Youth Voice forum inspires solutions in Port Macquarie as part of 2019 Youth Week activities

NEXT GENERATION: Jenny Cooper, Elissa Veitch and Rhiannon Simmons after addressing the crowds. PHOTO: Carla Mascarenhas.
NEXT GENERATION: Jenny Cooper, Elissa Veitch and Rhiannon Simmons after addressing the crowds. PHOTO: Carla Mascarenhas.

Around 30 young people gathered at the Glasshouse for a youth forum hosted by Port Macquarie Hastings Council. 

Organiser Lee Wood said the purpose of the forum was to get young people in the room to discuss issues that are affecting them and work on solutions.

"I am not telling them anything," Mr Wood said.

"I am going to wind up the clock and I am just going to let them go.

"I am a  40-year-old man I have no idea what young people want, these guys are the real experts in being young right now."

Young people heard from three guest speakers: 18-year-old Elissa Veitch, Westport High school captain Jenny  Cooper and sustainability expert Rhiannon Simmonds.

SOLUTIONS: Young people came together to raise issues and present solutiions to local problems.

SOLUTIONS: Young people came together to raise issues and present solutiions to local problems.

Ms Veitch shared how she was often told that she was "not old enough" to do things.

However, the precocious teenager persisted and now works with a number of businesses on their online presence. 

"I told one business, 'I am young and that is precisely why I can help you," she said.

Seventeen-year-old Jenny Cooper spoke next about the importance of young people being engaged in the political sphere.

She urged those in the room to "get educated".

If every young person was more educated on politics we would have bigger political change and laws reflecting that.

Jenny Cooper

Ms Cooper said if everyone who attended the climate change protest in March wrote to their federal member of parliament it would make a difference.

Rhiannon Simmons said the persistence of young people can make a difference in the local community.

She used the example of Shalise Leesfield whose lobbying resulted in fishing line collections bills installed in Lake Cathie.

The group then brainstormed some of the issues young people in the Port Macquarie-Hastings area.

Issues around a lack of public transport, teaching kids skills for the job market, mental health and teen homelessness were raised.

Some of the solutions proposed included a mindfulness day at local schools, raising money for Headspace, an outdoor youth space that doesn't shut at a certain time like the Youth Hub and a mentoring program through council.

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