Media Release - Young people need a voice in cabinet: local government

10 April 2018

The local government sector has called on the NSW Government to mark Youth Week 2018 with the appointment of a dedicated Youth Minister.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW), speaking on behalf of members, said it was past time for the Berejiklian Government to give young people a real voice in the future they would inherit.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said young people made up almost one-fifth of the population of NSW, yet had not been represented by a dedicated Minister since 2011.

“Young people are often the focus of Government initiatives around education, employment, health and wellbeing– just to name a few,” Clr Scott said.

“Their lives will also be directly impacted upon by planning laws, by the availability – or lack of – social and public infrastructure.

“They have the biggest stake in the future of this state, which is why it is critical they have a voice when decisions that affect them, now and in the future, are being discussed.

“With no Minister dedicated to the specific needs of young people there remains the very real question as to whether young people’s needs are being adequately represented in Cabinet.”

The Youth Affairs portfolio, last held by the current Local Government Opposition Spokesman, Peter Primrose, was absorbed into the Citizenship and Family and Community Services portfolio after the 2011 election, and now sits with the Minister for Disability and Multiculturalism.

Clr Scott said the need for dedicated political representation of young people in Cabinet was raised by Fairfield City and Wollondilly Shire Councils at the 2017 LGNSW Annual Conference, in a motion passed by delegates representing councils right across NSW.

Also calling for a Youth Minister was the Local Government and Youth Development Network, a collective of youth development officers from across NSW.

“Young people around the world are standing up to be counted,” Clr Scott said. “They are interested, committed and passionate about the future.

“Yet work undertaken by Australia’s 2017 Youth Representative to the United Nations, Paige Burton, found young people do not feel they have meaningful political representation.

“Ms Burton reported that of the thousands of young people she consulted only 16% of young people from NSW agreed their opinions were represented by those in Government.

“Restoring the ministerial portfolio for youth affairs is one key step to change this situation - and Youth Week 2018, which runs from April 13 to 22, is the time to do it.”

 

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