IN A PERFECT world there would be no need for human rights, a Bendigo youth leader leader said as she encouraged more young people to make their mark on the world.
Ashley Eadon made the comments at a community human rights forum in Bendigo during a wide-ranging discussion on young people and leadership on Friday night.
It came on the same day hundreds of students marched in the CBD to protest inaction on climate change, an event that drew the attention of several panelists as they discussed the importance of taking a stand for social causes.
"I would just encourage everyone here to keep these conversations going," Ms Eadon said.
"If you have questions on initiatives you are trying to get up off the ground - and I am speaking here to the youth in this room - you have a wealth of experience here on this panel and in this room.
"Make use of that ... the best place to start is to have an idea and run with it. (Plus) don't be afraid to make mistakes.
Ms Eadon co-founded Dear Cris, a program helping link regional primary school students with those from different backgrounds in a bid to break down barriers and combat racism.
She was one of four young Bendigo leaders to join Fadak Alfayadh on stage following the prominent lawyer and advocate's keynote address on how her experiences as a migrant shaped her.
Ms Alfayadh felt no need to educate the next generation on human rights.
"Seeing the climate strike today, I don't feel I need to tell young people anything," she said.
"I think they have access to things I did not have access to when I was their age and they probably know more than I do about what's happening in the world."
Ms Alfayadh urged older generations to listen to young people, saying conversations should not be one way.
Ms Eadon said it was important young people had access to more events and school curriculum topics to discuss issues, including sustainable development goals, the rights of Indigenous peoples and the need for an Australian bill of rights.
Panelist Yadallah Balkhi echoed those sentiments, saying education could help young people tackle difficult issues like racism.
The Bendigo Senior Secondary College student said there was a saying in Pakistan, where he originally moved from.
"A child's heart is like white paper. Whatever you write on it, you will get the reflection of that when they get older," he said.
"So just write 'love for other humans' and 'peace for other humans'."
Mr Balkhi's passion for human rights was shaped by his family's efforts to escape terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where many people had to hide their true identities and views.
Panelist Po Tu Tu said his childhood experiences of Thailand's Mae La Refugee Camp had shaped his sense of human rights.
He recalled the sense of injustice he felt in the camp, where those less well off missed out on opportunities others got.
Those who lacked money and education simply did not get good chances, Mr Tu said.
"But we are all humans, so we have a right to be educated and have good medical care," he said.
Maddie Lyall said her family's history had shown her the firsthand effects of a lack of human rights.
Her grandfather was part of the Stolen Generation.
"That is something that has been with me for a long time," she said.
"But I think everyone knows what happens when you don't have human rights. We've seen the effects for hundreds of years.
"To me, young people know that. They've learnt it ... it's this generation that can actually make a difference."
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