A seat at the table for VFFF’s Youth Advisory Group
In June 2022, we launched our inaugural Youth Advisory Group to embed youth representation in VFFF grant-making. Nine months in, this group is a highly valued forum of youth voices guiding our thinking under the Backing Young People strategy.
Advisory groups enable communities to participate in and influence decision making. When consulting with young people, we heard that these initiatives sometimes function like a ‘formalised chat fest’ where young people speak but don’t feel heard.
This shaped our commitment to building a two-way relationship with our Youth Advisory Group, with opportunities to learn from each other. That’s why we invited members of our “YAG” along to VFFF’s first Board meeting of the year.
How did attending a VFFF Board meeting support our Youth Advisory Group?
Over the course of the meeting, YAG representatives Andrew Taukolo, Florance McGufficke and Stephanie Pearson had the opportunity to hear funding submissions, participate in discussion and share their own stories and insights with VFFF Directors.
VFFF regularly asks YAG members how we can support their professional development. The group has expressed a keen interest in better understanding how philanthropy works in practice. Inclusion in this meeting provided YAG representatives with insight into how and why VFFF makes funding decisions. This is directly relevant to the Youth Advisory Group, given one of their key tasks is shortlisting applications for VFFF’s Backing the Future grants program.
We know that young people gain skills and knowledge by observing and participating in decision-making processes. These experiences inform their own approach to leadership and communication, building their confidence and capacity to step into other influencing roles and spaces. Our YAG is a group of changemakers, and we look forward to seeing how they apply their developing knowledge of philanthropy, governance and strategic thinking to future endeavours.
How did YAG representation enhance VFFF’s Board meeting?
VFFF is committed to Backing Young People with innovative opportunities that advance their independence, social purpose and future security. We cannot do this without listening to and working alongside young people.
Having a Youth Advisory Group provides the VFFF Board and team with a youth perspective. We often refer to this as the “YAG test”, which enables us to assess whether proposed initiatives genuinely resonate with young people. In particular, the YAG informs our approach to supporting rural and regional young people, with all members either living in or connected to rural and regional Australia.
In order to back young people to lead change, our granting processes must be accessible to young people. We recognise the opportunity to work with the YAG to streamline our approach to grant making, from application forms to reporting processes, to reduce the barriers for young people seeking philanthropic support.
At our Board meeting, VFFF Directors were able to turn to Andrew, Florance and Steph to ask their thoughts on proposed initiatives. This was an opportunity to connect funding proposals with the real-world experiences of young people. Hearing our YAG representatives share their own personal stories was an important reminder of the passion and potential of young people today, and the great value of Backing Young People.
We look forward to facilitating more opportunities for VFFF stakeholders and YAG members to connect, collaborate and share knowledge, skills and insights.