August 12, 2021

Dr Helen Haines, Independent Federal Member for Indi, has marked International Youth Day by launching a new Youth Advisory Panel to advise her on the issues that are important to the young people of Indi.

The first step to creating the Indi Youth Advisory Panel (IYAP) is a new online survey for young people aged between 15 and 24 years old living in Indi. Young people in Indi are encouraged to complete the survey to have their voice heard by their Member of Parliament. The survey is also the way young people can express their interest in joining the panel.

“I am so inspired by young people in Indi every day, getting out and making change in their communities. I see young people showing leadership on issues like climate change, access to education and healthcare, better mental health services,” Dr Haines said.

“This youth advisory panel will provide a direct way for me to hear from younger people and to bring their voices to Parliament.

“Young people have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, learning from home, missing out on work, putting their dreams for travel and adventure on hold. I want to hear about these experiences, and how I can help as an independent MP.”

The youth advisory panel will feature 18 young people from around Indi – two from each of the local government areas in the electorate. The members of the panel will meet with Dr Haines at regular intervals throughout the year, giving advice on what is important to young people in their communities.

The idea for the panel came from young people in Indi and was initiated in response to a recommendation from the 2021 UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador Report, which stresses the importance of governments “creating meaningful and inclusive participatory mechanisms” for youth.

Nineteen-year-old Dec Thomas from Kinglake West has been working with Dr Haines to set up the Youth Advisory Panel.

“So many young people are aware of the issues we’re facing, particularly when it comes to climate change. They don’t get enough credit in terms of their ability to understand the issues and their ability to look at what can be done, to come up with solutions,” Dec said.

“It’s amazing that Helen is willing to listen and is approachable, it demonstrates that people within the highest law-making institution in the country care about the issues and will listen to people from all walks of life, of all ages.”

Dec said establishing the panel made him proud to come from Indi and encouraged young people to get involved.

“My message to anyone considering getting involved is: every young person has something to say and at the end of the day, it is inaction that is going to result in devastating circumstances in our future. Don’t hesitate to get involved, have your say, and learn about the issues.”

The establishment of the Youth Advisory Panel is supported by UNICEF Australia, which is working to create similar advisory panels with other MPs.

“UNICEF Australia supports the establishment of local mechanisms which allow for regular, transparent, and respectful dialogue between young people and elected representatives,” said Angus Lonergan, Child and Youth Engagement Manager at UNICEF Australia.

“We believe the Indi Youth Advisory Panel will strengthen accountability and provide opportunities for young people to input into policy processes while building community connections and improving important soft skills.

“UNICEF Australia is excited to be working with Helen Haines, Member for Indi, and the passionate young people of the electorate to bring this initiative to fruition for the community.”

The survey is open for two weeks and can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/F5TYPQM

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