Thursday, May 11, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
After weeks of campaigning and four days of voting, 21 young candidates became 12 young councillors as the first democratically elected Mackay region Youth Council was announced last Sunday.
The Mackay region is the first in Australia to undertake the program with the assistance of Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), which follows on from two years of YOL1000, a youth survey program facilitated by the Mackay Regional Council.
“What they told us is they wanted some sort of a voice in the community that they love,” said Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson.
“How better a voice can you get than a democratically elected council?”
Almost 1,400 people aged 10 to 17 placed their vote and had their say in who they want to see represent them in the first democratically elected Mackay region Youth Council.
Voting opened from May 2 to 5 with ballot boxes available at schools, libraries and throughout the community, while candidates campaigned with t-shirts and flyers.
“The last week of voting and campaigning’s been amazing,” said FYA Young Mayors Program Assistant Mackay Savannah Vella.
“We’ve travelled around to different schools and community places, put up ballot boxes, and had so many people turn up to vote which has been amazing.
“All of our young candidates have done such a great job of campaigning, not just to their own schools but to the wider community.”
Deegan McCormack said he was shocked and surprised to learn he was successful and is excited to grow his image and experience.
“I want to be a light that people can go to and talk about feelings and what they would like to see,” Deegan said.
Fellow youth councillor Stephen Miranda is the youngest in the program at 12 years old and based his campaign on improving mental health resources.
“It is very exciting to be elected as part of the first youth council in Australia, it’s anybody who wants to get into politics’ dream,” Stephen said.
“Mackay is a very rapidly growing city ... and if we’re already struggling with the services we have currently, I think it’s going to be catastrophic.”
Stephen made t-shirts and created campaign flyers that were put up throughout Sarina and Mackay.
“I think I managed to get almost all of the school to vote, and I think it’s insane how many people voted,” he said.
The 12 young councillors will begin their journey next week, their first order of business being an induction featuring a swearing in ceremony and a tour of country, preparing them for a year in office.
“It’s been a fantastic campaign, they’ve all learnt a lot out of the campaign, and now comes the hard part of trying to work together as a team of young people on the first youth council in Australia,” said Mr Williamson.
“We’ve said to them as a council when they’ve got some policies in line, they can come and brief the Mackay Regional Council and we’ll see how we can assist them from there.”
Mackay Region Youth Council
12 young Mackay residents were welcomed into Australia’s first youth council last weekend by Mayor Greg Williamson. Photo credit: FYA / Leah McLean
FYA Young Mayors Program Assistant Mackay Savannah Vella. Photo credit: Sam Gillespie
Voting was completed throughout the Mackay region with the assistance of the Electoral Commission of Queensland. Photo credit: FYA / Leah McLean