For me the start of 2023 has been full of anticipation for what I know is ahead. My first day as Chief Executive Officer of VicSRC is fast approaching, and I have spent all summer looking forward to this day with a lot of excitement...and maybe a (small) amount of nervousness for the challenges that await me. It is not lost on me that many students across Victoria have likely spent their summer holidays feeling the same about the impending school year.
School is a huge part of life for students across Victoria. It’s a source of community and support and the place where they spend a lot of their time. After a period of huge and ongoing disruption to both life and learning over the pandemic it can also be a source of anxiety or struggle. As VicSRC’s Advocacy Platform for 2023 shows mental health at school is still a huge priority for students, along with consent education and better Indigenous inclusion in curriculum and learning.
I could not be more thrilled to be taking on this opportunity to work with the incredible team at VicSRC. To continue the work they’ve been doing for many years, advocating for students to be involved in decision making at every level of the Victorian education system. As someone with nearly ten years of experience working across the youth sector, I am particularly thrilled to have the chance to work in such an innovative governance model, where students lead the organisation and determine the advocacy priorities. Many organisations are doing the hard work to embed genuine co-design and youth participation into their services and programs, but VicSRC is one of the few organisations that is truly led by young people, and I cannot overstate how exciting it is to me to be part of this.
My previous experience as a youth worker has taught me a lot about the value of listening to young people. I spent five years delivering employment pathway programs to young people from across Victoria, through which I learned that often communities already have the solutions to the problems we’re trying to solve. Working with VicSRC, I’m hoping to learn more from students and school communities about the challenges students are facing and the solutions they’re proposing. The Executive Committee have already begun work on their advocacy plan for 2023, and I cannot wait to start working with them on the goals they’ve set for the upcoming year.
Beyond the advocacy plan, I am also looking forward to working with the team on encouraging all schools to think about student voice, leadership and agency in the education system. I hope that all Victorian schools and education institutions consider their roles in helping promote this model of student-led advocacy, embedding these mechanisms within their own schools and services, and letting students lead the way towards positive education reform.