Did you know there is no State or Federal Youth Strategy? Greater Shepparton can pick up the slack to engage our future leaders in a bottom-up, meaningful, ‘Youth Engagement Plan’ that can inform State and Federal levels of Government. Currently we have ‘Best Start’, which focuses on very early years and ‘Word of Mouth’ for older teens, but is this enough?
I believe young people shouldn’t be told what to do, they must collaborate in decisions that directly, or indirectly, involve them. Current Mayor Dinny Adem advocates for a Youth Council collaboration between GSCC and local schools, which I strongly support. This can’t simply be relegated to a stand alone youth team – genuine civic involvement is key.
Some questions for the Youth Engagement Plan can include:
- What does Council want to achieve?
- How do we want to get there?
- How can young people directly assist in decision making?
- Develop key questions, outcomes and targets for young people
- Explore implications of being located in a regional area
- What ages have funding available to them and can this be expanded?
- How to increase entrepreneurial activity amongst youth people?
- How can we retain our youth population?
- Changing perception of young people from ‘trouble makers’, to engaged citizens
- Can we develop and promote an employment policy for young people?
- Cultural engagement
- Examine existing Local Government strategies such as Geelong – Better Years
At a recent MAV forum, we heard from Fraser Coast, who are leaders in the youth space. They are developing a Youth Engagement app to engage volunteering. We heard young people want to be involved in driving change, but the word ‘volunteer’ is stigmatised, so instead they used the word ‘commit’.
The proposed app will take you to a personalised dashboard with volunteer options. For instance, to donate blood, there is a link that takes you to information on where and how to do it – sometimes it’s that simple! Also, if you do four hours of festival work (for instance), a transcript of your involvement is attached to a resume’ portal that can be used for job interviews, or university applications.
Schools can get involved and offer credit in their curriculum for over 20hrs of community service, whether it’s at a hospital, in community groups, attending volunteer events or working without pay. The app itself only cost $20K, but the positive economic impact to the community would be so much more.