Young voices set sights on foreign affairs

When it comes to engaging with foreign policy, young people are connected to the global community more than any other generation before them, a new report has found.


Politicians and youth leaders assembled in Canberra on Tuesday to launch a report by advocacy network Oaktree outlining a vision for foreign policy.

“Not all young people are apathetic, privileged, smashed avocado-eating, latte-sipping individuals,” Oaktree CEO Sashenka Worseman said.

The ‘Collective Future’ report seeks to capture the values and recommendations of young Australia as the government crafts its new Foreign Policy White Paper.

“Young people are connected to the global community more than any other generation before them,” Ms Worseman said.

“But they are also more acutely aware of the transnational threats that this particular community faces.”

Following consultation with various groups, the report found the global issues young people prioritised were climate change, migration and asylum seeker rights, overseas development assistance and equality.

It also named six crucial values identified by young people as equality, partnership and community, transparency and compassion, open-mindedness and sustainability.

Many young people are quite sceptical of traditional decision-making spaces and Australia needs to tap into the dynamism of its young voters, Ms Worseman said.

In the Brexit referendum last year, 75 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 voted to remain in the EU.

Only 37 per cent of young Americans voted for Trump in the US election last year.

Opposition international development spokeswoman Claire Moore says the government’s foreign policy blueprint needs to reflect the values of young people.

“Happy day it could actually reflect all those things; not so happy day, we’ve got some work to do,” Ms Moore said.

Nationals MP Andrew Broad says he’s an advocate for increasing foreign aid, and Australia has to choose between a selfish or selfless approach.

“We haven’t sold what we have done well enough for long enough,” Mr Broad said.

“Changing the world isn’t free. It isn’t a tweet, it isn’t a ‘like’. It will mean you have to roll up your sleeves. It will mean you have to get involved.”