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We’re working alongside our partners to unleash adolescent potential. 

All around the world, young people are a major force for positive social and economic change, especially when they have access to quality education, are equipped with life skills, and are given a platform for their voices to be heard.  

Teen years are a time of discovery; of who we are, our values, interests and relationships. This is also a time that brings new challenges and risks. Around the world, and right here in Australia, many young people face discrimination, bullying, and challenges in their home environment, such as violence and neglect. For those with limited access to health, education, employment and protection, these challenges are even more difficult to overcome. 

We aim to support teens during this period of significant change, especially as their brain continues to grow and develop. We call this period the second window of opportunity. Together, we provide young people with a chance to influence their health, wellbeing and education to build a brighter future while breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty and trauma.   

Girl cricket team © UNICEF Sri Lanka/2020/Jayawardena

Meet Ashwini, Abisha and their cricket team.

These inspiring young people are part of a girl’s cricket team in Sri Lanka, where cricket is traditionally seen as a boy’s sport. When the school day is over, the girls play cricket on a small ground near their village. However, for a long time, they didn’t have any equipment or anyone to coach them. They would often use a cricket bat borrowed from a neighbour.  

Through a UNICEF sport for development program, Ashwini and Abisha’s team received training in cricket technique and equipment. Globally, sport for development initiatives has been shown to build children’s leadership skills and self-esteem and create better relationships with teachers and adults, increasing their engagement in school. 

“I am proud to say that we won the Under 15 Cup in Jaffna. Now our village has gained a reputation for [girls] cricket. I have confidence that I may be able to play for the national women’s team someday,” says Abisha.  

How is UNICEF working to make an impact on the lives of teens in need?  

Whether in Burundi, Papua New Guinea, or in remote Australia, where young people – especially First Nations People – face challenges accessing educational programs. UNICEF is there, working with our partners to support equitable and inclusive education, develop life skills, and elevate young people’s voices. 

"Adolescence is a time where young people take more risks, but it's also a period that is underpinned by so much creativity and potential. If we invest in that potential, we can see them thrive into the future and be ready to face issues that might arise in their lifetime and be able to solve them."

Vivian Harvey-Wong
Gender and Adolescent Specialist, UNICEF Australia

We know that supporting young people to thrive in health, wellbeing and education plays a huge role in how we strengthen entire communities. Whether it’s through the Community Spirit Foundation’s Sprint Program here in Australia or our Sport for Development program, UNICEF always finds a way to give young people a voice in building not only their futures, but the futures of the next generation.

At a local level, UNICEF Australia is committed to supporting critical, underfunded programs, here in Australia and in our neighbouring countries; Cambodia, Laos, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Pacific Islands. This work is made possible thanks to generous supporters like you, as well as the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).


teens reached by UNICEF Australia in 2021-22 with projects designed to challenge harmful gender norms.


children and teens in Cambodia were supported by UNICEF Australia in 2021-22 to develop and use new skills to advocate with decision-makers on important issues.

Creatable: a STEM program that’s being taught to Year 8 students is changing lives in Burundi.

The STEM program changing lives in Burundi

Help us make a difference to the lives of young people

UNICEF Australia is working to unleash adolescent potential across the Asia Pacific region, and we need your help to make this possible.

Girls education