Raising the volume on the voice of youth

Young people all around NSW are encouraged to participate in Youth Week 2023. Harley Bohatko reports.

A group of older teenagers sitting around a table A group of older teenagers sitting around a table
Image: Age-old problem: It is important that young people's views are taken seriously.

NSW Youth Week offers opportunities for people aged 12 to 24 to interact with others and share their hopes for the future in a non-judgemental space.

And here’s a fun fact: Youth Week is the single largest celebration for youth in our state, with more than 100 activities listed online. This year’s theme is Connect. Participate, Celebrate.

Youth Week, which runs from April 20 to 30, began as a NSW Government initiative in 1989 to elevate the voice of youth. It has since become a national celebration of the ideas, experiences and achievements of young people.

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 74,000 young people attended activities and shared their passions and aspirations with others while also having fun.

Listening to the ideas and lived experiences of young people is crucial to create a responsive and progressive society.

That’s why the NSW Department of Education created the Minister's Student Council known as DOVES (Department of Student Voices in Education and Schools).

DOVES is a body of student advocates where young people feel safe to openly discuss issues to be raised with the Minister for Education. We aim to amplify youth voice in every school right across NSW.

DOVES is made up of 27 student members who represent rural, regional and metropolitan NSW. Council members meet regularly, and local and regional forums are also held to ensure wider student consultation on issues that the youth voice can positively influence.

Make your voice heard

Our world is a place where everyone's voice should be acknowledged, and where the youth voice must be taken seriously.

A great example of youth voice being heard is Greta Thunberg. In 2018, three weeks before the Swedish election, Greta sat outside the country’s Parliament to protest climate change being ignored.

Every day more and more people would join her in the fight for climate activism and before long she was invited to speak at the World Economic Forum, the European Parliament and the legislatures of Italy, France, the United States and the United Kingdom.

But we don’t all need to be the next Greta. Voicing your concerns about issues in your hometown or school is the perfect place to start.

You can make your voice heard by talking to your school's Student Representative Council or, if you participate in any extracurricular activities, you can talk to the teacher about an idea you might have. If you want to make an impact outside of school, you could join your local youth councils or organisations such as Lions or Rotary clubs.

Take advantage of NSW Youth Week to share your game-changing ideas. It’s a great time to have your say on your ideas to improve your school or your local area. Your voice is important to make this world a better place

* Harley Bohatko is a Year 7 student at Warners Bay High School and a member of the DOVES.

Check out Youth Week 2023 to find out what’s happening near you. Events include exhibitions, sporting competitions and forums on a range of topics.

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