Meet VFFF's Youth Advisory Group!

VFFF's Youth Advisory Group at their shortlisting meeting. (L-R): Florance McGufficke, Charlotte Watson, James Atkinson, Stephanie Pearson, Harrison Garlick, Andrew Taukolo.
VFFF's Youth Advisory Group at their shortlisting meeting. (L-R): Florance McGufficke, Charlotte Watson, James Atkinson, Stephanie Pearson, Harrison Garlick, Andrew Taukolo.

VFFF recognises that backing young people means listening to and responding to their needs, priorities and insights. During our strategic review process, research into youth voice and representation illustrated that when communities and institutions engage young people’s expertise, they do a better job of keeping up with the rapid pace of change and design more fit-for-purpose services and practices.

Acknowledging the need to practice what we preach, VFFF began exploring avenues to embed youth representation into our own decision-making structures. Philanthropy is at its best when working alongside those communities it seeks to support – and a Youth Advisory Group offered an opportunity to incorporate youth voices into the grant making process for Backing Young People.

Our Youth Advisory Group was selected through an open call-out for young people aged 18-30 years old. As part of VFFF’s long-held commitment to working with rural and regional communities, all Youth Advisory Group members live in or are connected to a rural and regional community.

When designing the Youth Advisory Group, VFFF committed to:

  • Providing the Youth Advisory Group with a clear scope of work and autonomous decision-making power;
  • Paying members for their time;
  • Organising professional development and networking opportunities  for members; and
  • Ensuring members have regular opportunities to provide feedback    on our approach, and listening to their suggestions

In their two-year term, our inaugural Youth Advisory Group has three key roles:

  • Helping to design, monitor and improve VFFF’s Backing the Future grants – one-off, $50,000 grants to individuals whose work is focused on rural and regional young people in NSW and QLD;
  • Shortlisting Backing the Future applications for the VFFF Grants Committee; and
  • Working with VFFF stakeholders to ensure youth voices are heard in VFFF’s work.

The Youth Advisory Group’s first three months have been characterised by  a deep commitment to listening and learning, and thoughtful consideration of how VFFF can best back young people.

We asked the Youth Advisory Group the question: ‘Why did you want to join the VFFF Youth Advisory Group?’ and here are their responses!

“I was very fortunate in the past to receive funding from philanthropy for a program I designed a couple of years ago. The opportunities and doors that it opened, especially for a young pasifika man like myself, I wanted for other young people." - Andrew Taukolo

“I joined the VFFF Youth Advisory Group to amplify the projects of young people doing awesome things who would otherwise not see themselves as leaders” - Stephanie Pearson

“To work with a diverse group of young people to facilitate shaping a future that allows youth in rural and regional areas to develop to their full potential” - Harrison Garlick

Young people have so many incredible ideas to better our communities, we just need someone to back us and help make them a reality. Not only is VFFF stepping up to give young people the support they need through Backing the Future, but they are also walking the talk by bringing together the VFFF Youth Advisory Group to help inform their granting, and I’m so glad to be a part of it.” - James Atkinson

“I wanted to join the VFFF Youth Advisory Group to learn more about participatory grant making and to use my skills and experience to contribute to elevating the voices of young people" - Charlotte Watson

“I applied and joined the VFFF Youth Advisory Group because I aligned with the mission of VFFF, but I also felt that it was a place where we could all learn from each other to build a stronger, more resilient and open minded society for the future.” - Florance McGufficke

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