GEORGE MANNING: We want to know if you know a young person who has made a difference to their community, because the Government would like to recognise that contribution. We’re going to find out now by talking to somebody who is going to answer our questions, because young people achieve more than we give them credit for. To celebrate what young people achieve, the Government is calling for nominations to the National Youth Awards. Senator Scott Ryan is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and he’s on the line to tell us more. Senator, good morning to you.
SCOTT RYAN: Good morning, George, how are you?
GEORGE MANNING: Extremely well, thank you for asking. What are the kinds of youth achievement the Government is wanting to celebrate?
SCOTT RYAN: Well you mentioned there in your introduction that young people achieve more sometimes than we give them credit for, and it is the nature of some public debate and even the media sometimes that we tend to focus on bad news more than good news. But there is a great deal to celebrate across the youth of Australia. So as part of National Youth Week, the Commonwealth Government has for several years run a series of awards dealing with different youth activities – and I’ll just run through them briefly if you’d like me to?
GEORGE MANNING: Yeah, I’d love you to.
SCOTT RYAN: There’s a Youth Safety Award, a Youth Culture and Diversity Award, a Youth Courage Award, a Youth Employment Award, a Youth Health Award and the Youth Leadership Award. Now, they’re pretty much what they say they are, you know, rewarding those who might show courage in the face of adversity, whether it be an act or whether it be displaying resilience and helping people through difficult circumstances. Health is exactly what it says it is – it is actually about how do we provide a healthy lifestyle amongst young people. And importantly the last category is a Youth in Media Award, which is not just open to young people, it’s actually open to all media outlets and journalists who might portray the work of young people in a positive light throughout the course of the year.
GEORGE MANNING: Now, we’re in the south west of Western Australia, would you have any idea whether any young people from our region have won any of these awards?
SCOTT RYAN: Look, they’ve only been going a few years, the National Youth Awards, and I’ve only been responsible for them for a year. I know I met a very impressive young West Australian – I have to admit off the top of my head I don’t know which part of WA he’s from. Being a Victorian, of course, I do realise that WA is a very big place.
GEORGE MANNING: Yeah [laughs].
SCOTT RYAN: Lachlan Cooke won the Cultural Understanding Award for his work with the Indigenous Communities Education and Awareness Foundation last year. I actually had the privilege of appointing Lachlan to be an Australian delegate to the Commonwealth Youth Awards and he’s just been announced as a WA state finalist for Young Australian of the Year for next year. He’s a very impressive young man.
GEORGE MANNING: Oh, terrific. So these are examples of good work. Previous winners, sort of overall, what sort of things do they achieve, Senator?
SCOTT RYAN: Well last year we had a young woman who had come up and developed not only a phone app, but also a program to give young people guidance if they were feeling sick with mental health challenges, particularly around anxiety, and it had a built-in facility to refer them to other services. And it was that sort of engagement and taking services to young people in a form they understood that was really recognised last year.
We had another group of people from another state who, in an area there that was very multicultural, had worked to build understanding between young people. Because we know that understanding of different cultures and diversity comes from familiarity as much as it does from tolerance, and that’s the basis of our cohesive society.
GEORGE MANNING: Right. Now, the winners – what’s their reward for winning?
SCOTT RYAN: The reward is mainly recognition. Everyone will get a trip to Brisbane next year – they’ll be announced on the 16th of April following National Youth Week, which runs from the 10th to the 19th of April – I know that’s more than a week. It’s actually two weekends and a week in the middle.
GEORGE MANNING: Yeah.
SCOTT RYAN: The theme is It Starts With Us and there is a large function on in Brisbane, where I’ll have the privilege of meeting all of the state finalists, and actually presenting the winners with their awards. The important thing is the awards are actually chosen independently – I don’t choose them – our Department oversees them so they’re done at arm’s length by youth nominees, by the state and territory governments, and the Commonwealth Government.
GEORGE MANNING: Right. Now, it’s nomination time, I guess. Are nominations open?
SCOTT RYAN: Yeah, nominations are open until the 27th of November, but I should just say that I did forget to mention there that there is, as well as the recognition, there is a $2000 prize. But it really is, I think, about the recognition, and I can tell you about the young people that I’ve met. They’re not motivated by the prize, they’re motivated by the work they do. But nominations are open now and people can be nominated by others, and I’m writing to all members of Parliament, federally, to encourage them to consider nominating young people. But your listeners can as well just by going to youthweek.com.au and following the links.
GEORGE MANNING: Oh, that’s easy – youthweek.com.au – even I can do that! [Laughs] And the closing dates, Senator, you did mention?
SCOTT RYAN: Yeah, the 27th of November.
GEORGE MANNING: So we’ve got four weeks to go?
SCOTT RYAN: Yeah, you’ve got about a month to go.
GEORGE MANNING: And some wonderful talent will be coming your way between the 10th and 19th of April next year?
SCOTT RYAN: Look, I’m only 41 and I have to admit that when I saw the range of finalists last year that I met when we had the dinner in Canberra earlier this year, it really blew me away because I remember when I was their age, I think there’s been a real step up amongst young people, right across volunteering, about doing good social work, about coming up with new solutions to age-old problems.
GEORGE MANNING: Well, Senator Scott Ryan, you’ve got a good job here.
SCOTT RYAN: Thanks.
GEORGE MANNING: I wish I could help you further …
SCOTT RYAN: [Interrupts] Well, it’s great to get the word out.
GEORGE MANNING: It certainly is, isn’t it? And thanks very much for spending the time with us this morning.
SCOTT RYAN: Have a lovely day.
GEORGE MANNING: You have a nice weekend!
SCOTT RYAN: Cheers.
GEORGE MANNING: Bye bye now. Senator Scott Ryan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and that’s how you go about nominating people – good young people – for the National Youth Awards.