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Building a Better Brisbane

Student Blogger
Linus Borger

Undoubtedly, the events that have unfolded during 2020 – namely COVID-19 – were unforeseen for everyone. The pandemic flipped the script for us all, forcing the entire Nation, at some stage, to lock down at home and take a different approach as to going about our daily lives. But the pandemic doesn’t stop the need for governing and the provision of public services and facilities, particularly at the local government level.

For instance, COVID-19 did not and has not stopped the leadership and initiative that has been shown by the students involved in the Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (LMYAC) – a Council which I was lucky enough to be involved in.
This local-government initiative aims to empower the voices of Year 10 students from a variety of different Queensland schools and raise the issues that they believe have a significant impact on them and those in their community.

To kick off the year, we all met (naively!) at the Visible Ink Youth Hub in the city for an induction workshop. This workshop included students from last year explaining some of the great things that you learn from this leadership initiative and what you work on during the year. This was quickly followed up by the first meeting which was held in Brisbane City Hall and was used to help students get settled into what was supposed to be the work environment.

In May, we were experiencing the brunt of isolation and some slightly formal SKYPE meetings were set up on the council’s online interactive forum. Councillor Vicki Howard attended one of these meetings and addressed the many questions that students asked her that ranged from economic recovery of Covid-19 to transport and the Arts. We also worked in groups and begun brainstorming our ideas of how we can enhance the inclusivity of Brisbane. In July, we finally returned to City Hall to continue our face-to-face meetings. This meeting took a more serious approach with four-former LMYAC students sharing personal stories of racism. This was then followed up students presenting their negative experiences with racism in Australia.

For the final stages of our initiative, my work group (of six students) is completing a project regarding an issue that we felt is relevant to Brisbane, climate change. The initiative that we have planned is a discussion forum for all ages of people where projects will be pitched and worked on. Once we have workshopped this idea, we will present the issue and the corresponding response to the remaining to LMYAC groups as well as Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Mr Adrian Schrinner.

Overall, the experience of LMYAC has definitely been worthwhile because of the initiative shown by all those involved, particularly in light of the unforeseen challenges thrown up by 2020, as well as providing an invaluable opportunity to meet fellow young school leaders of Brisbane. If anything, I have learned that the human spirit can overcome any adversity and the desire to improve our local community burns brightly within the school students of Brisbane.