Michelle Lensink

Youth Council

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, representing the Minister for Youth, a question regarding youth organisations.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The minister’s Youth Council is an organisation composed of 14 young people aged between 12 and 25 for the purpose of providing advice to the Minister for Youth. The government’s youth portal advises that the minister’s Youth Council enables young South Australians to have an opportunity to participate in government decision making and the planning, development and implementation of relevant policies and programs.

Members of the minister’s Youth Council sit on the council independently and are not representatives or delegates of specific groups or agencies. They are selected on their ability to represent the views of their peers to the government.

The council seeks to have its membership based on a mix of young people of various ages and life experiences. Local government also has its own structure of youth advisory committees (YAC). Since September 2001, 67 have been set up across the state and provide those involved with the opportunity to gain valuable skills in areas such as communication, advocacy and leadership. My questions are:

1. What are the criteria for the selection of members of the minister’s Youth Council?

2. How many people applied for positions on the council in the last round?

3. Are any of the current members of the council members of political organisations and, if so, which members and to which parties do they belong?

4. How does the minister guarantee the independence of the council’s advice when the chair is a Young Labor identity?

5. Can the minister confirm the rumour that certain members of the council attend meetings of YAC with a view to recruiting new members to Young Labor and poaching ideas to implement under the badge of the minister’s Youth Council?

6. Is there a statutory link between the minister’s Youth Council and the youth advisory councils? If not, under what authority would council members involve themselves in the affairs of YAC?

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation): I will refer that question to the minister in another place and bring back a reply.

Monday 16 February 2004

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (24 November 2003).

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS: The Minister for Youth has advised:

1. What are the criteria for the selection of members of the minister’s Youth Council?

The Minister's Youth Council, called Youth Plus by the former government, is a formal ministerial advisory committee.

The government calls for expressions of interest from young people to fill vacancies on the council. The call for expressions of interest are publicly advertised in the press and on the government's youth website, The Maze.

In relation to the selection of new members, information provided to young people about submitting an expression of interest states:

‘Members of the Council are selected on their ability to represent the views of their peers to the Government. The Minister's Youth Council needs young people who are passionate about issues that affect them and are able to communicate those issues and those of other young people.

The Council membership is broadly representative of the diversity of young South Australians therefore the Council will seek to balance age, gender, employment and education experience, cultural background and geographic location.’

2. How many people applied for positions on the council in the last round?

128 expressions of interest from young people were received in the last round, April 2003. Ten vacancies on the Council were filled from those expressions of interest. Membership is offered for a two year period.

3. Are any of the current members of the council members of political organisations and, if so, which members and to which parties do they belong?

The Office for Youth, which provides executive support to the Council, advises that it has no knowledge of the membership of the political parties by current members or nominees to the council as political affiliation is not considered within the selection process.

4. How does the minister guarantee the independence of the council’s advice when the chair is a Young Labor identity?

The current chairperson of the council advises he is not, and has never been, a member of any political party. He was appointed to the position by the former government in 2001 through the then Minister for Youth, the Hon. Mark Brindal MP.

Advice to be provided to the Minister is considered and agreed upon by Council members at their monthly meetings.

5. Can the minister confirm the rumour that certain members of the council attend meetings of YAC with a view to recruiting new members to Young Labor and poaching ideas to implement under the badge of the minister’s Youth Council?

The rumour is incorrect. Council members attending Youth Advisory Committee meetings do not do so with a view to recruiting new members to Young Labor or to poach ideas.

As a ministerial advisory group, the Minister's Youth Council provides advice to the Minister for Youth, which may include advice relating to existing or proposed youth-related projects. The Council is not involved in the implementation or management of projects or the development of ideas.

Two members of the current Minister's Youth Council are also members of their local Youth Advisory Committees. They were members of these committees before they joined the Council and to their credit, have retained their membership. Indeed, it is likely that the experience and skills gained from their involvement on Youth Advisory Committees is useful for their work on the Council and vice versa.

Sixty nine Youth Advisory Committees across South Australia are funded by this government through local councils. The government funds this initiative to provide young people with the opportunity to have input into their community and local decision making together with giving young people opportunities to develop leadership skills.

6. Is there a statutory link between the minister’s Youth Council and the youth advisory councils? If not, under what authority would council members involve themselves in the affairs of YAC?

There is no statutory link between the Minister's Youth Council and the Youth Advisory Committees.

Members of the Minister's Youth Council who retain membership of their local Youth Advisory Council do so independently as young members of their local community.

Members of the Minister's Youth Council are from time to time, invited to attend Youth Advisory Council meetings as a means of building better links and for information exchange purposes. This is seen as desirable and is encouraged. It is certainly to the advantage of young people in South Australia.

The Office for Youth advises that is has also established an email list or e-list' solely for use by members of the sixty nine Youth Advisory Committees and the Minister's Youth Council. This initiative seeks to enhance links between the Youth Advisory Committees themselves and also with the Minister's Youth Council.

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