Meriden students, Nidhi Nellore and Phoebe van Niekerk, are currently serving on Strathfield Council’s Youth Advisory Board. The year-long volunteer role recognises the girls as responsible representatives of their peers and the local community.
The Youth Advisory Board was established in 2022 by the local member for Strathfield, Mr Jason Yat-Sen Li, to gain insight into the challenges affecting young people in the local community. During their quarterly meetings, members of the student-led committee are encouraged to actively engage in discussions and share ideas on topics about which they are passionate.
Year 11 student, Phoebe, said she was proud to have been appointed to the board and has found the experience highly rewarding.
“It has been a great networking opportunity and has given me the chance to participate in discussions about a range of critical issues affecting young people,” said Phoebe.
Nidhi, who is in Year 10, agreed it is an honour to serve on the board and have her voice heard.
“Youth are rarely included in decisions regarding their future. I believe it is important to introduce diverse and unique perspectives that may not otherwise have been considered. This experience is providing us with an opportunity to critically consider other viewpoints and work together to drive social change,” said Nidhi.
In their first official engagement, the board members delved into discussions ranging from the health inequities faced by Indigenous Australians to the mental health impact of COVID-19 on youth.
Phoebe has ambitions to work in law or politics and believes engaging young people in these discussions fosters a positive outlook for the future.
“Creating opportunities for young people to have their voices heard has the potential to enhance policies and reforms that impact all Australian citizens. It also encourages young people to engage in their local community,” said Phoebe.
As part of their roles, Nidhi and Phoebe attended a meeting at New South Wales Parliament House. The girls received a tour of the state government office and were given a first-hand look at how parliament functions and legislation is passed.
“We gained valuable insights into the role individuals have within the operation of our democratic society and how they can work together to create a sustainable and equitable world for current and future generations,” said Nidhi.