Twelve of the state’s most inspiring and motivational leaders of the future have been appointed to the 2021-2022 Youth Advisory Council.
Among them, is 13-year-old Mae Carroll from Grafton.
Smiling proudly, the bright-eyed teenager who possesses a vigorous passion for representing her local community and an incredible determination to succeed, revealed she was thrilled when Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis called to congratulate her and confirm her recent appointment.
Describing the news as surreal, Miss Carroll was excited to be appointed after previously applying to the Youth Advisory Council last year where she progressed to the third level of recruitment.
She was among 585 youths and adults aged between 12 and 24 who applied in 2021.
Deeply passionate about social justice issues and the vital importance of support for mental health services in regional communities, Miss Carroll said recognising the opportunity to speak openly about topics close to her heart motivated her to apply again.
“The main reason I wanted to be a part of the Youth Advisory Council is so I can give a voice to the youths in NSW, especially in regional areas, and speak about these issues to help make positive changes,” she said.
The newly appointed Youth Advisory Council held their first online meeting on August 22, which allowed the successful participants to become better acquainted and openly discuss the different issues affecting their communities.
“The experience was amazing,” Miss Carroll said.
“It was more of an introduction into what the council does, but I got to meet some amazing people and it was great to talk about so many issues which we want to address in our respective communities.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the council and to identify and speak about the issues which affect my community so I can help to make a difference.”
Miss Carroll’s passion to represent her local community led her to participate in the virtual 2020 NSW Children’s Week Parliament in October last year, where she presented a speech about mental health issues and revealed there are an average of 20 suicides per 100000 youths in the Clarence Electorate.
With the state currently in an extended lockdown, Miss Carroll said mental health has never been more important and she identified the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as a contributor towards the increase in the number of youths presently experiencing mental health issues in the local region.
“I think there is still a stigma around talking about mental health issues,” she said.
“It’s considered a taboo topic for a lot of people, but I want to get more people talking about it so we can do more to help those affected by it.”
When asked if she would like to offer any words of support or encouragement to those in our community who are currently experiencing difficult circumstances, Miss Carroll said people should never be afraid to ask for help.
“There will always be someone who will listen to you,” she said encouragingly.