The importance of ensuring young peoples’ voices are heard was highlighted at a global YMCA forum in London which was attended by Madeleine Taylor, chief risk officer for the YMCA in Canberra.
“I work with young people a little bit but you don’t realise how much power they have or should have,” Madeleine said.
The forum celebrated YMCA’s 175th birthday as well as focusing on how young leaders can help contribute to achieving the United Nations 17 core Sustainable Development Goals under themes including health, environment, economic empowerment and employment, civic engagement and education.
“The (sustainable development) goals give a framework for how we have to fix the issues in the world so it’s an okay place to be,” Madeleine said, acknowledging that youth is key to the future.
“The changes that are going to come and solve some of the global problems are going to come from this cohort.”
Overall, 48 Australians representing the Y in Australia – almost two-thirds of whom were 31 or under – attended the forum with 10 of the delegates, including Madeleine, keynote speakers, workshop presenters or panelists.
Madeleine presented two workshops – one on building personal resilience for young leaders and the other on non-verbal communication techniques for building credibility and maximising impact.
She said these skills are important to empower young people to have their say, especially given statistics suggest that fewer than one in five Australians: feel like their opinions are represented by politicians in government and feel able have a say within their community on important issues all or most of the time.
“The evidence is clear,” Madeleine said. “The majority of young people in Australia today feel unheard and unable to have a say.
“We also know that when young people are invited to participate and when they are invited to have a say on issues of importance to them, they are highly engaged. And they can be inspiring!”
Madeleine is available to present her workshops on request. For more information about YMCA Canberra, visit canberra.ymca.org.au