Office for Young People

The Office for Young People commenced in January 2019 at Y Australia to focus on the voice of young people and intergenerational leadership, with a collective leadership model to ensure that the deliverables and outcomes are driven by an approach to leadership that optimises the skills and expertise across the Movement. The current work of the office includes the Y’s Global Change Agents program, the WhyNot Platform and the National Youth Retreat.

Change Agents Program

The Global Change Agent program is an international leadership development opportunity that empowers young leaders as change-makers in their own communities. The Australian Change Agents come together for a two day training and induction program to build cohesion as a group, ensure awareness of Movement strategy at both a national level and global level, and to plan for their national project and individual projects. Change Agents also usually attend global training and a global gathering.

The program is coordinated by the World YMCA, and engages young leaders across the globe in training opportunities (online and face-to-face), projects and initiatives on local and global level and provide mentoring support.​ Collectively, Change Agents are a resource for action. They are champions for change and impact within the YMCA Change Model framework. All participants of the program are also expected to implement at least one project during their term.

For Cohort 5.0, in Australia, an extensive selection process took place to select the final six. We had nearly 30 young people from across all States and Territories express interest in the program (in early 2023). The selection process then included an evaluation by our intergenerational panel, with 11 individuals shortlisted for interview. Following the interviews, the final shortlist was provided to World Y and APAY for further evaluation and selection. Given the exceptional calibre of talent across all nominees, the selection process was difficult.

We are thrilled to announce that World Y has selected six Change Agents to represent Australia for Cohort 5.0 – say hi 👋 to

  • Nicholas Erskine from Y Brisbane
  • Tina Flaskas from Y NSW
  • Lily Chancey from Y Ballarat
  • Alisha Nurnaitis from Y Geelong
  • Elysse McCabe from Y SA
  • Ashleigh Foster from Y WA

We’re proud to say that Australia has the second largest delegation of Change Agents globally, reflecting the quality of the candidates and our nation-wide commitment to the program. The program officially commenced on April 5th, 2023.
See more about the global Change Agent program here.

“I have come away from my experience with my eyes open, my heart full and my head trying to process everything I have learnt. From my experience my spark has been ignited. I vow to continue to nurture my spark with love and fuel it with passion so I can become the change in the world I want to be.” – Tanya Mischler, Change Agent.

WhyNot Platform

WhyNot exists for young people, and is therefore both lead and managed by young people. In essence, it is an online platform designed to give all young Australians the opportunity to have their voices heard. The platform exists to stimulate debate, prompt conversations and create awareness about the issues that matter to young people. Young leaders from Ys across the country – collectively known as the WhyNot Editorial Committee – have been driving the platform.

WhyNot was featured on a global stage at the YMCA175 global gathering in London (celebrating the YMCA’s 175th Birthday in 2019) as the first digital platform of its kind in the World YMCA Movement. WhyNot is proud to continue to amplify the voices of young people in Australia. WhyNot platform:

National Youth Retreat

Our National Youth Retreats are held in the lead up to our annual AGMs in November each year, in response to the high-level outcomes identified by the Australian Change Agents. Young people (staff and volunteers) want to feel more connected to the Movement. In the inaugural year 2018, around 30 young people came together from across Australia and from diverse backgrounds and roles. Three prevailing messages to the Movement emanated from this inspired group of young leaders; the Ys of Australia must be…

  1. Unwavering in our commitment to social justice.
  2. Committed to Youth Empowerment from the ground up.
  3. Dedicated to collaboration (as it’s the only way to make real change!)

In 2019, we heard from 54 young people from diverse service areas, backgrounds and geographical locations, and their four prevailing messages were:

  1. We have a true yearning for understanding – to better connect and understand our own sectors, departments and associations. We must be able to see what has come before us in order to better understand the strategic decisions that have been made and led us to where we are today. We need resourced, multi channeled communication to reach one another at a local, national and global level.
  2. We must stop just consulting with young people and invest in collaboration. We need more intergenerational opportunities to connect. Don’t wait for us to come to you, come to us! We need to see action and we deserve to be at the table for the entire process.
  3. Inclusion is complex and fundamental to valuing young people and our overall wellbeing.
    It must be purposefully embedded in our strategy, policies and practice. This is not something we can achieve unless we are intentional and make a collective priority.
  4. If we value something – then we must be intentional and fund it. Pay young people for their unique value offering, for their vision and for their ability to innovate. Provide us with the resources to achieve the outcomes our organisations need.
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