Since 2015, our Youth Ambassador Program has provided a platform for emerging young community leaders to share their ideas and voice their concerns. It's been heartening to discover just how many driven, passionate and imaginative young Australians are willing to challenge our leaders and push for real change. There's no need to introduce our 2018 cohort to you, they're perfectly capable of introducing themselves…
"My name is Kupakwashe Matangira. I was born in Zimbabwe and came to Australia in 2006 at the age of five.
Coming from Zimbabwe has really allowed me to see the cracks in society when it comes to how people – especially those with different backgrounds – are treated and has empowered me to stand for what I know is right. Through my background, I am very passionate about human rights and social justice because I strive to see a society where all people are treated equally because this is the dignity all human beings are entitled to.
I am eager to impact change in whatever way I can. Whether it be championing a cause I believe in, being a leader at school or writing to a local politician. I am happy to do whatever it takes to make sure that the voices of young people are not only heard, but also valued."
I want everyone in Australia and in the whole world to know that age is not a barrier to knowledge or passion for a want to see a better world. Young people have knowledge, we have passion – we have the vision to affect change. I want politicians to work with young people to find solutions to the issues that concern us so that together, we can work towards a better Australia."
"Hi there! I'm Georgia Lethlean and I'm 17 years old.
In 2017, I went for a three-week trip to Zambia with a school group. I'm not the first to say it, but that exposure to African culture and poverty certainly rewired my Western thinking. Experiencing the lifestyle undertaken by the developing world educated me about how to better understand but not pity that reality.
I am community-minded and regularly involved in volunteer work. This includes tutoring refugee children at a primary school in Sunshine, being involved in a Days for Girls initiative in Footscray, and helping with store management at a St Vincent de Paul's in Sunbury.
I eventually aspire to move up through these voluntary channels and work for larger organisations in a legal or medical capacity. I want to learn the language of diplomacy and social justice, and contribute to the larger achievements of these guardians of human rights.
We must reinforce the truth that those who have a knack for social justice are not 'naive leftists' but rather humans who are caring for other humans and working for a common humanity."
"Hi! My name is Zahra Bilal and I am an extremely strong advocate for human rights. I am a critical thinker and will question everything around me, but I'm always open to new ideas.
I believe the solutions to today's challenges will come from the youth, from a bright mind, from a visionary thought, from a bold view. As a nation, our responsibility is to cultivate as many bright minds, to allow opportunity to run rampant and, in doing so, offer young people the chance to build a future that is focused on more than just survival.
I am an Australian-Pakistani-Muslim female, which has meant working against a multitude of pre-conceived notions from a very young age. My parents, both Pakistani migrants themselves, worked tirelessly to build my sisters and I up to face the stigma associated with both our faith and culture. Growing up, my mother told me 'No-one wants you to succeed, so the only way you will achieve is by working the hardest and outshining everyone else.' This imbued in me the belief that success will only come about through overcoming the perceptions of those around me.
Watching my parents invest themselves so wholly in the future of their children, I realised how pivotal the early decades of life are. But more so, I realised that there are many other young people out there who are similarly hampered by stigma and circumstance, but who may not have had the support I did."
"My name is Imogen, and I'm a proud Ngarigo woman from Tumbarumba, which is outside Wagga Wagga in the Snowy Mountains. I'm in Year 11, and want to study medicine or science when I graduate, as I'm passionate about helping people and impacting their lives.
I want to be a Save the Children Youth Ambassador because I want to see change in my local community and for young people all around the world. Too often young people are overlooked or discouraged because of nationality, age, gender… the list goes on. Young people are the future and I believe advocating these issues is paramount to making a change.
It is the community that has raised me –Tumbarumba – that's most inspired me to be better and seek opportunities to make the world a better place. Tumbarumba may not be a place of great opportunity, but it is a place with a big heart. Everyone, from local Indigenous Elders to the pastor at my church to my boss at IGA supermarket to my school teachers have all stood by me for as long as I can remember and this will always inspire me to advocate and to be the change I want to see in the world."
"My name is Alex Dunmill, I am 15 years old and currently in year 10. I'm born and raised in Melbourne and am passionate about cricket, cooking, photography and writing. I have been lucky enough to experience different cultures through travel and have gained a better view of how lucky we are in Australia but also how far we can still come.
Through my work as a volunteer with a local charity, I have learnt that you don't have to be poor or live in a bad area to fall on tough times and even people you may not expect may need help. This work made me realise that if we want to fix problems such as these we need to tackle them head on and actively try and change them. It is our role to lead our generation towards a better world and that means leading from the front.
My whole life I have always tried to push myself. I have always tried to be a better person and I believe that being an ambassador would give me this challenge and make me consider not only my place in the world but also how I can help to voice what other young people feel is important."
"My name is Bassam Maaliki, I am an Australian born Muslim from a Lebanese background.
I am passionate about change. I believe that among other issues in the world, all youth have the right to the basic human right of a full education, good health, a safe home and a place to belong and thrive.
As an Australian Muslim from a Lebanese background it has been a huge challenge to feel a sense of belonging here in my homeland (Australia). Casual and not-so-casual racism is something that I am personally facing every day. Racism is well and truly a big problem in Australia, and in my community.
But after working with refugees and advocating for foster care, I believe, in comparison to the challenges they face, my life challenges are a 'drop in the ocean'. I have made a commitment to myself to use their challenges and make them my challenge to make change.
I am passionate about many issues, but if I had to pick a top three it would be creating change for refugee youth, eliminating racism from schools and sporting grounds and encouraging more multicultural families to become foster parents."
"Hi! I'm a 17-year-old student and love to travel, go on adventures and cook. I've been accepted to study at the University of Queensland, but have decided to take a gap year before I begin my course in International Studies because I want to travel and explore the world in which I live.
I believe that the attitudes and values of the younger generation are disregarded by current politicians. Youth are actively involved with many issues facing the global community, and yet the change makers in power somewhat refuse to acknowledge that. I want to become a Save the Children's Youth Ambassador because I want to represent the values and attitudes that are going unheard.
I hope to educate politicians about issues facing youth and the global community. Even if it's only one step forward, change will have occurred. I simply want to be a positive role model for other youth who have a desire to change the world like I do."
*The above profiles are extracts from the 2018 Youth Ambassador application process