Councillors offered their congratulations as 18 young people from the Greater Bendigo community were sworn in as members of the city’s first Youth Council on Wednesday night.
Councillor Rod Fyffe described the group as “talented and wonderful young people”, saying it was difficult to narrow down the field of applicants.
He congratulated those selected for the council on their success.
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“They have some wonderful stories to tell, they have some great ideas for Bendigo,” Cr Fyffe said.
New youth councillor Ryan Peterson applied to the council to make sure the voices of young people in Bendigo were heard.
Mr Peterson is about to begin his second year of a product design course at RMIT University.
He has been a member of the Youth Action Group, the Bendigo Senior Secondary College college council and helped to draft the City of Greater Bendigo Youth Strategy.
Mr Peterson felt that his life experiences gave him a helpful perspective on the issues young people face.
“For me it’s kind of a duty to make sure that the voices of young people in Bendigo are heard and listened to by people in positions of authority,” Mr Peterson said.
“I think it’s really important for myself, the youth council and the young people that we will help to represent, have a say in what goes on, and what gets planned, in the City of Greater Bendigo.
“It’s the young people that are going to be going into the future that the wider community is creating.”
Cr Fyffe said the skills that the young people would develop on the youth council would equip them to be future leaders in the community.
“They will look to you and you’ll keep stepping up to the mark,” Mr Fyffe said.
The Youth Strategy identified mental health, employment, education and training, events, personal safety, drugs and alcohol, transport and having a say as priorities for young people in Greater Bendigo.
Its recommended actions included strengthening the existing Youth Action Group to become a Youth Council, to increase connections between councillors and youth people.
The City of Greater Bendigo received 47 expressions of interest for the council.
An interview process assessed applications against their motivation, understanding of young people’s needs, understanding of the role of a youth councillor and experience in community leadership.
Councillor Malcolm Pethybridge echoed Cr Fyffe’s words, saying it was not easy to choose between the highly skilled group of applicants.
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