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Youth Activism

I spoke in parliament today about some optimistic and inspiring stories of youth social entrepreneurship and volunteering.

Youth Activism, 14 March 2013

I rise to speak about three examples of inspiring youth activism. This morning it was my pleasure to meet some of the Oaktree Roadtrip youth ambassadors. These are a group of young Australians who are travelling the country aiming to gather 100,000 names of Australians who support the movement to end poverty, a movement that will show public support for increased foreign aid—as this government has been delivering. I particularly enjoyed spending time with the Canberra Roadtrippers, having farewelled them from Canberra only on Saturday at the Australian National University. Since then, they have travelled to Western Sydney, to Eden and to Cooma and they are back hitting the road again tomorrow. They will be part of a great movement to bring an end to extreme poverty.

I particularly want to mention the Canberra Roadtrippers: Abbi Ho, Adriana Clarke, Alice Zhu, Allayne Horton, Caitlin Thomas, Ben Duggan, Grace Ephraums, Heather Quienell, Jackie Grinsell-Jones, Jess Niven, Jono Pyke, Karen St George, Kate Anderson, Keyta Slattery, Leigh Moran, Matthew Montieson, Miranda McMahon, Natasha Chabbra, Niahm Nicol, Penny Slater, Pramilaa Shivakkumar, Rashmi Bangalore, Sarah James, Sami Shearman, Siobhan Linehan, Tara Crafter, Tess Cole-Adams, Tooba Faridi and Virginia De Courcy.

Last night it was my pleasure to attend an event put on by the Foundation for Young Australians. The Foundation for Young Australians is a national, independent, non-profit organisation dedicated solely to young people. Its hallmark is, as put in its mission statement, being ‘relentlessly optimistic about all young people and their ability to be enterprising’. Among the initiatives run by the Foundation for Young Australians are: Change It Up, which is aiming to inspire the potential of bright young people in regional and rural Australia; High Resolves, which is aiming to ensure that Australians finish school and are inspired to be global leaders; the Impact (Youth Indigenous Leadership Program); Young People Without Borders; and Young Social Pioneers. We heard speeches by Jan Owen, Indigenous leader Benson Saulo and social entrepreneur Nicole Gibson. I am particularly impressed by the work being done by the Foundation for Young Australians and by its great enthusiasm.

Staying on the theme of enthusiasm, it was my pleasure this week to meet The End of Polio campaigner Michael Sheldrick. He is a frequent visitor to this building who has spoken with many members and senators about the campaign to end polio, and his campaign has been acknowledged in private members’ motions in this House. With him was Akram Azimi, who is the Young Australian of the Year. Mr Azimi has an extraordinary story. He arrived in Australia 13 years ago from Afghanistan as a refugee. He told me the story of being chosen as a refugee to come to Australia and he thinks that it was perhaps just a chance comment he made about Charles Dickens in the asylum-seeker interview which separated him from the many children who did not get to come here. Since arriving, he has topped the tertiary entrance exam scores among his classmates and he is setting up programs to help disadvantaged remote Indigenous communities and to mentor young Indigenous people in the Kimberley region. It is his enthusiasm and optimism that, to me, symbolises the great refugee story and the story of how refugees make Australia so much stronger.

I also acknowledge work being done to support youth Indigenous enterprises by the Snow Foundation here in the ACT which supports, among others, One Disease at a Time, run by Sam Prince; No Sweat Fashions; Volunteering ACT’s SPICE Program in which Rikki Blacka is instrumental; and the ACT Social Enterprise Hub. On 4 April, I will be convening the second social entrepreneurs’ breakfast in my electorate office—an opportunity for young social entrepreneurs in Canberra to get together, exchange ideas, and talk about some of the challenges they are facing and how together we can work to boost social entrepreneurship and volunteering in the ACT. These groups of young people are just some of the many inspiring Canberrans working together to change the world for the better.

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