Youth Rep Wrap Up by Laura John
It was a surreal experience standing in front of a crowd of supporters, friends and family at the Monash Conference Centre on Thursday night (4 December) to celebrate and reflect on my past year as the 2014 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations.
In March, I officially launched my journey at this same venue, outlining my plans, hopes and biggest dreams. It is incredible to reflect on all that has happened since.
My national consultation tour has taken me through every state and territory in the country, including regional areas. I have directly engaged with over 11,000 young Australians and over 100 community organisations. Based on these consultations, the top five issues raised by young people were: education, mental health, environment, drugs and alcohol, and bullying.
So these are the issues I took to our world leaders at the United Nations in New York. It was very special to have the opportunity to deliver a speech at the UN General Assembly on behalf of Australian young people. I spoke about the need to combat the stigma around mental health; to integrate mental health into holistic health frameworks so that every young person has the support to achieve their dreams. You can view my speech here:
After an exciting six weeks in New York meeting the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and hosting events with Youth Delegates from around the globe, I returned to Australia and packed my bags again to embark on a Report-Back Tour around the country. It was great to travel back to the communities I consulted with earlier this year, and to share with young people and the broader Australian community all that we have collectively achieved.
I want to thank the thousands of young Australians who trusted me with their stories and personal experiences. I also want to extend my deepest gratitude to UN Youth Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for giving me this chance and believing that I could do justice to this important role.
Over the next few weeks, I will be working with community organisations and young people to complete my final report. This report will outline the key issues raised by young Australians and my experiences advocating for young people at the United Nations in New York. It will also include policy recommendations and highlight programs in Australia and overseas that are combating these issues.
If you have ideas for policies or programs that can tackle the key issues identified by young Australians, please get in contact with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The final report will be released in mid-January 2015 and distributed to young Australians, community organisations, local councils and politicians.
You can find out more about my year as Youth Representative at: www.youthrep.org.au.