At the height of the Sydney 2021 COVID-19 lockdown, the State Government’s 11am press briefing was a highly anticipated daily event. It was therefore with great pride that the Loreto Kirribilli community tuned in to watch one of our young student activists, Alyssa, appear in front of the cameras. Introduced by the Minister for Health, Alyssa was representing the NSW Youth Advisory Council to announce the ‘Friendship Bubble’ – a welcome initiative to allow young people to socialise during the extended lockdown.
Driven by her desire to influence change, Alyssa applied for a role on the NSW Advisory Council earlier this year. “In today’s society, young people face a variety of challenges. As someone with the ability to stand up and speak for young people, I want to make a positive difference. Being a member of the Youth Advisory Council allows me to share my perspectives with the other 11 members and together influence change.”
Alyssa explained that the process of selection for the Youth Advisory Council consisted of a number of selection rounds. “We took part in mock meetings (mostly held online due to lockdowns) and discussed issues affecting young people. The last round was held in person at the State Library and NSW Parliament House; it was such an inspiring day. Support from my family definitely helped me find the confidence to speak up in the trials and get me where I am today.
“The Youth Advisory Council meets regularly throughout the year to discuss issues affecting youth and communicate this to the NSW Government. At the moment we are working alongside NESA to provide feedback on their curriculum reform for Kindergarten to Year 12 which is planned to be implemented by 2024.
“We are also looking at the impacts of the virus and lockdown and how they impact rural and urban areas differently; with a focus on raising awareness of mental health to help support young people state-wide.”
When asked about the press conference, Alyssa admits it all felt a little bit surreal. “Being at the press conference was such an amazing opportunity and challenge. To be honest I tried not to focus on the fact that I was on live TV! I felt really blessed to be able to speak on behalf of young people about the challenges of lockdown for youth and help announce the Friendship Bubble (as well as getting to meet Minister Hazzard and Dr Marianne Gale, and speak alongside the Advocate for Children and Young People – Zoe Robinson!) I was touched to receive so much positive support. Clearly there was a big desire for young people to be heard.”
While Alyssa clearly has a busy year ahead, for the moment she is focusing on her schooling.
“At the moment at school, my favourite subjects are Geography, English and Italian. I love learning about culture, different humanitarian issues and language. I don’t know what career I’d like to pursue, but I hope that it reflects my interests and I’m able to help others in need.”
We thank Alyssa for her advocacy, and for giving young people a voice, and wish her the very best in her role on the Advisory Council. Congratulations!
You can watch Alyssa at the press conference here.