'We Are the Change Makers of Today.'

On the 11th of October 2017, two high school students Mia Sherman and Wren Gillett delivered a powerful speech at the VicSRC Recognition Awards.

Both in their first term on the VicSRC Student Executive, Mia and Wren are determined to give a voice to all students in Victoria.
Read the full speech delivered at the 2017 VicSRC Recognition Awards below.

I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past, present and future.

It is such an honour to be here with everyone tonight, the Honourable Minister Merlino, our supporters, like-minded organisations, Department of Education representatives, principals, teachers - and students such as ourselves. We all gather here in celebration of our emerging young leaders; our student change makers. And those who have helped these young people facilitate their paths, by establishing the leadership that will not only benefit us for the future but for the now.

Within the lives of young people, particularly those in high school, there is a deep emphasis upon our futures. We are made to focus on our dream jobs, our dream life courses, and a dream society. We see these hopes as future aspirations, almost completely intangible with youth. We are constantly told that if we work hard and conform to the system of the past, we will one day be in the position of privilege, finally able to pursue what it is we have wished to accomplish. We are told that our generation has the capacity to achieve great things - in the future.

But why do we have to wait? Wanting to take initiative and spark change seems to cause many of those in power to view us youth as impatient or naive. But why is this an issue? To be impatient to see the world made better hardly seems to be a fault. And really, how is being naive a problem? If anything, the fact that we are not letting the ideas of the past limit our futures, is wonderful. It should be celebrated that we are prepared to dream big and strive for better. Our dreams and our impatience and our naivety are wonderful, they’re what enables us to bring forward so many big ideas. But we needn’t settle for just coming up with ideas.

This constant pressure associated with the focus on our futures is restricting our ambition and decreasing our capacity to make these changes now, and is limiting our capacity to dream. By focusing more on the change we can make now, we will begin to feel as though we are capable of power in the present.

There should still be a degree of emphasis on our futures as we need to gain the skills necessary for a career in practical terms, but there should be less emphasis on the idea that once we reach a certain age, our voices are suddenly amplified. In thinking about our futures we shouldn't lose sight of the significance of our voices now.

Why is it that the people that are directly experiencing education are the ones often granted the least input? The people that know what needs to change, are the ones that would most benefit from these changes. Sadly, in so many educational institutions, we are encouraged to speak up, yet if we suggest anything that deviates from the current system; our voices are not allowed the volume they rightfully hold justice to.

But rather than accepting our lack of voice, we need to take up the opportunity and fight for one. If we make our voices loud enough, they will eventually be heard. The solution is not to simply complain about what we do not have, for that only highlights our supposed immaturity. The solution is to bring forward ideas, and show that we can bring about the change we want to see in the world.

Rather than endlessly focusing on our futures, we need to realise that we have the opportunity and the abilities to make change now. We are not the change makers of tomorrow, we are the change makers of today. We need no bounds in the change we are capable of. Young people can do anything, and be anything. Not in ten years, not in one, but now. Our capabilities are endless when we’re supplied with the right education and support. It’s important not to base one generation on a typical stereotype, especially when speaking of teenagers. It is when one departs from the arbitrary idea that capability comes with age, that one can then come to see all that we can do and be.

These awards are about celebrating those who have taken initiative, those who have given themselves and others a voice. Those who have departed from conformity, stuck their head out and taken a risk, knowing that their ideas won’t necessarily be well received, or make an immediate difference that they will directly benefit from. Every single one of these people deserves to be recognised. And to all of you in this room, you deserve to be recognised, as we see that you are a part of this change, with the ability to influence education.

Our dream is that in ten years time these awards won’t be necessary, as it will have become the norm for youth to lead, and to spark change. We don’t just dream of, we see a future where young people’s voices are held in equal regard. We thank every single one of you for being a part of this integral chapter of change, and hope that you will all continue to support not only the young people in this room, but young people everywhere.

Read Wren and Mia's Executive bios here.

Check out the full wrap-up of the 2017 Recognition Awards