Youth Voice Statement 2023


Youth Voice Statement

We acknowledge the sovereign owners of this country, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation on where we all gather. And also acknowledge the sovereignty of all First Nations peoples and communities across the country. We acknowledge the ongoing challenges and trauma caused by colonisation.

We commit to not letting history repeat itself, and pledge to use our voices and resources to
support First Nations peoples in whatever capacity they need us to. The recent referendum has
left many communities re-traumatised, unheard and isolated.

We all have an obligation to take courageous steps towards making a better future for the
sovereign peoples of this land.

We ask for a moment of silence to reflect on our collective responsibilities and our individual roles
to play in making this the country we all deserve.

This week we met with an agenda of Strategy 2030, Youth voice licensing standards, and Crafting a powerful youth voice statement.
And while we touched on these, as a group we also reimagined and set our own purpose, to be truly Youth-led.

We created a Brave Space.

We voiced our challenges.

We took action.

We’ve crafted our ideal state of play.

To take us to the future we have to go back to the past.

1844 to be exact. Where a 22-year-old, otherwise known as a ‘young person’, wanted to have an impact on their community. They kicked off a global movement, spanning 180 years, across 122 countries and established a community for people to belong and to change the world.

By 1855 the Y had expanded into 9 countries across the world. They gathered for the 1st World Council. All 99 delegates are under the age of 25. They signed our founding document, fondly referred to as the Paris Basis.

Fast forward to 2019, through the Y’s Office for Young People we – your Young People – are at the table.

We attend Intergenerational forums, we led a nation-wide advocacy project – Amplifying Youth Voices on Employment, we’re running a platform that allows young people to speak their mind and share their thoughts, feelings, comments, and opinions.

We were present. We were in the room. We’ve created safe spaces, but we were yet to establish Brave Spaces.

We spent Thursday morning of our offsite understanding and creating a Brave Space.
The focus of a brave space is to create a setting where people feel encourage to share their diverse perspectives, even if those views are uncomfortable or challenging, with the goal of fostering open dialogue and learning. Discomfort and challenges are acknowledged and used as opportunities for growth together.

Brave Spaces aren’t specific objects in a room, they are the intentions we bring into that room.
They are the energy we create.

Our Brave Space is being honest and respecting others honesty, challenging our own views, don’t apologise for vulnerability and authenticity, active listening and do it scared.

When you enter our space please be mindful of the energy you bring in – our words matter, our thoughts, feelings, comments, and opinions matter. Our voices and our experiences matter. As do yours.

This sign was developed as a reminder to us that the work we are passionate about, the work we do, and the work we lead is important and powerful.

Once we had developed our Brave Space we were able to unpack the challenges we face as leaders within the movement and society.

But instead of dwelling on these challenges, we decided to start with the end goal in mind.
We created Utopia.

The concept of Utopia, by definition, is an imagined state of perfection in every aspect of existence. It is a vision – a very enticing vision but a vision none the less.

The realisation of our utopia may not be feasible immediately, in the next fear years, by 2030 or even ever.

The complexities of our organisation – the Y – coupled with the diversity of individual perspectives, make the attainment of a universally agreed-upon utopia a profound challenge. We’re aware of this.

But rather than fixating on an arbitrary timeline, it is perhaps more pragmatic to recognise the ongoing journey toward progress and improvement over youth engagement and empowerment for this decade at the Y.

The Utopia that we have started to build should serve as a guiding aspiration, urging us to actively listen (so we – your young people – may be heard), engage in constructive conversation and continually strive for betterment.

Embracing the journey with an open mind allows for incremental advancements that contribute to the gradual realisation of a more harmonious and just world – one where true intergenerational leadership can be unleashed. Even if the ultimate utopian ideal remains an ongoing pursuit rather than a final destination.

Welcome to our utopia – our ideal state of youth engagement within the Y.
Our utopia is many things. Some of which may seem daunting or uncomfortable. But as Amelia challenged us today – let’s all lean into the uncomfortable.

Our future looks like:
Over 50% of board and governance members are underage of 30.
Every CEO has a junior CEO with equal say and equal pay.
Young people have an active and real presence in every space.
Practical investment into leadership development and intergenerational leadership.

These are just a snapshot of the future we want to build. This utopia is our future vision, but the action we choose to take towards that starts today.

The next step we want to lead is developing an action plan on how to engage with us, genuinely led by us.

The action plan will allow for further consultation across the movement to ensure that all voices are heard. This will further unpack the challenges we are all facing across the movement at a local, national, and global level. We will then be able to develop proposed strategies on how to rectify and solve these challenges.

We will align our actions to measurable outcomes, ensuring that what we are building is supported by evidence and backed by data.

We will work with our support function teams across the movement to gather insight and seek feedback. We will work with each of our service lines to ensure our actions represent all of us across the Y’s diverse contexts.

Because if we are going to be a youth movement – it needs to be in our DNA, embedded in everything we do.

This weekend wasn’t perfect, life rarely is.
I want to personally thank you everyone for supporting these incredible humans in coming together, giving us this moment to be seen and heard and leaning into the uncomfortable with us.

This is daunting, we’re scared but we’re doing it anyway.
And we’ll trust that you’ll do the same. And leading change together, we ask, with respect, that you give us the time to decompress post offsite to gather our thoughts, feelings, comments, and opinions, and patiently wait for us to invite you to our table.

We are keen to be at the next National Board meeting to present our initial action plan to create our ideal state of youth at the Y.

Look to us, your leaders. Do it scared.


Written by
Ashleigh Foster, Elysse Mccabe, Georgia Warner, Maeson Harvey, Tahlia Biggs, Alisha Nurnaitis, Emily, Sam Duffy-Yates, Hamani Tanginoa, Nicholas Erskine, Jessica Buchwald and Lauren Pollock

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