The YMCA in Australia (The Y) has declared April National Youth Month in an effort to raise awareness, support and empower young people to be heard by public decision-makers on issues that affect their lives.
Only one in five young people feel that they are able to weigh in on issues that affect them within their communities, with research conducted by the Y showing that 75% of those aged 12-22 say that they don’t believe those in power are making the best decisions for their future.
To combat these low levels of youth empowerment, the Y will be launching a series of youth-centric initiatives throughout April to drive home what the movement has always believed; when young people are heard, their power and contributions to society are immeasurable.
What the Y wants for young people
“Since National Youth Week was de-funded two years ago and there is no Federal Minister to represent the views of young people at the highest levels, we need to find more ways for young people to be heard where it really matters” says Melinda Crole, CEO of the Y in Australia.
“Nationally we’re advocating for young people’s voices to be heard, specifically by reinstating a Federal Minister for Young People and lowering the voting age to 16 for those young people who want to have their say now,” says Ross Kyrwood, National Advocate for Young People at the Y.
Launch of A Million Moments
The month will see the launch of the Y’s A Million Moments campaign. The campaign is anchored by the everyday heroes of the Y who inspire thousands of young people across 500 communities every day, many of whom are inspiring young people in their own right. Around 45% of the 13,000 staff and 2,000 volunteers that work with the Y are under 25.
Hearing more direct from young people
Following the Federal Budget, young people will be invited to have their say at the Big Budget Breakfast hosted by Foundation for Young Australians on Wednesday April 3rd. Victorian high school students are already being invited to share their thoughts on mental health and to hear from experts in the field at the Stand Up Youth Summit in Ballarat on April 4 and the Ways to Wellness Youth Wellness Summit on April 5 in Bendigo.
WhyNot Writer’s Workshop
The WhyNot Editorial Committee are partnering with Headspace to hold a Young Writer’s workshop on Wednesday 10th April to support more young people in elevating their voices and opinions on issues that matter. On Friday April 12, a Young CEO Movement initiative will see empowered young people take over their Y associations.
In Brisbane, on the 5th–9th April the YMCA Inspired Leaders – a personal development and leadership empowerment program for young people will run, and on Saturday 6th April - THE BUZZ – a multicultural youth arts festival will be held.
HQ Leederville, Base@Belmont & Narrogin events
In WA, there are a number of exciting events for young people taking place this month, including Base@Belmont Fab Fun Day Out on the 13th, and Narrogin Youth Week day at Gnarohin Skate Park on the 16th. Vincent Hip Hop dance workshops on the 16th at YMCA HQ Leederville, followed by HQ Hoops and Jams (Street Basketball).
The Y’s National Office for Young People and Community Impact
The Y has also established a National Office for Young People and Community Impact. This office will play a vital role in increasing supporting the wider movement to improve the capacity of youth voices to be heard, create real impact, and to track this impact effectively. The Y continues to invest in young people’s voices all year round through initiatives such as its Youth Parliament program, Global Change Agent program and WhyNot?, an online space run by young people for those aged 18-30 to express themselves and interact with each other www.whynot.org.au