Victoria Conference 2014 by Nick Young
This year I was privileged to once again be involved in the flagship program of UN Youth Victoria, our very own engaging and rewarding state conference. As always, it was held over the Labour Day weekend in March and we got involved in a diverse range of fantastic activities, heard from some genuinely passionate and influential leaders and of course socialised and interacted with an astounding cross-section of like-minded peers.
The mantra this year was “Be the Change” and this message was encapsulated in each of the workshops and activities we took part. We discussed international problems such as those addressed by the Millennium development goals, the major issues facing us as youth in Australian society and the tools that we need to equip ourselves with to be leaders of change and social progress in our own communities.
We took part in an intense and entertaining crisis scenario which took the shaky political situation within Thailand and extrapolated it into utter chaos. I was a part of the Thai government cabinet and helped organise the assassination of opposition leaders whilst allowing thousands of civilians to perish due to dysentery, a harsh learning curve in the nature of politics. Naturally we also got involved in a number of awesome MUN debates engaging with the questions of sharks, Syria and pharmaceutical drugs. These debates were not only filled with LOLS, but also stimulating and a training ground for the next generation of super Victorian Evatt delegates!
A number of incredible speakers also blew us away. We heard from Laura John, the 2014 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations in New York, Tim Wright the Australian Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Sarah Barton a renowned film maker who focusses on and challenges social perceptions of disability, Hugo Lamb a co-founder of Policy Booth which is an organisation dedicated to putting the public back in public policy and Olly Tripodi, MTV’s Millennial leader fresh from Parliament house in Canberra. Needless to say all of these outstanding individuals provided some incredible insight and empowered us to strive for change and personal betterment.
Then of course there was the ultra-fun Disney themed disco, which featured the unusually high quantity of approximately 12 Aladdin’s. Despite the disproportionate quantity of Aladdin’s however we had a great night filled with hilarious dancing and fabulously generic pop. Finally we ceremoniously capped off the night by forming a beautiful circle of unity and belting out of Wonderwall and Bohemian Rhapsody before we exclaimed our wishes of solidarity for UNYA.
On a personal note however, I believe the most rewarding aspect of the Conference was the rare opportunity to meet, learn from and just enjoy hanging out with people who are like me. I relish that intangible sense of awe you experience when you meet individuals who are interested and concerned about the same issues as you. That’s something that has stuck with me since my very first UNYA event and it’s what I believe makes our organisation so vibrant and successful.
So for yet another life altering Conference I, and I’m sure all of the delegates, would like to say a massive thankyou to Kellie Macnaughtan and all of the wonderful and enthusiastic facilitators who not only gave up their long weekend but also countless hours in preparation and planning. And I absolutely encourage as many people as possible to get involved and attend this tremendous conference and other United Nations Youth Australia events in the near future!