Vicsport Youth Advisory Committee
With the support of VicHealth, Vicsport initiated a Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) through 2022-23 to not only engage with Victorian young people but learn from their unique insights on the sport and recreation space.
Consisting of a diverse range of eight people aged 16-24 from both regional and metropolitan areas of Victoria, the YAC met monthly with several goals in mind; to enhance and elevate the voice of youth in sport, enable the voice of youth to support and guide Vicsport member services, assist the development of resources and help guide other sporting organisations that may not have the capacity to engage with young people.
Their work has culminated in the creation of a Youth Engagement Strategy which combined their own lived experiences with responses from a survey of over 2,500 members of the Victorian sporting community.
From the data gathered, key barriers, positive elements and opportunities within sport were identified while a checklist of six action items that organisations can implement are also offered.
The Strategy was presented earlier this month at Vicsport’s Youth Sport Participation Forum where Professor Rochelle Eime also analysed the latest trends in youth participation.
“The Youth Sport Participation Forum formed the culmination of all the work completed by the Vicsport YAC over the last year,” said Vicsport Events and Membership Coordinator, Meredith Hodson.
“It provided the perfect opportunity for the members to present their findings which hopefully will inspire sports administrators that were in the room or watching via the live-stream to take the voice of youth seriously within their own sporting contexts.”
A member of the Vicsport YAC as well as Active Communities and Sport Assistant at VicHealth, Charlize Nalupta found the experience beneficial not only personally but from a work perspective.
“Being able to hear the stories (both positive and negative) of other young people in sport has been inspiring and it motivates me to continue advocating for why sport is so important for all young people to access,” Charlize said. “Sport truly can change your life for the better, not only physically, but also mentally, socially and spiritually.”
In addition to elevating the voices of young Victorians in sport, the Vicsport YAC has helped to deliver objectives of VicHealth’s Future Healthy initiative which was launched to address the needs of young Victorians, their families and to aid in making their lives happier and healthier.
“We know the future is young people and we can support them to have agency over their own health by providing access to more nutritious food, options to be active and ways to feel connected to others in their community,” said Charlize. “Furthermore, VicHealth aims to provide professional and personal development opportunities for the YAC members to assist in their leadership and career growth.”
Max Vollebergh, who started as Social and Schools Program Coordinator at Bowls Australia in late 2022, is one YAC member who has already benefited in that regard, having been asked to speak at the 2023 National Sports Convention later this month based on his experiences with the Vicsport YAC and within volleyball.
“I found the process of the Vicsport YAC to be challenging in the way it pushed my knowledge and way of thinking but it has been rewarding to face those challenges and contribute to an amazing project,” Max said.
With their Youth Engagement Strategy now available on the Vicsport website, Max and Charlize are keen to see what the immediate future holds and how the Victorian sporting community continues to engage with youth.
“I am a big believer in getting youth involved as volunteers and in local level decision making especially,” Max said. “Young people have a lot of ideas and clubs and associations will greatly benefit from involving them in day-to-day operations, planning, on match day and everything in between.”
“It would be great to see sports have a more diverse representation of young people in both leadership positions and on boards,” added Charlize. “We want to see more initiatives led by young people, for young people.”