KEEN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Southern Downs Youth Council representatives.
KEEN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Southern Downs Youth Council representatives. Marian Faa

REAL CHANGE: Teen councillors put DV, global aid on agenda

WHEN fourteen students from Southern Downs schools met with councillors for the first time yesterday morning, they weren't afraid to bring big issues to the table.

From domestic violence to international aid, the Year 10 students expressed a sincere concern for the region's long-term future as they marked the beginning of an exciting new partnership with local government.

The representatives will form the new Youth Council, an initiative designed by the Southern Downs Regional Council to give youth a platform to put their issues on the agenda.

Already, students are saying its more than just concerts and bowling alleys they want.

Allora State High School student Charli Wolff said a recent tragic assault just a few doors down from her house in Goomburra left her thinking about a dangerous issue that is silenced and forgotten.

"One of the things I want to see locally is more provisions to people who are involved with domestic violence because as far as I know we don't have anything,” she said.

"It would be good to set up a safe house where people can go and programs where they can get assistance.”

GETTING TOGETHER: SDYC representatives Renee Lack, Charli Wolff, Kira Holmes and Chloe O'Halloran.
GETTING TOGETHER: SDYC representatives Renee Lack, Charli Wolff, Kira Holmes and Chloe O'Halloran. Marian Faa

Miss Wolff said she studied domestic violence in school, and was alarmed by the statistics.

"We live in a country where it is quite common and considering it could happen just down the road from where we live... it's something we could look at.”

For Miss Wolff, addressing domestic violence meant ensuring a better future for generations to come.

"If we are going to raise a generation of people who are afraid and don't have a safe space, that is going to impact our ability as a community to develop,” she said.

Demonstrating maturity and insight beyond their years, students like Charli are already showing how seriously they take their new role.

It's exactly the sort of long-term thinking Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie hoped representatives would bring to the table.

"We will be asking students to bring one, solid recommendation to council at every meeting,” she said.

The council will allocate funding based on those recommendations.

The mayor welcomed the students at yesterday's general council meeting.

INSPIRING INITIATIVE: Southern Downs Youth Council representatives have future generations in mind when thinking about what they want for our region.
INSPIRING INITIATIVE: Southern Downs Youth Council representatives have future generations in mind when thinking about what they want for our region. Marian Faa

"What is the legacy you as the 2018 youth council are going to leave for your generation and future generation?” Cr Dobie asked the students.

It's a question that lingered on Scots PGC College student Kira Holmes' mind in the weeks leading up to her induction into the Youth Council.

Placing our region in a global context, Scots PGC College student Kira Holmes said she wanted to see more engagement with international aid.

"What can we do here to help people overseas,” she said.

"Things like sanitation, water, famine.”

Miss Holmes believed engaging with global issues gave young people a sense of purpose and the feeling that they can make a difference.

She will be asking councillors to help run community events and fundraisers that young people could get involved with.

Councillors were impressed with the initiative shown by students so early in the piece.

"It is vital they have a voice and are able to work alongside our decision makers to share their ideas and insights into what matters most, now and in the future,” Cr Dobie said.

SDYC's first meeting will be held at St Joseph's School Stanthorpe next Thursday.



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