UNYA National Youth Summit

Over the past week I had the privilege of attending the United Nations Youth Association’s (UNYA) first National Youth Summit. The Summit in Sydney brought together about 200 delegates from around the country for four days, where we engaged and interacted with various issues and problem solving activities.

The Summit focused on producing a document – a ‘Youth Declaration’ for the Australian government, complete with our recommendations and suggestions across issues such as youth allowance, Australia’s relationship with New Zealand, refugees, climate change, transport and foreign aid. There were 127 recommendations that were produced across the four days, which the entire delegation voted upon during an intense one and a half hour voting session!

My group worked on the topic of nuclear disarmament, which I knew nothing about before the conference but feel I have a pretty comprehensive idea of the issue after hours of discussing and debating Australia’s stance on nuclear energy and weapons! (Like our supply of Uranium – see poster I found to the right!) Each team prepared a cabinet brief with our recommendations – giving us a taste of what it’s like working amongst inter-governmental international relations, and the United Nations.

As our Youth Declaration is collaborated and is eventually made public, I’ll do my best to put a link here so you can have a look at what the youth of Australian are recommending to the government!

Other than working on the Youth Declaration, we heard from some fantastic speakers about issues such as the Right 2 Protect, Gender Equality and Human Rights, whilst also hearing a rather thought provoking debate about Australia’s need for a Bill of Rights. The debate came alive as we used ‘The Worm’ technology, showing our agreement or dislike for particular comments through the simple click of a button!

This week proved to me that our generation is incredibly passionate about being involved in the future and decision making process of our country. We’re a generation with innovative ideas, approaches and solutions to both local and global problems. Whilst this is not news to me, I am always so inspired by the many young people I am privileged to meet at conferences like these which are clear examples that our generation is anything but self-centred, apathetic and lazy people. (To the right: Voting FOR the recommendation that states that the government should increase foreign aid to 0.7% – woohoo!)

The Summit gave us an opportunity to have our voice heard through the Youth Declaration, and be both inspired and enriched by the insightful and challenging discussions we shared. UNYA provide the youth of Australia with opportunities such as these all year round, and I would encourage looking into their work, as well as looking into attending a Model United Nations. There’s one at Sydney University in December, or the World MUN is in Singapore next March.

I learnt that we shouldn’t be shy to use our voices and passion to stand up for rights that should be given to everyone, no matter what country or religion someone is born into. We’ve had a world riddled with issues handed down to us, but never before have we had such an opportunity to find the solutions. This is our inherent responsibility. What are you going to do about it?

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