OG Youth Advisory Group Member Hope, shares a behind the scenes look into what being a YAG member has helped her achieve Written by Hope, Youth Advisory Group Member I have been involved with Youth Projects’ Youth Advisory Group since it started in 2019 and I am one of the longest-serving members. I originally joined the Youth Advisory Group (or YAG as we know it) to not only have my voice heard, but actioned. Since being a member, I have been able to experience amazing opportunities and help other young people have their voices heard. We do a lot of exciting things as a part of YAG, but here are a few of my favorites (and a taste of what I’ve been able to accomplish, so far...): Co-designed service delivery, internal policies, and programs to support young people with complex and adverse barriers Planned and delivered events for young people and our local community Spear-headed youth consultations, youth-led initiatives and advocated for real social change Attended the Youth Futures Summit and represented my YAG team MC’d the Engage! Launch Party last year Attended 100% of 2022 YAG meetings, while juggling a part-time job This is just some of the this that I have done with YAG, and I look forward to doing more. Pictured here: L-R Tom, Dinuki, Hope, and CEO Ben for the ’Youth Forum’ at the Official Western Launch Attending Youth Conferences As part of my commitment to YAG, I have opportunities to attend youth conferences around Victoria, where I get to meet other young leaders and have our voices heard. Two that I have coming up are: Being nominated for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards 2021 – 22 (RYLA). RYLA is an intensive leadership experience where I will be further developing my skills as a leader, building communication skills, discovering strategies, and unlocking my further potential. PLUS, I will be attending the week-long Rotary Youth Leadership Award experience later this year! And, I have also been invited to attend the Sussex Neighbourhood House’s, ‘A Fair Go at School - Youth Leadership Forum.’ Where I will meet with other young local leaders to have our voices heard. An exclusive visit to Parliament House We were recently invited to an exclusive meeting at Parliament House, where we met Naomi Simmonds (the Youth & Community Partnerships Coordinator at Parliament of Victoria) to discuss our role in the community as YAG, and the importance of having young voices at the table. My fellow YAG member, Jules, wrote all about our visit in Young voices amplified, and pathways opened after our visit to Parliament House here. What we learned at Parliament is that there are some MPs willing to listen to us young people and that are starting to understand what young people today are going through and what they can try to do to help. From our trip to Parliament House, we have also been able to set up a consultation with Andy Meddick, the Animal Justice Party member of the Victorian Legislative Council to chat more about how we can strengthen youth voices in Parliament. Pictured here: L-R Jules and Hope on the steps at Parliament House Skills development Since being a part of YAG I have been able to grow certain skills, including: Being able to confidently speak on a panel in front of a crowd of people in person. Which was nerve wracking at the beginning, but I recently spoke in front of 100 people at the Youth Projects Major Western Launch on their Youth Panel. Growing my confidence. So, in my part-time employment, I feel confident enough when speaking with people over the phone and being able to ask, ‘how can I help’. Pictured here: L-R Sarah, Jules, Hope, Julia, and Matt at an art workshop in the lead-up to Midsumma Pride March Why being a part of a Youth Advisory Group is important If you’re looking to join a Youth Advisory Group near you, I highly recommend it. Being a part of a YAG, not only gives you a chance to have your voice heard, but it also gives you the confidence and skills to be able to speak in front of individuals/groups, to help plan events and meetings where you can actually be listened to and hopefully have your feelings actioned. Being able to get your own unique experiences out in the world and advocate for it, means that you are also helping other people who have similar experiences to you, but need someone to speak for them. To learn more about why advocacy by young people is important, check out my fellow YAG member – Kaif's piece that talks about Why Advocacy by Young People is Important. I am very thankful to Youth Projects as I would have never been able to do any of what I’ve done already without them. They have given me the confidence to be able to speak out loud and in front of large groups. 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.