Youth Rep 2017
Each year, UN Youth Australia in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade select the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. Paige Burton was recently announced as the 2017 Youth Rep, so UN Youth’s CEO Brianna Bell sat down with Paige to chat about what the next year holds.
Hi Paige, congratulations on being selected as the 2017 Youth Representative to the United Nations!
Thank you! It’s such an honour to be selected.
What made you want to apply for the Youth Representative program?
I’ve been touched, amazed, shocked, saddened, and excited by what I’ve heard from young people around Australia in the past few years. I’ve watched the way the media represents young people and seen how that representation affects young Australians. I’ve also been extremely lucky to be part of communities that have supported me throughout all stages of my life. I know that not all young people have been afforded the same access to peers with similar experiences, and there are so many young voices that aren’t acknowledged. I want to spend 2017 elevating the voices of young Australians and connecting them with decision-makers, and creating space for them to affect change on the issues that matter to them.
What are you most excited about doing in the role next year?
There are so many things! The consultation is really exciting. I’ve spent my life in capital cities so I’m really keen to get out and meet young people across the country. I really want to understand the issues that they feel affect them most strongly and link them with opportunities to create change on those issues.
What is the Listening Tour that kicks off the program?
The Listening Tour is a chance to consult widely with young people on the issues they care about most. The Listening Tour informs the agenda I’ll bring to New York, and throughout this year I want to answer the question “What would it mean if young people were seen by the government as being as complex as they are?”
Your Listening Tour will take up most of your time as Youth Rep. How many young people do you expect to engage with over that time?
I want to meet as many young people as I can and also talk to lots of decision-makers about the great things that young people are across the country, and the policy solutions that young people care about.
What will you do when you head over to the UN in New York?
In October, I’ll head over to be part of the Australian mission to the United Nations to represent the views of Australian young people.
What happens to all the information you gather throughout your consultation once you get home from New York?
After New York, I’ll come back to Australia to meet with politicians, non-profits, and decision-makers to share the results of the consultation. I want to make sure the information we collect can be used to strengthen the voices of young people.
What message do you want to get out there to young Australians?
We know that young people each have their own nuanced and intelligent contributions to make to society; that all young people have unique ways of looking at and understanding global and local problems. There are so many ways to get involved in making change regardless of your age.
Paige is currently seeking potential partnerships to make her plans possible. If you are able to help, you can reach her at [email protected].