News and Stories - Youth - 16 December 2022

Voices for Change: Youth Activists in Canberra

Voices for Change: Youth Activists in Canberra

By Jemma Rule, 2022 Youth Activist

As the leaders of the future, today’s youth are visionaries with extraordinary ambitions for the change they want to see and make in the world. Their passion combines to form a global movement of youth activism in which young people, in all their diversity, have the opportunity to raise their voices and speak up about what matters to them.

In our report, Voices for Change, Youth Activists at Plan International heard from young people from Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam on their vision of what equitable, inclusive and representative political spaces could look like.

Based on our key findings, we observed that while youth want to engage in politics, many lack the empowerment, opportunity and resources necessary to support their participation in the decision-making processes that directly affect their lives. Despite this, they are still passionate about raising their voices to make meaningful changes and work towards diversity and equality – goals we addressed in our recommendations, which are as follows:

  • invest in, support and work with grassroots, youth-led networks
  • develop formal models to support young people in all their diversity to have a voice
  • create education opportunities
  • increase transparency and accountability
  • increase diversity of representation.

On the day of the report’s release, 21 November 2022, Youth Activists from Australia travelled to Parliament House in Canberra to share our vision of improved youth political participation with members of parliament and other youth leaders.

We spoke to a number of MPs about the findings and recommendations from our report, with many recognising the importance of improving youth political participation in Australia and the region. We also had the opportunity to connect with many other young leaders from around the country, including Unicef Australia’s youth ambassadors, with whom we co-hosted at a roundtable discussion on education, youth participation and representation.

Within the group of Youth Activists and Plan staff, the Canberra trip provided another great opportunity for connection in a safe and empowering environment – for some of us, it was our first time meeting each other in person after months of online meetings.

As Youth Coordination Lead on the report and co-leader of the Canberra roundtable discussion, I had the privilege and honour of working with youth activists from Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia, whose contributions, commitment and passion I highly respect and admire. I am also extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to represent young people, in all their diversity, from Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia at Parliament House through the Canberra trip.

Overall, Voices for Change and the Canberra trip were incredibly valuable in amplifying youth voice and emphasising the importance of youth political participation to our nation’s leaders and the world at large. Both projects effectively shared our vision, as young people, of a future in which youth voice equally included and represented in politics, and I sincerely look forward to seeing what happens next in the fight to achieve this goal.

The Youth Activist Series is a fantastic opportunity for young people across Australia passionate about fighting for gender justice.

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