UNICEF Australia Young Ambassadors: nine young people from across Australia, aged 15 to 22, officially introduced at special Melbourne event

SYDNEY, Wednesday 25 July 2018:  Last night, at a very special event at the State Library of Victoria, the nine newly appointed UNICEF Australia Young Ambassadors were announced. UNICEF’s global Goodwill Ambassador and Ambassador for Children Affected by War, Ishmael Beah performed the official introductions.
 
“This is a very exciting and innovative program for UNICEF Australia, which will not only see us mentoring future leaders, but working directly with children and young people on the ground in Australia,” said CEO of UNICEF Australia, Tony Stuart. “These talented young people will consult with children and young people across Australia – their peers - and take their views and concerns to the government and the nation through their own official report.”
 
The nine Young Ambassadors were chosen from a field of over 450 applicants from all around Australia because of the diverse life experiences and world views. They come from six of Australia’s eight states and territories, from capital cities and rural areas, from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. These have included growing up in Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo before leaving their countries as refugees.
 
Alessandra (Ally), 21, is from Mount Gambier in South Australia. Ashleigh, 21, comes from Sydney, New South Wales. Atosha, 17, lives in Wodonga in Victoria, having grown up in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eva, 16, is from Melbourne, Victoria. Indiana, 16, is from Gympie in Queensland. Joshua, 18, is at university in Melbourne after growing up in Timboon, Victoria. Lachlan, 22 is at university in Canberra after growing up in Gawler, South Australia. Ving Sian (Steve), 20, lives in Perth after growing up in Myanmar. And Xavier, 15, comes from the mid north coast of New South Wales near Coffs Harbour.
 
The group has already completed five-days of intensive training, which has included children’s rights, communicating effectively with children and young people, as well as with government decision makers.  The Young Ambassadors will now take on their peer-to-peer mentoring role across the country, building capacity in the communities they work in, which is particularly important in absence of a funded national youth peak body.
 
Ishmael Beah, who officially introduced the Young Ambassadors last night, said children and young people have tremendously important contributions to make to shaping the world around them, particularly in relation to decisions that are made on their behalf.
 
Himself a former child soldier in Sierra Leone, before he was identified and supported by UNICEF, which then assisted him into his current career, Ishmael said, “Initiatives like UNICEF Australia’s Young Ambassador Program are vital and inspiring, not only because the consultations with children and young people are being undertaken by people in a similar age group, but because they recognise that their views on the way the world around them is affecting their lives are uniquely expert, personal and untainted by politics.”
 
UNICEF Australia’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, Amy Lamoin, said, “Children have an important contribution to make to public policy, they are citizens and part of our democracy. In the absence of a funded national youth peak body, programs like this are even more critical. Children in Australia will have to live with the consequences of today’s decision making into their adulthood, and for decades to come. Our program will help ensure their views on these decisions can be heard.”
 
After conducting consultations with children and young people around Australia for the rest of this year, the Young Ambassadors – who have already begun their training with UNICEF, will report back on their findings in 2019.
 

For more information, please contact:
Brinsley Marlay, UNICEF Australia, 0403 604 182, bmarlay@unicef.org.au