It is well known that in St John Ambulance Australia, over fifty per cent of First Aid Services volunteers are under the age of twenty six. It is less known that around forty per cent of our membership are aged less than twenty six years and twenty one per cent is under the age of eighteen. St John therefore strongly relies on young volunteers to deliver the serves that St john provide to member of the community at public events and during emergencies.

Building a culture of participation is fundamental for ensuring vibrant and sustainable communities (Matthews, 2007). Enabling youth involvement is especially import in developing a culture of active citizenship and empowering young people to influence change (Matthews, 2007). Such meaningful participation can lead to an increase in social capital, community cohesion, connectedness and resilience (Oliver,Collin,Burns & Nichols,2006).

Having a voice in a large organisation and influencing decision is not considered an easy task for anyone, let alone young people. Although many young volunteers enter into management roles in the organisation (i.e. Divisional Officers), this is not always the appropriate forum to influence change. To ensure that young people’s views are represented and to enable participation in the organisation’s decision-making processes, Youth Councils have been formed by St John.

This Paper aims to increase the readers’ awareness of the importance of youth councils to the organisation, including their role and function, benefits and tips for how you can help youth councils thrive. It also highlights the difference between youth councils and the Cadet and Junior Program.

Youth Councils are essential for a vibrant and sustainable organisation—they are there to help the organisation to achieve its objectives, canvass the ideas and views of young members and stay abreast of import issues that affect young people locally, nationally and globally.


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