Young people deserve to be involved at all levels and stages of decision-making that impact them, both in their own lives and within the community. Youth organisations are particularly well-placed to support this.
At YACVic, we pride ourselves on championing young people’s active participation on our A Board guides an organisation’s direction, oversees its activities and is responsible for things working successfully.Board of Governance. Having young people on our Board brings insight, lived experience and value that is so important in driving the direction of YACVic and ensuring the organisation achieves its mission and always remains aligned with our own values.
We see the benefit of youth participation on our Board, and we want your organisation to involve young people on your Board too!
But first... what is youth participation?
Youth participation is actively involving young people in decision-making processes and engaging them on issues that directly affect them.
Youth participation provides meaningful opportunities for young people, values their contributions and empowers them to help shape our world.
How does YACVic promote and manage youth participation on our Board?
Youth Participation is taken seriously by our Board and has been made a requirement of our A set of rules that guides how an organisation works.constitution. At least four out of eight elected Board members must be young people. In 2021, the Chair of YACVic was a young person and in 2022, one of our Co-Chairs is also a young person!
Once young people are elected, the Board will:
- Offer a full induction process
- Buddy them up with another Board member for their first year and encourage the buddies to catch up before each Board meeting to discuss the Documents containing information for the Board meeting.papers and any questions.
Training and coaching of Board members involves:
- A list of items to be discussed at meetings.Agendas that involve ‘questions for consideration’ to help guide the Board members’ thinking and what should be brought to discussions.
- The The person on the Board who looks after the financial administration of the organisation.Treasurer delivers annual financial basics training to the whole Board. This has been so valuable to assist new young Board members in their understanding of YACVic’s financial systems, audit requirements and what the Board should be looking for.
- Documents containing information about a certain topic.Concept cards focused on a youth issue are included regularly in Board meetings for building awareness and knowledge.
- Board members are required to sit on at least one A group of people who focus on specific Board work and activities.Board committee. Our Risk and Finance Committee and Sustainability Committee are actually The Chair is the leader of a group and directs Board meetings and activities.chaired by young Directors.
- The Risk and Finance Committee’s purpose is to support the business operations of YACVic. The Sustainability Committee’s purpose is to support the YACVic CEO and Board to identify opportunities and manage processes that support YACVic in the long term - for example, fundraising opportunities.
The environment in which the Board work is inclusive and accessible. It is made clear that we don’t expect them to know everything, and that no question is silly.
Young Board Member Q&A
We ran a short Q&A with two of our young Board members, Tasha Ritchie (she/her) and Tim Harte (he/him), to gather their thoughts on how YACVic has done Youth Participation on our Board.
Why, as a young person, did you want to nominate for the YACVic Board?
Tasha: “I was curious to better understand what the purpose of a Board is, how it works in practice and what ‘good governance’ actually means.”
Tim: “I wanted to make change at a broader level, I was searching for a place where I could contribute to the bigger picture.”
As a young Board member, how has your experience on the YACVic Board been?
Tim: “Joining the YACVic Board has been a steep learning curve for me. Initially I was a little apprehensive about asking questions about things I didn’t understand but the culture of the YACVic Board fosters learning and education, making my experience enjoyable.”
How has your voice and expertise been valued on the YACVic Board?
Tasha: “I feel that my voice, lived and professional experiences, my ideas and solutions have all been valued right from day one.I have been encouraged to take on more responsibility and leadership roles. YACVic is leading what excellence in youth participation looks like, and this absolutely extends to our Board.”
How well supported have you felt as a young Board member on the YACVic Board through induction, training and coaching offered?
Tim: “YACVic encourages and supports Board members to undertake relevant training opportunities to build their capacity as Board members.”
Tasha: “The phrase ‘every question is valuable’ is practised on our Board and it means that I have always felt I could follow my curiosity, seek to understand more and also clarify things I might not have initially understood.”
What has been your fondest experience of being on the YACVic Board?
Tasha: “It might sound strange, but I love it when we disagree on a decision! Being on the YACVic Board has reinforced to me the power of considered collective decision-making which I now use in other aspects of my life and career. It allows for robust, meaningful and intellectually interesting conversations that look at the decision from multiple perspectives.”
What has been most challenging about being on the YACVic Board?
Tim: “Time commitment.”
Tasha: “Getting my head around all the bizarre language.”
If you could send a message to other organisations to have young people involved on their Board, what would you say?
Tasha: “Every single decision that we have made as a Board in my four years serving has been strengthened, improved or steered YACVic in a better direction because we have the direct experiences, perspectives and ideas of young people in the room. If your organisation is serious about excellence in youth participation, it needs to be at every level.”
Finally, a quote from Kerrie Loveless (she/her), who was YACVic’s Chair for six years.
“Young Board Members, as well as being some of our brightest minds generally, hold us accountable to our mission and values, they help to keep us current and relevant. The skills of governance and strategy that are gained from their time on the Board (that are not easily gained elsewhere), not only help us but also helps to ensure that young Victorians have opportunities to develop and then go on to change Victoria and the world.”