Foundation for Young Australians: Young Mayors Program

Silo art in Horsham

We have partnered with the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) to support the engagement of young people in civic participation and democracy through FYA’s Young Mayors Pilot Program. The program is delivered in partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Centre for Cities. It aims to enable young people (aged 17 years and under) to participate in, and understand the significance of, voting at the local government level.

Young council members will be elected by their peers and members will work together to define priority areas. The youth councils will serve a 12–24-month term working with their council to implement projects and events to influence decisions that impact their community.

Working together, we want to:

  • provide electoral education opportunities and provide clarity around the voting process for those 17 and under
  • increase youth engagement and formal participation in elections at all levels of government
  • build awareness of our representational democracy by encouraging young people to stand as candidates and serve as youth councillors

The first young mayors election in Victoria was held in June this year. The FYA worked with Horsham Rural City Council and the VEC provided advice, voting screens and helped to train voting centre and election count staff for the event.

A total of 616 young people (aged 11-17) voted for 10 candidates. Read about the event and the 7 candidates elected to the Horsham Youth Council.

The next elections planned for the Young Mayor pilot program are:

  • Cairns, QLD (late October/early November in partnership with the Electoral Commission QLD).
  • Hepburn Shire Council, Victoria (mid 2024). These will run alongside the next Horsham and Mackay elections.

The Young Mayors pilot program will run until 2025/26. FYA has connected with 90 councils across Australia who want to adopt the young mayors model and are in conversations with state and federal government to secure funding to scale-up to over 40 locations by 2026.

You can find more information on this program at the Foundation for Young Australians website.