Speech - Launch of the National Youth Forum and Engage! A strategy to include young people in the decisions we make

20 March 2024

Thank you Brodie for that introduction and thank you Jude for your wonderful Welcome to Country.  

I’d like to begin today by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. 

I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

Hello, I am so very excited to welcome you all to the Albanese Government’s National Youth Forum!

Today, you will provide policy ideas and solutions on issues that our National Youth Consultations told us are most important to young people – cost of living, mental health, and climate change.

The Forum is an important part of the Albanese Government’s promise to you as young people – you will be genuinely engaged and consulted by our Government.

The Albanese Government is listening to your important ideas and contributions as you help us shape government policies and programs.

Because we know, by listening to you and your valuable insights – we can create a better Australia for everyone.

So we’re taking action to ensure young people – like yourselves – have opportunities for strong and formalised engagement in government decision-making.

So far:

•    we’ve re-established the Office for Youth – after it was abolished by the Liberals back in 2013.

•    we’ve established the Youth Steering Committee to provide advice on the best way to introduce meaningful and lasting change for young people.

•    we’ve created Youth Advisory Groups to provide direct advice to government departments on a range of important issues.

•    we’ve undertaken nationwide consultation hearing from more than 4,600 young people around the nation. 

I’m very proud of what we’ve already achieved in under two years!

We’ve ensured young people across Australia are being included in the development of government policy – a big shift from ten years of being ignored by the Coalition. 

But there is a lot more to do! 

Which is why today I have the absolute pleasure to launch Engage! A strategy to include young people in the decisions we make. 

Shaped by our wonderful and diverse Youth Steering Committee – and informed by the National Youth Consultations – Engage! sets out how young people will be able to have their say on issues and contribute to policies that impact them. 

We heard from thousands of young people who provided direct advice on how they want to connect with government programs and services and how they would like to be involved in government decision-making.

Engage! incudes a range of actions that directly responds to this feedback. 

The actions include a new digital youth hub – a website with resources to help you connect with government and access the information and support you need.

The digital hub will also have a strong social media presence. 

There will be multiple opportunities to have a say on policy development by;

•    continuing our successful Youth Steering Committee and Youth Advisory Group programs; and

•    excitingly, we will hold a National Youth Forum – like this one – each year! 

Under Engage! we will deliver two annual grant programs, helping First Nations young people and marginalised young people including those from rural, regional and remote communities, build their capacity to engage with government. 

An annual National Youth Survey will be undertaken each year as well as multiple in person consultations. 

We will establish a National Youth Week and continue funding the Young Australian of the Year Awards. 

And we will continue to build government capacity to include young people in policy creation. 

Engage! will ensure young people across Australia are empowered, valued, and included in the development of policies and programs that impact them. 

Importantly, Engage! introduces a range of measures to hold government to account.  

These measures will ensure you are being heard, and your opinions are making a difference. 

I’d like to take the opportunity to directly thank the Youth Steering Committee for their work on this important strategy. 

As a diverse group of young people from around the country, you have come together and created something that will deliver a better Australia now and into the future. 

Thank you for sharing your ideas, your passion and your vision with us. 

Engage! wouldn’t be what we’re launching here today without you. 

It has been a pleasure to get to work with you. 

I can’t wait to see all the amazing thing you will continue to do. 

Engage! is our promise to young people right around Australia, you will be genuinely engaged and consulted and your important contributions will help shape government policies.

The Albanese Government will work with you – to create a better future for you and generations to come.  

I hope you have a wonderful and productive day at our first annual National Youth Forum.

I look forward to hearing about your innovative ideas and policy solutions!