Reflecting on the state of our democracy is the ongoing responsibility of us, its citizens. We do this partly by voting in State and Federal elections and being alert to the key issues in the contexts of our lives. However, we could also be contributing to our democracy by regularly participating in local government elections, either standing as a candidate, or voting for those who do.
Given councils do so much at the grassroots level, it is an arena in which young people could make a valuable contribution, which is why Commissioner Connolly has been working with a group of young South Australians who have made the decision to run for office in SA’s upcoming local council elections. They made this decision to ensure their local communities better reflect the views and ideas of young people, helping to inject the ‘anything’s possible’ mindset that young people tend to bring.
As the renowned community organizer Marshall Ganz has said “young people come of age with a critical eye and a hopeful heart and it’s that combination of criticality of the world’s pain and recognition of the world’s possibilities that often brings about change. That’s one reason why so many young people were and are at the epicentre of movements for social change” occurring throughout the world.
Over the last few years we have seen a measurable rise in youth participation in Australia’s political process, recorded at both the national and state levels. It is likely to continue to increase as young people unite in their determination to bring about change to a system they believe is serving a few, rather than the many as it is designed to do. The rise in youth participation has in part been achieved through a wave of disenfranchisement in relation to inaction on climate change – but also because social media has enabled many voices to be heard, bringing about greater awareness of issues at the local and global levels amongst young people in particular.
Find out more about the young candidates who are standing for your local council this year by visiting https://www.ecsa.sa.gov.au/elections/council-elections