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Young Australians are making the world a better place
Save the Children does everything it can to make sure children's rights are recognised and respected. But we know that young people themselves are the best people to create real, lasting change—and that's why we run our Youth Ambassadors program.
Each year since 2015, Save the Children's Youth Ambassadors program has given four young people aged between 14 and 17 the opportunity and support to take their places at the forefront of Australian life.
Our Youth Ambassadors have brought the concerns of young people in their own communities out into the wider community by tabling issues relevant to youth in parliament, writing articles for mainstream media about their concerns and speaking at conferences and summits.
They help Save the Children reach its goal of working to uphold, promote and protect children's rights, and are encouraged to focus on what impacts them the most.
We're proud of our past and present Youth Ambassadors as we watch how they inspire and create change in the Australian community.
"Every child and young person under 18 years of age has the right to participate and have their opinions included in decision-making processes that relate to their lives."- Article 12, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
In 2017, Melissa Li, 14, Catherine Zhou, 16, Edward Cooper, 14, and Annalise Pearse, 14, represented three different states, and wrote about racism http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/melissa-li/im-a-real-australian-and-im-sick-of-being-served-racism-with-my-dinner_a_23288710/ and refugees https://www.savethechildren.org.au/about-us/media-and-publications/latest-news/years/because-elsewhere-there-is-no-safety in the mainstream media. They also reported their concerns on Indigenous issues, education, the environment, and drug and alcohol abuse in schools to parliament.
Melissa Li, from New South Wales, came to Australia from New Zealand when she was nine. She wants more opportunities presented to disadvantaged children, the education gap closed, more equality in gender and more support for marginalised Indigenous communities.
Catherine Zhou hails from Victoria and joined the program to create impact. After volunteering for a refugee legal centre she realised how privileged we are, and wanted to ensure others have the same security she's felt most of her life.
Edward Cooper, a basketball-player from Victoria, is used to being political and speaking up loud, and is an advocate for encouraging other young people to do the same.
Annalise Pearse from Perth believes that education is the most important feature in unlocking people's potential, reducing climate change, helping those in developing countries, closing the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people and giving everyone equal rights.
Read the 2017 Youth Ambassadors report here.
In 2016, Lilly Lyons, 14, Habiba Asim, 18, Cameron Warasta, 16, and Genevieve Groves, 16, joined 70 other young people for the 2016 Youth Summit in Melbourne, discussing what young people wanted from the new Federal Parliament. They took over Save the Children's social media accounts when they met politicians in parliament. Lyons stories and concerns on family violence appeared in https://www.mamamia.com.au/child-family-violence-victims/ and SBS, while Warasta shared his concerns on the same-sex marriage postal vote excluding young people: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/23/schoolboy-17-lodges-discrimination-complaint-over-same-sex-marriage-survey.
Lilly Lyons is from New South Wales and is a strong advocate for sexual assault victims and people who've experienced homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse. She hosts her own show for young people on local radio station 2GLF.
Habiba Asim is from Western Australia. Her mother country is Pakistan, and she's passionate about breaking down stereotypes in society and achieving justice for people seeking asylum. She believes Australia has the capability of helping those who need it most.
Cameron Warasta, from Victoria, is passionate about fighting for equality and justice. Born to two Afghan parents in Australia, he believes the way we respond to the needs of people seeking asylum is the greatest moral challenge of our times. He's also passionate about achieving equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Genevieve Groves, from Queensland, is passionate about empowering young people and keen to voice the concerns of her local and global community, and raising awareness about children who face disadvantage.
Read the 2016 Youth Ambassadors report here.
The inaugural Youth Ambassadors, Danikka Calyon, 17, Elliott Gray, 15, Caitlyn Baljak, 17, and Hayden Burns, 17, came from three different states and the ACT. This group produced a youth manifesto to support '17 Global Goals' – a meeting of world leaders held in 2016 designed to end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Calyon even went to the UN in New York to meet with world leaders.
Danikka Calyon is a proud Noongar woman from Armadale, Western Australia. She is passionate about advocating on issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
Elliott Gray is a proud Wiradjuri man from Sydney. He's an accomplished musician and has performed at the Sydney Opera House multiple times. He has a very strong interest in climate change issues, as he has seen the effects of rising temperatures in the bush around his home.
Caitlyn Baljak lives in Queanbeyan in the ACT and is deeply interested in aid and development. She has been a member of the UN Youth Program, where she visited Timor-Leste to see aid work on the ground. She was the winner of the UN Youth Debate (ACT division).
Hayden Burns is a member of Save the Children's NSW Youth Advisory Council and hails from Claymore, outside Sydney. He's passionate about empowering youth, improving education, increasing employment and reducing bullying in schools.
Read the 2015 Youth Ambassadors report here.