Youth Empowers Youth
Meeting UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador in Laos
UNICEF Lao PDR recently welcomed a young and inspiring guest from Australia, 17-year-old Indiana from Gympie, Queensland. She was appointed one of the eight Young Ambassadors for UNICEF Australia in July 2018. During her 2-day stay in Vientiane, she learned about UNICEF Lao PDR’s work and visited the Youth Media Group. We spent some time with her to learn about the innovative and exciting youth programme in Australia and what inspires her to be active in her community.
Q: How did you become a Young Ambassador for UNICEF Australia?
I came across the Young Ambassador position because I was keeping up to date with the refugee crisis. I read article after article about their situation and the way it was affecting young people like my age. So, I got quite frustrated with myself and thought I could be doing something about it.
I looked at different organizations and programmes that were set in place to assist. But I found someone of my age didn’t have that many options in ways to help. When I came across the Young Ambassador position with UNICEF, I downloaded the application. I printed it out and it sat on my desk for about two weeks.
While I was discussing it with a wonderful history teacher at school, she said to me “unless you're doing something, you're just complaining”. Those words really got to me. I thought “Well, watch me do something.” I went home. I filled out that application and I sent it off and made it into one of the 25 young people that had been shortlisted out of 500.
I sat through the interview process. About a week and a half later, I received a call saying I'd been offered the position. I pretty much squealed and jumped around.
Q: So far what have you done as a Young Ambassador?
We did our training session in Sydney for a week. There were meetings with professionals and experts from different areas to teach us everything from media training to how to interact with children. Lots of team bonding as well. A couple of weeks later we went to Melbourne for our launch by Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier, at the State Library of Victoria, along with T.V. and radio interviews.
The focus of the last couple months has been the consultations each of the Young Ambassadors has done with young people ranging from the age of 4 to 22 from all different demographics, areas and ages. We have met with over 1,500 of them from all around Australia in 75 consultations. We're pretty proud of that.
We're going to compile this information into a children’s report and present this to policy and decision makers in the coming federal election. We will also give copies back to the children who have contributed so they can read and see what they have contributed to.
Each of the Young Ambassadors has also met with members of parliament for their own areas. I met with my member of parliament and he offered to present a constituency statement on my behalf. I wrote the constituency statement about what the young ambassador programme is doing and then he read it aloud in a sitting of parliament. That’s pretty cool. That is something I never thought I would have ever got to do.
Q: What do you want to do in the future?
I want to stick in this humanitarian field of work because it's something I'm passionate about. There is lots of fire in me to just go go go. But it's such a big field of work. So, wherever that takes me. They say that you do something you love you never work a day in your life. I do love this and it's something that I really care about and so I’d love to do something in this field in the future.
Q: Do you have any advice for other young people who want to be an advocate or do something to better the world?
The only thing I can ever come up with is you just you have to try and do something. It's all well and good saying you are going do it all someday. But why not just have a go? Try everything, you never know what's going to happen. If my teacher hadn't given me that bit of a kick, I would probably not have applied for the Young Ambassador position. But I tried and look where I'm sitting now. So just give it a go because you really don't know what the outcome can be.