By Jackson Russell
Youth in the Yan Yean electorate are being encouraged to have their say and join the Yan Yean Youth Advisory Council.
Applications are now open for the council, which focuses on the voices and priorities of young people across Mitchell Shire, the City of Whittlesea and the City of Nillumbik.
The council is a new initiative in the electorate that will provide young people, aged 15 to 24, with a platform to explore and share their opinions and ideas, while actively engaging with the decision-making process to represent the interest of their peers.
The council will meet bi-monthly with Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green to discuss local issues, learn about the parliamentary system and processes, and determine their priorities and projects for the year ahead.
Yan Yean youth advisor Kobe Hay spearheaded the program and said he wanted to provide a platform for young people to be engaged in the community.
“We realised, and Ms Green realised, the important contribution young people can and do make to their community,” he said.
Mr Hay said mental health was one of the biggest issues troubling youth in the electorate.
“We’ve seen in our area, especially from the Black Saturday affected areas, the lingering effects on children who weren’t even born at that time,” he said.
“Then it’s just tackling local issues like protecting the environment and things youth care about and will affect them now and in the future.”
Mr Hay reached out to Tanner O’Mara, a 15-year-old Mernda resident, to be the first member of the youth advisory council.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to get engaged with people my age in the community that I can talk about issues with and who could all play a bigger role in politics than we do currently,” Mr O’Mara said.
“Part of the purpose of this is to give young people a way into politics and give them a voice to spearhead the issues they want to talk about.”
As part of the program, participants will also engage with community leaders and visit Parliament House.
Council members will be selected following an application process, where candidates are invited to submit their application in writing or via video.
“We want as many people to apply from ages 15-24 who want to give it a good crack. It’s our first time doing it to so we’re new to it but we want to really see how they want to take charge of an issue,” Mr Hay said.
“We’re also going to contact schools and they can refer interested students to us, whether they are leaders at their school or those really interested in a particular issue or just want to be more engaged in their community.”