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United Nations

Statement by Australian Youth Representative at the Informal Debate on Third Committee priorities for Youth Delegates, 21 October 2020

UNGA75 Informal Debate on Third Committee priorities for Youth Delegates

Wednesday 21 October 2020, New York

Statement by Lucy Stronach, 2021 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations

*This statement does not represent Australian Government policy.

Thank you to the Third Committee for this debate, and to the Australian Government for the opportunity and privilege to speak on behalf the young people of Australia.

I would first like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I make this speech today, the Wadjuk noongar people. This land was stolen and never ceded and I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging and any first nations people who may be present here today.

We are meeting today to discuss how we can best further the Youth2030 Strategy. But first I think we must first acknowledge the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on young people.

The pandemic may be unprecedented, but the impact on our institutions was not. We already knew the importance of well-funded and accessible physical and mental health care. We knew that workers in insecure jobs face different daily risks to the rest of the workforce. And we already knew that education plays a crucial role for not only our youth, but each of our households and to all of our communities.

Our decision making processes need to be more inclusive and accessible to all people, most prominently, young people and young women. The stress the pandemic has put on our communities has not surprised these groups, who have already recognised the inequalities in our institutions, but haven’t been listened to.

As it stands, I am the sole Youth Representative to the UN. The weight of the voice of all of our young people falls on me, and while I am so proud and honoured to carry this weight, I fear that I cannot adequately create impactful change across all priority areas alone- from mental health to climate change, discrimination to juvenile justice.

Today, I ask for your help. We need greater representation of the United Nations in Australia. We need more Australians involved in the work of the United Nations as Youth Delegates and in other roles, but most importantly, we need more young people involved in all aspects of policy and decision making in Australia, to accurately and fairly represent our nation on the global stage.

Policy makers and those in positions of power and privilege have a pathway to change, and this pathway is including marginalised actors in decision making processes. It is my utmost priority moving forward in my role that those groups have a seat at the table, however, I cannot do this alone.

As young Australians we ask this of the United Nations- to help equip us with the tools to create this change, to help us advocate to policy and decision makers, and to lay the foundation for young Australians to feel empowered to create solutions to the issue we see as most problematic.

Despite the immense challenges we face, young people today represent the most passionate and motivated generation we have ever seen and we will continue to forge change to create fairer policies and practices for a brighter future in Australia and throughout the world. Thank you.

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