Before participating in the Digital Dialogues programme, I had largely shied away from participating in politics and policy. My studies predominantly focused on understanding change from a grassroots level and was highly critical of the impact of proposed policies on development. Highlighting that more often than not, decision makers were removed or disconnect from their very targets. They failed to consider the cultural appropriateness, sustainability, barriers and general needs of the community in their programs and policies. On top of this, current events in Australia’s own political landscape further propelled my belief that politics was not a safe, welcoming space for everyone. Preferencing the voices of certain groups within our society, while working to squander others. Essentially, the powerful and privileged were allowed to say their piece.
I now see our voices are more important than ever. Digital Dialogues’ guest speakers, organisers and my fellow delegates have demonstrated the power and importance of young, diverse voices in politics. It has been a rejuvenating experience to connect with so many inspiring people from across Southeast Asia and Australia, who truly care about the key issues facing our region.
I feel this program and ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership as a whole, has demonstrated how much agency and power over change young people have when we put our heads together and leverage our cultural differences.
I am grateful for this program as it has allowed me the opportunity to further engage with topics I feel strongly about, develop my skillset and knowledge, connect with amazing people from around the region and reignite my belief that we can create the change we deserve.
I am very thankful to the Digital Dialogues team, who have undoubtably put in immense time, effort and sacrifice to make this program happen. I am impressed with how well organised, facilitated and thought through this program has been. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and look forward to being involved in future events.