Wesley College Melbourne Australia
Wesley College Melbourne

Voice for Youth at United Nations

Posted 15 April 2019 Kareem El-Ansary

Old Collegian Kareem El-Ansary is on a mission: to meet face-to-face with young people across Australia and take their issues to the world.

Kareem El-Ansary (OW2013), Australia’s 2019 Youth Representative to the United Nations, is currently conducting the largest face-to-face consultation with young people in Australia.

His key message to young Australians? ‘You matter. Your ideas matter, your fears matter and your hopes for the future matter.’

Known as the Listening Tour, Kareem’s seven-month consultation includes workshops in every state and territory to meet with and listen to some 20,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 25 from all walks of life, in schools, community groups, TAFEs, universities, juvenile detention centres, places of worship – any place where young people are central. In October, Kareem will be reporting to the UN General Assembly on the issues that matter to Australia’s young people he meets.

‘As an official member of the Australian delegation to the UN in New York, I’ll advocate for young Australians and bring attention to our issues on the global stage,’ Kareem explains. ‘I’ll collaborate with other youth representatives from around the world and will deliver a speech to the General Assembly on behalf of all young Australians in October.

‘In every place I visit, I’ll be looking to understand what issues young people care most about and how they see their future. I’ll work to ensure those issues are heard by our leaders here in Australia and on the global stage. As the next generation to inherit the world, we should have a say in what that world will look like.

‘There’s a deep frustration among many young people in not feeling like their voices are heard, but there’s also a lot of hope. Almost every young person I’ve spoken with on my journey so far has conveyed to me an overwhelming sense of optimism about the future.’

The Youth Representative role is a partnership between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and UN Youth Australia, and Kareem and the 1,000 UN Youth Australia volunteers who drive the Listening Tour are looking for support.

‘One of my priorities is to ensure the Listening Tour is viable. Part of my role is to attract sponsorships and garner financial support. It will determine how big this can be: how many places we can go, how many young people we can speak to, how many rural or remote areas we can visit. It’s so important to go there if we can so that the Listening Tour is accessible to every young person who wants to participate.

Another priority for Kareem is to inform effective policy.

‘After New York wraps up, I’ll come back to Australia and will focus on sharing the results of the 2019 consultation. I’ll be meeting with politicians, organisations and other decision-makers to share these results and discuss how they might inform positive change for young people.

‘I’ll also be publishing a comprehensive report detailing my findings which will include a series of recommendations that reflect what I’ve heard over the course of the year and can be used to strengthen the voices of young Australians.’

Kareem El-Ansary (OW2013) at this year’s St Kilda Road Commencement Service Address at St Paul’s Cathedral, looking to understand the key issues for young people and how they see their future, and working to ensure those issues are heard by our leaders in Australia and globally

Sign up with UN Youth Australia or find out more.

To discuss how you could support Kareem, UN Youth Australia and the Listening Tour as a sponsor or partner, email him at youthrep@unyouth.org.au

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