By Mitchell Clarke
Nine young people have been selected to take part in the 2020 Cardinia Shire Youth Council program.
The successful applicants, aged between 14 and 21, will spend almost a year participating in the learning and leadership program – an opportunity to gain an insight into local government.
Cardinia Shire Council said the nine participants were chosen for their leadership qualities, their desire to help build a stronger local community, their interest in having a say on local issues that affect young people and their interest in local government.
The group will have the chance to visit Parliament House, attend local events, attend and run monthly meeting, facilitate an election to elect a chair and deputy chair and debate against councillors and council officers.
Mayor Jeff Springfield said he was “looking forward” to working with the group throughout the year.
“The Youth Council Learning and Leadership Program is a fantastic opportunity to foster the brilliant young leaders in our community and I cannot wait to see what new ideas our 2020 members have to offer,” Cr Springfield said.
Central Ward resident Avijot Singh, 17, said he hopes to develop his skills and hopefully resolve some key issues by the end of 2020.
“The main reason I wanted to be a Youth Councillor was to give youth a voice, and to learn more and enhance my skills. In addition, I am particularly inspired to solve the problems that youth are facing, especially around mental health and environment,” Mr Singh said.
“I would love to work with wider range of communities. Furthermore, I am interested to discover more about a different range of community issues and diverse cultures, and about how the community is developing.”
Ranges Ward resident Baxter Stickland, 16, joined the program because he believed it would help his leadership skills and teach him about Australia’s political system, in particular local government.
“I hope to improve my leadership skills and confidence levels. I would like to gain some knowledge about how different government levels operate, how funds from various government levels are allocated, and how different issues are ranked across various government areas and around various parts of Cardinia Shire,” Mr Stickland said.
“I am curious about how Cardinia Shire Council assists new businesses and community organisations in their start-up phases, such as through the grants programs.
“I am also interested and passionate about climate change issues and would like to know what each level of government is doing to combat it.”
Fellow Ranges Ward resident Elias Azadzoi, 18, wanted to participate to include younger individuals within the community.
“I would like to bring about a higher number of community involvement from individuals, especially those who are from diverse backgrounds, so that they have a sense of belonging and have their voices heard,” Mr Azadzoi said.
“My passion is to encourage more multicultural and youth involvement within the community in order to have an increase of various inputs and ideas as well as educating those who are unaware of community and political issues.”
Hetvi Dave, 17, from Central Ward joined youth council to develop her social skills and better understand the council’s work, fostering a better connection between ratepayers and the council.
“Through the program, I would like to be able to connect to the people who live in the community through the work and events directed by Cardinia Shire Council,” Ms Dave said.
“My passions include mental health awareness in youth, and finding a way to solve environmental problems that are affecting the community and are resulting in increasing the carbon footprint of individuals in the community.”
15-year-old Jash Sant from the Central Ward wanted to further her passion for leadership and apply it to a real life situation.
“I hope to get a deeper insight and increase my understanding about the Council, and observe and be involved in the workings of local government,” Mr Sant said.
“I am particularly passionate about the finances and politics of a governing organisation and am equally eager to learn how these can be utilised to solve pressing issues, currently the environmental crisis.”
Jeevesh Chopra, 14, from Central Ward hopes the program will help him plan and run a community event that benefits society.
“The Youth Council struck me as a great opportunity to discover how our local government is run, how to improve my skills as a leader, and most of all how to make a difference in our society, start to understand what issues are part of our life, and think about what we can do to help solve them,” Mr Chopra said.
“My personal passions are related to environmental issues such as climate change and the bushfires, and also mental health issues in teenagers such as depression and anxiety, as I think it is crucial that both of these issues can and should be prevented, especially after seeing some of my friends face the challenges of these hardships.”
18-year-old Michelle O’Hanrahan, from Ranges Ward, has only just recently moved into the Cardinia shire.
“Politics and community are my biggest passions, and it has been opportunities such as Youth Council, which have taught me, as a young person, how I can help others to ensure a lasting impact is made to greater benefit the community,” Ms O’Hanrahan said.
“Many of us on the Youth Council have a key interest in mental health so it would be incredible to be involved in taking further action to provide knowledge and access of health services to those within our community who need help the most.
“My passion in the community is ensuring everyone’s views, ideas and concerns are heard. In particular, I have been an advocate for mental health awareness, and I am strongly passionate about effective action being taken on bullying and discrimination.”
Central Ward citizen Rahmana Basit, 15, hopes to make a “huge” impact on the community and raise awareness on worldwide issues.
“My intention is to give a voice to the community and to get their input on things they would like to be implemented in our community,” Ms Basit said.
“An idea I’d like to achieve this year would be creating a better Cardinia Shire by making sure all the community can address their problems and we can help to implement a solution to make our shire a better place and also more liveable. I would love to see if we can make people more aware about very critical issues not only the ones publicised in the media.
“My main passions within the community is mental health, environment, social and emotional wellbeing, and education on bullying.”
Yom Hakim Mading, 19, from the Ranges Ward thought Youth Council would be a fantastic opportunity to let the voice of her community be heard, while also finding practical solutions.
“I hope to bring awareness to the issue of mental health and to help the community to understand mental health, as well as to support and show understanding to those that might be going through mental health issues, without judgement,” Ms Mading said.
“My main passions are mental health, environmental sustainability and equal opportunities for all. With mental health I want more people to understand it, and to be able to help and support those suffering around them. I also want us to help protect the environment for our future generations.
“And although equality is so much better from where it was decades ago, there is still a long way to go on correcting the prejudice and preconceived notions that people have on a particular race or community.”