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Commonwealth Youth Forum: "Young people are our source of hope”
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Commonwealth Youth Forum: "Young people are our source of hope”

Young people from around the globe are in Fremantle on the west coast of Australia this week to take part in the Commonwealth Youth Forum.

Amanda McClintock, 19, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Queensland,  reports on the opening ceremony attended by Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

8:45am and the room was already getting crowded as 130 youth delegates were finding their seats for the Commonwealth Youth Forum Opening Ceremony for 2011.

The auditorium was filled with representatives from Western Australian High Schools and various media as they awaited for the arrival of Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, MP Peter Garrett, Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, and Deputy Secretary General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.

After a welcome and traditional smoke ceremony from Indigenous representatives of Australia, PM Julie Gillard was introduced to officially open the Commonwealth Youth Forum.  Welcoming all the delegates to Fremantle, Perth, she shared her belief in the importance of youth.

“I acknowledge the young people in the working group who organised this forum. Your efforts are very much appreciated. Because young people are our source of hope and inspiration for the challenges of tomorrow,” Gillard said.

This acknowledgement of the importance of youth by the Prime Minister of the host country was comforting. It is especially reassuring that the Australian Government respects the efforts being put in by the young people involved in the forum. Following the Prime Minister’s address, Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma welcomed all the participants on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Mr Sharma’s feelings towards the youth of the Commonwealth were made clear as he said: “Whoever thought of starting the CHOGM week with a youth forum deserves an award.” As special guests continued to share their welcome to both Fremantle and the forum, Myf Warhurst, Master of Ceremonies for the event, continued to fill the auditorium with laughter whilst attending to the proceedings.

At the front of the room, a long row of flags representing all the states of the Commonwealth hung displaying the proud nationalism of the young delegates from across the world. Whilst far away from home, the culture and diversity present during the ceremony is a striking reminder of the important relationship between the all of the Commonwealth states.

One of the thoroughly enjoyed aspects of the ceremony was the Variety Youth Choir who performed two songs, both of which received a standing ovation by the excited audience, young and old alike.

To end there was a group photo of the delegates to commemorate the event, before delegates enjoyed morning tea with the guests and school students. As a delegate from Singapore exclaimed, it was “the perfect start to a week of discussion and new experiences.”

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About me:

“I am a working-class girl, full-time university student and mental health advocate from sunny south-east Queensland.

“Living in a small country town after growing up in the city only increased my passion for making a difference in my community and further afield, and for speaking up about the issues that matter most. Youth have a voice and it needs to be heard. Stand Up, Speak Up and Be Heard!”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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