'Younger' council to drive youth engagement
YOUTH engaging with local politics is a rare sight in most communities.
Lismore City councillor Vanessa Ekins wants break the status quo by proposing the establishment of a youth advisory group at tomorrow night's council meeting.
Cr Ekins has put forward a notice of motion which outlines her goals to found the group during the review of current advisory groups as well as brainstorm ideas with her fellow councillors to better engage youth with council processes.
As a mum with two teenage sons, Cr Etkins said the new Lismore City Council aims to prioritise family and youth needs.
"Most of us (councillors) have children. It is a younger council where we are thinking about our families a lot more," Cr Ekins said.
In a digital world, Cr Ekins also suggested reaching out to youth via social media platforms to tap into new lines of communication.
"Traditionally our committees are at night and in the council chambers but we are looking at new ways to engage with our young people," she said.
One new approach Cr Ekins suggested was a mock council, where students gather in the council chambers and provided a budget to allocate funds to different areas to help give insight into how council works.
The idea piqued the interest of Trinity Catholic College student Emily Adams, who said the idea parallels mock trials to give students a taster into court proceedings.
"It's all about getting students involved. Taking it to that next level could give those keen to be involved an insight into how council works," Emily said.
Building on Cr Ekins idea of a youth advisory group, the Year 10 student said a weekend meeting with young people from different schools from across the Lismore City LGA could be an effective option.
In her capacity on the student representative council, Emily was involved in the development of Trinity's new bus shelter. For Emily, the process lacked a direct student voice with the ideas being filtered through teachers.
She said the proposed advisory group holds potential for young people to have a direct say in numerous school and community projects.
"It gives us the chance to work with council and a reason to stand up and be part of such initiatives," Emily said.
"I think there would be a strong group at least at our college who would be interested in it (the forum)."