Kirby Drew is encouraging the Coffs Coast?s youth to join her on the NSW Youth Advisory Council. Photo: CHRIS RIX 06081601A
Kirby Drew is encouraging the Coffs Coast?s youth to join her on the NSW Youth Advisory Council. Photo: CHRIS RIX 06081601A

Kirby challenges our youth to make a difference

By LEE McDOUGALL

KIRBY Drew and Aretha Franklin have a lot in common.

While the pretty 22-year-old university student may not even know who the Queen of Soul is, all Kirby wants is a little 'R E S P E C T'.

The former Orara High School student and now University of New England third-year undergraduate is currently the chair of the NSW Youth Advisory Council, of which she has been a member for three years.

She is also on the NSW Government's Youth Interagency Taskforce and the Children's and Young Persons Health Taskforce.

She also hopes to one day soon convince Coffs Harbour City Council to establish a youth advisory worker to target issues affecting young people in the region.

"I didn't have a glossy childhood," Kirby said.

"I was a ward of the state at 11. I had an alcoholic parent, domestic violence, and living in youth refuges. "I've been doing it on my own since I was 15."

Yet Kirby doesn't share any of this to illicit a sympathetic response. Rather, she would prefer our readers acknowledge that people aged between 16 and 25 are just that ? people ? deserving of the same respect and responsibilities given to other age groups.

"If a group of young people go to a shopping centre, they are targeted for loitering, yet if it was an older group of people, they would be left alone," Kirby said.

Kirby is hopeful that through the Youth Advisory Council this attitude within the community will slowly change.

"Before I got on the (Youth Advisory) Council I wasn't really interested in government or politics, but being on the council has opened my eyes," Kirby said.

"I know now that to make a difference you have to be involved in the decision-making process."

Kirby is hoping that other motivated young people aged between 16 and 25 will feel compelled to nominate for a position on the NSW Youth Advisory Council ? something she herself did three years ago after seeing an advertisement in the Coffs Coast Advocate.

Application forms and information on the Youth Advisory Council are available at www.youth.nsw.gov.au, by emailing yac@community.nsw.gov.au or by calling 9716 2878. Applications close Friday, September 29, 2006.



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