Armed Services, when she was one of the Victorian school students selected to attend the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings by ANZAC forces in World War 1 and did countless press interviews. She proudly organised the first ever NAIDOC event at Williamstown High School.
Most recently Aretha attended the National Youth Parliament 2017 in Canberra where she was chosen by her 60 peers as the first ever female Indigenous Prime Minister of Australia. In this role she met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition leader Bill Shorten and the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove. Later Tim Watts, her local member of parliament congratulated Aretha in the House of Representatives on this major achievement.
She later appeared on ABC Radio Melbourne, the national ABC NEWS Breakfast program and on NITV talking about her achievements in Canberra where the National Indigenous Youth Parliament debated several major issues.
Aretha will soon appear in a new ABC TV documentary about Australia’s up and coming new female leaders.
We’re incredibly proud to have had her voice and passion as part of our Youth Activist Series.
Free To Be
Free To Be is a digital mapping tool designed to help young people share the spaces in Melbourne that they love, or avoid, or need improvement.
The Youth Activist Leaders co-designed the tool in collaboration with Crowdspot. Free to Be was adapted from Plan International’s global Safer Cities program after our A Right To The Night report last year found one in three Australian young women don’t feel safe going out at night.
Young women were encouraged to drop a spot, share their story and shape their city.
Over 1,300 spots were dropped on the map, far exceeding our expectations.
“We did a co-design for Free To Be. We got to design it from the beginning.
Plan International wanted to know how girls experience the city and what we can do to work with City of Melbourne, Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and other authorities to improve things. So they wanted to know how they can get the information we need from women.
Most things in the end product of Free To Be were the things that we said. Whatever wasn’t there were things they were technically not able to do.”
- Sherry-Rose, Youth Activist Leader
You can access the archive map here.