Every young Victorian – no matter their community, religion, gender, race, sexuality or socioeconomic background – has the right to be involved in decisions that affect their lives, and deserves to have the networks, support and autonomy to become who they want to be.–Katherine Ellis - YACVic CEO
This is not an easy time to be a young person.
Young people have been slammed by COVID, a global health and economic crisis that will define this generation, and potentially have devastating long-term impacts on their lives.
On top of this is the omnipresent existential threat of climate change, which the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released this week just called a ‘code red for humanity’.
In these trying times, young people step up not because it is easy, but because it is necessary.
They are demonstrating enormous strength and resilience in the face of challenge, and are ready, willing and very able to play an important role in dealing with disasters. Young people have stepped up to work on the frontline through bushfires and COVID-19, they have stepped up to get vaccinated at their own risk so that the wider community can re-open, and they will continue to step up on the long road to recovery.
These ordeals are also highlighting the crucial role of the youth sector, in supporting and working with young people. As more young people than ever before need support and connection, it is the youth sector which is playing a frontline role in connecting them with the communities and opportunities they need to survive and thrive.
It is in Victoria’s interest to invest in a strong youth sector which supports young people and their communities in all aspects of their lives.
To mark International Youth Day 2021 and the theme of #YouthLead, Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), as the peak body for young people and the youth sector, has brought together 500+ young people, workers, policy makers and decision-makers at a 2-day youth sector conference themed ‘Reshape Our Future’.
On day one of the event, a diverse line-up of speakers, including many young experts, discussed a broad range of topics from mental health, to intersectionality, to disaster recovery, to social connection. All were underpinned by one common thread: that every young Victorian – no matter their community, religion, gender, race, sexuality or socioeconomic background – has the right to be involved in decisions that affect their lives, and deserves to have the networks, support and autonomy to become who they want to be.
Youth Minister Hon. Ros Spence spoke about important initiatives supporting young people across the state, and the forthcoming Victorian Youth Strategy which will frame the ambition and action needed to make Victoria the best place in the world for young people.
Tackling the wicked problems that create barriers as well as opportunity for young people will require collaboration and collective action from governments, business, philanthropy and community organisations, along with young people themselves.
In the words of speaker Amy Chu, a youth ambassador from the City of Greater Dandenong:
“On our own we may not have all of the answers, but through supported co-design and a willingness to learn from one another, we can gain momentum and start piecing together the right solutions.”–Amy Chu, City of Greater Dandenong Youth Ambassador