View from the Youth Summit

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Productivity Agenda: Paid Parental Leave Program
A national paid parental leave program for both men and women, which includes incentives that promote affordable and accessible childcare, will help to address the challenges of workplace participation for all Australians. This scheme will increase productivity at work, provide incentives for employers to accommodate a healthy work/life balance, and help to address gender imbalances in the workplace.

Infrastructure: Youth for Youth Community Infrastructure
The creation of amalgamated business and community centres for youth will encourage entrepreneurship and community-building activities. Readily available information to aid the professional development of youth and opportunities to network with other "change-makers" will help to break down barriers to participation and will provide young artists, entrepreneurs and those active in community service with the physical infrastructure they need to implement their ideas. A focus on the inclusion of disadvantaged youth will serve to increase the number of joint projects run by young Australians as well as community participation.

Sustainability and Climate Change: Australian Sustainability Challenge
Climate change is a global problem that has many local solutions. The Australian Sustainability Challenge would create an incentive for local governments to improve their sustainability through constructive competition. Local government areas would be awarded points for various activities like: increasing the percentage of renewable energy being used, increasing the percentage of constituents traveling via public transport/foot/bicycle, increasing the percentage of water being heated via solar hot water/gas, increasing the percentage of native vegetation through tree planting programs, and so on.

The areas that achieve the highest number of points would be rewarded with a substantial federal grant, to be spent on a local community priority. Local governments will be judged annually with the results being publicly announced across all States so local climate change achievements are proudly acknowledged and celebrated.

The Challenge would empower local communities to work together, educate each other and think outside the square. By combining the Challenge with meaningful national schemes that encourage sustainable practices (eg feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy, funding for local energy/water cooperatives, investment in public transport/bicycle lanes, and so on), all Australians will be encouraged to engage in our ‘sustainability’ agenda.

Rural Australia: Rural Futures Development Bank
A funding strategy aimed at supporting research and development into new agricultural technologies. Specifically, research and development will be directed at ways in which traditional agricultural practices can be adapted to best deal with the new conditions brought upon Australia by climate change, such as changing temperatures and decreased water availability.

The initiative will also include the extension of existing programs designed to educate growers on sustainable technologies and additional assistance for growers in the take up of these new technologies and the development of more efficient irrigation and water management techniques. Potentially, new innovations in Australian agriculture will be shared with our neighbours and Australia will remain the global leader in combating climate change.

Health: Primary Healthcare Project Committee
A federally funded peak body incorporating members of non-government organisations and government departments focused on expanding existing preventative health strategies that have proved successful. We will need to identify best practice models, both locally and abroad, and support these programs to be implemented on a national level

Communities and Families: National Migrant and Refugee Settlement Strategy
Using a process of widespread consultation with local migrants and refugee service providers, state governments and relevant stakeholders, this strategy will measure the proportion of migrants and refugees who access available health, language and capacity building services. It will also evaluate the literacy levels of migrant and refugee communities and measure the employment rate and length of unemployment. Moreover, this holistic approach will help the broader Australian community accommodate migrant and refugee settlement.

Indigenous Australia: National Dialogue Towards a Treaty
The political and legal recognition of Indigenous Australia should be pursued through the signing of a treaty or similar document between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. The negotiation process will ensure that all Australians can participate in a national dialogue that promotes understanding between individuals and communities. A treaty will create a foundation for a new relationship between all Australians, which allows us to make meaningful change in practical policies and programs.

Creative Australia: New Funding Opportunities for the Arts
We need to extend funding beyond project-based-funding to allow artists and arts organisations to be sustainable. It is proposed that a cohort-based supplementary income grants scheme be established. This pool of funds would allow artists to draw on income funding as they develop their practice and to engage with emerging and established artists in their fields. Moreover, funding to support arts workers and auxiliary organisations needs to be made available to allow for long term planning and collaboration. This approach represents a genuine commitment to supporting artists to develop their creative and professional practice.

Australian Governance: Vote for a Better Vote
Enhancing participation in the electoral processes is vital to ensuring our political representatives reflect the aspirations of the Australian people. Particularly important is ensuring greater engagement in electoral processes by disadvantaged and marginalized people.

We envision an Australia where citizens are automatically enrolled to vote, a process crucial to removing existing barriers to electoral participation. Automatic enrolment would necessitate cooperation between the Australian Electoral Commission and national agencies such as the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink and Medicare. There also needs to be significant investment in engaging electorally disadvantaged Australians – specifically those who are homeless or without a fixed address – by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Further, to build a more participatory 2020, the age at which people are eligible to vote must be lowered to 16. Sixteen-year-olds work, pay income tax, pay GST, drive and can join the army. They must be enfranchised so they can have a say in Government policies that affect them.

At polling places, we also believe there should be the ability to vote via computer, to save paper and speed up vote counting. We believe this aspect of our proposed electoral reform for a stronger, more democratic 2020 should be optional.

Australia’s Future in the World: Track2 for Access to Essential Medicines
As a complement to the current drug patent systems, this mechanism rewards innovators in proportion to the global health impact of their interventions. To access this payment stream, stakeholders would allow the open manufacture, distribution and sale of their products. Consequently, diseases which disproportionately affect the poor become profitable targets of research and development.

By making this option available for specific medicines, the price of drugs will be driven down to near production cost. As the price is based on actual health impact, pharmaceutical companies also have an incentive to upgrade health services in disadvantaged areas, furthering their contribution to our global community.


To download the full Australia 2020 Youth Summit Communiqué, to be distributed to 2020 Summit participants this weekend – including 30 additional ideas for Australia – click here.

New Matilda

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.

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