National Youth Week was celebrated last month jointly supported by the Australian Government, State and Territory Governments and Local Governments.

Towns, shires and cities across the country, with the help of community organisations, facilitated soccer tournaments, skateboard championships, staged concerts, held art workshops and competitions, markets, cultural events, animals and rides.

The theme in South Australia was ‘Your Future – Your Way’ with a focus on ideas, skills and resilience, and the benefits that their wide variety of unique backgrounds, interests, identities and perspectives can bring.

One hundred and nine organisations celebrated Victorian Youth Week and staged more than 130 events across the state.

For the first time Queensland staged its own Youth Week with the official website hosting a forum called Youth eHub which provided a space for young people to have their say about what matters most to them.

Youth Week WA favoured events that celebrated the contribution of young people to Western Australia with 58 grants totaling more than $81,000, giving priority to events that involve young people in their design and implementation.

The message in New South Wales notes that Youth Week is organised by young people, for young people. This year’s theme Unity Through Diversity was set by young people, who said that diversity is an important theme for them.

Councils are playing their role in giving young people a voice, providing pathways for involvement in the democratic process and encouraging community cohesion, leadership and good citizenry particularly in the form of youth ambassadors and youth councils.

On the other side of the youth achievements coin Kids Helpline announced that suicide contacts to the counselling service had risen by 22 percent in the last five years.

More than 3,500 contacts from children and young people in 2017 were about bullying.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) chose Youth Week to call on the State Government to appoint a dedicated Youth Minister.

The Youth Affairs portfolio, last held by the current Local Government Opposition Spokesman, Peter Primrose, was absorbed into the Citizenship and Family and Community Services portfolio after the 2011 election, and now sits with the Minister for Disability and Multiculturalism.

“Yet work undertaken by Australia’s 2017 Youth Representative to the United Nations, Paige Burton, found young people do not feel they have meaningful political representation,” LGNSW President Linda Scott said.

“Ms Burton reported that of the thousands of young people she consulted only 16 percent of young people from NSW agreed their opinions were represented by those in Government.”