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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 February 2018) . . Page.. 426 ..

The government’s new initiative of the online community panel builds on our ongoing commitment to youth engagement and will help to ensure that the decisions the ACT government makes reflect what a wide cross-section of the community really thinks. While the panel will support the engagement of young people as part of the broader community, our engagement with young people specifically is also underpinned by the government’s youth participation strategy, youth interact. Youth interact encourages 12 to 25-year-olds from a range of backgrounds and experiences to have their say about issues in Canberra.

The strategy aims to engage young people through youth consultation and conferences, including the work of the Youth Advisory Council, as Mr Steel mentioned earlier. The Youth Advisory Council, or YAC, provides young people with an opportunity to raise awareness of the aspirations, needs and concerns of young people within the ACT government and the wider community. It consists of 15 members who are all young people aged between 12 and 25 years at the time of their appointment. Membership of the YAC reflects the diversity of young people residing in the ACT, including gender balance, young people with disabilities and representation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

I meet with the YAC co-chairs regularly and recognise the importance of giving young people a voice in the ACT government. One of my goals is to ensure that YAC is supported to engage with other parts of civil society to build and share expertise. I want to take this opportunity to thank YAC members for the time they spend attending meetings, undertaking consultations and participating in the broader community, in addition to their work, study, caring responsibilities and the simple fact of having a social life. I never cease to be amazed at how impressive these young people are. Their willingness to step up and not only have a say themselves but engage with other young people is greatly appreciated by me and by the government.

The youth interact strategy also highlights the achievements of young Canberrans through the activities of Youth Week and the Young Canberra Citizen of the Year. ACT Youth Week is a week-long celebration of young people, and in 2018 it will be held from Friday, 13 April to Sunday, 22 April. Youth Week provides young people with the opportunity to express their ideas and views, to act on issues that impact them and their peers. Each year ACT Youth Week grants provide funding to organise events during the week that celebrate and recognise the contribution of young people to the Canberra community. I look forward to being able to soon announce the outcomes of the 2018 grants program.

Members may be aware that nominations are also now open for the 2018 Young Canberra Citizen of the Year awards. These awards recognise young people who make a difference, and nominations close on 19 March. Last year I was fortunate to attend the ceremony and present Mustafa Ehsan with his award as Young Canberra Citizen of the Year. Members may remember that Mustafa arrived in Canberra in 2012 after fleeing Iran as an unaccompanied minor. Since then he has become a passionate advocate for those seeking refuge in Australia. His ongoing passion to support all Canberrans through sport and mentoring highlights the important

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