HEAR OUR VOICES: Gympie student and UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador Indiana Hehir with the  A Climate for Change  report.
HEAR OUR VOICES: Gympie student and UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador Indiana Hehir with the A Climate for Change report. Troy Jegers

Climate change, mental health the big issues for Gympie kids

ACTION to attack climate change and improve access to mental health resources are two of the biggest issues in the hearts and minds of Gympie region children.

That's according to Gympie student and recent UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador program graduate Indiana Hehir, who has played a large role in speaking up for children's issues in the past year.


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The first six months of the program saw Indiana - along with her seven fellow YAs - travel across Australia to consult face to face with more than 1500 children and young people from preschool age to young adulthood on the most important issues facing them.

The fruits of that labour, which also included a national survey of people aged 14 to 17 years, resulted in A Climate for Change - the 2019 YA report presented to 50 Australian politicians in Canberra last week.

Indiana, who visited a host of Gympie schools and journeyed as far north as Bundaberg for her consultations, said local children had made their desire to be heard abundantly clear.

"We heard again and again and again that young people and children don't feel like they're being heard and don't feel like they're being listened to, and I think that was one of the biggest things we wanted to raise with politicians,” the 17-year-old said.

"Children and young people don't feel like they're a part of the conversation and the decision making process; they really want to be.

"Kids in the city were saying climate change is the biggest threat to their future, and kids in the country are feeling it in their hearts now. They're seeing it where they live.

"With access to mental health facilities, kids are recognising we have a wonderful headspace facility in Gympie but there's accessibility issues.

"Kids are saying 'It's wonderful that we've got it, but we can't access it'.

"It's things like that where if children are involved in the conversation when we're setting up these facilities, they're practical issues that we hope would be eliminated.”

Indiana said one of the key recommendations she and the ambassadors had made in Canberra was to reinstall a National Youth Week, as well as a National Youth Summit focused on climate change strategies.

Read more about the A Climate for Change report at https://www.unicef.org.au/our-work/unicef-in-australia/a-climate-for-change.