Never underestimate the power of young voices Written by Kaif, Youth Advisory Group Member Never underestimate the power of your words. You never know who might come across them, or the impact they can have. Earlier this year, I wrote a piece on Why advocacy by young people is important as part of Youth Projects and Youth Advisory Group’s youth-led content series, underestimating the reach and impact it then created… Unbeknownst to me, those words reached all the way to the steps of the Parliament of Victoria. When I wrote this piece, I did not foresee the impact it could have and did have on myself, and my fellow youth - certainly could not have predicted the opportunities it created for us. One of the team at Parliament saw the piece and reached out wanting to hear more. And it was through this that we were able to create a collaboration between Youth Projects’ Youth Advisory Group (YAG) and the Parliament of Victoria. Pictured here: L-R Matt, Kaif, and Julia at Parliament House at the ‘State of the Future’ campaign launch That piece led to YAG members Jules and Hope being invited to the Parliament House to discuss future collaborations in September, and then led to me being approached to be part ‘The State of the Future’ campaign produced by Parliament of Victoria’s Youth Associate Darcy Scales supported by the youth partnerships coordinator Naomi Simmonds and the Parliament House. The campaign features seven (7) aspiring young leaders from across Victoria exploring ‘leadership’. The films will provide an opportunity for young people to tell our parliamentary leaders what qualities and principles they look for in their representatives and focuses on each young leader to celebrate their leadership in the community. As part of the ‘State of the Future’ campaign, I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to have my story as a young leader captured on film – reflecting on my experiences as an immigrant, ethnic, muslim youth advocate. This allowed me to be a voice for young people from minority backgrounds to a wider audience, and on a political stage. "I can never put into words what this meant for me and my community. It made me feel heard, seen, and valued." Pictured here: Kaif (right) accepting commemorative award for featuring in State of the Future campaign. Growing up, unfortunately, I didn’t often see people that look like me represented on such stages, so having had the opportunity to be that person myself – the person I always wanted to see at such events - was surreal. In October, I was invited to the launch of ‘The State of the Future’ campaign at Parliament House and was asked to speak about my experiences. Younger Kaif could only have dreamt of speaking on stage at Parliament House. Seeing myself on screen was a surreal, dreamlike experience as I was watching a young, ethnic, Muslim, hijab-wearing women on screen – one that I had not seen growing up. This whole experience has given me hope for a better future, particularly through the true representation of people from minority backgrounds. These last few months have reaffirmed the significance of social justice and advocacy, for me. It has motivated me more than ever to continue advocating for everything I am passionate about. It has taught me that no matter how small, every action you make counts and has an impact. Often many of us hold back, and think that small steps make no difference. Often we don’t think they are impactful enough or would be enough to create change, but the reality couldn’t be further from this. "Never underestimate the power of your words and actions as a young person - sometimes you might not see it straight away, but they are impactful and they do create change." I’d like to personally thank the Parliament of Victoria for the opportunities they’ve carved out for me, and I for one, cannot wait to see what further collaborations come along to continue representing the very real voices and diversity of young people in Victoria. Pictured here: Kaif’s video screened in front of dozens of attendees at Parliament House If you would like more information on Youth Advocacy or would like to join our Youth Advisory Group (YAG) please click here. This article is part of our youth-led content series created by young people on our Youth Advisory Group, for young people. This content series explores all sorts of issues impacting and inspiring young people across Melbourne’s northern and western regions. Content creators are sponsored through the Victorian Government’s Engage program.