International Youth Day

By · 12 August, 2017 · Features, Youth Representative

This International Youth Day, enrol to vote.

This year, I’ve spoken to tens of thousands of young Australians about the issues that matter to them and their proposed solutions to the problems facing their community.

People often ask me if I’m surprised by the contributions in these consultations, and I don’t have a better answer than “no”. This program is premised on the fact that young people have intelligent and nuanced contributions to make to public debate, but aren’t given many opportunities to do that. There’s an opportunity coming up.

Estimates say that up to 300,000 young people aren’t enrolled to vote with the Australian Electoral Commission, and won’t be eligible to in the upcoming postal plebiscite on marriage equality. 72% of the young Australians I’ve met with asked for government action on marriage equality, and whilst not one of those people suggested a postal plebiscite, Australia is currently in a position where young people are about to play a crucial role in deciding a vote. So this International Youth Day, I want you to enrol to vote, check your voter enrolment, and then ask a friend if they’ve enrolled.

Australians have until August 24 to enrol to vote or update their details.

Young people are more likely to have incorrect voter registration due to rental properties, moving for work, education, or only recently becoming eligible to vote. Voting is one of the great privileges of living in a democracy. While this vote may not be one you (and thousands of others) want to cast a ballot in, just think, you’ll be ready for the democracy sausage next time.

If you’re not sure why this vote matters to young people, check out some of these stories from young Australians on the issue here.

All Australians 17 and over are eligible to enrol to vote. If you’re a young person confused about how to enrol, or think your vote doesn’t matter— send me an email

Don’t use email? Okay, let’s chat, I’m happy to talk you through it, flick me a message and we can work it out:

If you feel like your mental health has been affected by the discussions and media reporting on these issues, please know that you’re loved, and valued, and reach out for help:

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800

MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978

Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

Paige Burton is the 2017 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. She has previously served as National Education Director and Chair of the Board for UN Youth Australia and Events & Operations Manager at Australian Progress. In 2015 and 2016, Paige was recognised for her work in the non-profit sector by Pro Bono Australia as the youngest ever recipient of the ‘Impact 25: The 25 Most Influential People in the Social Sector’ award.

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