Youth Engagement - 24/06/2021

24 June 2021


Today I met with Brian and Hawa, two youth ambassadors from UNICEF Australia. They presented me with the 2021 UNICEF Australia Young Ambassadors report, entitled Children's voices in a changing world. Sixty-four per cent of young Australians say that they have never or rarely been consulted on or given an opportunity to participate in important government related issues that affect them. Half of young Australians feel excluded from consultation on and participation in issues in the community. More than a third of young Australians believe that they should be given more opportunity to talk to political leaders, that there should be more education about parliamentary processes in school and that there should be youth representation in the parliament. These findings are very concerning, and the issue of youth engagement in Australian politics is something I've been concerned about for a long time. In my two years as an MP, I have been impressed by the passion for policymaking and progressive politics in my electorate. However, it is also clear to me that there is a high level of distrust in our politicians and that we as politicians have a responsibility to address this and foster greater engagement in democracy.

Labor have already identified these issues for youth, and our shadow minister for youth, Amanda Rishworth, and our leader have announced that an Albanese Labor government will provide young Australians with strong and formalised engagement in government and policymaking. An Albanese Labor government will introduce a new youth engagement model, to provide a voice and structure for younger Australians to directly engage with government and contribute to policy development. If elected, an Albanese Labor government will establish a framework to directly and formally engage with young Australians on an ongoing basis, and establish an office for youth so that, rather than youth engagement being an afterthought or duplicating functions across departments, there is a dedicated unit in government to feed in the contribution from young people and advocates, improve and harmonise policy across government, and ensure government is communicating effectively with young people. We also commit to a minister for youth to improve and facilitate a holistic response across portfolios on issues affecting young Australians.

I'm also very excited to announce that I'm going to be hosting a deliberative town hall meeting in Canberra on the issue of youth engagement in politics. This is in conjunction with the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra, a world-leading institute on the issue of deliberative democracy, which is all about making sure people's voices are better heard and better represented by our politicians. Everyone in Canberra will be receiving an invitation in their mailbox soon and can register online. We particularly want lots of young people to engage on this issue about them, how their voices can be better heard and how I as the member for Canberra can better advocate for young people from Canberra in this place.