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UNICEF Australia appoints youth ambassadors in new innovative initiative

UNICEF Australia has appointed nine young ambassadors to uniquely report on the views and concerns of young people

Nine young people have been appointed as UNICEF Australia Young Ambassadors, representing the views and concerns of the country’s youth.

The ambassadors, aged from 15 to 22, come from Australia’s capital cities and rural areas, with diverse backgrounds and life experiences that include growing up in Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo before leaving as refugees.

CEO of UNICEF Australia, Tony Stuart, said it was an exciting and innovative program, which will see UNICEF mentor future leaders and work directly with young people.

“These talented young people will consult with children and young people across Australia – their peers – and take their views and concerns to the government and the nation through their own official report,” Stuart added.

The group, chosen from a field of over 450 applicants, has completed five days of intensive training, which has included children’s rights, communicating with children and young people effectively and understanding government decision makers.

They will now take on peer-to-peer mentoring roles across the country, building their capacity in the communities they work in. This is particularly important in the absence of a funded national youth peak body, UNICEF notes.

UNICEF’s global Goodwill Ambassador and Ambassador for Children Affected by War, Ishmael Beah, who was a child soldier in Sierra Leone, said children and young people are important to shaping the world and challenging decisions made on their behalf.

Beah said that the initiative is “vital and inspiring”, not only due to understanding the concerns, “but because they recognise that their views on the world around them is affecting their lives are uniquely expert, personal and untainted by politics.”

After conducting consultations with children and young people across the country for the rest of the year, the Young Ambassadors will report their findings in 2019.

UNICEF Australia’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, Amy Lamoin, said: “Children have an important contribution to make to public policy, they are citizens and part of our democracy. In the absence of a funded national youth peak body, programs like this are even more critical.

“Children in Australia will have to live with the consequences of today’s decision making into their adulthood, and for decades to come. Our program will help ensure their views on these decisions can be heard.”

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