Local young people to elect new Youth Council

A Youth Council will centre local young people in local government decision-making under a new pilot program launched today.

The new partnership between Cairns Regional Council and the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) will get young people more involved in local decision-making.

The Young Mayors program will support people aged 17 and under to get elected to a Youth Council, positioning them as decision-makers on issues that impact their future.

Elected by young people in the Cairns region by a democratic process, the Youth Council will work together to define priority areas, and work with council to implement projects and events.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said young people bring enormous value to Cairns.

"We know there are outstanding ideas just waiting to be harnessed by the elected Youth Council that will ensure Cairns continues to thrive," he said.

"Young people have told us they relish the tropical lifestyle we have, enjoying natural areas such as the beaches and rainforest, and identified key challenges for our region.

"The Youth Council will provide formal advice to Councillors and help us make decisions with meaningful input from the next generation of local leaders.

"Our council wants young people to be actively involved in our community and we're excited to work with FYA to make that happen through the Young Mayors program."

The program will back young people to learn about and participate in the systems that govern their lives, and influence decisions that impact their community.

FYA's Executive Director of Civic and Cultural Engagement, Molly Whelan, said a Youth Council ensures local government decisions reflect the desires of young people.

"Local governments play a huge role in the everyday lives of people in our communities, and that includes young people. But young people are often locked out of power – consulted but never in charge," they said.

"This program puts young people in the driver's seat - ensuring that council policies and programs better reflect the concerns, needs, and desires of local young people."

The Young Mayors program has been designed by FYA and is based on successful UK models.

Any person aged 17 and under, who lives in the Cairns Local Government Area, can nominate to run of the Youth Council.

Cairns joins Mackay (QLD), Horsham (VIC) and Wollongong (NSW) to pilot the program in Australia, with plans to scale to councils across the country.

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