In a ground-breaking musical moment 40 years in the making, YMCA Australia has today reclaimed the Village People’s global hit of the same name, partnering with Boy George to re-create the iconic tune.
Through the re-interpretation of the iconic song, the YMCA aims to shine a light on the issues that Australia’s youth are facing today. The song aims to provide a message of hope to young people across Australia, and ultimately, aims to encourage young people to speak up and have their voices heard.
The inspiration for the campaign was born from new research published today in the “YMCA Voice of Young People in Australia Report 2017” which has revealed the primary issues facing today’s youth where they feel unheard and powerless.
Alarmingly, the research shows that almost three quarters (74%) of Australians aged 12 – 22 don’t believe those in power are making the best decisions possible for the future of young people.
A further two thirds (66%) stated that they feel their age prevents them from having a voice in society that people listen to, while more than half (57%) believe that social media is the only avenue to have their voice heard by society and those in power.
Of the issues that are important to Australia’s youth but feel they aren’t being heard on, youth unemployment ranked first (87%), closely followed by marriage equality (86%) and mental health (80%).
YMCA Australia CEO, Melinda Crole, commented that these findings were a key reason behind the YMCA taking such a passionate public stance through its reinterpretation of the Village People song.
“Young people have overwhelmingly told us that their voices are not being given a say in decisions made by governments, institutions and employers that affect their lives. They have ideas, energy, dreams and visions for a better future but too many are drowning in despair because they feel ignored.
“Every day, politicians are making decisions that will impact the country and the futures of our young people without even bothering to ask them what they think, and it’s simply not good enough.”
Boy George’s poignant version of YMCA with greater emphasis on the lyrics within the verses, captures the angst and despair of young people, tempered with a message of hope.
With this new version, the YMCA implores young people to speak up, and provides an online platform for Australia’s youth to contact the Government on the issues they’d like addressed.
“We want to mobilise our 12,000 plus team members and 2,300 volunteers to help empower young people and ensure leadership, justice and fairness for their generation and those that follow,” concludes Melinda.
Boy George, who shot to global fame at a young age, echoes the sentiments of the YMCA in calling on Australia to start listening.
“The world can be a scary and overwhelming place, it’s easy to feel you’re not important and that your views don’t matter. When the YMCA invited me to be a part of this call to arms, I couldn’t say no – this message is too important.”
“What if the answer to some of our biggest problems is in the mind of a young person who feels there’s no place in society for them? We need to give them a voice and start listening.”
Young people are invited to visit whynot.org to send those in power a letter on the issue that matters most to them.
The ‘Why Not?’ campaign signifies a rebirth of the YMCA, currently known for “gyms and swims”, to an organisation dedicated to young people.
The YMCA has established www.whynot.org.au as a platform for young people. Initially, the site will encourage and enable young people to contact those in power about the issue they would like addressed. From here, the YMCA hopes to evolve the site to become a beacon for young people wanting to be heard by society filled with resources, opportunities to identify issues and work towards solutions.