Emily Smith Q&A – National Youth Week Australia 2015
Why do you think it is important to have a National Youth Week?
It’s incredibly important that Australia has a National Youth Week to celebrate and recognise the role young people have played, and continue to play, in making our communities strong and our country great. National Youth Week outlines the national priority of strengthening youth participation and boosting efforts for young people’s voices to be heard in all spheres of decision-making. Young people are not just leaders of tomorrow, they are leaders of today and all around Australia young people are doing great and remarkable things.
National Youth Week offers a chance to not only shine a light on existing efforts, but showcase opportunities to boost young people’s engagement and participation. Its focus also reminds everyone that young people are involved, engaged and making change.
What do you think is the significance of this year’s National Youth Week theme “It starts with us”?
This year’s theme highlights the agency of young people and the collective drive to see changes made in our communities and our nation. “It starts with us” suggests the urgency of change needed and the role young people have at the forefront of making change. It’s about new beginnings, new ideas and new perspectives.
Why do you think it is important for young people to get involved with the way their country is run?
Young people are passionate about their communities and our country and many of them work tirelessly advocating change.
Too often young people are shut out and their voices silenced because other people don’t see value in their experiences and insights. This needs to change and National Youth Week helps to highlight the dynamic ways that young people are making their communities and our country better. Young people aren’t just our future, they are our now.
Who has most inspired you in your work?
As a Girl Guide Leader, the young girls I get to lead always inspire me. Their innovative thinking, their passion for social justice and their commitment to do their best is remarkable. Young people are engaged and truly care about the state of the world; we just need to provide opportunities to let their voices be heard.
My leadership is directly connected to helping girls to be agents of change and speak out on the things that they care about. The girls I lead are constant reminders to me as to why engaging young people and involving them in decision making processes is so critical to transforming lives.
How has the Queen’s Young Leaders Award helped you?
The Queen’s Young Leaders Award has helped me to connect with a global community of change-makers. It’s inspiring to hear the stories, experiences and passions of so many amazing young people working tirelessly to make meaningful changes in their communities.
I’m excited about what opportunities now exist to collaborate and strengthen all of our work to transform the lives of people we engage across the Commonwealth.