11 March 2015

University of Queensland graduate Shea Spierings is preparing for a four-month road trip around Australia to determine the key issues facing today’s youth.

The 24-year-old has been appointed as the 2015 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations (UN).

His fact-finding mission will see him drive from Darwin to Melbourne, stopping at major cities, rural towns and remote Indigenous communities along the way.

Mr Spierings will present his findings to the 70th sitting of the UN General Assembly in New York in September.

The 2014 Bachelor of Arts graduate said the UN role was an opportunity for him to make Australian youth more visible to both, Australian society, and the rest of the world.

“Youth are becoming isolated from a lot of the issues that are being discussed in Australian society,” Mr Spierings said.

“They are facing a range of issues such as climate change and potentially a lower standard of living than their parents or grandparents, and we need to work with every generation to address this.

“It’s important that Australian society offers the support that youth need to have their voices heard, particularly to those who are disadvantaged. This is an area I’m very interested in.”

Mr Spierings said he hoped to speak with more than 25,000 youth during his road-trip, which begins in May.

“I’ll be speaking to youth face-to-face during the road trip, but also on social media and my website to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

“I’m looking forward to going out and talking to people, meeting people and seeing what they are doing in their local community to enact change.”

Mr Spierings said he would form a series of recommendations to all levels of Australian government.

“This will give governments an idea of how they can inform local policy and support programs in their local communities and councils as well.”

Mr Spierings is seeking sponsorship for his cause. 

Media: Shea Spierings shea.spierings@unyouth.org.au; Caroline Bird, UQ Communications, 07 3365 1120, 0413 601 248, c.bird1@uq.edu.au.