Junior Mayor Josie Horne gives first address

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Junior Mayor Josie Horne has addressed council for the first time, speaking on behalf of her fellow youth councillors during Tuesday night’s meeting at City Hall.

All 12 members of the youth council attended the meeting, where they were given a formal welcome by Mayor Bruce Harwood.

The following is a transcript of Josie’s speech.

Junior Mayor Josie Horne:

Albus Dumbledore stated in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince that, "Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth." I am so grateful that the Geelong City Council does not, and never has underestimated the importance of young people within this region.

It is such a privilege, alongside my fellow youth council members, to represent all the young people in and around Geelong, and we can assure you that we won't let you down.

Good evening Mayor Bruce Harwood, Greater Geelong councillors, youth councillors and guests. My name is Josie Horne and I was recently voted in as the youth mayor. I'm 15 years-old and am passionate about the ocean, current affairs, travelling and the Harry Potter series. I am proud to reside in Point Lonsdale and have loved growing up in the Geelong region. I am so thankful to be able to go to the beach and walk through the sleepy streets of Point Lonsdale whilst being only 30 minutes away from central Geelong and all its great facilities, food and culture.

As junior mayor, I will be leading and working alongside the Geelong Youth Council to recommend projects and initiatives that make a positive change for young people and their communities. This youth council aims to engage with as many young people as possible, and target areas such as youth mental health access and awareness, environmental sustainability and safety within all neighbourhoods, especially central Geelong. I look forward to reporting to you all at council meetings throughout the year on what initiatives we are planning and recommendations we may have regarding issues in Geelong.

A major focus for our youth council will be to engage with as many young people in the community as possible – young people from all different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Doing so will ensure our recommendations benefit the whole community. Whether it be asking a few specific questions, organising open youth forums or just having a conversation, a mission of the youth council is to listen to the collective voice of Geelong youth and act upon it. 

One key issue the youth council would like to explore is mental health in young people. Just last week The Age published an article on the alarming rates of self-harm by medication overdoses in adolescents, stating that there was also a ‘dramatic rise’ in anti-depressant drugs being prescribed to minors.

We cannot let the future generation of our nation suffer from devastating mental health issues, whilst feeling isolated and stigmatised from suffering one of these conditions. We need to change young people's attitude towards mental health, so we can all realise that it is not a taboo, that mental health is extremely important to overall wellbeing and that it is okay to suffer from it.

Although this is a difficult task, it doesn't mean we shouldn't start now. On the contrary, we should begin as soon as possible so all young people are aware of mental health and its prevalence in today’s society.

Awareness of mental health can happen through initiatives and projects run by young people for young people, so they can discover more about these conditions from peers in a supportive and judgement-free space. In these projects, we would emphasise the need to identify mental health conditions early by telling young people about warning signs so they can look out for themselves, their family and friends.

We need to demonstrate to Geelong's youth how these conditions drastically decrease the quality of life for thousands of young people, and how it can destroy dreams and restrict passions in a heartbeat.

Targeting youth mental health will help young people feel supported if they are going through hard times, ensure they feel safe saying they are having a rough time, and improve the wellbeing of many people within the community.

As your first youth council, we strive to be empathetic and active listeners. We all aim to talk to and meet as many young people in the community and have genuine conversations about their passions and dreams. You can count on us to be kind and considerate when talking to young people throughout the region, and we will treat all with respect and authenticity.

The youth council will encourage all young people to be a part of the conversation about what they need and want the Greater Geelong City Council to provide for them so they can thrive and reach their potential in Geelong. We will never cease to act with kindness and none of us will ever be judgemental or biased whilst listening to anyone's opinions on any matter, even if it differs from our own.

As your first youth council, we will all represent the Geelong region with grace, humility, kindness and respect; these are the values we will uphold and projects we suggest will be based upon this and the young community's needs.

We will do everything we can to make the City of Greater Geelong even more prosperous for young people to live, work and thrive in for many years to come.

We are excited about working with you to ensure everyone in our community has a voice and opportunities to thrive.


Page last updated: Thursday, 28 February 2019