Victorian Landcare Magazine - Spring 2022, Issue 85
Above Participants in the North East Youth Climate Summit in 2021 presenting their action plans to members of the community.
Indigo Shire Youth for Climate Action (ISYCA) was formed in 2020 by a group of passionate young people from the area who wanted to provide feedback on the Indigo Shire Council’s draft Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan, and to have a voice on issues close to our hearts.
We ran a series of consultations with young people around the shire and from these discussions made our recommendations to the council. These recommendations, including mandating more youth and First Nations consultation in climate decision-making, and supporting a Youth Climate Summit, were integrated into the final plan.
ISYCA has grown to be a small team of young people, mostly in our 20s, who were born locally. Although many of the team members have now moved away from the area to pursue university studies and careers, our projects and initiatives have enabled us to maintain
a strong connection to our community.
The team has worked to help young people connect with government at various levels and to engage with young people in a series of events building their skills to address climate change. We provide opportunities for young people to share their own ideas and concerns, and to share regular information and sustainability ideas with young people through our social media and communication network.
Our first major project was the North East Climate Series. These were virtual events for young people on government engagement, climate communications, policy and electoral processes, and climate change and mental health.
Our biggest project has been the 2021 North East Youth Climate Summit, which we ran in partnership with Indigo, Alpine, Wangaratta and Shepparton Shire Councils and with support from DELWP and OzGREEN. We had about 30 participants aged 12 to 30 from across the region, including students from Rutherglen, Wangaratta, Beechworth, Shepparton, Wodonga, and Mt Beauty. The summit allowed the young people to share their concerns and experiences, collaborate to create a vision for the future of our community, learn how to be agents for change, and develop their own action plans to create this change. We have continued to support many of these groups to implement their plans this year.
Being a youth-led volunteer organisation means that we are largely learning as we go.
The biggest difficulty we face at ISYCA is engaging with the community and young people on the ground. Although we are active on social media, having most of our team living out of the region makes it hard to run in-person events, which in turn means that gathering a community of passionate young people in Indigo Shire is challenging. We make sure to keep our Facebook and Instagram pages as active as possible. Every Monday we try to post a meat-free recipe to encourage our community to try to eat sustainability and reduce meat consumption. This is one way that we directly engage with the community when we cannot be in the Indigo Shire to run events in person.
Being a youth-led volunteer organisation means that we are largely learning as we go, and juggling ISYCA with our other commitments is not always easy. Despite these challenges, we are committed to educating and empowering young people in the region to act on climate change at the grassroots level.
It is important for Landcare groups and networks to make a space for young people by outlining exactly how to get involved and ensuring that potential young members would be valued and listened to.
I got involved with ISYCA after I attended ISYCA’s Youth and Politics event, which was a panel discussion with members of different levels of government. The event really sparked my passion for leadership and sustainability. I left the event feeling inspired and wanting to make change in the Indigo Shire, so I got in contact with ISYCA. I think it is really important for young people to get involved in communities that they feel passionate about in order to be the change they want to see.
My experience in ISYCA has taught me that there are plenty of young people that want to be involved, but often are not sure how to go about it. We have plenty to say, but we just want to be listened to!
Ella Cheeseman is a member of ISYCA. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org