That's right, elections are coming up, and the slogans and the negativity and the fear of false promises have taken over our lives again. Already too the criticism of young people being 'disengaged' has begun, despite the highest number ever being enrolled to vote, with over 700,000 people, mostly first-time voters aged between 18 and 24 were added to the electoral roll in the final week of registration.
Pollsters and politicians are always suspicious of young voters - they're the great unknown who just maybe could swing results. Young people's votes swayed Biden into the White House, Macron resorted to hanging with the kids, talking rap and technology, to cut through and appeal to younger voters.
In Australia, so far, we've not seen any serious attempt to capture the youth demographic, nor indication that we are likely to either.
Experts have started to quibble about the voting patterns of young people though. We know that young people are more likely to vote on issues that are personal to them, or local candidates they believe will represent them, not on set-and-forget party lines. Trust in the big brands and the systems that favour them are reasonably seen as having got us into this mess. Few speak about the key concerns of young people, such as climate change and social inequality.
We know that young people are more likely to vote on issues that are personal to them , or local candidates they believe will represent them, not on set-and-forget party lines.
Yet young people are already leading social change movements on issues that matter for the future - like climate action, gender equity and ending racial discrimination. Until these issues are reflected in our political system and talked about with meaningful commitments by our candidates, young people will continue to feel the system isn't working for them.
Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is committed to raising and supporting the voices of young people, and we're hosting Youth Forums next month to do just that.
YACVic's Reshape Our Future Forums were originally scheduled for May 2021, as a single event happening across five different locations at the same time. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, and young people's desire to meet face to face, the event was postponed until it could be run in person. Fingers crossed, that's NOW! And they will be run as five separate events.
For Conor Pall, being a member of the 2021 Victorian Youth Parliament provided him with the platform to lead change, formulating a bill to address the issue of 'Coercive Control' in intimate partner relationships. Conor was a co-organiser of Mildura's School Strike for Climate, 2021.
With the federal election looming, Conor encourages young people to make an informed decision as to one party - or candidate to vote for. "You don't wear the clothes your parents wear, you don't dance the way your parents do - so, you don't have to vote like they do either," Conor says.
And as it turns out, it's great timing! The forums will be free, fun and powerful opportunities for young people to discuss what's important to them and affects their regions, learn how to make a difference on the issues they care about, discover great tools for making change, and build new connections and friends who care about important things too. Whatever the election results may be, this is important stuff.
Reshape Our Future: Youth Forum events will take place across the lands of the Aboriginal nations within Victoria.
Bunjil's lore states that those who walk on this land must care for the Country and waterways as well as for the children and young people.
We'll be highlighting the issues young people tell us they care about, including Young People as Leaders, Pathways to Power and a specific focus topic at each location.
Starting in Warrnambool on June 3, and heading through Melbourne on June 10, Wangaratta on June 14, Robinvale on June 22 and finishing up in Bairnsdale on June 24. All the forums will happen from 10am - 2pm on these days, are free for all young people, with food, entertainment and refreshments provided too!
"These Youth Forums have been shaped by the diverse lived experiences of Victoria's young people," says Riya Rajesh, one of the young people organising the youth forums.
"It has been incredible to work on creating such spaces of safety and growth. Young people have a meaningful understanding of the spaces we need and the solutions we want, we can bring these to life when young people are connected, trusted and supported."
The next few weeks will have a major impact on young people's future. But regardless of the result, we can support and encourage young people to take action and Reshape Our Future.
Book your spot for the youth forums at yacvic.org.au/reshape or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
And please check out and share the YACVic Election Navigator and AYAC Election Guide, which are fantastic resources when you're thinking about who to vote for in the coming federal election.
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